The motorsport world pays tribute to a true legend.
Mini-related announcements, this time including a tribute to the late, great Barrie ‘ Whizzo’ Williams.
Barrie ‘Whizzo’ Williams got his nickname from a journalist after his outstanding win at the 1964 Welsh International Rally. In his article, the journalist asked who this Welsh Whizz was, and the name stuck, despite the fact Barrie wasn’t Welsh!
His drive on the 64 Welsh was the first international rally win for the Mini Cooper S and the start of his professional motorsport career. He followed this up by becoming the first British driver to complete the Swedish Winter Rally with co-driver John Devonport.
Born in 1938 in rural Hertfordshire, Barrie cut his teeth driving tractors and farm machinery which seemed to have a constant attraction to the ditches and hedgerows around his home. A career in motorsport was always on the agenda and at the tender age of 13 he wrote to Yorkshire entrepreneur David Brown asking for a job as a racing driver. He did eventually end up working for David Brown, but building tractors rather than racing cars.
What strikes you most about Barrie is the longevity and variety of his career. It’s something you are unlikely to see with modern racing drivers who specialise in a single discipline. Barrie would drive anything in any formulae, often beating more established and experienced drivers.
Barrie started with hillclimbing in an Austin A40 Devon and ended his career driving historics at top events including Goodwood. In between he took part in over 700 races and 250 rallies. His career embraced saloon cars, sports cars, endurance racing, historics and Formula Three, where he raced alongside the likes of Derick Bell, Ronnie Peterson and Frank Williams. Barrie retired from motor racing in 2017, after 60 years of competition.
That Barrie was one of the greats of his era goes without saying, and record books will show his achievements. What they won’t show is the time that Barrie dedicated to encourage young racing drivers. One such driver, Andy ‘Ace’ Harrison, who regarded him as a mentor, paid tribute following his retirement in 2017 by racing in a replica helmet.
Sadly, Barrie died the day before Goodwood Revival and the team were inundated by people wishing to express their sympathies. Their response showed the high esteem that Barrie was held in by enthusiasts and racers alike.
Barrie doing what he loved. Andy ‘Ace’ Harrison and mentor, Barrie. Replica helmet celebrated Barrie’s retirement. Words Mike Cowlam Photography Various