NOTICE OF DEATH - DENIS BARTHEL 1924 - 2016
We regret to report the death of Life Member Denis Barthel at the age of 91. Denis was elected as a Full Member in 1956 after competing in the Goodwood 9 Hours race with the late Roy Watling-Greenwood in a Cooper-Climax T39. They finished 18th overall and second in the 1100 cc class to the similar but works-run Manx-tailed Cooper of Ivor Bueb and Jim Russell. A resident of Worthing, most of Denis’s racing was at Goodwood in Aston Martins, first in a DB3 in which he finished second in the Novices’ Handicap at Goodwood in March 1955 before winning at Oulton Park a few weeks later. Third in that Oulton Park race was none other than Peter Procter in his Aston Martin DB2/4 who turned the tables later the same day by winning a handicap race with Denis in third place.
The DB3 was replaced by the ex-works Aston Martin DB3S/5 9046 H which had enjoyed success in the hands of Reg Parnell, Stirling Moss, Peter Collins, and Roy Salvadori who bought the car from the factory. Famously Roy then went so well with the car that Stirling became convinced that it was better than the other factory DB3Ss, a situation which required all the tact and diplomacy of Aston’s eminent team manager John Wyer to sort out. It then passed to ‘Tommy’ Atkins for whom rising star Graham Hill drove in 1957. Denis bought the car for 1958, achieving a class win at the Stapleford Hillclimb and finishing third in a handicap at Goodwood. Tragedy ensued shortly afterwards when Denis allowed Alan Overton, the mechanic who maintained the car for him at Rob Walker’s Pippbrook Garage, to drive it in the Gosport Speed Trials. Having set fastest time in his class, Alan Overton failed to slow at the end of the course, plunged into the sea and was killed. The car was rebuilt and later appeared as the ‘Bellini’ in the feature film School for Scoundrels starring Ian Carmichael and Terry-Thomas.
In due course Denis, who was a company director, returned to the tracks with a Mercedes-Benz 300SL with which he enjoyed success at the end of the 50s.
The BRDC offers its sincere condolences to Denis’s wife Marie and family. Funeral arrangements will be published on the website when known.