Bertie and Mark Fisher
The ‘phone rang. It was Bertie. A smashing bloke. But my heart sank. Any time a driver called, I’d soon discovered, chances were that he had a complaint. I braced myself, tried to remember what error of mine had reached the printed page. But no, he just wanted to say thank you for the report Motoring News had run on his 1991 Rally of the Lakes win. This was, I soon discovered, typical of the man.
And now the most professional amateur rally driver of recent times has gone. In a 30-year career, Bertie secured the Irish Tarmac Championship four times and scored a record 20 wins. He tended to have the best kit at his disposal, his successful structural engineering company saw to that, but that never masked his talent behind the wheel or his charm and good nature out of the car. That the helicopter crash near Enniskillen which claimed 50-year-old Bertie should also take his son Mark (inset) — a young rally driver of great promise — his daughter Emma, put his wife Gladys on the critical list and badly injure his youngest son Roy, makes this a tragedy of huge proportions. That 10,000 people turned up at the funerals proved it. PF
First Frank Kurtis, then Lujie Lesovsky and Eddie Kuzma, and now Quin Epperly — the maestros from the Offenhauser roadster era of the Indianapolis 500 are departing.
Epperly, who died aged 87, had as colleagues and influences Kurtis, Lesovsky and George Salih, who picked him to make the coachwork and accessories for the Belond Special, roadsterdom’s original ‘Iowbelly laydown’ — its unusual feature being to lay the four-cylinder Offy flat. Winner of Indy in 1957, the Belond won again in ’58, when two brother Epperlys also finished second and fourth. Compared to Kurtis, who threw off dozens, and A J Watson who built 23, Epperly was a methodical constructor who created just half a dozen; nonetheless Parnelli Jones named Epperly’s Detroiter Mobile Homes the greatest of all roadsters. In 1963, half worn out by struggle and defeat, he chose to kiss off Indy to preen Spirit of America, a 407.45 mph jet-powered monolith that smashed John Cobb’s longstanding Land Speed Record. Joe Scalzo
Carl Hogan, team owner and sponsor in Formula 5000, Can-Am, Toyota Atlantic and finally ChampCars, died of a heart attack in January, aged 71.
A proud man, he will be remembered by the CART community for his immediate success with Bobby Rahal in 1992. Hogan Truck Leasing, a company started by his father, joined forces with Rahal in buying out Pat Patrick’s squad. Using a Lola chassis and Chevrolet engines, Bobby drove the Rahal-Hogan outfit to four wins, six other podium places, three poles — and the PPG Indycar title. A lack of success over the next two seasons saw Hogan strike out on his own in ’96, initially running a third Penske for Emerson Fittipaldi, and subsequently bringing the talents of Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves to the attention of CART followers. A lack of sponsorship, however, meant Carl was ploughing in his own millions for little return, and he withdrew at the end of ’99, ready for a retirement he truly deserved — but which was sadly not allowed. DM
Ardent HGPCA supporter and great car enthusiast, Terry Cohn died in January after fighting cancer for two years. Terry loved his cars, racing and rallying them throughout the world. Almost always, he would insist on driving, not trailering, the Alfa Monza or Lagonda to meetings. Charismatic and caring, he’ll be deeply missed. Our sympathies go to his daughters Amanda and Louise, and his partner, Anneliese. Tony Merrick