A Motoring Tribute by Michael Leete.
I first met JP around 1970 at a Sporting Owner Drivers Club Trial at Brickhill, although I only really got to know him in the mid 80’s when I returned from my time living in the North East. He was a keen member of the Dunstable based Sporting Owner Drivers Club, joining neighbouring Falcon when the SOD’s disbanded and I spent many happy hours listening to tales of his motoring exploits at club nights. My favourite was when he visited the TT and Florian Camathias needed a passenger for a couple of laps in practice. Ever the adventurer it was JP that stepped forward.
John started his working life working in various factories in the Luton and Dunstable area, including a long spell at the Commer Plant in Dunstable. He soon became interested in motorsport and started rallying a Mini, first in local events, working his way to the international ranks when he competed on the International Welsh Rally in 1972.
By 1976 JP had become associated with Chrysler, driving a SKF sponsored, semi-works Avenger in which he competed in most of the home internationals and the Tour of Britain. The SKF sponsorship stopped after 1981 and John transferred his attention to servicing with Andy Dawsons Datsun team. When this closed JP managed to acquire a vast quantity of special wheels which subsequently graced many of his trials cars.
By now John had started a garage and stepped up his involvement with trials, both local SODC events and MCC trials. He was very proud of introducing the first UVA Fugitive to the sport, selling it to Dave Parry when he was stopped from wearing the crash helmet that he wore to stop hitting his head on the roll bar.
After the Fugitive JP moved on to his V8 period, first with a Jago Samuri and then a Westfield. Next came a VW Buggy, the ex Graham Marshall car, bought from David Thompson when he acquired his Troll. John put a lot of work into this car, fitting a type 4 engine and his trademark Datsun wheels before changing its colour from tractor yellow to blue.
After campaigning this for many years John decided that wife Dot deserved a little more comfort on MCC events, selling the Buggy to Phil Potter and joining the ranks of X90 owners to compete in Class 0. He soon discovered the X90 didn’t have as much power as he wanted and fitted a Vitara engine, a massive job as the exhaust and all the ancillaries were reversed and he had to redesign the wiring loom.
John and Dot enjoyed the tranquility of the X90 but it wasn’t suitable for the local events so last year he re-acquired the buggy from Phil Potter. Never a lover of the Lands End, which he thought was too long JP’s last event was the 2019 Exeter.
John wasn’t just a competitor, he was also a hard working organiser. Locally he was the force behind SODC and Falcon Brickhill trials for many, many years. Along with the late Laurie Knight and Tom Goggin he ran the SODC Conquest Classic Trial in Derbyshire and together they opened up the notorious deviation left on Great Hucklow.
More recently he started Falcon’s March Hare Classic Trial with Mike Pearson. A Falcon Vice President he was also involved with the Milton Keynes and District Motor Club, marshalling on their 12 car rallies.
Outside of Motor Sport John liked travelling, especially to the USA where he loved Las Vegas and other exotic places taking in activities like diving when the opportunity occurred.
John died on 20 May after a short illness. He was 79 years old.
Rest in Peace JP, the sport and the world is a poorer place without you.