A Che­quered Life: Gra­ham Warner and the che­quered flag

Classic Driver - - HOLMAN -

Richard He­sel­tine. 160 pages. Pub­lished 2013 by Ve­loce, who sup­plied the re­view copy (www.ve­loce.co.uk). Avail­able from Oc­tane Books at $75. The Che­quered Flag was one of those pri­vate owner teams that were such a fea­ture of UK rac­ing for many years. Here’s how the team came into be­ing, its star cars & driv­ers, the ven­ture into ral­ly­ing – and the man be­hind it all, Gra­ham Warner. Along the way, it de­scribes his ma­jor in­volve­ment in the restora­tion of a Blen­heim bomber (with my favourite typo; re­fer­ring to the cur­rent Queen’s late mum as “the Queen Mo­tor”!)

Warner was quite a handy racer who seems to have got into car deal­er­ship (The Che­quered Flag was a ma­jor sports car dealer for many years) largely as a way of fund­ing his rac­ing am­bi­tions. He then de­cided that his strength lay more in team man­age­ment which also pro­moted the busi­ness. This meant he raced and ran Lo­tus Elites & Elans, and later ma­jored on ral­ly­ing Lan­cia Stratoses – with limited suc­cess or sup­port from the fac­tory, but to the de­light of spec­ta­tors as the cars were very dra­matic to watch.

Warner gave Jim Clark his first sin­gle-seater drive and ran Gem­ini FJs, in­clud­ing the nee­dle-nosed Mk 4. The team cars were al­ways painted black & white, and he had some top driv­ers like Mike Parkes on board. Later team cars in­cluded AC Co­bras and also Brab­hams and McLarens (Graeme Lawrence’s rather un­happy 1968 F2 sea­son gets a men­tion).

It wasn’t all glam­our by any means (the busi­ness was in ef­fect sold out from un­der him, and his beloved Blen­heim was crashed twice!) but Warner was a key player for many years, and it’s good to see his con­tri­bu­tions recog­nised in this en­joy­able book.

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