A Tribute to Tony Marsh

The Great All Rounder 1931 - 2009

It is with great sadness we see the passing away of one of the most versatile motor sports competitors of our day, TD boss Peter Marsh’s respected father, Tony Marsh.

At the age of 77, Tony died on the morning of Thursday 7th May 2009 after being taken suddenly ill on the evening of 2nd May.

Tony was best known, loved and respected for his versatility and adaptability in a motorsport career which spanned over half a century. Although best known as the six times British Hillclimb Champion, he also competed in Sporting Trials, Autotests, Rally, Sprints, GT Sports Car Racing, Le Mans, was a Formula 2 Champion as well as a Formula 1 Grand Prix driver.

He raced an F2 Cooper in 1957 and won the Autocar F2 championship. His first GP was the combined F1/F2 1957 German GP at the Nurburgring, which he once described as the ‘race of his life’ along side Fangio, Hawthorn & Collins. He was also in the 1958 German GP in which Collins sadly died just two weeks after winning the 1958 British Grand Prix.

Tony had always commented that he was delighted to have won at Le Mans on his first race there. He famously won index of energy class at Le Mans with John Wagstaff driving a Lotus Elite in the 1959 race. This was a formula designed for a French car to win and the locals were somewhat disgruntled! The formula was introduced after Colin Chapman had won the earlier index of performance class in 1956 driving a 750cc Lotus Climax beating the specially built French DB Panhards. So they created a formula that only they could win but the Team Elite with Tony at the wheel did it again. During the 24 hour race the Elite had to change the starter motor, but managed the whole thing on one set of tyres and one set of brake pads! The French were somewhat annoyed, but Chapman was delighted!

He competed in Formula 1 with greats such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Sterling Moss, Graham Hill, Mike Hawthorn, Peter Collins, Roy Salvadori, Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren, and came third to the latter two in the Brussels Grand Prix in 1961. In his B.R.M. Tony finished in 1st place in the 1961 Formula 1 race at Brands Hatch.

He led the non-championship Grand Prix de Bruxelles in 1962 driving his privateer BRM, but was passed and finished fourth in heat one and was black flagged in heat two for a push start along with Graham Hill.

Tony also competed in many GT and Sports Car Races, and was a regular contender at Goodwood, competing in the last 9 hour race held there in a Cooper-Jaguar sports car.

However, Hillclimbing was Tony’s first real passion and he was the first ever man to win the British Hillclimb Championship three years running from 1955-1957 and then again ten years later 1965, 1966 and 1967. This second hat-trick was completed in the famous ‘Marsh Special,’ which was of his own construction – one with an ingenious self-developed four-wheel-drive system in 1967.

You could still see him competing on the hills in more modern machinery up to the end of the season last year and he had already entered several events this year.

Suffice to say, Tony excelled in many other sporting activities and hobbies, which included hydroplane racing, flying, sailing, ski-bobbing and shooting.

As if he had any more time on his hands, his commercial career consisted of farming, running an engineering company and owning a BMW, Mitsubishi and Citroen main dealership.

His three sons and nephew follow in his footsteps, each of them cultivating their own passion for motorsport. Paul, his youngest son, pursued sporting trials, whereas Simon, his eldest, has become fiercely competitive on the hills and a talent to watch out for, achieving great times in the Gould GR55. Tony’s middle son, Peter, Turbo Dynamics Managing Director, achieved second in class at Goodwood Race Circuit on 25th April in just his second event of the year driving the Turbo Dynamics DJ Firehawk.

“I’ve always loved Goodwood,” Peter Marsh said, “because it’s a fast track and because of the strong association my Father had with the circuit.” Richard Hollingworth, his nephew, is sharing the DJ with Peter this season and also raced the Turbo Dynamics F3 Atlantic Reynard 90H in both sprints and hillclimbs in conjunction with Peter.

It is not surprising that, with Tony’s genes, his three sons have also continued his passion for ski-bobbing, shooting and boating.

He leaves behind Liza, his loving wife, three sons, four grandchildren and a legacy of competitive achievements; memories of which will never fade.

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