Gerry Marshall was a big man with big sideburns and a very big right foot. His burly bulk and full-on approach belied one thing though, an exquisite sense of balance. He could put anything sideways – and usually did – yet, unlike some, he could always get it back again… His seemingly endless list of wins stands as testament to that.
Gerry began his career racing Minis in 1964, then displayed his embryonic sideways style when he advanced to TVRs. His first connection with the marque with which he’s forever associated – Vauxhall – came in 1967 and he was its constant advertisement for the next decade. Flippantly, his autobiography is entitled ‘Only Here For The Beer’. Time in the bar afterwards was important to Gerry, but winning on the track was even more so. And win he did.
Not many racing cars have nicknames, but three of Gerry’s did – ‘Old Nail’, ‘Baby Bertha’ and ‘Big Bertha’, two large-engined Vauxhall Firenzas then a Holden Ventora – all united by the fact that they’d be thrown sideways.
Vauxhall’s patronage came to an end, as it wanted to focus on rallying, and Gerry moved into production saloon racing with a Triumph Dolomite before being one of the stars of the TVR Tuscan series in the early 1990s and going on to score many wins in historic racing in an Aston Martin DB4.
The years went by and the wins kept rolling in. Indeed, his eventual tally was over 600 and Gerry became one of the stars of the early Goodwood Revivals but, sadly, died in 2005 at the age of 63 while testing at Silverstone, pressing on to the end. With a career as flamboyant as Gerry’s, it made perfect sense for the Group 1 touring car race for the Members’ Meetings to be named in the big man’s honour.
The Gerry Marshall Trophy is for Group 1 touring cars of a type that raced up to 1982 (two-driver race with ’sprint’ race to decide the grid for main event)
Photography courtesy of LAT