Farewell to a friend

Wrexham & Bala, February 28: a tribute to one of our sport’s unsung characters

It was an association that began when my mate Phil offered David Winstanley a biscuit, while we were perched on the wonderfully rickety planks once loosely described as the Lodge Corner grandstand.

This would have been the mid 1970s, when David was racing Formula Atlantic cars in various events. He stood among the paying punters, still in racing overalls: he didn’t regard them as a status symbol, but had simply dashed from the paddock to watch practice after his own session finished.

Enthusiasm was his motif.

His recent passing, aged just 61, touched many people – and his send-off was equal parts sunshine and sorrow. Nice touches included an unattended pint of mild on his behalf, at The Bryntirion Inn, Bala (his local), and a collection made in one of his 1970s crash helmets.

In recent times he had become a familiar face within the historic rallying community as both competitor and broadcaster, but past credits include Lodge Corner Agencies (a used racing car dealership, in Crewe), the Sports Seen automotive video company (with a diverse, interesting catalogue, including many official Ford films) and, between times, the foundation of Agent Racing Cars.

The David Rendell-designed Agent DR1 was a ground-effect FF2000 chassis, advanced for its day, while the DR2 was a reworked FF1600 Hawke that scored a few victories (notably in the hands of the Atkinson twins, Gregg and Tim) during an all-too-brief early Eighties heyday. The company didn’t last long, for finance was an almost permanent hurdle in the Winstanley world. As he once put it, “I seemed to spend five of every pound I had.”

It’s a little-known fact that David set the FF2000 lap record at Aintree (in August 1980, at the wheel of a Royale RP27) – and indeed holds it still, as it remained unbroken when the circuit staged its most recent car meeting in July 1982.

For all the twists and turns his life took, he remained one of the most resolutely positive people I have ever met. Not widely known, perhaps, but he will be greatly missed.