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Jack Fairman

Full Name:
John Eric George Fairman
15th March 1913
Smallfield, Surrey
7th February 2002 (Aged 88)
Rugby, Warwickshire
Most recent race (in database):

Jack Fairman was a respected amateur before the war who continued his steady racing career into the 1960s. A dashing gentleman driver, he gained a reputation as a safe pair of hands behind the wheel.

Education and early racing career

Educated at Reigate grammar school and the Automobile Engineering Training College in Chelsea, he was working at Daimler’s Coventry works in 1934 when he first competed in trials with an Alvis. He served his country during World War II, first in an anti-aircraft battery before joining the Royal Tank Regiment.

Fairman bought a Bugatti T35C in 1947 before sharing the eighth placed, class-winning HRG-Singer with Eric Thompson at Le Mans two years later. Fairman and Stirling Moss led the 1951 Le Mans 24 Hours with a works Jaguar C-type before engine failure ended their hopes.

Grand Prix debut

In addition to his endurance racing and the almost annual pilgrimage to Le Mans, Fairman made his Grand Prix debut in the 1953 British GP at Silverstone when his works HWM was sidelined by a faulty clutch. Renowned as a test driver, his help developing Connaught’s Formula 1 cars was rewarded with a drive in that year’s Italian GP. Fairman drove a Connaught B-type in the British and Italian GPs of 1956 and finished fourth and fifth respectively. Eighth in the world championship, he continued to appear in F1 on an occasional basis for the likes of BRM, Bernie Ecclestone and in Rob Walker’s four-wheel-drive Ferguson P99-Climax. The 1961 Italian GP was Fairman’s 12th and final GP start.

Sports car successes

More successful in sports cars, Fairman joined David Brown’s Aston Martin team in 1959 and won twice as Moss’ co-driver. He spun into a ditch while leading the 1959 Nürburgring 1000Kms and Moss changed out of his overalls on hearing the news. But that was to underestimate Fairman’s determination and brute strength. He manhandled the car back onto the road and returned the muddied DBR1 to the pits. Moss hurriedly put his overalls back on, returned to the race and overhauled a couple of Ferraris to win by 41 seconds.

Fairman and Carroll Shelby were then running second in the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood when Moss (whose own car had caught fire) took over. It was another virtuoso Moss performance and they won to clinch the World Sportscar Championship for Aston Martin.

Seventh in the 1963 non-championship F1 race at Imola driving Carel Godin de Beaufort’s Porsche 718, he retired from the following year’s Nürburgring 1000Kms in what was his last race. He then concentrated on running the family precision tool company.