Born : 26.1.1945
Died : 2.7.1985
Active years : 1973-1977
GP started : 7
Driver's career :
"No. I like having my own team. It's like being back in the Army. I'll stay as I am."

Motor racing will forever link his name with Roger Williamson's after his heroic attempt to rescue his fellow Briton from his upturned March during the Dutch GP at Zandvoort in 1973, but 'Purls' himself was no mean driver. Throughout his career he would, however, remain underrated.The son a refrigerator manufacturer, David Purley had a taste for adventure. He joined the British Army and became an officer in the elite Parachute Regiment, seeing action in Aden and surviving a partial failure of his parachute during one of his training jumps. After leaving the military he started racing, being inspired by a friend Derek Bell, who lived in the same area. His first races were in 1968 with an AC Cobra and after this was damaged beyond repair he bought a Chevron sportscar.
He switched to single-seaters in 1970 with a Brabham BT28 in Formula 3 racing and ran a team called Lec Refrigeration Racing, na
med after the family business.
He won his first F3 victory after just a few weeks, beating James Hunt by a tenth of a second in the Grand Prix des Frontieres at Chimay in Belgium. He would not win again until he returned to Chimay a year later. In mid 1971 he switched to an Ensign and his results improved and he won two races in Britain at the end of the year.

For 1972 he concentrated on Formula 2 with a March 722 and finished third at Pau but he returned to Chimay to win his third consecutive Grand Prix des Frontieres.

He switched to Formula Atlantic in 1973 but made his F1 debut in a March 731 at Monaco in 1973. Later that year he won the George Medal for his efforts to save Roger Williamson from a burning car at the Dutch GP. He turned his back on F1 in 1974, although he did try to qualify a Token at the British GP, and concentrated on winning in Formula 5000. He won the Gold Cup at Oulton Park in 1975 and the following year won six victories in 13 races to take the Shellsport British Formula 5000 title.

In the winter of 1976-77 Purley commissioned designer Mike Pilbeam to build a Lec F1 car and with the help of Mike Earle this was ready to race in 1977.

Purley qualified for several races but in practice at Silverstone suffered a stuck throttle and crashed with incredible violence. In the winter of 1976-77 Purley commissioned designer Mike Pilbeam to build a Lec F1 car and with the help of Mike Earle this was ready to race in 1977. Purley qualified for several races but in practice at Silverstone suffered a stuck throttle and crashed with incredible violence. Purley was subjected to the highest G-forces ever survived by a human being - 179.8G - when the car went from 108mph to zero in just over half a meter. His life was saved by rescue crews at the scene of the crash but it took many months for him to recover from multiple fractures to his legs, pelvis and ribs. He did eventually have a second Lec F1 car built and did one or two events. In 1979 he raced in the British F1 series with a Shadow but then he quit racing and turned instead to running the family business and aerobatics. He had been a pilot since the early 1960s but while flying off the south coast of England in the summer of 1985 he crashed into the sea in his Pitts Special stunt plane. The Source
1968 - 1968 Raced an AC Cobra, taking a win and 2nd at Lydden before the car was destroyed in an accident at Brands Hatch. photo Mr. McFadyen/TNF
1969 - changed to a Chevron B8, collecting a win at Castle Combe, 2nd at Snetterton, 3rd at Mallory Park and 4th at Thruxton
1970 - moved into single-seaters with an F3 Brabham BT28. He took a win at Chimay, 2nd in a Castle Combe Formula Libre race. 6th at Snetterton, 7th and 8th at Oulton Park and 8th at Karlskoga and the Flugplatzrennen
1971 - continued to race in F3 but traded his Brabham for an Ensign. He finished 5th in the Brazilian pre-season series, with 3rd and 4th at Interlagos and 8th at Porto Allegre /results/. He had wins at Chimay, Brands Hatch and Lydden, took 2nd places in Brands Hatch Formula Libre races, 2nd at Crystal Palace and 3rd at Thruxton. Other results included 4th at Castle Combe, 5th at Mallory Park (twice), Brands Hatch, Oulton Park and Croft, 6th at the British Grand Prix meeting, Thruxton and Brands Hatch, 7th at Zandvoort and Silverstone and 10th at Crystal Palace.
21-Williamson and 45-Purley
Purley in Ensing F3
Purley, Petersson and Andersson, from right
Photos taken from www.f3classic.co.uk
Brand Hatsch, Roothmans 50,000 / MRR
F2 Nurburgrin / Udo Klingel
Victory Race / Barry Boor
1972 - the 3rd successive win at Chimay, with 4th at Snetterton and 5th at Brands Hatch in his F3 Ensign. In F2 he raced a March 722 to 3rd at Pau, 6th at Oulton Park, 8th at Mallory Park and Monza, 12th at the Osterreichring and 13th at Rouen /results//Championship tables/. He then went to Brazil for the Torneio, where he had a 7th at Interlagos /results/. He also sampled F1 by hiring a March 721G from the works for the Rothmans 50,000 /results/, which ended with an engine fire. He also drove the one-off Connew which expired on the warm-up lap of the John Player Trophy at Brands Hatch.
Victory Race / Stuart Dent Victory Race / Aerogi's F2 Mallory Oulton Park ? Mallory Park F2 March 722 Clearway, Roothmans 50,000
F2 Austria 1972
GP Monaco 1973 / MRR GP Monaco 1973 /unknown GP Monaco 1973 / Richard Bunyan GP GB Silverstone 1973 / Rob Ryder GP GB Silverstone 1973? / unknown      
GP GB 1973 / unknown ? /unknown GP Holland / unknown classic and sportscar GP Italy 1973 / unknown GP Germany / Udo Klingel    
Oulton Park winner in F-Atlantic / unknown
Mallory Park F-Atlantic winner with Tom Wheatcroft / unknown
Oulton Park TNF/MCS
1973 - with the hired March 731 he made his Grand Prix debut at Monaco, but failed to start on his second outing after an accident during qualifying for the British. At the Dutch he sacrificed his own race in a brave attempt to rescue Roger Williamson from his burning car. Although it proved to be in vain, he was awarded the George Medal for his efforts. His first finish came with 15th in Germany and was followed by 9th in Italy.
The rest of the year had been spent in Formula Atlantic, where he finished runner-up in the Yellow Pages Championship and in Formula Libre. Results included three wins and two 2nds at Mallory Park, two wins, a 2nd, 4th and 5th at Brands Hatch, two 3rds at Snetterton, 2nd, 3rd and 4th at Oulton Park, 2nd and 4th at Croft and 5th at the British Grand Prix meeting in his March 722
? / unknown
? / unknown
GP Monaco 1973 /unknown
? / unknown
? / unknown
Thruxton F-Atlantic / Marchives
F-Atlantic Purley with Jim Carwford
F-Atlantic / unknown

Mallory F5000 Stuart Dent

1973 Dutch GP, Zandvoort Won George Medal for stopping in Dutch GP to try and save Roger Williamson
Purley with Heinz Pruller after GP Dutch
David and Jane Purley with GM 1974
GP Dutch 1973 / MRR
Token time
GP British 1974 / MRR
? / unknown
GP British 1974 / unknown
GP British 1974 / Rob Ryder
GP British 1974 / all 4 photos from Stuart Dent
Back row (left to right) - Ken Tyrrell, John Watson, Guy Edwards, Mike Hailwood, James Hunt, Graham Hill, Patrick Depailler, Peter Gethin, David Purley, Clay Regazzoni
Front row (left to right) - Jody Scheckter, Derek Bell, Niki Lauda, Jackie Stewart, Ronnie Peterson, Jochen Mass, Deny Hulme
GP British 1974, Lauda, Wilds and Purley
GP British 1974 / Gerald Swan
? /unknown
GP British 1974 / Richard Bunyan GP British 1974 / Paul Kooyman GP British 1974 / Aerogi's Bill Wagenblatt / TNF    
1974 - a return to F2 brought 5th place in the championship, with 2nd at the Salzburgring. Rouen and Enna, 7th at Pau, 10th at Vallelunga and 2nd /results/ in the end of season Macau GP with a Chevron B27. He unsuccessfully attempted to qualify the Token1, Token 2 for the British Grand Prix, won the Brighton Speed Trials in a Trojan 101, had a 2nd and 3rd with a Modsports Porsche 911 at Thruxton, and won the Boxing Day Formula Libre race at Brands Hatch in his F2 Chevron

F2 time

Purley: top racer, top bloke
? / unknown
Hockenheim Team Harper /unknown
Carlos Ghys with David Purley
Hockenheim Team Harper / TNF
Nogaro 1974 Copyright Gérard Gamand
? / unknown
ROC Brands Hatch / MRR
? / unknown
Oulton Park / Gerald Swan
ROC Brands Hatch / Alan Cox / TNF
ROC BrandsHatch / Stuart Dent
Oulton Park with snow / TNF
Thruxton / Paul Kooyman
1975- finished 5th in the Shellsport F5000 Championship with a Chevron, winning the Oulton Park Gold Cup. He added a further win and 2nd at Brands Hatch, 2nd at Silverstone, 5th at Mallory Park and Thruxton, 6th at Zolder and Snetterton and 11th in the Race of Champions /result/. He also won the Brighton Speed Trials again, this time with his Chevron
Brands Hatch
David Purley Thruxton / Rob Ryder
Again:Purley and Magee
Thruxton next win
Brands Hatch
Oulton or Mallory / Gerald Swan
Brands Hatch / motorsportfriends
Brands Hatch
Brands Hatch
Thruxton / motorsportfriends
Photos from Alan Cox / TNF
Mid-Ohio 1976 US Continental - courtesy by Rob Neuzel http://www.yesterdaysneuz.com/
1976- won the Shellsport F5000 Championship with his Chevron B30, with three wins a 2nd and 8th at Brands Hatch, two wins at Mallory Park, victory at Thruxton, 2nd and 4th at Oulton Park, and 4th and 6th at Snetterton. In the Brighton Speed Trials he finished 3rd, and drove a Modus at the Macau and Philippine Grands Prix, both races ending in retirement.
1 David Purley Chevron B30-Ford 171  
2 Damien Magee March 75A-Ford, Penske PC3-Ford 107
3 Keith Holland Lola T400-Chevrolet 95
4 Divina Galica Surtees TS16-Ford 57
5 Mike Wilds Shadow DN3-Ford, Ensign N174-Ford 51
6 Valentino Musetti March 732-Hart 43
7 Richard Scott Modus M3 BDA 42
8 Brian McGuire Williams FW04-Ford 32
9 Richard Robarts March 762-Hart 30
10 Guy Edwards Ensign MN174-Ford, Brabham 42-44B-Ford 28
Spanish and French GP
Belgium GP
Neve (27) and Purley (31) / unknown
Belgium / Paul Kooyman Sweden / unknown  
/ unknown
ROC / Barry Boor
/ unknown  
British GP
Donington Park classic and sportscar   Aerogi's unknown
Belgium / autosport.com / unknown Belgium / unknown    
1977 French Grand Prix at Dijon
France /unknown France / classic and sportscar   ROC Brands Hatch / unknown    
1977 - returned to Grand Prix racing with his own LEC chassis, having taken 6th in the Race of Champions. After failing to qualify at the Spanish, he briefly led the Belgian before finishing 13th. In Sweden he was 14th, but crashed at the French after his brakes failed. Then came the British where he survived against all the odds, when his throttle stuck wide open at Becketts during qualifying, leaving him dreadfully injured and fighting for his life
1978 - his return to the track came with two outings in a Porsche 924, followed by 2nd in the Brighton Speed Trials with his LEC F1 car
1979 - after further operations on his damaged legs he had a few races in the Aurora British F1 Series /results/, retiring at Brands Hatch and finishing 10th at Thruxton with his LEC, followed by 4th at Snetterton and 9th at Silverstone in a Shadow DN9B. He also took a class win at a Loton Park Hillclimb in a Porsche 924 and began to compete in aerobatics events with a Pitts Special
1979 Silverstone super shot from David which signing to somebody
1985 - crashed Pitts Special aerobatic biplane into sea off Bognor Regis
Purley King David Tremayne
CLASSIC and SPORTS CAR June 1997 .
Many thanks to Mr. James Elliot from CSC.

No shortage or heart in David Purley, a man so well remembered for courage and audacity that people forget he could actually drive.
A friend remembers, "he was an absolutely brilliant bloke, and on the right day, he was blindingly quick. But he didn't have a clue about racing. In Fl, he'd say 'There was this red car right up behind me.' That would have been Lauda, but David wouldn't have known." Now that's what I call style and panache.

Full text from CLASSIC and SPORTS CAR June 1997

Other pages about David Purley and LEC : 8w.forix.com, http://www.research-racing.de/purley1.htm, http://www.research-racing.de/lec.htm /only in German language/
Many thanks to Matthew Lawrenson for these links:
An interview with Purley by Nigel Roebuck (it says here) :
http://www.rallystar.co.za/filemanager/download/289/f1%20Dec16-Dec21.02Features.doc or http://www.autosport.com/featuresasknigelitem.asp?id=21514&s=5&l=3,

http://www.autosport.com/featuresasknigelitem.asp?id=21974&s=5&l=6 and

Circuit de Chimay:
Barry Boor about David Purley: http://server17.dedicateduk.com/~bruce/cgi-bin/story5.htm
About Token RJ2: http://forums.atlasf1.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=70486
8Wforix.com http://8w.forix.com/nl73-july29.html
The book "Racers Apart" by David Tremayne (published by PSL?, circa 1991) has a great chapter on David Purley and many other heroes, sung and unsung

Photos from The Mike Hayward Collection
Partsgeek USA Discount Auto Parts Online
The interview with Ben Huisman in English
The interview with Herman Brammer in English
Chronology of Sunday 29th of July 1973 from interviews with Ben Huisman, race director Zandvoort Grand Prix in 1973, Herman Brammer, track official Post #10 and Gijs van Lennep, driver at the Grand Prix at Zandvoort in 1973.
Many thanks for Ed Kiers from Holland for translating the interviews edkiers2002@hotmail.com
Memories of fans:
My first ever race meeting I marshalled at was 1976 at Snetts for a Shell Sport Group 8 meeting and David Purley was driving the Lec 5000. I was sent armed only with a broom and bottle (fire!) to the outside of 'The Esses' which in those days was daunting with no run off area. First out was Purley, within a very short space of time he was flicking the car right and powersliding under the bridge leaving great trails of rubber behind. From that moment on I was hooked and have marshalled ever since, David Purley was a 'top bloke' very brave and sorely missed, thank you for those memories RIP - Balders
I find it hard to put into words the loss of David Purley. He was so brave and fearless. Maybe that is what contributed to his death.
I remember watching in horror as David struggled to rescue Roger Williamson. The emotion was there for all to see.
A few weeks later I was in Germany at the Nurburgring for the Grand Prix. Purley was in the March and was naturally somewhat subdued. However I got a cracking photo of him slicing through the Hatzenbatch Curves. I subsequently sent him a copy with a short note expressing my appreciation of what he had done in Holland. David got in touch and we met up at Oulton Park in September and had a long chat. The incident still prayed on his mind and it was clear it would for a long time. :(
In 1975 I attended the Thruxton Easter Monday meeting where the main event was a formula 5000 race. David Purley ran has car with a 3.4 litre Ford GAA V6 (See Group 2 Capri) against the 5-litre opposition. I remember him being impressed by an air race which the organisers put on for the spectators. This I think led him to stunt flying later in life. Anyway David finished in the top three (Don't recall his exact position) which, all things considered, was pretty good. Particularly when (as I recall) he was racing with his broken left leg in plaster!
As a funny coindicidence, David Purley did not only drive the cars mentioned before, but also the Connew! I believe it was the Race of Champions, but it certainly was at Brands Hatch. There is a story to it also, since it was a very bad weekend for Purley. First he found a screwdriver lying around in the cockpit during qualifying, and on a practise run he ripped off his visor and the gear lever by mistake on one run. Purley had experienced a stuck throttle on his March once, and demanded a engine-kill-switch on the Connew (since there wasn'r any). The team made one, and put it on the steering wheel. On the warm-up lap for the race, in a tight corner, one of the wires loosened and the switch worked quite adequately. The engine stopped, and a DNS for David.
Kirkistown 1971....Our only F3 race.
I, as press officer was running round the paddock interviewing visiting stars when, just as I had introduced myself to David Purley, word came that my (then) wife had suffered a road accident en route to the circuit. As I had cadged a lift to the track I was a bit stuck, and said so.
Immediately, an imminent practice session notwithstanding, and forgetting the fact that we had met for the first time only minutes earlier, D.P. offered to drive me to the hospital.
As things turned out, it wasn't necessary, but his generous offer has remained with me to this day.
A most excellent man.
Would that we all could be remembered with such well justified affection.......

Photos taken from Forix, Udo Klingel, Barry Boor, Motor Racing Retro, Danny, Stopandgoonline, Carlos Ghys, www.f3classic.co.uk, Rob Ryder, tbk.fameflame.dk, Atlas F1 Forum: The Nostalgia Forum, Aerogi's Motorsport Pictures, Yesterday's Neuz, www.motorsportfriends.com me and unknown HOME
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