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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Touring automotive racer and journalist dies aged 75

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At six toes 5, Dron considered the world and the automobiles he drove from the next aircraft than most on this planet.

That he was far too tall to be a single-seater racer didn’t deter Dron. From 1968, when he solid a friendship with future Components 1 world champion James Hunt within the hurly-burly of Components Ford’s first full season, he left a long-lasting impression each on observe and within the eloquent phrases he wrote about motoring and motorsport over his distinguished peripheral profession as a journalist.

Educated on the Faculty of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering, Dron didn’t got down to be a wordsmith, however after a spell working with entrepreneur Nick Brittan noticed it as a extra gratifying approach to preserve the wolf from the door and additional his racing aspirations. Thus he joined Motor as highway take a look at editor in 1971. The remaining is historical past, on each counts.

Having competed promisingly within the Ford Escort Mexico Problem, Dron broke into the British Saloon Automobile Championship in 1974, touchdown a late deal to race the second-string Broadspeed Triumph Dolomite Dash alongside Ralph Broad’s apprentice Andy Rouse.

It lasted a season, during which a class-winning third general within the RAC Vacationer Trophy race at Silverstone – behind Stuart Graham and Vince Woodman/Jonathan Buncombe in 5.7-litre Chevrolet Camaros – over three hours was a springboard to larger issues.

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PLUS: How the unlikely Capri-slaying Dolomite triumphed against adversary

The one-seater dream nonetheless gnawed away at Dron and he was extra shocked than anyone when Unipart facilitated this in 1976, backing his season in a brand new March 763. Alas the sponsor’s British Leyland connection introduced with it the heavy and tall Dolomite engine which, in air-restricted type, proved a ship anchor, no match for Novamotor’s Toyota Celica 2T-G engine.

Nonetheless, Unipart appreciated Dron’s enthusiasm and tenacity, which earned him the works [Broadspeed-run] Dolly Dash BSCC seat for the subsequent two seasons, ending second and third general within the class-based competitors.

The mixture dominated the 2300cc division in 1977 – when Dron was crushed solely twice by Jeff Allan (Vauxhall Magnum) – however misplaced out to Bernard Unett (Chrysler Avenger) whose small class opposition was minimal. He scored two sensational outright wins at Silverstone, the 1977 British GP and 1978 Worldwide Trophy helps boosting his inventory.

PLUS: The outright tin-top wins achieved by a forgotten tin-top great

Dron additionally competed in sportscars, ending twelfth at Le Mans in 1980 with Andy Rouse

Picture by: Motorsport Images

When the Jaguar XJ12C drive he’d yearned for sank with the programme, Dron was compelled to take mainstream jobs as soon as extra. On the aspect, although, he shone within the BMW [323i] County Championship and gained the 1978 Porsche 924 Championship whereas working for Newcastle vendor Gordon Ramsay. The Porsche connection was to be an essential one, opening the door to the subsequent chapter of Dron’s profession and far sportscar success.

He competed at Le Mans 4 instances, ending twelfth with Richard Lloyd and Andy Rouse in a works 924 Carrera GT in 1980 (above) and a class-winning thirteenth with Richard Cleare and Richard Jones within the former’s Porsche 934 in 1982. Sadly Cleare’s Kremer CK5 prototype’s engine broke in 1983, Dron having bravely pulled 221mph in it throughout qualifying.

Dron returned to journalism, becoming a member of his {old} Motor colleague Roger Bell at [Thoroughbred &] Basic Automobiles and rapidly took excessive seat, modifying it for greater than a decade. Tony’s profound data of the business and fervour for its historical past, coupled along with his forthright views, encapsulated in an insightful, eloquent and at all times entertaining writing model, made it for a lot of readers a golden period. In latter years Dron’s phrases graced Octane journal and others worldwide.

His immersion on this planet of historic automobiles naturally introduced many alternatives for the proud BRDC member to compete across the globe. Dron’s prowess on the wheel, underpinned by mechanical sympathy, was by no means extra evident that on the Goodwood Revival, the place he scored a beautiful Sussex Trophy hat-trick in 2000-2002, patiently picking-off then outrunning extra highly effective opposition in Harry Leventis’ svelte ex-Phil Hill/Wolfgang von Journeys Ferrari 246S. Dron additionally bagged prime six finishes within the RAC TT Celebration with Tiff Needell (Aston Martin DP212) and Eric Heerema (Ferrari 330 LM/B).

Having survived on one lung for 30 years, he regretfully hung up his helmet in 2012 when the battle to inhale oxygen began to turn out to be unequal. One other main operation in 2018 additional compromised his respiratory, however Dron’s sense of humour and love of unfeasibly small highway automobiles and actual ale endured. He handed away, paradoxically, on the day that may have been long-time racing rival Gerry Marshall’s eightieth birthday. However what a legacy he leaves.

Other than hundreds of thousands of phrases and a whole bunch of race wins in automobiles from 24 marques, fifth locations within the 1974 Spa 24 Hours (with Andy Rouse in Triumph Dolomite Dash) and 1982 Nurburgring 1000Kms (sharing Richard Lloyd’s Canon Porsche 924 Carrera GTR) and a category victory within the Nurburgring 24 Hours (BMW M3) added to a stellar CV. However the Nordschleifemeister’s favorite win was on the 1999 Eifel Klassik when he outran a 180-strong discipline from pole in an excellent Ferrari 330 LM/B.

On behalf of the sporting fraternity, Autosport presents honest condolences to Tony’s household, notably his Canadian-domiciled brother Peter – remembered additionally for his journalism and racing.



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