John Coombs

John Coombs

Harold John Coombs, or Noddy as he was christened by the 500 boys, was born in Chertsey in 1922. He was introduced to motor racing by his father, a coachbuilder, who took John to Brooklands prior to the war. After serving an apprentice, John would eventually take over the family firm, Coombs of Guilford and the business moved to being a garage and car dealership. He began his racing career, unsuccessfully, in a pre war Aston before switching in 1951, to a JBS, finishing second at Gamston in July, and fourth in the Production Car Race at Silverstone on 18th August but failed to finish the 100 mile Commander Yorke Trophy. At Gosport in September, he was second to Don Parker, also in a JBS followed by a third at Ramsgate on the 30th. At Castle Combe in early October, John was third in his heat and fourth in the final. A trip to Madrid, later in the month  resulted in a heat win but nothing from the final.

Coombs chose a Cooper Mk VI for 1952 racing in partnership with Alan Rippon as Ecurie Britannique. He immediately achieved some good results including third in his heat at Castle Combe in April, third in the Earl of March Trophy in April to Moss and Brown, fourth at Ibsley, fourth again in the Luxembourg Grand Prix, second to Stuart Lewis-Evans at Chimay in May and a DNF at the Nürburgring, fifth at the Grand Prix meeting in July and second at Fairwood. In August he achieved a win at Thruxton and then a win at the prestigious 100 mile Commander Yorke Trophy.

On his way to the Commander Yorke Trophy at Silverstone, August 1952

John took second at the Brighton Speed Trials and another second at Silverstone on the 20th September to Les Leston. Finally for '52, he had the mixed experience of leading Moss for much of the race at Charterhall only for a wheel to come off spinning him out and leaving Brandon with the win. For 1953 John used a Staride. He failed to finish again at the Nürburgring in May but took fourth at the Grand Prix meeting on the 18th of July, against top opposition, and take win at Thruxton in August.

John gets a result at Brands in September '54

John progressed to a Cooper Bristol and Lotus XI but increasing business commitments convinced him to give up driving and concentrate on preparing cars for others. As Jaguar dealers, it was natural to run Mk IIs and John was instrumental to persuading Jaguar to build the lightweight E-Type to compete with the Ferrari GTO, later he ran various cars in Formula 2.

Many of the biggest names drove for John over his twenty years as an entrant, including Jack Brabham, Ron Flockhart and Graham Hill before he retired to the South of France.

John Coombs passed away in August 2013