Tony Purnell

Born in 1958, Purnell was interested in motorsport from his school days and raced karts before joining the engineering company GKN as an apprentice. He was then given a GKN Scholarship to study mechanical engineering at the University of Manchester and then won a Kennedy Scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to obtain his Master's degree, his dissertation being on the subject of Formula 1 aerodynamics. He also attended the Sloan Business School before returning to Cambridge University in Britain as a research student. While at Cambridge he began working with Lola to establish electronic wind tunnel instrumentation, acting as a consultant engineer for Carl Haas, who was at that time the Lola importer in the United States and running the FORCE F1 team. This was the first such instrumentation in the sport and as a result Purnell established PI Research to market his software. The company developed a data logger system for racing cars in 1988 and landed its first major automotive deal when Detroit Diesel commissioned a diesel engine management system in 1990. From those small beginnings, Pi Research grew into a global electronics business with an impressive track record in both the general automotive and motor sport businesses, and in 1999 was acquired by Ford and became part of the Premier Performance Division alongside Cosworth Racing and Jaguar Racing. Purnell remained in charge and at the end of 2002 took over from Niki Lauda as the head of PPD, responsible for overseeing the activities of Jaguar Racing, Cosworth Racing and Pi Technologies.