John Coombs, who died on Saturday aged 92, was instrumental in the early career of Jackie Stewart as well as in convincing Jaguar to create the lightweight E-Type racer.
Proprietor of Coombs of Guildford, a Jaguar dealer, it was natural the Coventry marque featured heavily as he wound down his career as a driver in F3, F2 and sports cars in the late 1950s in favour of building up his team which thrived in sedan, GT and F2 racing in the 1960s and early ’70s.
F1 stars such as Jack Brabham, Graham Hill and Dan Gurney scored much success in Coombs’ Jaguar saloons and it was a 1964 test in the Coombs lightweight E-Type that helped give the young F3 driver Jackie Stewart the momentum that took him into F1 the following year.
“It was Lofty England of Jaguar who sort of foisted me upon John,” recalls Sir Jackie, “because I wasn’t really a big enough name for him at the time. But it formed the beginning of a very close relationship that we maintained ever since.”
When Ken Tyrrell moved into F1 in 1968, it was Coombs who took over the running of the F2 team. F1 stars such as Stewart, Piers Courage, Jack Brabham and Francois Cevert continued to drive for Coombs in F2 over the next few seasons. He was also influential in recommending his F2 driver Patrick Depailler to Tyrrell.
Coombs is survived by his wife Ellie.