Alan Mann 1936 - 2012
This team owner, who made a memorable impact on British saloon and sports car racing with his red and gold Fords throughout the 1960s, died in April aged 75.
After early outings in the 1950s driving an HWM, C-type and Elite, Mann concentrated on the Ford dealership he ran with saloon champion Roy Pierpoint, but it was when he decided that racing would boost the new Cortina that his era as a team owner began. After good results in British saloons with Jimmy Blumer driving, Mann entered two cars in a US race, where the results impressed John Holman of Holman Moody and led to an offer from Ford to run their cars in Europe. Mann set up Alan Mann Racing to enter Falcons in the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally, Bo Ljungfeldt posting fastest times on every stage, though handicapping placed him second. Soon Mann was running Mustangs and Lotus Cortinas, with Sir John Whitmore taking the 1965 European Touring Car title and Frank Gardner the ’67 British saloon title in a Falcon, while also developing a lightweight GT40 and overseeing Carroll Shelby’s European GT-title winning Daytona Cobra project.
Now involved in endurance racing, Mann commissioned the beautiful but lawed DFV-powered Ford P68 or F3L which through 1968-69 failed to deliver on high expectations. The compensation was further back-to-back BSCC titles in the same years as Ford’s oficial entrant with the glorious wheel-waving red and gold Escorts piloted by Whitmore or Gardner – and not infrequently by Mann himself, who found a fresh spurt as a driver. Other igures to race the immaculately prepared Mann cars included Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill, Jacky Ickx and Bruce McLaren. At the same time Mann was tasked to build three cars which would become far more famous than any Escort, though never credited to him at the time – they were for the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and included a lightweight version for the ‘lying’ sequences.
When at the end of 1969 Ford announced it was radically scaling back its motor sport activities, Mann simply stepped sideways, selling his operation to Gardner and abandoning racing altogether. Instead he operated a trawler before buying Fairoaks airfield and starting a hugely successful helicopter leasing business.
After selling his business in 2008 he decided to restart his team to go historic racing, once again with red and gold Fords, driven by his son Henry and Jackie Oliver.