DRIVERS: DAVID MURRAY

Name: David Murray
Nationality: Great Britain
Date of birth: December 28, 1909 - Edinburgh, Scotland
Date of death: April 5, 1973 - Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain

Scottish wheeler-dealer David Murray was trained as an accountant but went on to become a bar owner and then a wine merchant in the 1930s. He also acquired an Edinburgh car repair business called Merchiston Motors and in the late 1930s began to prepare cars for motor racing.

In 1937 he entered a BMW 328 in the Le Mans 24 Hours for himself and wealthy South African Pat Fairfield. Sadly, Fairfield was killed in an accident early in the race and Murray's dreams of glory had to wait until after the war when he once again went racing with an old Maserati 4CLT.

He competed in four Grands Prix and retired from all of them. In 1951 he decided to get more serious about the racing business and hired the well known mechanic and engine tuner Wilkie Wilkinson to help him. Wilkinson had made his name with band leader Billy Cotton in the 1930s and after the war worked with Reg Parnell in Derby. Initially the aim was to prepare cars for wealthy racers and the first customers in 1952 were Bill Dobson, Sir James Scott-Douglas and Ian Stewart, each of whom owned a Jaguar XK120. This was a success and other customers followed, notably Jimmy Stewart, brother of Jackie Stewart, and Edinburgh's Ron Flockhart.

The company prepared all kinds of cars but was best known for its sports cars and in 1956 Murray did a deal to acquire the ex-works Jaguar D-Types for the Le Mans 24 Hours, prepared by Wilkinson and driven by Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson. The team's D-Type turned the form book upside-down and won the race. The following year Flockhart hooked up with Ivor Bueb, while Sanderson shared with Jock Lawrence, and the two cars finished 1-2, once again shocking the factory teams.

The team was secretly supported by the Edinburgh shipping magnate Major EG Thomson of the Ben Line and in the years that followed went on to score a total of 68 victories in sports car events. It also helped to develop the careers of many young Scottish drivers, notably Jim Clark, Innes Ireland and Jackie Stewart. In 1966 Thomson retired and with factory involvement in sports car racing at its height, Ecurie Ecosse began to struggle.

In 1968 Murray got into trouble with the Inland Revenue and rather than face bankruptcy he skipped the country and headed off to the Canary Islands. Three years later he died of a heart attack following a minor road accident.

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