Sir John Whitmore: 1937-2017
Former touring car star, Sir John Whitmore, died on 28 April following a stroke. He was 79. This unpretentious racer turned journalist and motivational speaker inherited the title in 1962, a year after he had claimed the British Saloon Car Championship with a Don Mooretuned 848cc Mini Minor. He had acquired the car for just £400. This success led to a contract with the works team for the following two seasons, which resulted in a class title in ’63. He also excelled in assorted Lotus Elites and Formula Junior single-seaters, yet his name is forever linked with Lotus Cortinas.
The racing baronet joined Alan Mann Racing in 1964 and claimed the 1600cc category of that year’s European Touring Car Championship. He won the title outright the following season, with eight class wins from nine starts (six of them overall victories), while dovetailing outings in Cortinas with racing works AC Cobras and Ford GT40s.
However, he retired from competitive driving at the end of 1966 while still only in his mid-twenties. In later life, he became a highly-respected sports psychologist and columnist for The Daily
Telegraph. In 1990, he was tempted to return trackside aboard a McLaren M8F Can-Am car and was instantly a frontrunner.
Whitmore (right) with Jack Sears (left) and Bob Olthoff inspect their MGA ahead of the 1962 Sebring 12 Hours race.