British touring car legend Vince Woodman dies aged 83

Vince Woodman, a British touring car legend, has died at the age of 83.

British touring car legend Vince Woodman dies aged 83

Woodman passed away last Wednesday (2 June), nine years after suffering a stroke in the British Racing Drivers’ Club Clubhouse at the 2012 British Grand Prix, and was among the most able and best-loved saloon car racers of a golden era.

Businessman-racer Woodman’s ability to engage with clients and commitment to service were reflected in the immaculate preparation standards in the establishment of VMW Motors near Bristol. By 1970, at 33, he was England’s youngest Ford main dealer. Racing showcased this.

After hillclimbing locally, Woodman started circuit racing at Castle Combe in 1965 with a Lotus Cortina, then switched to Broadspeed Escorts. He graduated to the British Saloon Car Championship in 1971, finishing runner-up from the 1300cc class in an Escort-BDA carrying VMW’s blue-and-white livery. He also racked up many club racing victories.

Woodman was a BSCC fan favourite until 1989, winning 12 races. He ran a Chevrolet Camaro in 1974-75, but the three-litre capacity limit presaged a return to Blue Oval products and the most successful era of his driving career. His breakthrough victory came in the 1976 British GP support race at Brands Hatch. Old pal Jonathan Buncombe also won in Esso-sponsored Ford Capri V6s, and they finished third in the 1977 Spa 24 Hours.

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Woodman kept close to his roots, campaigning a Broadspeed-built ‘Cologne-type’ Capri powered by a 3.4-litre 450bhp Ford Cosworth GAA engine. Elsewhere he raced Rover, BMW 635CSi and a Sierra RS500 in the BSCC. In 1982 he matched TWR Rover driver Jeff Allam’s points tally, but Allam took the class title on a tiebreak.

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Among Woodman’s finest drives was finishing second, at 47 years old, in Donington’s 1984 European Touring Car round with James Weaver in a BMW 635. He and John Cleland won three Thundersaloon titles, in 1986 with a Vauxhall Senator-badged Holden Commodore, then 1989-90 with the mighty Vauxhall Carlton TS6000, a combo rarely defeated.

His final win came at Combe in 2008, fittingly where his racing started 43 years earlier, sharing his beloved Capri-GA with preparer Dan Cox.

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