The son of Reg Parnell literally grew up in the sport. He helped out in the pits during the 1948 British Grand Prix and was there to see his father finish third for Alfa Romeo in the inaugural world championship event two years later. He later worked as a mechanic for the family team but eschewed his own racing ambitions on the death of his father.
With an engaging and popular personality, R.H.H. "Tim" Parnell’s own racing career began in 1957 with a 1100cc Cooper T39-Climax sports car. He did not qualify an Fla 2 Cooper T45-Climax for the 1959 British GP but Formula Junior success the following year convinced Parnell to buy a Lotus 18-Climax. Highlights were few and far between although he did make his world championship debut in the 1961 British and Italian GPs.
Much of 1962 was lost to illness but Parnell returned in 1963 only to DNQ his Lotus 18/21-Climax at the German GP. He was keen to continue racing but the sudden death of his father in January 1964 changed all that.
Tim Parnell retired from driving to concentrate on team affairs – running ex-works Lotus 25s and 33s for the next three seasons. Under his stewardship Reg Parnell Racing entered another 53 GPs before it withdrew in 1969. Piers Courage’s fourth place in the 1968 Italian GP with a BRM P126 was its best result in a championship round.
The team was effectively BRM’s junior outfit by then and he worked for that organisation as Team Manager until 1975. But, with the once-great concern in decline, he moved into circuit management with both Silverstone and Donington Park among his charges. He was elected a Vice President of the British Racing Drivers' Club in 2003.