Obit­u­ary: Bar­rie Williams


Bar­rie ‘Whizzo’ Williams, one of

Bri­tain’s best-loved rac­ing driv­ers of the past half-cen­tury, died at the week­end af­ter a short ill­ness and a fall. He was two months away from his 80th birth­day.

Tributes have poured in from across the sport for Williams, who was renowned for his ex­tro­vert style in just about any type of ma­chin­ery and for his un­fail­ing sense of hu­mour and out­go­ing per­son­al­ity out of the car.

‘Whizzo’ was known to thou­sands of people and had time for ev­ery­one, no mat­ter where they stood in the mo­tor­sport fra­ter­nity. His warm ap­proach­a­bil­ity made him a firm favourite with the fans.

Williams was born in Here­ford­shire to Frank and Kay Williams, and the re­mark­able Kay sur­vives her son.

He was soon in­tro­duced to kart­ing by his fa­ther and had his first car race on Easter Satur­day 1960 at Ruf­forth in York­shire in his road-go­ing Mor­ris Mi­nor. His rac­ing ca­reer pro­gressed through Minis, but he was able to master just about any car and soon be­gan to carve a ca­reer in Pro­duc­tion Sa­loons and tour­ing cars.

He was also an ac­com­plished rally driver and fa­mously won the 1964 Welsh Rally in his Mini Cooper S road car.

The nickname of ‘Whizzo’ came when jour­nal­ist Andrew Mar­riott re­ferred to him as the ‘whizz kid from Wales’, al­though he was not from Wales.

Through the 1980s he raced for the works Colt team in the BTCC and be­came a one-make rac­ing ace, tak­ing ti­tles in Ford Fi­es­tas and Re­nault 5

Tur­bos. In 1985, he fa­mously won the Brands Hatch round of the Europa Cup Re­nault Elf Turbo Cham­pi­onship against the cream of Euro­pean one-make rac­ers.

He made a liv­ing from rac­ing for many years as well as his own busi­ness mov­ing race and road cars around Europe. As the years rolled by, he in­creas­ingly moved to historic rac­ing, where his flam­boy­ant driv­ing style and abil­ity to race any­thing made him a star and reg­u­lar win­ner.

Sev­eral vic­to­ries at Good­wood showed his class and he raced a glo­ri­ous va­ri­ety of cars, from a hum­ble Mor­ris Mi­nor to former Indy Road­sters, AC Co­bras and the tricky Ferguson P99 four­wheel-drive For­mula 1 car.

Into his sev­en­ties, Williams was still rac­ing com­pet­i­tively and win­ning. He never wanted to re­tire from rac­ing, but fi­nally at the end of 2017 he ac­cepted that fail­ing health meant it was time to hang up his fa­mil­iar crash hel­met. He had held a com­pe­ti­tion li­cence for 60 years and raced ev­ery sea­son for well over 50 years.

He al­ways wanted to give back to the sport that had given him so much and he served as pres­i­dent of the Bri­tish Mo­tor­sport Mar­shals’ Club. He once summed up his rac­ing life: “I don’t know what I’d do with­out rac­ing. It’s my way of life. I’ll drive any­thing with four wheels. I race to win, but if I don’t it’s not the end of the world. With a bit of luck, there’s al­ways an­other race.”

Sadly, last Satur­day ‘Whizzo’ slipped away and there won’t be an­other race, but he made such a last­ing im­pres­sion on so many people that his mem­ory will live on. We ex­tend our sym­pa­thies to his part­ner Cathy, mother Kay and his count­less friends across the sport.

‘Whizzo’ was a reg­u­lar at Good­wood Re­vival in later years

Lead­ing the pack: Williams drove many dif­fer­ent cars

Williams (r) with Jochen Mass (c) and Jackie Ste­wart (l)

Com­pe­ti­tion li­cence holder for 60 years

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