Chris Lawrence

Full Name:
Christopher John Lawrence
Born:
27th July 1933
Ealing, London
Died:
13th August 2011 (Aged 78)
Burghill, Herefordshire
Nationality:
British
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Chris Lawrence was a tuning specialist who was a Le Mans class winner and two-time Grand Prix driver. He was also the driving force behind the Deep Sanderson sports car marque and key to the history of Morgan.

Education and early racing career

Educated at the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, he graduated with an engineering degree. He raced an MG in national events from 1952 but it was with Morgan that Lawrence became most associated after acquiring a second-hand Plus Four in 1958.

He tuned the engine and scored a couple of second place finishes in British GT races – winning the 1959 Freddie Dixon Trophy for drivers competing at a national level. That success was rewarded with a works Morgan Plus Four for the 1962 Le Mans 24 Hours and Lawrence finished 13th overall to win the 2000cc GT class.

Deep Sanderson

He had founded Lawrence Tune Engines in West London by this time, preparing Triumph and Morgan engines and turning constructor himself by launching Deep Sanderson. Taking its name from the Deep Henderson rock group of the time and his mother’s maiden name (Sanderson), Lawrence built a Formula Junior before introducing the 301 sports car in 1963.

Formula 1 apprearances

He retired a Deep Sanderson 301 from the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1963 and 1964 but Lawrence was injured in a road accident returning from the latter race. Out of racing for nine months, he recovered from those injuries to make two GP starts during 1966 with J.A.Pearce Engineering’s Cooper T73-Ferrari. He finished a distant 11th at Brands Hatch and retired from last position at the Nürburgring. He was then fifth in that autumn’s non-championship Oulton Park Gold Cup.

Later life

Keeping his company afloat was a struggle and he was forced to sell the rights to his patented ‘Lawrence Link’ suspension design to Rover. He later settled in Los Angeles where he ran Lawrence Tune West during the 1980s although that venture floundered during another recession early in the next decade.

Lawrence returned to England in 1992 and initially worked for Marcos before rejoining Morgan. He was responsible for the Morgan Aero Eight and guided the marque’s return to Le Mans in 2002. He was diagnosed with cancer a year later and retired to his Herefordshire home where he died in 2011.