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Norman Culpan

Full Name:
Norman Ratcliffe Culpan
23rd November 1906
Todmorden, Yorkshire
February 2005 (Aged 98)
Calderdale, Yorkshire
Most recent race (in database):

Norman Culpan was a wealthy Halifax wool manufacturer who raced bikes during his youth, including riding a Rudge in the 1928 and 1929 Isle of Man Senior TTs. His short motor racing career was the result of a self-confessed "mid-life crisis" and his family’s aversion to the dangers of two-wheeled sport.

He raced in the 1947 Manx Grand Prix after an 18 year absence from motorcycling but his wife and friends persuaded him that this was too dangerous an activity at his age so a compromise was reached.

Successful car racing debut

Culpan bought a Frazer Nash High Speed in May 1949 but a planned debut in that year’s Mille Miglia was thwarted when it was damaged in a high speed accident on the roads near Dijon. So his very first motor race was that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours when sharing the now repaired red machine with Frazer Nash director H.J.Aldington.

They ran faultlessly through the night, alternating 25-lap stints and running fourth at daybreak. The car then developed a clutch problem so the experienced "Aldy" drove the rest of the way as he coaxed the car to third at the finish.

Subsequent career

Culpan was also third in the production car race that supported the 1949 International Trophy – reputed to be the first the touring car race held in Britain. He finished 20th in the 1950 Le Mans 24 Hours, now sharing the car with Lt Cdr Peter Wilson.

Fifth in the Daily Express International Trophy meeting at Silverstone and sixth in the Tourist Trophy at Dundrod, he was forced to withdraw from the 1951 Le Mans 24 Hours after crashing during the British Empire Trophy on the Isle of Man.