‘WHIZZO’ 1938–2018

911 Porsche World - - The Usual Suspects -

The press of­fice at the Clas­sic Mo­tor Show (ex­pertly run as al­ways by An­drea Seed and her Pop­py­seed Me­dia crew) was some­what qui­eter than usual. For the first time for as long as I can re­mem­ber Bar­rie Wil­liams was not there, the in­com­pa­ra­ble ‘Whizzo’ hav­ing passed away a few weeks be­fore at the age of 79. He wasn’t a writer, but his witty tales and supreme car knowl­edge were al­ways wel­come amongst the journos.

Ev­ery­body loved Whizzo, not just for his un­con­trol­lable laugh but also for his mas­tery of any­thing on four wheels, in­clud­ing Porsche. Some­body has said that he ‘usu­ally man­aged to find a Porsche drive when­ever there was a GT race in the UK’ but most no­tably he won the top class in the Porsche Club Cham­pi­onship with a 911 in both 1989 and 1990, took podi­ums in a brace of 1000kms races and in 1998 – with Max Beaverbrook and Ge­off Lis­ter – took the BVB Rac­ing 911 GT2 to over­all vic­tory in the Paul Ri­card 4 Hours round of the GTR Euroseries.

Af­ter rac­ing for his fa­ther’s Fas­takart team he grad­u­ated to driv­ing a tuned Austin A40 (the 1950s one!) in sprints and hill­climbs be­fore mak­ing his track de­but in a Mor­ris Mi­nor 1000. His suc­cesses in the Mor­ris got him a ‘works’ drive with Glouces­ter­shire wine grower Alan Mck­ech­nie, in For­mula 3 Cooper, V8-pow­ered An­glia and a Lo­tus Cortina. Happy in all dis­ci­plines, he won the 1963 Welsh Rally in his own 1071cc Mini Cooper S – the first in­ter­na­tional vic­tory for the model.

The '70s and '80s were busiest for Whizzo. In­ter­viewed for the long de­funct Retro Cars mag­a­zine he told me: ‘One year I was driv­ing in the British Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship with Mazda, in the Pro­duc­tion Car Cham­pi­onship in a Vauxhall, and rac­ing my own car in the Es­cort Mex­ico Cham­pi­onship. I also went ral­ly­ing, I was a busy boy’.

Bar­rie's ef­forts in the ro­tary-en­gine Mazda RX3 in the ’75 British Grand Prix sup­port race earned him a trip to race in Bar­ba­dos: ‘The event was or­gan­ised by the Bar­ba­dos Rally Club. Alec Poole, Derek Mcmahon and I drove a Mini Moke into the open-air bar, some­one pulled the hand­brake on, and we all fell out onto the dance floor’. I can vouch for that Whizzo story; I was amongst the crowd in the bar.

Whizzo raced or ral­lied al­most any­thing he could get his hands on. In re­cent years his record and his per­son­al­ity made him favourite to pilot what are best de­scribed as ‘sig­nif­i­cant’ cars at top-level re­vival meet­ings such as Good­wood. ‘Sig­nif­i­cant’ own­ers were happy that he could win, and bring their car back without a scratch on it. ERA, Con­naught, To­jeiro Jaguar, BRM, AC Co­bra, his trade­mark or­ange hel­met found a place in all the greats.

I’ll miss my press room chats with Whizzo.

Barry ‘Whizzo’ Wil­liams a hugely ta­lented club rac­ing force of na­ture, whose skill be­hind the wheel was matched by his abil­ity to en­ter­tain away from the driver’s seat

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