A call yesterday morning from DSC’s David Lord brought the very sad news that ex British GT driver and team owner, and TVR Tuscan racing legend Colin Blower had passed away on Tuesday at the all too young age of 69 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He is seen above with son Sam, then aged 14.
Colin’s motorsport career as a driver, team owner, and as an engineer of legendary prowess, was a long one. Happily our own Mark Howson documented much of it back in 2013, you can read about it here.
Long-time racing buddy Ian Flux has very happy memories of racing against Colin, and had an end to the TVR Tuscan Challenge years with a happy pair of races:
“I spent almost my whole career racing against Colin, always fantastic to race against, never gave an inch but would never, ever, put you off , I’ll always love him for that.
“I first raced against him when I was driving Ricky Fagan’s Mercedes Cosworth and Colin drive the Colt Starion but of course we’re more associated with the TVR Tuscan Challenge.
They were some great years. I know I said I spent almost my whole career racing against him, well the final two ever races of Tuscan Challenge, through a series of circumstances, I ended up driving for him.
“Jamie (Campbell Walter) was off racing for Lister so I raced the car that Colin prepped for him. What a revelation! That was the thing that everyone in the paddock knew about Colin. He was a simply amazing engineer, and the changes he’d made to that car, all completely within the regulations, were astonishing. Without doubt the best Tuscan I ever drove. I drove Colin’s car in the last race so that was a nice way top end a very special era.”
Jamie Campbell Walter too remembered Colin for his speed, his engineering genius, and his generosity:
“When I first got to Tuscans he was kicking my arse and it made me really think what I need to do to beat him.
“He was a huge part of my career, he gave me my first free drive-in his TVR Tuscan, he helped me enormously with my understanding of what to do to make a race car faster. “In 1997 he gave me a drive again, this time in his TVR Cerbera GT , the first modern era TVR GT car. That car had a controversial win when it caught fire causing a red flag just before the pit stop cycle sorted itself out so we won on count-back!
“That led to me getting other opportunities and by 1999 I was driving for Lister and only had the opportunity to race in the TVR Tuscan five times. I got Colin’s ‘Silver Bullet’ car to do those in though and won every one of them!
“My greatest memory of Colin was his extraordinary generosity and calmness, and remember I had other team experiences that gave me a good barometer for that!. He was never ruffled, always kind. Focused yes but it never rattled him. A super, super guy, I’ll miss him enormously.”
Fellow Tuscan Challenge man Martin Short was another with fond memories of the Hinckley man:
“It was Colin and Fluxie that persuaded me to move into TVRs. I’ve got the pair of them to thank for what came afterwards. The end result was that I ended up at Le Mans!
“He was a great bloke, a very fast race driver and probably an even better engineer.
“He was the go to guy in the paddock for excellent advice, his cars were always exceptionally well prepared and competitive in what was a fierce series.
“He had been unwell for a long time but what gives me some comfort is the massive pleasure he obviously took from becoming a dad later in life with Karen. Sam was a huge part of his life and seeing the smile back on his face when he was karting or racing with him was a big boost at a time when he was facing up to a huge struggle.”
Charlie Kemp, now the Team Principal of HHC, previously Harrogate Horseless Carriages and back in the day the commercial name most associated with Colin’s racing efforts, remembers him as:
“Quite simply the man who taught me everything about racing. Colin had close links with my dad (Nigel Kemp) and our then TVR dealership and we remained close.
“Dad backed Colin’s TVR efforts into the GT days, and later we were with him for the historic racing too, the Aston DB4 and the Lola T70 (owned by Nigel).
“Down through the years I’ve raced TVRs, the historic cars and even the Vauxhall VX220 that were prepped by Colin, always spotlessly prepped.
“His approach, and his advice encouraged me to do my own thing seven years ago with Jody (Hemmings) when dad got out of selling cars and we set up HHC as a race team, starting with one-make racing and Ginettas, and now in British GT, Colin showed us the way to do it!”
Mark Goddard, now Team Principal of Eurasia, was a close friend of Colin back in the day:
“He was a big part of my early career, he gave me my first drive in a car with a roof at the final round of the Production Sports Car Championship at Donington. I drove his Porsche and he drove a Corvette Stingray (I think). We finished 1-2 in the pouring rain, Colin slightly miffed that the Porsche was ahead.
“The first time I had spoken to Colin was earlier in the year after we had an hour long “dice” in the Willhire 24H. He was in a Porsche and I was in a Caterham, we spent lap after lap with him blasting by on the straight and me out braking him at the next corner. I had watched him opposite locking round woodcote at Silverstone on many an occasion and was impressed such a ‘name’ driver should want to talk. He arranged the Porsche drive because he just wanted to help. The same applied when I shared his Starion in a two driver race at Oulton Park.
“At that time I was living in Leicester and for a several years would pop over to Colin’s for a cup of tea and chat about motorsport in his flat above the workshop. The last time I raced in the UK was in the TVR Tuscan Challenge and ran out of Colin’s workshop for two seasons.
“We had the closest ever finish in Tuscans at Silverstone, I won by one thousandth of a second from Colin. The season up to that point for me had been dire, the car failing to finish most events. To this day I am not sure if Colin “gave” me that win to cheer me up!
“A defining thread in comments about Colin is his generosity. I certainly benefited from it and will always be grateful. He deserves to be held among the greats of British National Motorsport.”
Dave Lord had this to say about his good friend:
“Quite simply, if I hadn’t started sending pictures in to the local paper about Colin’s racing I wouldn’t be here doing this today. That led to travelling with the TVR Tuscan Challenge days, meeting Malcolm Cracknell and later getting involved with the start of Dailysportscar (Dave is a partner in DSC). “He was a good friend friend as well as a cracking racing driver, Shorty is right about the pleasure he took in watching Sam enjoy karting, there was definitely a bit of the ‘Karting Dad’ in him!
“There was always something on the go in the workshop, from the GT cars, historic, the Pikes Peak Ford RS200 (built by Colin for Mach 2 Racing and Stig Blomqvist) and latterly the Ford Thunderbird he bought as a wreck and restored. He took pleasure in all of it, a real enthusiast, and always happy to share that enthusiasm.”
There are common strands throughout all of the above: Kindness, a willingness to help, engineering excellence and, lets not forget, fast! That’s how his friends will remember Colin.
Our sincere condolences to Karen, Sam, and to all of Colin’s friends and family.
Colin’s funeral is arranged for Thursday 6th July, 10.45am at Burbage Church, followed by cremation at 12 noon in Nuneaton, then back to the Meeting Centre, Marchant Road, Hinckley to celebrate a life well lived.