March, Shadow, Fittipaldi, Tyrrell, ATS, Toleman, Renault, Alfa Romeo, Brabham, Benetton; then there was a leftfield switch to Suzuki and Yamaha in motorcycling, before a return to four wheels to work on a Volvo estate touring car… Prolific John Gentry has been a rolling stone during his multicoloured five-decade motor sport career, spent as a master draughtsman and race engineer for the likes of Emerson Fittipaldi, Chris Amon, Gilles Villeneuve, Jean-Pierre Jarier, Teo Fabi, Derek Warwick, Elio de Angelis, Ron Haslam and many more. This is some racing life, and for a man who prides himself on his dedication to the minutiae of detailed design, it all seemed to happen purely by chance.
He welcomes Motor Sport (pre-lockdown) to his beautiful home nestled in a corner of a picturesque Oxfordshire village. The craggy features, creased smile and soft timbre as he speaks reflect a surprisingly gentle character for a battle-hardened, well-travelled racing lifer. John is a popular man in the business and it’s easy to see why.
Talking shop with fellow designer Ricardo Divilain, 1979, the Brazilian who was technical director at Fittipaldi until 1982