LEC Refrigeration Racing was a team local to Goodwood, based in Bognor Regis, which participated in 11 Grands Prix in 1973 and 1977. Local boy David Purley, a former soldier and undoubtedly talented driver had the backing of his family’s company LEC Refrigeration to set up the team and hire a March 731 for the 1973 season. A breakdown at the Monaco race and a spin at the British Grand Prix were not the best of start to the season.
However, it was Purley’s bravery at the Dutch Grand Prix for which he deserves a place in Formula One history. After witnessing the crash of fellow driver Roger Williamson which left his car upside down and in flames, Purley abandoned his own race and tried to free the trapped Williamson. Unaided by the marshalls or emergency workers who lacked fireproof clothing, Purley was unable to free Williamson who succumbed to asphyxiation. Purley was awarded the George Medal for his actions.
Purley returned to Formula 1 in 1977 with a chassis of the team’s own design. In practice for the British Grand Prix, the car’s throttle stuck wide open, sending Purley into a wall. For years this was estimated as the highest G-load survived as he decelerated from 108mph to a stop in 66cm, enduring 179.8g. Despite suffering multiple fractures to his legs, pelvis and ribs, Purley returned to racing in lower formulas before retiring to pursue aerobatics. He was killed in 1985 when his plane crashed into the English Channel off Bognor Regis.
Both the LEC Refrigeration Racing cars have been restored and compete regularly in historic racing as well as making the occasional noisy trip up the Hill.