Barrie 'Whizzo' Williams 1938 - 2018

The death of Barrie Whizzo Williams on Saturday 8th August at the age of 79, following a brief illness, has robbed British motorsport of one of its most imperishable characters. For over 50 years Barrie raced and rallied anything with four wheels, later becoming a renowned exponent of historic racing, helped by his sublime car control and an uncanny ability to extract the maximum pace from even the most fractious of cars. But aside from his innumerable on track success, his effervescent and magnetic personality created a unique charisma that endeared him to everyone he met, Formula 1 drivers to race and rally fans.
Born into a reasonably affluent family in rural Herefordshire November 1938, Barrie was the only child of Kaye and Frank, better known as Brian, who ran a garage and engineering business in Bromyard and was involved in the early days of karting, so Barrie inevitably raced karts from the age of 11.
After attending Hereford Cathedral school, Barrie left to take up an engineering apprenticeship at David Brown Tractors in Huddersfield where he promptly joined the local motor club to compete in a wide variety of events with a dubious selection of sports and saloon cars, including a Singer Le Mans special and an unlikely Austin A40 Devon saloon. His first car race was at Easter 1960 at the now defunct Rufforth airfield circuit in Yorkshire driving his trusty Morris Minor, thus started 600 plus motor races over 6 decades.
In 1962, Barrie left David Brown Tractors to return home and manage the family motor business when his father became ill but he continued competing in all types of motor sport, fast earning a reputation in the West Country as the young driver to watch. Fame finally arrived in January 1964 when he won the first International Welsh Rally in his new 1071 cc Mini Cooper S reg 120 MNP, a rally victory he had became synonymous with.
Barries Welsh Rally success caught the attention of BMC Competitions manager Stuart Turner who provided some works support for Barrie to compete in all the major UK rallies and several overseas events including the Geneva and Swedish Rallies during 1964/5, but the loss of his road licence after a road accident put paid to his chances of a place in the official BMC team and Tony Fall got his seat.
In 1967 with support from Ledbury winemaker Alan McKechnie, Barrie tried his hand in Formula 3 and memorably won first time out in extremely wet conditions at Silverstone but his Cooper T83 was uncompetitive in subsequent dry races despite his best efforts. He was then invited to race Rob Becks 7 litre Ford Galaxie engine Jaguar E type, known as the Jaguar EGAL and his subsequent circuit exploits in the fearsome and outrageous behemoth further enhanced his reputation for uncanny car control.
The 1970s & 80s saw Barrie carved a successful career racing a wide array of saloon and touring cars. Third in the first Ford Escort Mexico series in 1971 and his outstanding performance in a Mazda RX3 in the saloon car race supporting the 1975 British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1975 earned him the Crompton Driver of the Day award over all the Formula 1 drivers.
He was a member of the works Mitsubishi Colt team in the British Touring Car Championship and a star in Production Saloons and became a one make star with titles in Ford Fiestas, Honda CRX and Renault 5s. He competed in all three race & rally Avon Tour of Britain events which were tailor made for his driving versatility.
In the 1980s Barrie won the Ford Fiesta Championship twice and the 1987 Renault 5 GT Turbo title. In 1989/90 he won the top class of the Porsche Production Championship driving a Carrera RS and in 1992 he contested a number of endurance races in a BMW M3, winning the Group N class at the Nurburgring and Spa 24 Hour races. Barrie also featured among the front runners in the Snetterton Willhire 24 Hour races, finishing second in the 1989. In 1998 Barrie co drove a Porsche RSR to win the GTR Euroseries four hour race at Paul Ricard.
In the 1990s Barrie became a prominent driver in historic racing and his legendary ability behind the wheel was ideal to slide a car to outrageous angles yet keep it firmly under control. He was known to rarely inflict any damage to the cars he raced.
Barries historic racing encompassed in all manner of sports, saloon and single-seaters including ERA R3A, Ford Galaxy, Jaguar E types, Connaught A-type, BRM P261, Aston Martin DBR4, Maserati 250F, Ferguson P99 and the colourful Turtle Drilling Special amongst others. He was a familiar face and won several times at Goodwood, notably in the inaugural TT Celebration in 1998 in Nigel Corners Jaguar E type. As his health sadly deteriorated, he reluctantly announced his retirement at the end of 2017 and thus called time on a most remarkable and enviable motor sport career.
Out of the car Barrie was unfailingly approachable and never short of a witty quote delivered with that customary grin. He cared passionately about the sport that gave him so much and was always keen to encourage and coach younger drivers. He was a witty, erudite and much sought after raconteur, President of the British Motor Sport Marshals Club and for many years, an instructor at Silverstone racing school. Since 1971 he had been a proud member and former director of the BRDC as well as an enthusiastic honorary member of the International Rally Drivers Club and long time member of Ecurie Cod Fillet.
Its truly impossible to do full justice to the remarkable personality and talented racing driver that was Barrie Whizzo Williams in just 1000 words. Suffice to say he will be sorely missed within our sport as one of a last line of characters who could have walked straight out of the pages of Boys Own Paper. We extend our condolences to Barries partner Kathy, his remarkable mother Kaye and his many friends throughout the world. Rev in Peace Barrie, it was a pleasure to have been one of your very many friends.

14th September, 2018