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As many will now already be aware, BRDC Member Barrie Williams passed away on the morning of Saturday 8 September, a few weeks short of his 80th birthday. He had sadly been in declining health in recent months.

Universally known throughout the motor sport world as ‘Whizzo’, Barrie was one of the most versatile competitors of the last 60 years. From an early age, he wanted to be a racing driver and wrote from his boarding school to David Brown, owner of Aston Martin and Lagonda, asking to join the Aston racing team. Brown’s reply was to suggest that Barrie became an engineering apprentice with David Brown Tractors, based in Huddersfield. Duly ensconced in West Yorkshire, Barrie soon found himself making friends with a group of like-minded enthusiasts, members of the Huddersfield Motor Club. As was possible in the late 1950s, the same car could be used for rallies, racing, autotests, hillclimbs and sprints and Barrie acquired a Morris Minor 1000 with which he entered his first race in 1960 at the Rufforth airfield track near York.

In 1962, Barrie had to leave David Brown Tractors to return home to manage the family motor business in Bromyard, Herefordshire when his father became ill but he maintained his involvement in all available types of motor sport, earning a growing reputation in the West Country as a young driver to watch. National fame came his way in January 1964 when he won the first International Welsh Rally in a 1071 cc Austin Mini-Cooper S 120MNP which caught the attention of BMC Competitions supremo Stuart Turner. Through 1964 and 1965, the long-suffering 120MNP was used in all the major rallies in the British Isles and several overseas events such as the Geneva and Swedish Rallies.

With support from long-standing friend Alan McKechnie, within a year Barrie was racing in Formula 3, winning first time out in a single-seater in extremely wet conditions at Silverstone. However, the Cooper T83 was not a competitive proposition and in later races was consistently off the pace despite Barrie’s best efforts. He was invited by Rob Beck to race his extraordinary 7-litre Ford Galaxie-engined Jaguar E-type, known as the Jaguar Egal, his exploits in which further enhanced his reputation. Through the 1970s Barrie became one of the crowd-pleasing leading lights on the national racing scene in all manner of machinery, mainly saloon cars. He was third, behind Gerry Marshall and future Formula 1 World Champion Jody Scheckter in the first Ford Escort Mexico series in 1971. His ultra-spectacular performance in a Mazda RX3 in the saloon car race on Grand Prix day at Silverstone in 1975 earned him the Crompton Driver of the Day accolade in preference to all the Formula 1 drivers. He was almost invariably to be found in a Porsche of some sort in the British rounds of the World Sports Car Championship at Silverstone and Brands Hatch.

In the 1980s Barrie twice won the Ford Fiesta Championship, followed by the Renault 5 GT Turbo title in 1987. In 1989 and 1990 he won the top class of the Production Porsche Championship. In 1992 he contested a number of major long distance races in a BMW M3 with Nigel Corner, winning the Group N class of the Nurburgring and Spa 24 Hour races. Barrie also featured for several years among the front runners in the Snetterton Willhire 24/25 Hour races, finishing second in the 1989 event with Kieth Odor. In 1998 with Maxwell Beaverbrook and Geoff Lister in a Porsche 911 GT2, Barrie won the GTR Euroseries four hour race at Paul Ricard.

Increasingly in the 1990s Barrie became a prominent and sought after driver in historic racing, his versatility enabling him to run at the front in all manner of classic sports cars and single seaters. His almost other-worldly car control was displayed in Jaguar E-types, Connaught A-type, BRM P261, Aston Martin DBR4, Maserati 250F, Ferguson P99 and the Turtle Drilling Special amongst others. Outstanding was his drive in Dick Skipworth’s ERA R3A at the Monaco Historique in 2000 when, after stalling on the front row of the grid at the start and setting off last, he drove through the field to finish third. ERAs are not often seen on opposite lock but Barrie was sideways just about everywhere and at the end received one of the greatest ovations seen at this event over the years.

Barrie was elected to the BRDC in 1971 and by 1977 had joined the Club’s board where he remained until the Walkinshaw saga in 1992. He was a passionate Club Member, always wearing the badge with great pride and urging others to do so. In his later years, his distinctive orange helmet sported large BRDC badges on each side. He was President of the British Motor Sport Marshals’ Club and always available for advice and encouragement to marshals and to competitors of all ages and levels of experience. For many years, Barrie was an instructor at Silverstone’s racing drivers’ schools. His knowledge of the sports and the people within it was immense.

It is impossible in these few words to do full justice to the remarkable personality and talented racing driver that was ‘Whizzo’ Williams. He was one of a kind and will be very much missed. The BRDC extends its deepest condolences to Barrie’s partner Kathy and to his many friends throughout the motor sport world. In a change to what was previously advertised in this obituary, a funeral for Barrie 'Whizzo' Williams will take place on Friday 21 September at 11:30am at St Peter's Church, Bromyard HR7 4DZ. All are welcome to attend. Refreshments will be held after at the Plough Inn, Stoke Lacy, Bromyard HR7 4HG. The family have asked if guests could wear a flash of orange (Barrie's racing helmet colour) and that no flowers are sent but donations can be made to Dementia UK.

A celebration of Barrie's life will be held on Saturday 29 September in the BRDC Clubhouse, Silverstone NN12 8TN at 3.00pm. All are welcome to attend.

The Club regrets to report on the death of Neville Hay, who was elected as a BRDC Member in 1993
The Club regrets to report on the death of Alan Minshaw, who was elected as a BRDC Member in 1984
The Club regrets to report on the death of Ray Thackwell who was elected as a BRDC Member in 1957
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