DRIVERS: REG PARNELL
Name: Reg Parnell
Nationality: Great Britain
Date of birth: July 2, 1911 - Derby
Date of death: January 7, 1964 - Derby
Parnell came from a family which ran a garage business in Derby. When Donington Park opened in 1933 Parnell was a spectator and he decided to try his hand at racing. In 1935 he bought an old Bugatti. He soon sold the car and acquired an MG Magnette but in 1937 he lost his racing licence after an accident in practice for a race at Brooklands. He was overtaking Kay Petre when he lost control, crashing into her Austin and causing it to roll. Petre suffered serious injuries. This meant that he was unable to race.
The outbreak of war meant that the best years of his career were wasted. He returned to racing as soon as he could in 1946 in a variety of different machines, notably a Maserati 4CL and then an ERA. He drove so well that he was eventually asked to drive for the works Alfa Romeo team at the very first World Championship Formula 1 race at Silverstone in 1950 and he did an excellent job taking third place.
He then became involved with BRM, initially as a test driver and later as the team's lead driver, although BRM did not make many appearances. He remained under contract to BRM but raced for Maserati because BRM could never get him a car. He was successful in other formulae but at the end of 1954 he decided to retire.
He became the team manager of Aston Martin, a move which led him to oversee a famous 1-2 at Le Mans in 1959 when Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby led home Maurice Trintignant and Paul Frere. The company then decided to enter F1 and Parnell led the team but at the end of 1960 the programme was abandoned.
Parnell decided to run his own team under the Yeoman Credit banner, with Roy Salvadori and John Surtees. This was followed by a sponsorship deal from Bowmakers but after the company withdrew from F1 at the end of 1962 Parnell set up his own Reg Parnell Racing in premises in Hounslow to run a 19-year-old youngster called Chris Amon.
He was in the process of building a car when he died from peritonitis at the age of only 52 after a routine appendix operation went wrong. His son Tim took over the team, which went on to enjoy a close association with BRM in the late 1960s.