JANUARY 24, 2009
Jackie Epstein 1934-2009
Jackie Epstein, a wellknown driver, engineer and team manager, has died at the age of 74. Epstein raced in a number of non-championship Formula 1 races in the early 1960s in a private BRM, but became better known later as an entrant.
The son of Sir Jacob Epstein, the American-born sculptor who has settled in the United Kingdom, Epstein grew up in bizarre circumstances as his mother was one of the artist's mistresses but he grew up in the family home. At 19 he borrowed an Alta sports car from Sir John Onslow and raced in the opening event at the new Brands Hatch circuit. A year later, when it was decided to run the cars in the opposite direction on the Kent track, Epstein became the first winner on the new layout.
After doing his National Service with the Royal Air Force, he studied engineering at the Chelsea College of Aeronautical and Automobile Engineering. After he graduated he ran the Palace Gate Garage in Kensington, looiking after the cars of others, racing when he could and occasionally entering other drivers. He raced a variety of different cars, including MGs, Frazer Nashes and a Jaguar. In 1962 he switched to Cooper and a year later established Epstein-Eyre Racing with Mike Eyre and tried his hand at single-seaters with the BRM and various other cars. His results were none too spectacular and he switched to sports cars in 1965 under the Epstein Enterprises banner, racing with Paul Hawkins and others. In 1969 he decided to stop racing and concentrated on running cars for others, notably Mike Hailwood in the F5000 series. That year he also began working with John Webb to transform Webb's ideas into reality, notably exporting Formula Ford to Brazil. At the same time he ran highly-successful teams in Formula 5000, overseeing Gijs Van Lennep's chaampionship victory in 1972 and then helping Lella Lombardi to make it to Formula 1. He went on to managed the Brands Hatch circuit, overseeing the construction of new pits and in 1986 became a member of the board of directors of Brands Hatch Leisure.