JOHN COOMBS 1922-2013 Coombs, who died on Saturday aged 92, was instrumental in the early career of Jackie Stewart as well as in convincing Jaguar to create the lightweight E-Type racer –
John Coombs owned a successful garage business, Coombs of Guilford. He began his racing career in 1951, driving 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 Charterhallonly 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 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. John retired to the South of France and continued entering cars for the Goodwood Revival.