Ninian Sanderson

Ninian Sanderson, a car dealer from Glasgow, was born in May 1925 and is best remembered for his success at Le Mans, with an Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar which he shared with Ron Flockhart in 1956, beating the Aston Martin of Stirling Moss and Peter Collins but he was also a regular and fast Formula 3 driver both on circuits and hills. Initially, he drove a Cooper, taking a second place at Crimond in May 1951, second at Bo'ness in June a win at Turnberry in September and a win at Bo'ness later in the same month.

For 1952, he had a new Cooper Mk VI and won his heat and the final for the Royal Scottish Trophy at Kirkcaldy in April, followed by another win at Turnberry in May and a win at Charterhall in the same month. In June, he won at Bo'ness and again in July at Rest and be Thankful. At Crimond in August, he beat the Kieft of Don Parker to show that he was capable of winning against more than just local opposition.

Ninian on his way to victory in his Cooper Mk VI, going through the Courtyard at Bo'ness June 1952

Sanderson stayed with the Cooper for the start of 1953, taking third in his heat and fifth in the final of the Handicap race at Brough in April, then beating Ken Tyrrell to the Kirkcaldy Trophy. He won again at Bo'ness in June and then switched to a Staride for rest of 1953.

At the British Grand Prix meeting in July, against the very best opposition, he took seventh place  followed by a third in the final at the Inaugural Oulton Park event. At Charterhall in August, he could only manage fifth to Moss, Parker, Les Leston and Charlie Headland but returned to glory a month later against local opposition. In October, at Brough, he won his heat and the final, beat Ken Tyrrell at Oulton and a final win at Charterhall to close the season.

In the Staride at Bo'ness in '53. Photo courtesy Alex Brown.

"Making adjustments" Bo'ness June 1953, where Ninian was fastest.

In 1954, he travelled to Ireland to take a fifth place at Kirkistown in March but had to give best to Charlie Headland's Martin in both Kirkcaldy Trophies in April. At the Daily Express meeting in May, Ninian made a rare appearance in a Scottish JP, sadly failing to finish. Back in the Staride, he finished second to Leston at Oulton Park in June and, at the end of the month, took second at Bo'ness, followed by a win at Charterhall in July and a win at Bo'ness in September to close the season and his 500 career. Ninian was slatted drive a new Martin for 1955 but doesn't appear to have done.

Ninian was a down to earth Glaswegian with a dry humour, in stark contrast to his Jaguar team mate, the refined Edinburgh born, Ron Flockhart. One story goes that Ron was preparing to leave the pit lane at Aintree to qualify the D-Type when an almighty bang emitted from the back of the car. Ron leapt out of the cockpit and ran at least 50 yards from what he thought was a spilt fuel fire. He failed to see the Ecurie Ecosse mechanics creased up with laughter and Ninian, looking smug, brushing away the evidence of the firecracker which he had stuffed up the exhaust. Following his victory with Ron in 1956, he returned to Le Mans the following year, partnered by John Lawrence. They finished second to the sister Ecurie Ecosse D-Type of Flockhart and Ivor Bueb. Ninian Sanderson died in 1985.

If you can tell us more of Ninian's life, please get in touch.

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