NOTICE OF DEATH - TOM MEYER CBE (1919 - 2016)
With great regret we have to advise you that Tom Meyer CBE, one of the oldest Members of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, passed away peacefully on Sunday 26th June. He was 96 years of age and had been a Life Member since 1976, having originally been elected to Full Membership in 1950.
Tom Meyer raced some distinctive cars, beginning with the Alta-based Streamliner which he acquired from its constructor, John Heath, in time for the 1950 season. A third place at Castle Combe was followed by an entry in the Paris 12 Hours at Montlhery in which he finished seventh with Philip Fotheringham-Parker as co-driver. For the following year, Tom acquired one of the HW-Altas, as raced previously by a young Stirling Moss, and finished third at Gamston and second, to the Simca-Gordini T11 of Johnny Claes, in the Grand Prix des Frontieres at Chimay in Belgium.
The HW-Alta was attractively converted into a sports car to enable Tom to take part in both the Mille Miglia and the Goodwood Nine Hours in 1952 although the car retired on both occasions. A plan to share an Aston Martin DB2 in the 1953 Le Mans 24 Hours with Peter Clark failed to happen but Tom did contest the Spa 24 Hours a few weeks later in the Aston Martin DB3 Coupe which had been built originally for David Brown’s daughter Angela. Again Fotheringham-Parker was Tom’s co-driver but the car was forced to retire. Tom and the DB3 Coupe did enjoy better luck in the Pescara 12 Hours, on this occasion with the late Tony Gaze as co-driver; they finished sixth overall and third in the over 2-litre sports car class. Back with Fotheringham-Parker as co-driver, Tom finished 12th in the Goodwood Nine Hours.
In 1954, a second attempt at the Mille Miglia, this time with the DB3, almost ended in disaster when Tom crashed on a wet road near Ferrara, the whole incident being graphically recorded by Denis Jenkinson in his report for Motor Sport, Jenks being the passenger in George Abecassis’s HWM-Jaguar following directly behind. Rendered semi-conscious in the impact, Tom came round to find himself gazing into the eyes of the film actress Dawn Addams, who lived nearby. By the evening, Tom had sufficiently recovered to dine with Enzo Ferrari. After the Mille Miglia, Tom raced twice in Sweden, at Skarpnack and Karlskoga, where he finished fifth and fourth respectively.
Once described as ‘a dapper timber tycoon’, Tom had been on a flight back from a business trip to Iran when he met Fleur Cowles (nee Freidman), the legendary American expatriate writer, painter, philanthropist and socialite. In 1955 he became Fleur’s fourth husband with Cary Grant as best man. They divided their time between a large flat in the Albany, a Tudor farmhouse in Sussex and a castle in Spain. Fleur, who was some 11 years older than Tom, died in 2009 at the age of 101. In 1986 Tom was honoured as a CBE for his services as chairman of the National Chest and Heart Hospitals, London.