Sir John Whitmore
British motor racing has lost one of its most distinguished competitors with the passing of Sir John Whitmore. He died on April 28, aged 79.
Commencing his career as plain John Whitmore (he was a hereditary baronet who became ‘Sir’ in 1962, following his father’s death), he notched up numerous successes in Lotus sports cars – so much so that Colin Chapman offered him a factory drive at Le Mans. Sharing an Elite with Jim Clark in 1959, he finished 10th overall and second in class in the first of five appearances at the Sarthe.
He raced in Formula Junior in 1960 before switching to saloons and sports cars – although best known for his tin-top exploits, he also raced Ford GT40s and Shelby Cobras with distinction.
In 1961 he became fourth winner of the British Saloon Car Championship, taking his Don Moore-prepared Mini to four class wins and finishing nine points clear of closest rival Mike Parkes (Jaguar Mk2). He was second in the 1963 BSCC, at the wheel of a works Mini, then spent three seasons in the European Touring Car Championship at the wheel of an Alan Mann Racing Lotus Cortina. He won the title in 1965 and placed third in both 1964 and ’66.
That would be his final full season, though he did return to the track in historic motor sport in the late 1980s and also went on to compete in the Goodwood Revival.
After calling time on his racing career, Whitmore studied psychology and became a performance coach working with both sports associations and businesses.
One of rallying’s original flying Finns, Timo Mäkinen has died at the age of 79. Well known in the UK for winning the RAC Rally three times in succession, from 1973 to 1975, his glittering CV also included four victories on the 1000 Lakes, three titles in Finland’s domestic rally championship and a dominant win on the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally, when he and Paul Easter finished more than 20 minutes clear of rivals in their works Mini.
He scored his last major victory in 1976, winning the Ivory Coast Rally for Peugeot, but continued to compete occasionally into the early 1980s. He made his final world championship start in 1994, when he drove a Mini on the Monte.
The son of pre-war racer Reg, Tim Parnell died in April. He competed in Formula Junior and entered four F1 world championship races, recording his only finish in the 1961 Italian GP at Monza. After his father died in 1964, Tim focused on running Reg Parnell Racing and it is as a team manager that he is best remembered. Piers Courage scored RPR’s best F1 result, taking fourth place in the 1968 Italian GP, but the team closed the following year and Parnell moved to BRM.
One of four brothers who founded Ginetta Cars, Bob Walklett has died aged 91. In the 1960s Ginetta became a successful road and racing car manufacturer. As managing director Bob oversaw production of the G4 and G12 models, which became a popular choice with racers at all levels, though he considered the sport to be a risky area and guided the firm towards road car designs such as the Imp-powered G15. He retired in 1989, when the firm was sold.
We regret to record the death of John Young, who raced MGs and Healeys in the 1950s before going on to achieve notable results in an F2 Connaught. He also co-drove Maurice Charles’s Jaguar D-type at Le Mans in 1958 – although the car retired before Young’s first scheduled race stint – and took part in the 1956 Monte Carlo Rally, sharing a Ford Anglia with Roy Salvadori and John Coombs.