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NOTICE OF DEATH - PETER BLOND (1929 - 2021)

We regret to have to inform Members of the death on Sunday 10 January of Life Member Peter Blond at the age of 91 from the effects of Covid19.

Having fulfilled his father’s conditions not to smoke or drink alcohol before his 21st birthday, Peter received the funds required to purchase a 2 ½ litre Jaguar SS100 which he very much enjoyed as a fast road car but felt that he needed something faster with which to start racing. The SS100 was therefore traded with Warren Street motor trader and well known racing driver Roy Salvadori against a race-modified Jaguar XK120. Armed with the new car, Peter took himself to Silverstone, unofficially making his way on to the circuit and managing a few high speed laps before the wrath of Track Manager Jimmy Brown brought him to a halt. Notwithstanding this misdemeanour, Peter was able to take part in his first race as a member of a team of XK120s in the 750 Motor Club’s 6 Hour Relay race a few weeks later.

For the next couple of seasons Peter used the XK120 on the road and for some club racing with modest success. Then in 1954, a year after the Silverstone escapade, he travelled to the Le Mans 24 Hours and contrived to put in some laps after the roads had been closed. This time it required a line of gendarmes, rather than one Silverstone Track Manager, across the road to stop him in his tracks. Peter used to recount how he talked his way out of banishment from the circuit, or a worse fate, by claiming to be a reserve driver for one of the teams, an aspiration which he would realise a few years later.

When the ex-works and Ecurie Ecosse lightweight C-type Jaguars were offered for sale at the end of the 1954 season, Peter resolved to acquire one for some more serious racing. With a loan from his brother-in-law Peter purchased XKC052 (LFS 672), the car which had finished fourth at Le Mans in 1953 in the hands of Peter Whitehead and Ian Stewart and subsequently had enjoyed success with Jimmy Stewart, Sir Jackie’s older brother, and Roy Salvadori driving it for Ecurie Ecosse. Peter carried on the good work, finishing second in his first race with the C-type, to the similar car of Colonel Michael Head, Sir Patrick’s father, at Goodwood in March. This proved to be the best result of the year although there was a series of fourth and fifth places over the course of the season.

The C-type bowed out of its life with Peter by enabling him to finish third at the March 1954 Members’ Meeting at Goodwood, again behind Michael Head, now in a Cooper-Jaguar T38, but they both had to give best to the HWM-Jaguar of George Abecassis. Realising that the C-type was becoming outclassed, Peter returned to Warren Street, this time to the small office of a young Bernie Ecclestone who was able to supply a new red Jaguar D-type. A hire purchase deal was arranged but when Peter, having earned enough money to clear the debt early, asked if he could do so, he found Bernie resolute in requiring payment of the interest in full. The C-type was sold to fellow Jaguar racer, Maurice Charles.

Throughout 1956 the red D-type was a familiar sight on British circuits in the major sports car races. Snetterton was a particularly rewarding venue, Peter winning from the potent Lotus Eleven-Maserati of Brian Naylor in September having finished second a few weeks earlier to the rapid Cooper-Climax T39 of Les Leston. At the end of the year Peter was invited by John Wyer to an Aston Martin test day at Silverstone together with Noel Cunningham-Reid, Rodney Bloor and Mark Lund. The day was curtailed after Mark Lund crashed fatally at Abbey Curve. Noel Cunningham-Reid was the chosen one and would go on to win the 1957 Nurburging 1000 Ks with Tony Brooks in a DBR1/300 a few months later.

The D-type was retained into 1957, enabling Peter to take a second and a third at Snetterton in March. The car was then sold to Peter’s cousin, the late Jonathan Sieff, and Peter came to an arrangement with George Abecassis to replace the Aston Martin-bound Noel Cunningham-Reid in the second works HWM-Jaguar. The HWM was a much more competitive proposition than the Le Mans-focussed D-type on the rather less expansive British tracks so that Peter was consistently able to finish in the first three. His one race win came at Brands Hatch and was one of the highlights of his career. After a race-long battle with Graham Hill in the Aston Martin DB3S of Tommy Atkins, the future double World Champion, who was then on the brink of becoming a Formula 1 driver, spun off at Clearways on the last lap enabling Peter to finish first. ‘Tommy’ Atkins was sufficiently impressed by Peter’s performance that he invited him to drive the DB3S at Goodwood a few weeks later. Unfortunately while leading Peter clipped the chicane wall, the impact affecting the Aston’s steering as the result of which Peter had to settle for second place behind the Michael Head Cooper-Jaguar T38.

Although he is most associated with Jaguars and Jaguar-powered cars, 1957 was the year in which Peter was also able to sample some different machinery ranging from the Connaught-powered Cooper T39 which Jonathan Sieff had acquired from Tommy Sopwith and which earned him a third place at Goodwood behind Tommy’s more conventional Climax-powered T39 and race winner Innes Ireland’s Lotus Type Eleven. Peter had previously shared the Equipe Endeavour Cooper-Climax with Tommy Sopwith in the 1955 Goodwood 9 Hours.

Business commitments meant that Peter had to reduce his racing activities in 1958 so he had to rely on occasional outings in the cars of others. He drove Jack Broadhead’s D-type Jaguar OKV2 in the BRDC British Empire Trophy at Oulton Park, finishing fifth in his heat but retiring in the final. He shared Duncan Hamilton’s D-type in the RAC Tourist Trophy at Goodwood to finish sixth behind the three factory Aston Martin DBR1s, the Porsche 718RSK of Edgar Barth and Jean Behra and the Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar D-type of Innes Ireland and Masten Gregory. There was also the chance to race in the Le Mans 24 Hours but in something very different from what Peter was accustomed to. He was invited to share the works 1098 cc Tojeiro-Climax TCM with prominent 500 cc F3 driver Tommy Bridger. They were going well and had reached 20th place in extremely wet conditions by midnight when the rear axle broke.

For what proved to be his final season of racing, Peter shared a new Costin-bodied Lister-Jaguar with Jonathan Sieff, finishing second first time out at Goodwood to the factory Lister of Ivor Bueb and just ahead of Graham Whitehead’s Aston Martin DBR1/300. With a 3-litre limit imposed internationally on sports car racing, Jaguar-powered cars struggled without a suitable engine. At the Nurburgring 1000 Ks, Peter’s co-driver Michael Taylor crashed the car. Sharing a factory Lister-Jaguar with Walt Hansgen in the Le Mans 24 Hours, they were forced to retire with engine failure after only four hours.  At Aintree’s tricky Melling Crossing Peter had an accident of his own making in the sports car race supporting the British Grand Prix at Aintree. Driving the Ecurie Ecosse Lister-Jaguar Peter misjudged the tricky Melling Crossing and the car overturned. Trapped under the car, Peter could hear the fuel pump ticking away until he managed to switch it off. A couple of weeks later Ivor Bueb was fatally injured in a Formula 2 race at Clermont Ferrand and Jean Behra lost his life at AVUS in Berlin.

For the rest of the year Peter kept his commitment to drive a Jaguar 2.4 Mk 1 in the BRSCC Saloon Car Championship, where in class he was up against the season’s champion, Jeff Uren, and his Ford Zephyr but enjoyed some good results. In early September Peter shared the Costin Lister for the final time with Jonathan Sieff in the Tourist Trophy but had to retire with cooling problems. His final race came at Oulton Park at the end of September with the Jaguar 2.4 when he finished seventh. A combination of factors including his Aintree accident, the deaths of Ivor Bueb and Jean Behra, indifferent race results in 1959, increasing business commitments and wedding plans convinced Peter that it was time to call it a day. He did not lose his interest in cars and motor racing and was a proud and interested Member of the BRDC to which he had been elected in 1956. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Sir Neville Blond, by venturing into the textile industry, starting his business in a disused cinema in Wigan with 60 machinists and expanding to some 2000 employees in factories in the UK, Malta and South Africa when he retired from the company. He became a director of Sotheby’s and Head of the International Realty Private Office. Peter’s father had helped Sir Archibald McIndoe establish the Blond McIndoe Foundation to develop the treatment of burns and wounds of which Peter became a patron. He built up a collection of the most elegant and stylish vehicles, including magnificent Bentleys and Rolls-Royces and all maintained in perfect condition.

Peter’s wife, Virginia, died a couple of years ago and he is survived by his daughter Rebecca to whom the BRDC offers its deepest condolences.

The Club regrets to report the death of Martin Thomas, who was elected as a BRDC Member in 1995
Silverstone is delighted to confirm that the Formula 1 British Grand Prix has been included in the latest phase of the UK Government’s Event Research Programme (ERP)
The BRDC awards Honorary Membership to six times FIM World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea
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