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August 7, 2016

Jack Sears was one of England’s

best known sports car drivers in the

1950s and 1960s. He was born in

1930 to a well-to-do family and de-

veloped a passion for cars at an

early age. His first race was in 1950

in an MG TC at Goodwood. He con-

tinued racing and rallying and

gained a reputation in Lister sports

cars. He raced in single seaters only

twice, preferring full-fendered

sports cars and saloons.

Erudite, eloquent and elegant,

Sears always dressed smartly and

was meticulously polite, with a slow

and smooth mellifluous voice. He be-

came universally known as “Gentle-

man Jack.”

His association with John Will-

ment and his Ford-based team in

the early 1960s brought him promi-

nence in England’s popular touring

car competition. When Willment

began campaigning full-size Ford

Galaxies powered by 427 engines

they were responsible for many of

his successes.

When the Cobra Team arrived

in Europe with their Daytona

Coupes they made a habit of includ-

ing a team of drivers from the coun-

try they were racing in. If the race

organizers attempted to get cute

with their rules interpretation, since

all of the Coupes were prepared

identically they would have to disal-

low all cars – and they did not wish

to penalize a team of “local” drivers.

Sears was teamed with other Brits

and soon proved himself worthy of a

seat on the Cobra Team. In 1965 he

finished 10th AO/2nd GT at the

Nürburgring (with Frank Gardner),

8th OA/2nd GT at LeMans (with

Dick Thompson), 9th OA/2nd GT at

Reims (with John Whitmore) and 5th

OA/2nd GT at Coppa di Enna.

In 1964, AC Cars built a coupe of

their own for LeMans and Sears

gained national notoriety in England

by testing the car on Britain’s M1 mo-

torway late at night, reportedly top-

ping 180 mph. Upon discovering this,

local authorities admonished the man-

ufacturer against ever doing it again.

In later years, Sears was a pop-

ular guest at many automotive

events, including the Shelby Amer-

ican Collection’s annual December

party. He enjoyed meeting enthu-

siasts and talking about his Cobra

days. The Jack Sears Trophy has

been awarded for a variety of

achievements in the British Tour-

ing Car Championship. He was 86.

Fall 2016 89