Racing driver and Chequered Flag team owner Graham Warner has died peacefully aged 84.
Following a career flying Vampires and Meteors for the Royal Air Force, Warner moved into the motor trade, initially learning the ropes at Performance Cars, and later, Carr Brothers in Purley. After sweeping floors, changing batteries and handling administrative duties, he started his own company – Chequered Flag – in 1956.
He first took to the race track in an Austin-Healey 100S in 1958, followed by a Tojeiro Bristol, then moving on to Lotuses. By 1959 he had become well known for campaigning a Lotus Elite – LOV1 – in which he won 50 races over two years, before eventually getting involved in the manufacture of Gemini racing cars. He also ran works teams for Brabham and McLaren, including a late Formula 1 foray in 1970 with the Token team, until it became too expensive and put 'The Flag' at risk.
He also helped kick-start the careers of many famous racing drivers, including Jim Clark, who he gave his first drive in a single seater.
Never far from the action, he would go on to join the rally fraternity, first running a Lancia Stratos, then later, a Triumph TR8. He also had fond memories of a Porsche 911 RSR.
The 1980s arrived and his company was sold, allowing him to revisit his love of flying. He oversaw the restoration of a WW2 Blenheim bomber, followed by a second when the first was destroyed. In later life he would write a book on the subject – The Bristol Blenheim: A complete history, while also becoming chairman of the Blenheim Society.
For more on Graham Warner read Richard Heseltine's book – A Chequered Life: Graham Warner and The Chequered Flag