By retiring young from racing, in an age when many of his contemporaries failed to live to grow old, Sir John continues to conjure the image of how he was in his pomp in the 1960s. The goatee beard is still in place, albeit with whiskers now white, but he remains as he was then when he cut quite a dash at a time when touring car was even more popular than it is now.
There had been racing aristocrats before and others that followed, but Sir John Henry Douglas Whitmore, Second Baronet, remains one of the most successful. He started his racing career in 1959 when he contested the Le Mans 24 Hours and finished second in class with Jim Clark in a works Lotus Elite.
However, it was in touring car racing that he became best known. Back when the Mini Cooper was the car to have, he won the 1961 British Touring Car title in a works entry. Not bad for his first attempt. Then, in 1965, with the three-wheeling Lotus Cortina becoming the pre-eminent car, he raced to the European Touring Car title for Alan Mann Racing, winning the 1600cc class in eight of the nine rounds.
While many would have stayed around for more, Sir John demonstrated his characteristic independence and hung up his helmet in 1966, at the age of 28, going on to spend the next few years running the family’s Orsett Hall country seat in Essex.
What followed was a very different second career as Sir John turned to sports psychology and went on to specialize in performance coaching, helping people to excel in what ever area of business they work. Helping to keep the image of the 1960s alive, Sir John has since been coaxed back behind the wheel to compete in historic races.
The Whitmore Cup is a race for saloon cars of less than 2-litre capacity of a type that raced from 1960-66
Photography courtesy of LAT and Castrol