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NOTICE OF DEATH - PETER LUMSDEN CBE (1929-2017)

We regret to report that BRDC Life Member Peter Lumsden CBE passed away last weekend at the age of 88.

In the motor racing world, Peter will be probably best remembered for his partnership with Peter Sargent in a couple of Jaguar E-types at Le Mans and other long distance sports car races of the early ‘60s. However, he started racing in 1956 with the Lotus-Climax Mk IX which had graced the Lotus stand at the Earls Court Motor Show the previous October. For 1956 Colin Chapman had come up with the much more advanced Lotus Eleven despite which Peter enjoyed considerable in races on the southern circuits, including victory in his first time out with the Mk 9 at Goodwood which, together with numerous other second and third places, brought him the prestigious Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy at the end of the season. After a less rewarding year in 1957 with a Lotus Eleven, Peter acquired one of the very earliest Lotus Elite (WUU 2) in late 1958.

The Elite was raced quite extensively in 1959, notably in the Le Mans 24 Hours in which Peter and the late Peter Riley finished eighth overall, first in the 1500 cc GT class, second in the newly-instigated Index of Thermal Efficiency and fifth in the Index of Performance, not bad for a first attempt at the French classic. A few weeks earlier the two Peters had won the 1300 cc GT class in the Nurburgring 1000 Ks round of the World Sports Car Championship. These two races were to remain central to Peter’s racing career. Although Peter Riley continued as Peter Lumsden’s co-driver until the end of the Elite phase in 1961, the paths of Peter Sargent and Peter Lumsden had now crossed principally by reason of the fact that their cars (Peter Sargent raced Jaguars) were both prepared by Playfords but it also transpired that they both worked at the London Stock Exchange. They first raced together in the 1960 Nurburgring 1000 Ks, finishing second in the 1300 cc GT class to the Team Elite entry for Alan Stacey and John Wagstaff. Driving solo, Peter Lumsden won the 1300 CC GT class of the 1960 RAC Tourist Trophy at Goodwood, finishing ninth overall behind various Ferraris and Aston Martins plus Graham Hill’s Porsche Carrera Abarth but more importantly perhaps 5.2 seconds ahead of Graham Warner’s famous Elite LOV 1 after three hours of racing.

The Elite’s last season in 1961 produced another 1300 cc GT class win in the Nurburgring 1000 Ks, sharing with Peter Riley for the final time, but in the TT, although finishing eighth overall, Peter had to settle for second in class to Les Leston’s Elite DAD 10. From now on it was (almost) all about Jaguars, Peter Sargent having been able to acquire one of the earliest E-types (898 BYR) off the production line. In late September 1961 fifth place in the Molyslip Trophy at Snetterton behind such luminaries as Mike Parkes (Ferrari 250GT Berlinetta), Roy Salvadori (E-type) and Innes Ireland (Aston Martin DB4GT), and ahead of all the other E-types, was an encouraging debut while the high point of the following year was Le Mans where the two Peters finished fifth overall, and second in the 4-litre GT class behind the Roy Salvadori/Briggs Cunningham E-type. With little more than an hour of the race remaining, 898 BYR was several laps ahead of the Cunningham car when the gearbox became stuck in fourth gear and they could only tour round to the finish.

One of the few Lightweight E-types (49 FXN) was acquired for 1963 although Le Mans itself was tackled with the unique spaceframe Lister Jaguar Costin Coupe but the car retired with transmission problems in the fourth hour. On its debut in the 1963 Nurburgring 1000 Ks, Peter L crashed 49 FXN heavily and was fortunate to escape unscathed. He next drove the car in the Goodwood TT, finishing fifth in the over 3 litre GT class and ninth overall. For 1964 the Lightweight E-type underwent considerable revision to become the spectacular aerodynamic car which has become one of the most sought after E-types of all. That said, in 1964 Peter L’s best result of his few races in the car that year was eighth overall, fifth in class, in the Goodwood TT. Peter Sargent retired from racing at the end of that year but the car was retained for Peter Lumsden to race for one more season, yielding a couple of victories in club races at Brands Hatch but it was no longer competitive against the new generation of Cobras and Ferrari 250GT0s. For his last visit to the ‘Ring, Peter shared Peter Sutcliffe’s Ferrari 250GTO to win the 3-litre GT class. 49 FXN was sold at the end of the 1965 season and Peter Lumsden joined Peter Sargent in racing retirement.

A chartered accountant by qualification, when Peter left the London Stock Exchange he took up farming near Dover and for many years was a trustee and treasurer of the Chest, Heart and Stroke Association for services to which he was awarded the CBE. To Peter’s children Suzanna, Jamie and Alice the BRDC extends its sincere condolences. Funeral details will be posted on the website when known.

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