Sunday, April 18, 2021

AFGHANISTAN - THE REALITY AND THE SAD TRUTH by John Crawford

Once again we are standing on the edge of another precipice above the state of conflict known as Afghanistan. The Americans will be out in September, and believe me, the Taliban will be back in before the door swings shut on the last US soldier to leave.

 

The sad truth is, the Taliban never left, it was just that the coalition forces did manage to subdue the tribes for a while with massive bombardments, and attacks on fortified refuges. But, every village has a few Taliban among the populace, so consequently Taliban ‘ideas’ permeate all social levels.

 

I spent three days in Afghanistan during the 1977 Singapore Airlines London-to-Sydney Car Rally, crossing the country from its third largest city, Herat, to the capital Kabul, via the second-largest city, Kandahar, along the Trans-Asia Highway, which in 1977 was the country’s only continuously-paved highway – a distance close to 3000km.




I found it a fascinating country filled with contrasts – both in culture and topography.

 

Afghanistan’s history from 500BC to today has been simply a mix of wars, tribal conflicts, over-riding hordes of invaders, right up to the modern Russian intervention.

 

Interestingly though, all the conquerors were beaten in the end – none ever really triumphed over the tribes and the territory. The land is rugged, rough, mountainous and presents very difficult conditions to fight in – which always suited the Afghanis more than those who tried to subjugate them.

 

Persian Pashto (Afghanistan) as a ‘modern’ state has only existed since 1747.


Kandahar contrasts - British colonial buildings, overshadowed by modern hotel




Alexander The Great and his Macedonian army conquered the country in 330BC and ever since the country has become a brewing ground for wars – either by attacks from external forces, or internal troubles, it has been made up of many ‘empires’ including GrecoBactriansKushansHephthalitesSaffaridsSamanidsGhaznavidsGhoridsKhaljisTimuridsMughalsHotakis and Durranis.

 

Since 330BC many and various ‘power plays’ have controlled the country, and by our modern standards Afghanistan “has never known long-lasting peace”.

 

Unfortunately for the Afghan people the country was seen as a ‘gateway to India’; being a vital part of ‘The Silk Road’; and it sat on many important trade and migration routes. It’s long been called the ‘Central Asian Roundabout’ with converging routes from the Middle East, the Indus Valley, through passes over the Hindu Kush from the Far East, and linking to the Eurasian Steppes.

 

The British attempt to control tribal fighting resulted in the ‘line of partition’, which solved nothing, and merely increased tribal tensions because the arbitrary line divided not only many tribal dynasties, but in many cases whole families.

 


The Afghans spend most of their time fighting each other – the Taliban involvement is just an inter-tribal conflict between secular and Islamist groups, which the West has no role in whatsoever. Once Western forces depart, Afghanistan will simply revert to what it has been doing since 330BC.

 

There is no ‘saving Afghanistan’ from itself. Trying to control tribes like the PashtunsTajiksHazarasUzbeksTurkmenAimakPashayiBalochPamiris and the Nuristanis is a thankless task, and today Afghanistan’s people won’t give any outsiders ‘thanks for helping them’.

 

The ‘Endless War’ has simply poured money and munitions into a country controlled by tribal warlords and made many of them rich at the West’s expense. It has solved nothing – and never will.

 

Conflict in Afghanistan is like many of the battles in the Middle East – it’s not a war of weapons, but a war of ideas. You can kill as many people as you like, but it’s almost impossible to kill ‘ideas’.




During our three days crossing the country, and because of my pathological curiosity about ‘everything’, I sought out as many different Afghanis as I could, to ask them about the country and how it’s ruled.

 

Broadly, the common answer was, “It’s got nothing to do with anyone else”.

 

So, sadly, when the coalition forces leave, Afghanistan will fall back into the fight between its more secular citizens, and the hard-line, extreme Islamist Taliban.

 

In other words – same old, same old. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

MEMORIES OF AMELIA by John Crawford

Recently I was trawling my extensive photo library, and filed in an obscure folder I found this quite wonderful memory from the last Concours I attended at Amelia Island in 2006, the year I retired from Bentley Motors North America.

I sent the photo on to Amelia Founder, Chairman, and my good friend, Bill Warner. I will post his response below, and bittersweet the memories were too.

Ken  Gross, writer;  Edward Herrmann, distinguished actor; Michael Lamm, writer;  Bill Brodrick, “The Hat Man”;  Peter Egan, writer R&T;  Keith Crain, publisher ;  Steve Roby, McLaren Engineer;, Jack Telnack, Designer;  Leo Levine, writer (died last week)  David E. Davis, Jr…..simply the best;  Johnnny Rutherford, 23 time Indy winner; Steve Pasteiner, Designer; Christian Phillipsen, raconteur; Peter Bryant, Shadow engineer, Bill Spoerle, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Bobby Unser, 3 time Indy winner; John Herlitz, Designer, Chrysler Corp.; Linda Sharp, racer;  William Jeanes; author, writer , publisher R&T and Car and Driver; Peter Brock, designer, engineer, racer;  Gus Ehrmann, Bonneville Record Holder (MG Special), Denise McCluggage, author, writer, racer;  Tim Considine, actor and automotive writer; Peter Egan, writer R&T;  Matt Stone , author , editor Motor Trend; Brian Redman, 4 time world endurance champion;  Chuck Queener, artist;  Tom Kowaleski, PR Chrysler Corp and GM;  Risch Ceppos, writer and racer;   Brock Yates, author, writer, racer.

 

John, sincerely, thanks for the memories.

Lots of good friends in this photo, and I am missing them all - those who've passed, and those who are still here, but due to COVID running rampant in America, I will never see again.

John Crawford

Thursday, April 8, 2021

BENTLEY IN AMERICA - MAKING A MARQUE (Part 3) - by John Crawford

Establishing a presence for Bentley in the lifestyle media scene in the USA demanded a dedicated resource, and I was thrilled when the PR Manager from our central European office in Berlin, Annette Koch, accepted our offer to join the small PR team in Detroit.

 

We could never have achieved the results we did without her unwavering commitment, her European style and sophistication, and her complete focus on the challenge.


Over to you Annette ….

 

When I arrived in Michigan in 2003, the range of programs encompassing the automotive media were coming to fruition, and we decided it was time to broaden the appeal of Bentley cars, so we immediately implemented programs focussing on the ‘lifestyle’ outlets of the American media scene.

 

Consistent with our whole PR approach to the challenges of establishing Bentley as a new brand, and also introducing a consistent set of brand values across all sections of the media, I was assigned to infiltrate as many levels of the lifestyle media landscape as we could, with quite meagre resources, and the task of targeting the luxury and fashion industry, personalities in the public eye, and eventually entwining these activities with Bentley cars, to complete the circle.

 

PR Director John Crawford gave me whatever resources he had available, but left it entirely to me, to develop programs which would appeal to a range of creative types, who probably never envisaged that ‘their brand’ could work with a British automotive icon.

 

Ultimately, this led to me spending quite a lot of time in New York, and occasionally Los Angeles and Chicago, as I created a ‘model’, or modus operandi I could utilise consistently across the country, which would deliver results. 

 

Starting with the fashion industry, it was of course impossible to attempt high visibility sponsorships associated with high value consumer brands, because we simply didn’t have the budget. 


However, I did identify a lot of opportunities in the luxury business as such, which would bring the Bentley name to prominence, albeit in a more circuitous manner.

 

The contacts which we successfully established were a combination of three opportunities: Firstly, partnerships which Bentley Motors headquarters in Crewe, UK had built and which we transferred to the respective representatives in the U.S. such as Breitling watches for example.


Secondly, contacts introduced by the branding agency Visual Therapy, which we took on board to help us.


The principals, Joe Lupo (right) and Jesse Garza were invaluable in helping me understand the ins and outs of the American lifestyle media; the high society landscape; and luxury buying patterns.

And last but not least, contacts which we established ourselves by having a clear focus on key publications, socialites and media personalities. 

 

The timing could not have been better: We had just launched the new Bentley Continental GT, a stunning grand tourer and the perfect combination of power, performance, presence and luxury.



It appealed to the Zeitgeist: Traditional British craftsmanship; German technology; and a very contemporary and understated design. All of a sudden Bentley was an aspirational brand.


And yet, it still remained a huge task to make it known in such a large and diverse market as the USA. To make it appeal to people who had previously not thought of buying a premium luxury car, or who had no understanding at all of what a modern Bentley would even look like.

 

This led to the idea of the “Bentley VIP Party”: Its goal was to show Bentley in totally unexpected surroundings, to a completely new audience.


So, to launch the Continental GT on the West Coast we showcased it like a piece of art in the Gagosian Gallery on Camden Drive, Los Angeles.


Gagosian guests included Denis Franz and Buzz Aldrin

In New York we put it into the new and trendy Heller Gallery in the Meatpacking District which was quite a bold move at the time. 


In New York, Kim Cattrall headlined our Party

By partnering with likeminded luxury partners for the parties, for example NetJets, Breitling, a variety of jewellery brands, and British luxury hotels such as Claridges or The Connaught, we introduced our brand to a whole new clientele.

 

And at the same time, we made best use of a limited budget as all partners contributed financially to the events. Alongside media partnerships with The Robb Report, Hamptons Cottages & Gardens or Ocean Drive Magazine, for example, we added another lifestyle dimension to our events. And generated coverage in our target media outlets.

 

We even contrived to become involved on the fringe of New York’s Fashion Week, with a low budget partnership with the new and growing fashion label Alice&Olivia, discovered by Visual Therapy.



The label was started by young designer Stacey Bendet (right), and true to Joe Lupo’s predictions she went on to become a major designer, now selling in 50 countries!


So, it was just the right way to attach Bentley to Fashion Week – rubbing shoulders with Fashion Week’s major, multi-million-dollar sponsor, Mercedes-Benz! 

 



Vanity Fair's Amy Fine Collins (above), dedicated a chapter of her book “The God of Driving” to the Bentley Continental GT. The book describes how she managed to overcome her fear of driving, with a talented driving instructor.

Amy's book launch event in New York was very high-value exposure. 


Yet, arguably, the biggest coup was that we managed to become an integral partner of one of the most important fixtures in Hollywood’s society calendar: The Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar Party. This is where we auctioned off the first Bentley Continental GT to be delivered to a US customer.

In addition to fantastic visibility, we were thrilled to contribute to such an important charity.

 

Annette Koch

 


Annette returned to Europe in 2006, taking with her all her experience and achievements, and went on to further entrench Bentley into European media, working with Bentley dealers in Moscow, Kiev, Riga, Tallinn, Warsaw, Stockholm, Athens and Copenhagen. She was an invaluable asset to establishing a credible image for Bentley in America, and Europe.


The original idea, to introduce automotive coverage into lifestyle magazines eventually began to pay off, with magazines as diverse as Architectural Digest, Harper's Bazaar, Forbes, plus the cover of The Robb Report.


Having Bentley widely accepted as a premium luxury performance car in its own right, after years of being hidden in the shadow of Rolls-Royce was achieved in just four years.


It's also interesting that the overall shape of the latest Continental GT has only changed with detailed design evolution, rather than complete change.


As the years went on we celebrated original Bentley buyers from the art and fashion worlds, who re-purchased newer Bentleys, like Cindy Crawford, Ralph Lauren and Australian singer Delta Goodrem.



I am very confident that the multi-layered approach to giving Bentley a ‘push’ into, then, the world’s most competitive luxury market was exactly the right recipe, especially given the careful allocation of a relatively low level of resources.


I think the end result, where Bentley posed with fashion models; was used as an accessory in fashion shoots; winning major automotive design awards; and the Brand used as a reference for precision and quality simply completed the circle we started in 1998.







However, the most significant contributor was the combination of innovative thinking and hard work by my own staff, Deniz and Beth, plus Annette Koch's innate sense of style, and a tremendously experienced and energetic PR agency in Los Angeles, JMPR, led by the inexhaustible Joe Molina.

 

 

John Crawford

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

TOURING - PERTH TO ALBANY, WESTERN AUSTRALIA by John Crawford

The first European explorers to venture into what is now known as the Indian Ocean, and sailed east were the Dutch, which began trading for spices in what is now Indonesia, from the earliest part of the 17th century.

The first Dutchman to chart Australia’s west coast was Willem Janszoon, aboard the Duyfken in 1606. After that more than 30 European expeditions visited Australia’s west and southern coasts, but Dutchman Willem de Vlamingh first saw what is now Perth, in 1697.

In 1826 the colonial capital in Sydney ordered the establishment of a penal settlement at Albany, in the south of Western Australia, just in case of annexation by French explorers.

However, the most significant information about the west coast came from an expedition by British scientist-mariner, Matthew Flinders, aboard a small ship called Investigator, when he completed the first circumnavigation of Australia between 1802 and 1803.

Perth was first established in 1829, in a settlement party headed by Captain James Stirling.

Perth, viewed from Kings Park

Evidence of indigenous tribes in the Swan River Basin has been archeologically-dated to have occurred over a period of more than 38,000 years, and the main tribe was known as Nyoongar.


The city sits on the Swan Coastal Plain, backed in the east by the Darling Scarp, a range of low hills.

Today, Perth is a vibrant multicultural city thanks to the influx of a wide variety of Europeans who settled in the area after arriving from long sea voyages, prior to and after the establishment of the Suez Canal. There are large communities of British expats, plus big groups of Germans and Italians.


The makeup of Western Australia’s early residents changed dramatically when gold was discovered in 1890, in the eastern goldfields, which are about 380 miles east of Perth. 

Large numbers of Chinese workers arrived, and were recruited by miners as labourers. There was also a large influx of Americans who left the USA, as the gloss went off the west coast gold rush.

Wine seems to have replaced gold as the new ‘thing’. Wine growing began in the Swan Valley in 1830, but in 1960, winemakers were looking for more ideal conditions.

The narrow coastal strip between the ocean and the hills of the Darling Scarp enjoys extremely fertile conditions, especially around Margaret River, where the cooling breezes from the Indian Ocean create ideal conditions for vineyards. The Great Southern wine-growing region is an area 200 miles wide and 100 miles long, and is now responsible for some of the world’s finest wines.

After departing the city of Perth, the beginnings of this Great Drive must include a visit to the port city of Fremantle (right), which enjoys the retention of a large number of old colonial buildings in its downtown area, along with an extensive variety of fine dining restaurants.

It's a big fishing port too, with a large variety of fish restaurants around the inner harbour.


Fremantle
The main coastal road is Route 12, but when you reach the town of Mandurah, look for directions to Route 1. This drive takes you past a number of large lakes, and through the Myalup State Forest, where you begin to appreciate the unusual trees which are native to Western Australia.

Just under two hours from Perth you will reach the city of Bunbury, but continue along to the town of Busselton which makes a great lunch stop, and brings you in close contact with the ocean beaches which offer great waves for surfers.

Bunbury

Busselton

In Bunbury Route 1 heads inland, so look for directions to Route 10 (Bussell Highway), which follows the coast.

After you leave Busselton, you will reach the township of Margaret River, about four hours south of Perth. As this is now the main centre for wine making in Western Australia it has attracted world class restauranteurs and wine makers.

Margaret River







There is a wide variety of accommodations, from 5-Star to budget, and Margaret River is the ideal place to pause for a few days, and visit not only the vineyards, but also the beaches and the surrounding national parks.

South of Margaret River, Route 10 goes inland, but Route 250 south will lead you to Boranup, and the Mammoth Cave. 

Mammoth Cave

Rejoining Route 10 (Brockman Highway) you will enter dense forests which reveal the huge variety and majesty of Western Australia’s native trees – the karri, jarrah, marri and tanglewood.

Route 10 continues to parallel the coast, but is well inland as most of the coastal region is made up of extensive sand dunes. This road connects once again with Route 1 (South Western Highway), and at Walpole the road becomes the South Coast Highway, which you will follow to journey’s end at Albany, about 340 miles south of Perth.


Albany’s colonial settlement predates Perth and Fremantle by two years.

Albany


Albany Town Hall
As Western Australia’s only deep water port, it was the first port of call for ships from Europe, however after Fremantle offered deep water port anchorage in 1897, Albany’s importance as a port declined, and the surrounding area turned to agriculture and timber felling.

Also prominent was whaling, as the Southern Ocean is a migrating path for Southern Right Whales and Humpback whales, and Albany’s two whaling stations operated from the 1950s to 1978.


During the First World War, Albany was the last stop in Australia for troops heading off to fight in Europe, and there’s a large Cenotaph statue commemorating the hundreds of thousands of Australians who signed up for the Great War.

Albany has a wide variety of accommodation and restaurants, but perhaps not quite 5-Star, as its popularity as a tourist destination began to level off in the 1990s.

However, with its Mediterranean climate, and extensive parks, tourist drives and well-preserved history, it is an excellent stopping point, before returning to Perth.


John Crawford

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

BMW'S DESIGN DERAILED by John Crawford

BMW designs have endured a fair share of criticism over the past 20 years, especially since the arrival of American Chris Bangle in 1999. Bangle was almost universally scorned for what was referred to in design circles as ‘flame surfaced’ shapes, and ‘The Bangle Butt’ – most noticeable on the design of the (E65) 7 Series.


In 2008 Bangle presented a sports car theme he called the GINA, an acronym for some unfathomable description of obscure design aesthetics. The GINA was out there, and some flavours reoccurred in the Z3 and Z4 when convex and concave surfaces met at extreme angles. Bangle admitted his designs did not look so good in photos, and advised critics to see the cars themselves before forming an opinion.

 

To be fair the term ‘flame surfacing' did not come from Bangle, but was an epithet heaped on his design cues by some unnamed automotive journalist. However, as the shape of BMW sedans and coupes veered off on a different path, the changes Bangle inspired, also inspired a new cadre of young automotive designers keen to join him in Munich.

 

The question often asked by critics and outsiders is: “How did Bangle convince the BMW Board his designs would be commercially successful?” One of my BMW moles in Munich told me in Geneva in 2014, that you had to see him in action. My mole said Bangle was theatrical and artful in his seduction of the Board members.




Prior to Bangle’s resignation from BMW in March 2009 to start his own design consultancy, Dutchman Adrian van Hooydonk (right) had joined the Munich design team the same year, after a successful stint running BMW Designworks in California.

Between them they hatched all the new, and most recent BMW designs – sedans, sports cars and SUVs.

Adrian van Hooydonk was named Head of Design following Bangle's departure.

 

It’s probably true to say that apart from Bangle’s 2001 X-Coupe concept, his designs weren’t really considered genuinely ‘avant garde’ – however, his successor has splashed a new BMW design DNA across the automotive world with exceptional confidence, and bravery.

 

Quite a few of van Hooydonk’s contemporaries, and many automotive journalists described the Concept 4 coupe, which debuted at the 2019 Frankfurt auto show, as ‘one of the ugliest cars of all time’ thanks to its huge, vertical kidney grille. The concept car isn’t too far away from the sketches, but the dominance of the grille seems to destroy any aspect of pleasant cohesion in the proportions.




In profile the production 440 coupe appears conventional, but head on it appears to glower at you with a combination of aggression and menace.



However, after some diligent research it appears that van Hooydonk looked back to a 1970 BMW concept designed by Marcello Gandini when he was in charge of design at Bertone. The man who penned the Lamborghini Countach and Muira, produced a design exercise for BMW called the ‘Garmisch’.

 

Pretty it wasn’t. Eschewing the curved surfaces of the early 70s, Gandini settled on a convergence of straight lines, which resulted in a stiff, angular shape, adorned with a huge almost diamond-shaped grille which followed Gandini’s own concept of the kidney grille.

 

The car was hustled off to a storage garage immediately after the 1970 Geneva Salon, but last year, after gathering up photos, sketches, and eventually the original concept car, van Hooydonk embarked on a recreation of the Garmisch, which (like the original) was built on a 2002 coupe platform.


Adrian van Hooydonk and Marcello Gandini with the re-created 'Garmisch'


Despite the contemporary result being high on integrity to the 1970 concept, in my opinion, it’s just as ugly second time around – but I think you can see where van Hooydonk’s inspiration for the next phase of BMW designs has come from.

 

Adrian van Hooydonk says, in response to widespread criticism of the ‘new look’, that BMW now has ten model lines across its catalogue, and he favours moving the segments apart from a design perspective - so only he knows what the next SUVs will look like.

I guess the iX EV (right) gives us a clue – and it hasn’t been widely-praised either.

 


Our roving correspondent, Paul Gover, has recently driven a range of 4 Series BMWs, and I look forward to his review of the cars’ dynamic performance. I guess the deal is, ‘when you’re behind the wheel’ you can’t see the bloody awful grille.




John Crawford

Thursday, March 25, 2021

WINNERS ARE GRINNERS by John Crawford

My good friend Roger Putnam has sent me this wonderful memento of Jaguar’s 1988 victory at Le Mans.

 

The dust had settled, TWR had brought the winning car to Jaguar’s Browns Lane head office, along with the team which raced to victory, the team which funded it, plus the man who made it happen.




Left to right: Johnny Dumfries, Andy Wallace, Jan Lammers, Jaguar Chairman Sir John Egan, Director of Sales and Marketing Roger Putnam, Director of Public Relations David Boole and the mercurial Tom Walkinshaw.

 

After an unsuccessful tilt in 1987, TWR built FIVE identical XJR-9LMs, put a fantastic team of drivers and support crew together, and with healthy sponsorship from Silk Cut, and a full corporate commitment from the Board Members in this photo the first win at Le Mans since 1957 became a reality.

 

However, it’s worth revisiting some details of the race, because in the aftermath it turned out to be a spectacular tale of survival. Although Car #2 led from the start, the Porsche 962s were in hot pursuit, and between them the leading Porsche team drivers Bell/Stuck/Ludwig, had 10 Le Mans victories among them!



Two of the five Jaguars withdrew, and as the Lammers, Wallace, Dumfries car entered the final hour, it was clear to Lammers there was something wrong with the gearbox.

The two previous Jaguar withdrawals had come about because of gearbox failure. With 45 minutes to go Lammers drove as smoothly as he could whilst still keeping the 962 at bay.




There was one more pit stop for the leading Jaguar, and Lammers stayed in the car, slipping the clutch so that the torquey V12 would pull away from rest in fourth gear and back on the track, without alerting the Porsche pits of trouble.

We should all pay tribute to Lammers' skill and experience in endurance racing, that he knew instinctively how gently to treat the car, circulating for the last stint with only fourth gear, yet still maintaining consistent lap times and his lead over the Porsche, which had a big hill to climb, because a 90 second gap is practically half a lap around Le Mans. By then the German cars were suffering excessive fuel consumption, and even speeding up would probably never have closed the gap.



Tom Walkinshaw ordered the three remaining Jaguars to finish line astern, as if to throw the sense of total domination at the Porsche team.

 

The week after the event race engineer for car 2, Eddie Hinckley, opened the gearbox, and as he split the casing most of the innards fell to the ground.

 

Eddie reported to TW that the main shaft had broken, about two hours from the end. Fortunately, said Eddie, it broke in the middle of the 4th/5th gear hub, which is splined onto the main shaft and this carried the drive-through.

 

Walkinshaw said later: “One more gear change could have ended our run, Jan was very smart with how he dealt with the gearbox problem, and the pursuing Porsche.”

 

John Crawford

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

DRIVEN PERSONALITIES - VALÉ JOHNNY DUMFRIES by John Crawford


Johnny Dumfries, 7th Marquess of Bute, has died of cancer at the young age of 62, and it is a very sad loss for those of us who observed him close-up in his motor racing forays.

 

Johnny was a loveable, genial and yet serious racer, who had an impressive F3 career, who competed as a teammate to Ayrton Senna, raced Lotus in Formula One, but most importantly, in my opinion, he was part of the team which won the 1988 Vingt Quatre Heures du Mans for Jaguar.



I was there that day, with tears in my eyes as the marque won for the first time since 1957. He mounted the winners’ podium with his teammates Andy Wallace and Jan Lammers.

And, what a win it was!


Up until it began to rain on Sunday, Porsche had Jaguar’s measure, but when it rained the 962 co-driven by my mate Derek Bell was able to take the lead


However, when the rain stopped the Jaguars regained the lead, because all the 962 Porsches were suffering from high fuel consumption.



It wasn’t until after the race, Tom Walkinshaw announced that the gearbox on Jaguar #2 was a bloody mess. He had been telling the media toward the end of the race, they had slowed the car to save fuel – so car #2 literally limped across the line, with the other team cars lined up behind (1st; 4th; 16th).



Whatever! It was an historic victory.

 

I started attending the 24 Hour race in 1984, and after missing out in 1987, 1988 was a really full-bore effort by TWR, because Jaguar had made a huge investment.


In the paddock I had a chance to follow every development, discussing tactics with Henri Pescarolo, and keeping up to date with TW himself. 

Occasionally I managed to watch the action in Pit box #2.

That year I did have a brief connection with Johnny. Part of the duties of members of the Jaguar driving team, was that drivers were required to occasionally ‘drop in’ to the Jaguar hospitality suite to hob-nob with Chairman Sir John Egan, Board members, celebrities and other executives.

 

Mid-morning on Sunday, Andy Wallace and Johnny Dumfries stopped by, and after Andy returned to the pits for another driving stint, Johnny appeared to be at a ‘loose end’ and was clearly uncomfortable with all the fuss.

I said to him: “Do you want me to rescue you?” To which he replied: “Please.” 

After we had left the enclosure he said, “I should have eaten something, I’m starving.”

It was then I suggested I take him to the Grand Marnier crepe stand, and we could have a couple of the famous orange liqueur-flavoured crepes.

We had a brief, but enjoyable time together. He was a pretty quiet bloke, amicable and jovial, but at the same time, serious. 

He was a good pick for a long-distance racer, because he was neither impetuous or unpredictable.

 

After he retired from racing he returned to the tiny isle of Bute (50 square miles – 122 hectares) to take over the reins of the family estate and family home at Mt. Stuart.




Just 7000 people live permanently on Bute, which is served by a car ferry from Wemyss.

History will show he was a steady manager, great family man, a philanthropist and worked tirelessly for the residents of Bute up until his untimely death.

Everyone who came in contact with him admired him, and his racing record speaks for itself.

 

RIP Johnny Dumfries.

 

JOHN CRAWFORD