A Chequered Life: Graham Warner and the chequered flag
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.