Brits on Tour Issue No:1 - Thruxton


The Kwikfit British Touring Car 2019 Magazine produced by The Sandbag Times


Tommy Sopwith: 1932-2019


Feature photo credit: LAT

Eight-time British

Touring Car


race winner, and the

original title runnerup,

Tommy Sopwith

passed away on

Saturday, aged 86.

Sopwith was the son

of Thomas Sopwith,

a famous aviator,

America’s Cup

yachting competitor

and creator of the

famous Sopwith

Camel, a First World

War biplane.

Sopwith Jr began

a racing career at

Goodwood in the

early 1950s in a Jaguar

XK120, following in

the wheeltracks of his

father, who had been

one of the early racers

at Brooklands.

The younger Sopwith

was also a pioneer in

his own right, building

his own sports-racer,

the Sphinx, in 1954

which was a success.

He scored many wins

against the might of

the prevalent C-type

Jaguars in his Allard

J2R-based machine.

Sopwith formed his

own squad, Equipe

Endeavour, to field

the Sphinx. The team

was named after his

father’s America’s Cup


Sopwith progressed

into a Cooper T39

fitted with a Coventry

Climax engine and a

Cooper T38-Jaguar.

His passion developed

along with his trophy

cabinet, but a serious

accident at Oulton

Park in 1955 cut short

his ambitions.

He returned in saloon

car racing and was

in the right place at

the right time when

the British Saloon

Car Championship,

now the BTCC, was

announced in 1957.

For the following

season, Sopwith was

on the grid with a

Jaguar 3.4-litre saloon.

He finished the

championship on

equal points with

Austin Westminster

driver Jack Sears and

the two conducted two

five-lap shoot-outs at

Brands Hatch at the

end of the season,

where Sears prevailed

by 1.6 seconds.

Sopwith retired

at the end of the

season but Equipe

Endeavour continued

in the BSCC and in

various sportscar

championships until

it closed its doors in

1962. It had been a

major force in closedroof


Sopwith’s need for

speed wasn’t sated, and

he raced in off-shore

powerboats and was

also one of the prime

movers behind the

inaugural London-

Sydney marathon in


A lifelong member of

the BRDC, he became

its director and

chairman in 1993.

The BTCC extends its

sincerest condolences

to the family and

friends of Tommy


Story at

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