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Ken Gregory RIP


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#1 LittleChris

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 13:05

Sad news, but a life full of achievement



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#2 Tim Murray

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 13:16

Very sad news indeed.

 

http://www.autosport...t.php/id/111676



#3 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 13:36

RIP to an often unsung hero who has given such a rich legacy to the sport

#4 D-Type

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 14:08

One of the many whose contributions helped motor sport develop in Britain post-WW2.  RIP


Edited by D-Type, 01 December 2013 - 14:23.


#5 RobertE

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 16:56

I knew him very well, and obviously he was of great help and assistance re. my book about the BRP. I liked him, too. I spoke with him a few weeks ago (he had been comprehensively operated upon) and, despite his obvious croakiness (throat surgery and, I fear, more), he seemed buoyant, but realistic. One of the things he always told me was that he was never afraid of dying - this a philosophy which had been forged by an early childhood experience of TB. I reminded him of that and he just laughed: "Well, I meant it!". I believed him.

 

I'll miis him. Despite what certain people have said about him over he years, he struck me as a very decent and capable man. Brian Lister endorsed this view; Ken bent over backwards to ensure that Lister always had the best facilities at any race which he was organizing.

 

So, RIP. I'll be writing to Julie (with a heavy heart), but really! What a life!


Edited by RobertE, 01 December 2013 - 16:57.


#6 Robin Fairservice

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 17:30

 A sad day.  As a young marshal I spent an afternoon with Ken at an inquest in Dartford after being a witness to a fatal accident at Brands Hatch.  We were waiting for about two hours before being called in to appear.  During that time he told several stories about life with Stirling Moss, with whom he had shared an apartment.  His doctor finally advised him to move out before he had a nervous breakdown! The Autosport Obituary does not tell of his employment with the RAC nor of his tenure as Secretary of the Half Litre Car Club and its transformation to the BRSCC we know today.  He had some successes driving a 500 cc car, so he was more than just a Manager.

 

RIP



#7 RA Historian

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 17:40

At a time such as this, with the passing of a man who had such a full life and accomplished so much, sorrow is tempered by the knowledge that he had a life well lived.

 

Tom



#8 Michael Ferner

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 19:07

RIP :cry:

#9 Ray Bell

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 21:26

What a proud moment he must have had at the Targa Florio in 1955!

 

A man of achievement indeed.



#10 GMiranda

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 23:23

RIP



#11 Jack-the-Lad

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 02:40

At a time such as this, with the passing of a man who had such a full life and accomplished so much, sorrow is tempered by the knowledge that he had a life well lived.

 

Tom

I can add nothing  to this, except to express condolences to the family.

 

Jack


Edited by Jack-the-Lad, 02 December 2013 - 02:41.


#12 Paulleek

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 07:27

That is sad. I'm just in the middle of reading his book "Behind the Scenes of Motor Racing", coincidentally. Recommended reading.

#13 kayemod

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 11:15

That is sad. I'm just in the middle of reading his book "Behind the Scenes of Motor Racing", coincidentally. Recommended reading.

 

Managing a Legend by TNF's Robert Edwards is good as well, lots of interesting insights about Ken and The Greatest Living Englishman in there, RobertE is probably too modest to mention it himself, but definitely more recommended reading.



#14 barrykm

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 15:50

R.I.P. Ken Gregory. One of my very first motor racing books, as a very young lad, was 'All but my Life", the biography of Sir Stirling that was published in the early 1960s. It is till much treasured to this day.


Edited by barrykm, 02 December 2013 - 15:50.


#15 barrykm

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 15:50

R.I.P. Ken Gregory. One of my very first motor racing books, as a very young lad, was 'All but my Life", the biography of Sir Stirling that was published in the early 1960s. It is still much treasured to this day.



#16 RobertE

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 18:37

Managing a Legend by TNF's Robert Edwards is good as well, lots of interesting insights about Ken and The Greatest Living Englishman in there, RobertE is probably too modest to mention it himself, but definitely more recommended reading.

Thank you for that - it was huge fun to research and write, although I did have a mini-spat about the cover, for reasons which rivet-counters will have noted already...



#17 RobertE

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 18:38

R.I.P. Ken Gregory. One of my very first motor racing books, as a very young lad, was 'All but my Life", the biography of Sir Stirling that was published in the early 1960s. It is still much treasured to this day.

I think you will find that it was actually by Ken Purdy, who took the Hemingway exit some years ago...



#18 kayemod

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 18:41

Thank you for that - it was huge fun to research and write, although I did have a mini-spat about the cover, for reasons which rivet-counters will have noted already...

 

Looks fine to me, a very accurate depiction of Aintree...



#19 RobertE

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 19:03

Looks fine to me, a very accurate depiction of Aintree...

It is Reims (Rheims?) and the picture is reversed, with exhaust location ignored . Ken owned the Roy Nockolds original and for some reason insisted that it had to be that way. It is, of course, the same car in which Hans Herrmann had his misfortune at the AVUS a little later.


Edited by RobertE, 02 December 2013 - 19:05.


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#20 barrykm

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 11:03

I think you will find that it was actually by Ken Purdy, who took the Hemingway exit some years ago...

 

Oh dear, I think you are right....thanks for pointing that out..I'm suitably embarassed..but it was a good read anyway!


Edited by barrykm, 03 December 2013 - 11:04.


#21 RobertE

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 12:08

Well, don't be embarrassed; Purdy was a very odd fish, by most accounts. Someone who knew him well (a driver) told me: "He was a most depressing little man; totally obsessed with death and dying. It really was not comfortable having him lurking around at a race, but he was always there and we all knew exactly why..." A fine writer, though, in his way.

 

I think the Ken Gregory book to which you refer was ghosted by the same chap (an Australian?) who also did Innes' book, but I can't be sure. Certainly. Ken G. and Innes were close, indeed, Ken thought the world of him...


Edited by RobertE, 03 December 2013 - 12:09.


#22 Ray Bell

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 19:13

Perhaps Doug Blain?

 

It'll be on the net somewhere...



#23 David McKinney

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 20:12

I was thinking more likely Ian Fraser

#24 RobertE

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 09:36

Back on topic, I am told by the G.L.E. that there will be a memorial service in London in the New Year. As soon as I know, I'll post the details here, unless someone beats me to it.



#25 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 11:31

Yes, David...

 

I should have thought of Ian Fraser too.



#26 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 22:10

Back on topic, I am told by the G.L.E. that there will be a memorial service in London in the New Year. As soon as I know, I'll post the details here, unless someone beats me to it.

 

Please do Robert.

 

On a separate note, dpes anyone know where about in Spain Ken lived? His BRDC obituary refers to him moving to Spain, where he died, but I thought he was based in Devon in latter years.



#27 ReWind

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 21:57

Obituary by Tony Dron:


So many Horsa glider pilots were killed in the latter stages of World War Two, especially those taking troops into Arnhem, that the Army made a big push to train replacements. One such, at Brize Norton, was the 18-year-old Ken Gregory; but peace came just as he qualified, leaving him with mixed feelings for the rest of his life over missing the lethal action. His survival enabled him to become one of the most influential personalities in post-war British motor sport.

Ken, who has died aged 87, left the Army in 1949 needing a job immediately. His father had died when he was five, leaving his mother, who trained as a nurse, to bring up two sons in the north-west of England. By chance, Ken was sent to the Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall, for an interview with Colonel Barnes, who ran its competitions department. Ken knew nothing about motor sport then but was delighted to be employed on general office duties for £5 a week, allowing him to rent a tiny garret in Hampstead. The work was hectic, with motor racing finally taking off again after the war, and there was the exciting prospect of the forthcoming 1949 British GP at Silverstone.

Ken was a quick learner with first-class administrative skills and a driven personality, inclined to work days, nights and weekends. Accurately, he saw a future for motor racing that was nothing like the amateur days of the past and into the 1960s he was a key figure in making that future happen. This frequently grated with more traditional types and even Denis Jenkinson once wrote that Ken Gregory was the kind of creature one might find under a stone. Writing about Maserati 250F chassis numbers, ‘Jenks’ accused Ken of the criminally deceptive act of changing the chassis number of the ex-Moss car. But Ken was totally innocent, the ‘guilty party’ being the Maserati factory itself, and Jenks was forced into settling out of court, with a long apologetic correction. Some people just didn’t like the controversial Ken but he was a genuine enthusiast, simply decades ahead of the game in his clear thinking.

As a director at Brands Hatch, Ken was largely responsible for turning a fledgling club circuit into a major international venue; most famously of all, as the manager of Stirling Moss, and a director of Stirling Moss Ltd, he is credited with creating the very image of a modern professional racing driver as a marketable brand; and later, as a Formula 1 team owner, he introduced an entirely new form of commercial sponsorship in which the cars and the team bore the name of the backer, not the constructor. Think of Red Bull Racing today and it seems perfectly natural – but back in 1959 the creation of Ken’s Yeoman Credit Racing was shocking to some F1 diehards.

Ken’s powerful influence in the future of British motor racing started while he was working at the RAC. Deeply impressed by the Half-Litre Car Club, he struck up an immediate and close friendship with another dynamic personality, the 19-year-old rapidly rising star of 500 racing, Stirling Moss. Ken was appointed assistant secretary of the HLCC, lifting his pay by £1 a week and entering a way of life involving relentless, constant work.

Ken showed promise as a driver in 1950, with a works Kieft in the inaugural car race meeting at Brands Hatch – by then the new home of the HLCC (which later became the BRSCC) – an event that he himself had organised. Ken then won the Junior Championship title at Brands Hatch in 1950 with a Cooper and, in November of that year, Kieft took 14 international records at Montlhéry, with drivers Stirling Moss, Ken Gregory and Jack Neill.

However, too busy to pursue his own driving career, Ken stuck to work. Stirling had moved in to share Ken’s flat, apparently to hide all his girlfriends from his parents, and Ken naturally became increasingly involved in the logistics of Stirling’s career. From 1952, Stirling asked Ken to take the job on formally, which he accepted.

In the following years, as Stirling’s international racing schedule became even busier, it was impossible for Ken to attend all the meetings. With young Moss out of contact for much of the time, Ken increasingly turned to Stirling’s father, Alfred, when it came to the business decisions.

Ken was quite capable of making bold decisions on his own account, all of which turned out to be wise moves. An example was the purchase of the Maserati 250F for Stirling’s 1954 season, as told in full in Ken’s revealing and entertaining book Behind the Scenes of Motor Racing. Published in 1959, it has the fresh feel of recent events.

The purchase of the 250F was inspired by Herr Neubauer of Mercedes-Benz. As Sir Stirling Moss recalls today, Ken acted boldly: ‘He did it without my permission or knowledge and it came as a bit of a shock. For one thing, we had to find the money, but it was the right decision. I owe a lot to Ken.’ Stirling showed the required star quality in the Maserati, enabling Ken to meet Neubauer again and get Moss into the Mercedes-Benz team for 1955. On that occasion, too, Ken had to exercise his own authority in Stirling’s absence.

From 1955, Ken also managed the easygoing Peter Collins and in 1957 he started the British Racing Partnership F1 team with Stirling’s father; but the world came crashing down for the Moss camp when Stirling had his serious accident at Goodwood in 1962.

Ken later changed direction, becoming a publisher and launching the successful Cars & Car Conversions magazine. Moving on again, he became a major operator in the business aviation world before he retired to Northumberland and, finally, Spain.

Ken Gregory should always be best remembered, however, for his wide-ranging, deep and long-lasting contribution to motor racing as we know it today.

car_photo_587947_17.jpg

Ken Gregory, looking suitably dapper in sunglasses at Goodwood in 1951, with Mr and Mrs Dan Glover, who donated Goodwood’s Glover Trophy for F1 racing. Moss is in the Kieft CK51, having won the International Trophy in its maiden race.

 



#28 RobertE

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 16:25

I have just learned that there is to be a memorial service in London on Monday, April 12. Now all I need to find out is where it is to be held...



#29 Tim Murray

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 16:48

Monday 14th April, not 12th. More details here:

 

http://www.gpmechani...rvice-a740.html



#30 RobertE

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 18:16

Well done that that man! I was obviously misinformed and  I will do my best to attend...