NOTICE OF DEATH - MICHAEL MCKEE
We regret to report the death of Life Member Michael 'Mike' McKee at the age of 82 after a period of illness. The son of an eminent surgeon Dr Kenneth McKee, Mike was working at the Jaguar dealership in Norwich when he first met Jack Sears who suggested that young Mike’s desire to drive his Jaguar XK120 very quickly on the public highway might be better indulged down the road at Snetterton. In his first race meeting Mike won two races with the XK120 and he was hooked.
Over the next few years Mike raced Elva-Climax sports racing cars, with a Mk V version of which he and Cedric Brierley finished ninth overall and third in the 1100cc class of the 1959 Tourist Trophy, the final round of the World Sports Car Championship. By then Mike, having become one of the first pupils at Jim Russell’s Snetterton-based Racing Drivers’ School, had acquired a taste for single-seaters and had started racing in the burgeoning Formula Junior category with an Elva-BMC 100 with which he won one of the early British races, one of two comprising the World Sports Trophy at Brands Hatch.
After sustaining serious injuries at Le Mans, Jim Russell also entrusted his star pupil, and by now senior instructor, with his Formula 2 Cooper-Climax T45 for the combined F1/F2 Silver City Trophy at Snetterton, Mike finishing sixth overall and second in the F2 class to Chris Bristow’s BRP Cooper-Borgward T51. The year ended with Mike finishing fourth in the seminal John Davy Trophy Formula Junior race at Brands Hatch on Boxing Day in a Cooper-BMC T52. That race was won by Peter Arundell’s Elva-DKW 100 and the two were to become team mates at Team Lotus with Type 18s in 1960, the year which proved to be Mike’s best season. With the Jim Russell F2 Cooper Mike won the Vanwall Trophy at Snetterton and the Aintree Trophy, finished second at Oulton Park to Roy Salvadori’s similar car and was generally a top 10 runner everywhere even when many F1 drivers were present. Also with the F2 Cooper Mike had his second and last outing in a F1 race, the Lombank Trophy at Snetterton from which he retired.
With the Team Lotus-entered, Jim Russell-run Type 18 Mike was team mate not only to Peter Arundell but also to Jimmy Clark and Trevor Taylor. In the BRDC National FJ Championship Mike finished third behind joint winners Jimmy and Trevor but ahead of Peter. On rare trips to the Continent, Mike came away with wins in the Coupe Internationale de Vitesse at Reims and the Danish FJ Grand Prix at Roskilde. Staying with Jim Russell and Team Lotus for 1961, his FJ team mates were once more Trevor and Peter as Jimmy moved up to F1 full time but the results, with the Type 20, were not so good. Mike won an early race at Snetterton and there was a second place (to the Tyrrell Cooper T56 of Tony Maggs) at Zandvoort but a third at Crystal Palace and two fourth places against very strong fields at Monaco and Solitude were the best he could otherwise muster.
Also in 1961 Mike had a few outings for the UDT Laystall team in its Lotus Elite including at Le Mans where the car was fitted with a 742cc Coventry Climax engine to put one over on the French in the Index of Performance. With the team’s F1 driver Cliff Allison, they were leading when the oil pump failed. At the end of the year Mike retired from racing and in due course moved to Monaco where in 1976 he set up his Monaco Fine Arts Gallery, an occasion which was celebrated by prominent sponsorship of Ronnie Peterson’s March 761 in that year’s Monaco Grand Prix.
Michael’s funeral will take place at 10am on Monday 18 January at St Paul’s Church, Monaco.