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NOTICE OF DEATH - JONATHAN SIEFF (1933-2020)

We regret to have to advise Members that we have just learnt that Life Member Jonathan Sieff passed away on 1st July at the age of 86 after a stroke. A member of the family which owned Marks & Spencer, Jonathan began racing in 1957 with his road car, a Mercedes-Benz 300SL ‘Gullwing’. He also owned for a while a Manx-tailed Cooper-Connaught T39 sports car, which was more often raced by Jonathan’s cousin Peter Blond who had been enjoying success with a red Jaguar D-type.

Towards the end of 1957 Jonathan drove the D-type to fifth place in a handicap race at Goodwood before embarking on a full season with it the following year. By 1958 the D-type was losing its edge as a competitive proposition but Jonathan was able to enjoy a full season mainly in England although his best race was the Aspern Flugplatzrennen for sports cars over 1500 cc in which he was running third until brake problems set in. In England Jonathan finished second in two races at the Full Sutton airfield circuit in Yorkshire to another D-type driven by a young Scottish farmer Jimmy Clark.

One of the new Costin-bodied Lister-Jaguars replaced the D-type for 1959, the racing of which was shared between Jonathan, Peter and also the late Michael Taylor who had strong connections with Lotus. This led to an invitation from Colin Chapman for Jonathan to share a 750 cc Lotus-Climax Type 17 in the Le Mans 24 Hours with an eye on the financially very rewarding Index of Performance. Unfortunately the car overheated and had to be retired before Jonathan had a chance to drive it in the race.

The Lister was sold to Frank Elliott, who crashed fatally while testing the car at Thornaby-on-Tees airfield in April 1960. Jonathan meanwhile had his sights set on a return to Le Mans with a 2-litre Lotus Elite which Colin Chapman was building. He had joined forces with Michael Taylor under the Taylor and Crawley Racing Team banner for a full season of Formula 1 racing with the prototype ex-Innes Ireland Lotus Type 18. After a desultory outing in the BRDC Daily Express International Trophy, at the next race, the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps, the team’s season ended almost before it had begun when during a practice session the steering broke, sending Michael into the trees at high speed minutes after Stirling Moss’s Type 18 had lost a wheel and crashed heavily. Although Michael largely recovered from his serious injuries, he never raced again. The next day during the race itself Team Lotus suffered another disaster when Alan Stacey and Chis Bristow, both of whom had been suggested as replacements for Michael in the 2-litre Elite alongside Jonathan, were fatally injured in separate crashes.

The week before Spa, Jonathan had finished sixth in the Rouen Grand Prix for Sports and GT cars in his Aston Martin DB4GT. This was to be his last race for, whilst acclimatising himself at Le Mans in a 1216 cc Lotus Elite before tackling the 2-litre, Jonathan crashed very heavily on the Mulsanne Straight, sustaining massive injuries from which he eventually made a ‘miraculous recovery’ in the words of his orthopaedic surgeon. Jonathan was far from finished with motor racing, however, and developed increasing interests in the motor trade. He acquired Roy Salvadori’s Elmbridge Motors and also Thomson & Taylor at Cobham with Alfa Romeo and later Maserati concessions, not to mention Moskvich and Volga at the other end of the spectrum. After the death of Charles Cooper, Jonathan and his business partners acquired Cooper Cars, appointed Roy Salvadori as racing manager and negotiated a supply of Maserati V12 engines for the new 3-litre Formula 1, enjoying some success initially with Jochen Rindt, John Surtees and Pedro Rodriguez amongst others. However, the doors of the racing team finally had to be closed for financial reasons in May 1969 since there was no question of M & S providing financial support.

What became the Cooper Group was sold to Inchcape and Jonathan, who was elected to Full Membership of the BRDC in 1966, moved away from an involvement in motor racing, turning his attention to competitive horse riding. However, he remained in close touch with his friends and contemporaries in the BRDC.   A private family service will be held shortly.         

 

     

We have just learned from Tim Schenken in Australia the sad news that Life Member Neil Crang died on the 20th July at the age of 70.
The Club Office has just learned that one of our oldest Members, Mike Oliver, died last Wednesday, 15th July. He was 99 years old and had been a Full Member since 1949.
As many Members may have already heard, Ron Tauranac passed away peacefully in his sleep on 17 July. He was 95 years of age and had been an Honorary Member of the BRDC since 1971.
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