NOTICE OF DEATH - JACK SEARS (1930 - 2016)
It is with very great regret that the BRDC has to report that Jack Sears passed away on the evening of Saturday 6 August. He had been suffering from cancer for some time.
Jack was born into a motoring family, his father Stanley having a particular passion for veteran and vintage cars and ultimately became President of the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain. Jack was educated at Charterhouse before going to the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester in order to pursue his chosen career as a farmer but motor sport was never far away. From his first race in 1950 with an MG TC at Goodwood and various competitive events in his father’s ex-Dario Resta 1914 TT Sunbeam, Jack progressed through a variety of typical ‘50s sports cars –in particular a Cooper-MG and a Lister-Bristol – before beginning an association with the British Motor Corporation, first with an Austin A50 in the 1956 Monte Carlo Rally before acquiring the Austin A105 Westminster with which he won the first British Saloon Car Championship in 1958, after a shootout with Tommy Sopwith in a pair of Riley 1.5s at Brands Hatch. The A105 was followed by an Austin-Healey 3000 for a mixture of racing and international rallying.
For the next few years until Ford came calling for 1963, Jack became one of the outstanding drivers of saloon and GT cars in British racing at the wheel of Tommy Sopwith’s Equipe Endeavour Jaguar 3.4 and 3.8 saloons, Jaguar E-type, Aston Martin DB4GT and Ferrari 250GT Berlinetta. His duel with Colin Chapman’s John Coombs 3.8 in the saloon car race supporting the 1960 British Grand Prix at Silverstone will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it; in later years Jack could recall with precise detail how it was that the Lotus founder pipped him at the post. In 1963 Jack won his second BSCC title, mainly with John Willment’s vast NASCAR Ford Galaxie, supplemented by some races in a Ford Cortina GT and a Lotus Cortina. He was also invited by Maranello Concessionaires to share a Ferrari 330LMB at Le Mans with the late Mike Salmon which was rewarded with a class win and fifth overall.
John Willment acquired an AC Cobra for 1964 with which Jack had a memorable race at Brands Hatch in the British GP support race when he charged back from a black flag pit stop to win after catching and passing the E-type of Jackie Stewart. The second Willment Cobra, the Coupe, also produced another of Jack’s legendary drives when he won the Autosport 3 Hours at Snetterton in increasingly dense fog. Jack used to enjoy telling how all the other drivers in the race lined up behind him because they reckoned that, as a local farmer, he ought to know which way the road went! For what proved to be Jack’s last season as a driver, he was team mate to Jimmy Clark and Sir John Whitmore in Lotus Cortinas and also shared a Shelby Daytona Cobra with Sir John and Dr Dick Thompson in various rounds of the FIA GT Championship which included a class win again at Le Mans.
Jack’s career ended on a weekday at Silverstone in late 1965 when, after running some laps in Jimmy Clark’s Indy 500-winning Lotus-Ford 38, he went out in a Lotus-Ford 40 for some tyre testing. The car went out of control at Abbey, landing on top of Jack and almost severing his left arm. Thanks to the skill of surgeon Ken McKee (father of BRDC Member the late Mike McKee) Jack’s arm was saved but there would be no more racing. After a lengthy recovery, Jack was soon back into motor sport, planning and undertaking a full recce of the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon. When that major undertaking was successfully completed Jack became a director of both the BRDC and some of its subsidiary companies, in particular Green Crop Conservation Ltd given his farming background and also Bradley Plant Hire Ltd and Silverstone Leisure Limited. When Gerald Lascelles retired as President of the Club in 1991 he was succeeded by Jack who very regrettably had to stand down a year later as a result of the Walkinshaw affair. Although deeply saddened by the outcome of his many years of service to the Club, Jack never lost touch and was a regular attender at AGMs, EGMs and other Club occasions. He also served as a Steward of the Royal Automobile Club, Chairman of the RACMSA race committee and Chairman of the Ferrari Owners’ Club. In recent years Jack enjoyed and was honoured by the fact that the British Touring Car Championship instigated an annual trophy in his name, currently for the best performance by a BTCC rookie.
To his wife Diana, son David and daughters Suzanne and Jennifer, the BRDC extends its sincere condolences at the loss of someone who was unique in the contribution which he made to motor sport both on and off the track. For his many friends within the Club or any Members who wish to pay their respects, Jack's funeral will take place in the Parish Church of St. Nicholas, Church Street, Ashill, Norfolk, IP25 7AW at 14:00 on Thursday 18 August followed by a wake at Lynford Hall Hotel, Mundford, Nr Thetford, IP26 5HW which is approximately 10 miles away from Ashill. For those wishing to stay overnight at Lynford Hall Hotel, a discounted bed & breakfast rate of £85 is available to anyone who mentions that they are attending the wake at the time of booking. For more information about Lynford Hall, visit www.lynfordhallhotel.co.uk