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Obituary: Formula Ford champion and key Reynard figure Peter Morgan

Tynemouth-born Peter Morgan, who died earlier this month aged 68, was a champion driver whose engineering contribution to the sport – from early work at Madgwick to Reynard – succeeds him.

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Fastidious preparation underpinned a relatively short racing career over which he achieved much success, despite never attracting the financial support his ability merited.  

From gearbox karting, mechanical engineering graduate Morgan switched to Formula Ford with an Alexis Mk18B “bought complete for £800 from a guy in Birmingham” in 1974. It lasted about six races, ending its days against the wooden sleepers at Silverstone’s Woodcote corner in 1975.    

The engine and gearbox were transplanted into a new Royale RP21, while the only other surviving part was the metal half-moon Alexis nose badge that Peter donated last year to a rebuild project of a sister car.  

Improving results in the Royale presaged a switch to a works-assisted Lola T540 for 1978. His first win, in round four of the BRDC championship at Brands Hatch in the factory development car underlined their potential. 

Having optimised the design and rebuilt his steed around a new production T540E chassis, victories in the next three counters enabled Morgan to beat Jim Walsh, Bernard Devaney and John Village to the championship.  

Moving up to slicks-and-wings FF2000 in 1979 with a Lola T580 brought three victories and a second behind David Leslie in the British Automobile Racing Club championship, with the most poles. 

Lack of funds precluded F3 for 1980, thus Morgan spent a month preparing Ian Flux’s Ehrlich for Monaco. Nonetheless, with competitive spirit still burning, Peter blew his savings on the British GP support contest in Eddie Jordan’s discarded March 803 at Brands. “After 30 minutes’ testing, he finished 10th, just ahead of me, in his last race – that’s special,” said Flux. 

Morgan (right) during his days with Reynard

Morgan (right) during his days with Reynard

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Morgan prepared Sean Walker’s FF2000 Pilbeam and Flux’s FAtlantic Ralt RT4 and fabricated components from a garage behind his mother’s house near Buckingham, before joining Robert Synge’s Madgwick Motorsport team in 1984 to run John Pratt and Mark Newby in FF1600. 

“Peter didn’t want to do it initially, but stayed 10 years, through F3 to F3000,” said Synge. “When Nigel Mansell came on board as part owner of Madgwick in 1990, I couldn’t believe it when he walked into the factory and greeted Peter like a long-lost pal [Mansell had befriended him on a karting test day in the early 1970s, and they competed against each other in FF1600]!”      

Having run its cars for so long, and in far-flung places, Morgan wanted to be closer to home so joined Reynard Racing Cars, putting factory processes in place that revolutionised production, increasing profitability in its Indycar era.  

“Peter's huge presence and innovative methods transformed our company,” recalled founder Adrian Reynard. “The success we enjoyed as a team was attributed to all our staff, but Peter was instrumental in making a chaotic environment work like clockwork. Truly a miracle worker! 

“He loved his motorcycles and I didn’t mind that he wrote off my brand-new Suzuki as long as he was all right! An amazing bright star within motorsport, I will always remember his jovial attitude but serious demeanour.”  

Morgan – who met his devoted wife Sally at Madgwick in 1984 – adored adventure, including flying to Tangier by helicopter (with Reynard designer Malcolm Oastler) then motorcycling home!

 

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