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NOTICE OF DEATH - MICHAEL 'BIG MIKE' BARNEY (1934-2019)

The Club regrets to have to advise Members of the passing of Mike Barney on 8th March. Known as ‘Big Mike’ by his contemporaries on account of his 6’ 4” height, he was very much of the era when world championship-winning Formula 1 cars were built and tended to throughout a season by fewer mechanics than swarm around a current F1 car to change tyres at one pit stop. Mike became Bruce McLaren’s mechanic at Cooper in July 1959 and was immediately rewarded with Bruce taking third place in the British Grand Prix at Aintree, the young New Zealander finishing almost alongside Stirling Moss’s BRM P25. Mike stayed with Bruce throughout their remaining time at Cooper, becoming chief mechanic for the F1 team as a whole from 1963 when Tony Maggs, Phil Hill and Jochen Rindt were Bruce’s team mates and there were between three and five mechanics to look after the team’s two cars.

In 1966, with the advent of the new 3-litre formula, Bruce McLaren left Cooper to set up his own F1 team and Mike soon joined him as a race mechanic. For the first couple of years, not for lack of effort, results were limited but in 1968, with the availability of the Cosworth DFV engine, the McLaren M7A proved to be a race winner in the hands of both Bruce himself and team mate Denny Hulme who finished third in the Drivers’ World Championship. In 1969 Big Mike ran Peter Gethin’s works-supported Church Farm Racing Team McLaren-Chevrolet M10A in the first European Formula 5000 championship. The paths of Mike and Peter had first crossed when they worked for Dee’s of Croydon and had together attended the 1958 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, won by the Ferrari 246 Dino of Peter Collins. Eleven years later Peter won the F5000 Championship in partnership with Mike.

After leaving McLaren Mike worked for Ron Tauranac on the Brabham BT34 ‘Lobster Claw’ with which Graham Hill won the Daily Express BRDC International Trophy in 1971. By the end of the year he was working for Frank Williams on Henri Pescarolo’s March 711, going on to build the Len Bailey-designed, Ron Tauranac-fettled Politoys (Williams) FX3 for 1972. Also in 1972 Big Mike built the Gordon Murray-designed (around Brabham suspension) Duckhams De Cadenet-Cosworth LM72 which, shared by Alain himself with Chris Craft, was running as high as fourth on Sunday morning in that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours before falling to 12th at the finish following a crash. In the early ‘70s, Formula Ford was taking off around the world and Mike produced a small series of cars for the category, most of which were sold to New Zealand between 1972 and 1974.

In 1977 Mike returned to Brabham, more on the engineering side than the race team, building the BT46-Alfas through to the BT60-Judd of 1991. In his later years Mike worked with the London Toy Museum while retaining an involvement in the sport by running a Cooper with the late Terry Kitson in historic events. Mike was elected to the BRDC as an Associate Mechanic Member in 1998. The Club extends its sincerest condolences to Mike’s wife Maureen and their family. A funeral service will be held for Mike on Friday 5 April at 1.15pm at Randalls Park Crematorium, Randalls Road, Leatherhead KT22 0AG.  All Members are welcome to attend the service and gathering after the service at The Rhodrons Club, Rhodrons Avenue, Chessington, Surrey KT9 1BA.

The Club is sad to report the death of Tommy Sopwith who was elected as a BRDC Member in 1955
The Club regrets to report the death of Jim Russell who was elected as a BRDC Member in 1954
An update on the funeral details of Charlie Whiting
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