Gordon Spice: Last of the old guard

Gordon Spice

Spice in the 1968 Race of Champions, Guards Trophy and, right, in 1969

Alamy/Getty Images

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Gordon Spice, who has died aged 81 after a long battle with cancer, was one of British motor racing’s great characters and one of the finest tin-top drivers of his generation.

Born in London, Spice always claimed motor racing was secondary to his business interests, which included a successful car accessories company, though his CV hardly reflects as much. Despite his successes, he insisted that he never took it too seriously. As he said when Motor Sport took him out for a Lunch With… in the October 2017 issue, “I wouldn’t want to be a racing driver today given the monastic lives so many of them seem to lead. If someone had said to me, ‘You have to make a decision: you can either go on drinking and smoking, or else be a racing driver,’ I know which I’d have chosen. It wouldn’t have been racing.”

Spice began his competitive career in 1962 with an MG TF, and made his first appearance in the Le Mans 24 Hours just two years later at the wheel of a Deep Sanderson, though the car overheated early on. For the balance of the 1960s he became a fixture in the British Saloon Car Championship in a variety of Minis and he took the class title in ’68.