John Lea, who had a lifetime’s racing associations, has died, aged 88. At 15 he rode sidecar for a Norton racing motorcyclist, and Sammy Davis of The Autocar then got him a place as mechanic in a Lea-Francis in the ’29 Double-12 Brooklands race. That led to a job with the company in their racing and experimental department. He was allocated to K Peacock’s Lea-Francis for the 1930 Le Mans race, using the boot of that driver’s Bentley saloon for the spares.
When Lea-Francis gave up racing Lea joined CT Delaney & Sons, whose Tom Delaney still races. This was followed by appointments with ERA, Pat Fairfield on his South African racing tour, Bristol Aero Engines, and Jaguar, where he worked on the first XK120 engines and the C-type before buying his garage in the Cotswolds. Here he worked on competition cars for many famed drivers and went to Le Mans again with Peter Riley and his Lotus. He then took up positions with Smiths Aeronautical Division and Glos-Air, before retirement. His marriage lasted for 63 years. Our condolences to his wife Marge and to his sons Alan and Martin.