John Crossle obituary: 1931-2014

John Crossle

John Crossle, who passed away last Sunday after a long illness, aged 82, left an indelible mark on motor racing in his native Northern Ireland and further afield.

Though he and his cars would achieve greatest prominence following the invention of Formula Ford, Crossle started in motorsport in the 1950s with a Ford-powered special that he successfully built and raced himself.

The unassuming Holywood man was soon asked for replicas, and he founded his Crossle Car Company in 1957.

His first efforts were front-engined 1172cc cars to comply with a local formula, before rear-engined examples appeared.

Throughout the 1960s the Crossle operation grew, with the production of the 5S, 7S and 9S sportscars.

The one-off 8F and 10F single-seaters with 4.7-litre Ford power held lap records at Kirkistown and Bishopscourt and the 12F won the 1968 SCCA Formula B run-offs in the hands of Roger Barr, establishing the marque's reputation in North America.

When Formula Ford was created, Crossle was quick to respond and his 16F proved immediately successful, a high point being Gerry Birrell's 1969 Euroseries title.

Further victories followed and the company scored a coup when Skip Barber equipped his US race schools with 30F and later 32F chassis.

Crossles gave several future F1 drivers their first single seater-experience, including Nigel Mansell, Eddie Irvine and John Watson.

There were other successes with F2 machinery, but Formula Ford remained the mainstay of Crossle production through the 1970s and '80s, joined by FF2000 - with the 31F winning the British championship in 1975 - and Super Vee variants.

Latterly, John's interests turned towards sporting trials and the Honda-powered 80T, before Crossle customer Arnie Black took control of the company in 2002 and began producing an updated version of the 9S.

Black passed the baton to Paul McMorran in 2012, but Crossle - who also served as a member of Kirkistown's 500 Motor Racing Club council - remained involved, while also devoting time to his collection of vintage agricultural machinery.

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