Julian Bailey was always the dark horse of British motor sport’s 1980s ‘Rat Pack’. A tough, dour working class lad born and bred in a council house in Woolwich, he beat all the odds to claw his way to Formula 1 – as did comrades and rivals Damon Hill, Mark Blundell, Martin Donnelly, Johnny Herbert, Johnny Dumfries and Perry McCarthy (just). But Bailey never felt he truly belonged at the pinnacle (as he tells us, perhaps it was a class thing), and with just seven F1 starts to his name – six with Tyrrell in 1988 and another for Lotus in 1991 – this is a career best remembered for the raw promise of its early years, a Group C cameo with Nissan, Toyota tin-top shenanigans in the British Touring Car Championship’s golden era, a fruitful Indian summer in a Newcastle United-backed Lister Storm and a final flourish with MG at Le Mans in 2001 and ’02. It sure was colourful, certainly never dull – and it could and should have been so much more.
But the Bailey motor sport story is far from spent. The family’s racing roots are buried too deep for that to be the case. Wife Deborah Tee remains a highly-respected PR through her MPA agency, brother-in-law Steven Tee is one of F1’s finest photographers – just as his father Michael Tee used to be – and then there’s Indy 500 winner Gil de Ferran, who’s married to a cousin of Deborah and Steven. But most significantly, Julian’s sons are now carrying the torch, even if it’s in a manner that leaves the old man scratching his head.
A young Julian Bailey ready to battle his way up the racing ladder