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NOTICE OF DEATH - RAY THACKWELL (1932 - 2024)

It is with great regret that we have to inform Members of the death last Sunday 31st March of Life Member Ray Thackwell. A resident of Perth, Western Australia for many years, Ray was 91 years of age and was one of the longest serving BRDC Members, having first been elected in 1957.

Born in New Zealand, Ray’s career in motor sport began on two wheels in the world of Speedway in which he became a leading member of a group of Kiwis who enjoyed notable success in the UK in the early 1950s as professional riders when interest in Speedway was at its height. Fellow countryman Ronnie Moore, twice World Speedway Champion, teamed up with Ray to make the switch to racing on four wheels after one broken leg too many.

Initially Ray and Ronnie shared a Cooper-Climax T39 Manxtail with which in 1956 Ray finished first on four separate visits to the little Danish circuit of Roskilde near Copenhagen and second at Karlskoga in Sweden. For 1957 two of the new Formula 2 Cooper T41s were acquired, initially fitted with 1100 cc Coventry-Climax FWA engines as used in the Manxtail. These were raced with success in southern Africa, Ray winning the Rand Grand Prix, taking second place in the Cape Grand Prix and third at what was then known as Salisbury in Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

The T41s were replaced with a pair of Mk 2 F2 Cooper T43s fitted first with Coventry-Climax FWB engines and later FPFs. Entered as Kiwi Equipe the two New Zealanders competed in as many F2 races as they could, picking up the good start money and prize money which were then available. In 1957 Ray was second to Ronnie at Roskilde and notched up some other top 10 results in what was an extremely competitive category where Formula 1 drivers regularly raced. Ray took his Cooper T43 back home to New Zealand and raced in the 1959 New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore, retiring with engine problems. In the pre-Tasman Series era, Ray also ran the F2 Cooper against assorted F1 and local specials in other North Island races.

The birth of Ray’s first son Kerry required Ray to rein in his horns; he continued to prosper in Speedway racing but was no longer in a position to tour Europe in international F2. Unable to stay away from the racing on four wheels, and despite a growing family, Ray raced touring cars, both Lotus Cortina and Alfa Romeo, in the mid ‘60s when he also ran in the Tasman Series with a 1500 cc Brabham. He emigrated with his family to Western Australia where he ran a thriving business called Thackwell’s Car Care which sponsored further racing activity first with a Mini-Cooper S and then the first of two Porsche 911s. In 1971 and 1972 Ray and fellow Kiwi Jim Mullins won the 6 Hours Le Mans (sic), at that time the longest race in Australia.

The two Porsches, a 911ST and then a Carrera RSR, brought Ray considerable success in Australia but by the mid ‘70s his available time and funds were being directed towards the racing aspirations of his sons Kerry and Mike and daughters Lisa and Heidi. He also had interests in a gold mine. Mike emerged as one of the most talented young drivers of his generation who, despite winning the European Formula 2 Championship, was unable to establish a career at the highest level and turned his back on the sport. Lisa is married to David Brabham and has also raced successfully.

To Kerry, Mike, Lisa, Heidi and their families the BRDC has tendered its deepest condolences.

The Club regrets to report on the death of Neville Hay, who was elected as a BRDC Member in 1993
The Club regrets to report on the death of Alan Minshaw, who was elected as a BRDC Member in 1984
The Club regrets to report on the death of Ron Bennett, who was elected as a BRDC Associate Member in 1963
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