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Obituary

Obituary: Successful tin-top racer and Demon Tweeks founder Alan Minshaw dies aged 88

Demon Tweeks founder Alan Minshaw, whose varied racing career spanned six decades and included British Saloon Car success, has died aged 88, having been in declining health for some time.

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Only by suffering a heart attack at his beloved Oulton Park’s Gold Cup event, where expert medical care was at hand, did he enjoy several bonus years.

A natural salesman, Liverpudlian Minshaw identified a lucrative niche market for mail order go-faster equipment and racewear.

Having founded Demon Tweeks in 1971, he built a trusted brand empire from a one-man band, pioneering an industry, and put more back into grassroots motorsport than anybody else.

Minshaw first started competing at Aintree in 1958, in a Morris Minor convertible, before moving on to a Downton-tuned Mini, which enabled him to sample a wide range of sporting disciplines while providing road transport in his work selling Fram Filters.

Sportscars followed, including a Turner-Climax, a factory-supported Reliant Sabre and an 1150cc Lotus 23 sponsored by Charles Bridges’ Red Rose Motors of Chester.

But his big adventure was accompanying Ted Worswick, driving one of the latter’s ex-works Austin-Healey 3000s (PJB 828) to the 1966 Targa Florio in Sicily, a world championship round, then competing.

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Minshaw’s first taste of single-seater racing then came when he converted an obsolete Formula 3 Brabham BT9 for Formula Ford in 1968, entering it as the Black Jack Special.

His easy charm and work ethic was channelled into Demon Tweeks – a name doubtless inspired by the scruffy monosyllabic mechanics in Catchpole, Barry Foley’s Autosport cartoon strip – established in an old smithy at Tattenhall, near Oulton, with a satellite shop in the circuit’s paddock.

As business boomed, Minshaw owned and raced a remarkable range of cars. As 1974 Triplex Production Saloon champion in a Chrysler Avenger, he became the third owner of Tony Hazlewood’s hairy DAF-Oldsmobile V8, in which (renamed Volvo 66, with BDX engine), he sponsored the late Tony Sugden.

With ongoing Manchester Liners backing, Minshaw continued to compete in an Opel Commodore, before graduating to the British Saloon Car Championship in 1979.

A fixture for a decade, culminating in a BMW E30 M3, he won his class and finished second overall in 1983 in a VW Golf GTI.

Historic racing then beckoned, and Minshaw was seen twirling the wheel of a Maserati T61 ‘Birdcage’, Jaguar C and D-types, Chevron B8s – having famously cancelled his order for one in 1968 – an ex-Jack Brabham Tasman Brabham BT4 and a monstrous Chevrolet Malibu with energetic aplomb, sharing his passion with racer sons Jon, Jason and Guy.

British Racing Drivers’ Club life member Alan is survived by his seven children, plus a 53-year business legacy. Demon Tweeks flourishes under Jon’s leadership, supplying thousands of product lines worldwide from its Wrexham HQ.

Photo by: Jeff Bloxham

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