Former two-time Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship title winner Jack Sears has sadly passed away at the age of 86.
Known as ‘Gentleman Jack’, Sears remained a popular part of the BTCC and a regular member of the paddock during its 58-year history, famously claiming the inaugural British Saloon Car Championship in 1958 before adding a second title in 1963.
The first of those was a unique title win however. With Sears topping Class C in an Austin A105 of what was then a multi-class series, it resulted in a tie on points at the conclusion of the season with Tommy Sopwith, who topped Class D at the wheel of a Jaguar 3.4 Litre. A coin toss was cast aside, a wet Brands Hatch instead the setting for two five-lap sprints in identical Riley 1.5s to decide the fate of the maiden British Saloon Car Championship crown.
Sears triumphed – something he achieved again in 1963, staving off stiff competition from the likes of Graham Hill, Jim Clark and Sir John Whitmore driving a Ford Cortina and the venomous, seven-litre Ford Galaxie.
His legacy most recently saw the BTCC introduce the Jack Sears Trophy, Sears supporting and nurturing the next generation of touring car stars.
BTCC Series Director, Alan Gow, said: “It is with great regret and genuine sadness to learn of Jack’s death. I really liked Jack a lot… not only as an extremely talented and inspirational racing driver, but more importantly as a hugely popular, humble and impressive human being. Jack loved this championship and continued to play an active part in the BTCC right up until his passing. He will be sorely missed by everyone involved in the BTCC, but our immediate thoughts are with his family and closest friends at this time.”
The next BTCC meeting, which takes place this weekend at Knockhill in Fife (13/14 August), will be marked with a minute’s silence.
We at The Checkered Flag would all like to send our sincere condolences to Jack’s family and friends in this difficult time.