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‘Amazing’ gathering of the legends of Lotus marks launch of book

PUBLISHED: 09:34 26 January 2019 | UPDATED: 09:34 26 January 2019

Book launch of Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials' by Johnny Tipler. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Book launch of Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials' by Johnny Tipler. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Archant

They were the cars that helped launch the careers of the world’s greatest racing drivers, including Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell.

Book launch of Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials' by Johnny Tipler. Picture: Neil Didsbury
Book launch of Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials' by Johnny Tipler. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Now, the largest gathering of John Player Special (JPS) Lotus Formula One cars has taken place in celebration of a new book.

Former engineers, mechanics and Lotus members gathered at the Classic Team Lotus centre, next to the modern Lotus factory in Hethel, near Wymondham, to see the cars and hear them fire-up.

Clive Chapman, 57, is head of the Classic Lotus Team and owner of Ayrton Senna’s race-winning car.

He said: “Classic Team Lotus was 25 years old in December and when we started very few of the cars were running.

Book launch of Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials' by Johnny Tipler. Picture: Neil Didsbury
Book launch of Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials' by Johnny Tipler. Picture: Neil Didsbury

“They were relics from our glorious past and thanks to the popularity of classic motorsports we have been restoring two or three cars a year for customers around the world.

“To have 15 JPS cars together, the most there has ever been, with all of them running, is amazing.”

All the cars are prepared by the team at Classic Lotus before taking part in races across the globe.

Mr Chapman added: “All of our owners still race them at grand prix support races and they go flat out, matching the times from the period.

Book launch of Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials' by Johnny Tipler. Picture: Neil Didsbury
Book launch of Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials' by Johnny Tipler. Picture: Neil Didsbury

“Last year our customers started 142 times and finished 125 times, which is better than the 1970s when only half the field would finish.”

The event was part of a book launch for Gold and Black by Johnny Tipler, celebrating the JPS liveries with pictures and information about the 1970s and 1980s Formula One era.

Mr Tipler, 60, said: “It is quite overwhelming, it has never been seen before.

“You might see four, maybe five, black and gold Formula One cars at an historic race meeting but Clive Chapman has gone out and managed to organise this collection.

Book launch of Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials' by Johnny Tipler. Picture: Neil Didsbury
Book launch of Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials' by Johnny Tipler. Picture: Neil Didsbury

“It’s unprecedented. I doubt we will ever see this many in on place again.”

The branding of JPS, a cigarette company, was the first advertising example in motorsport. Although cigarette sponsors are now banned it led the way for sponsorship.

Mr Tipler, from Cromer, added: “It opened the door to commercial sponsorship. Back then it was considered normal with players sponsoring the British Grand Prix and Lotus.”

JPS Achievements

Book launch of Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials' by Johnny Tipler. Picture: Neil DidsburyBook launch of Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials' by Johnny Tipler. Picture: Neil Didsbury

The Lotus GP cars were emblazoned with the John Player Special black and gold brand from 1972 to 1986.

During this period, the accolades they gained were substantial.

Driver Championship wins

•Emerson Fittipaldi - 1972

Book launch of Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials' by Johnny Tipler. Picture: Neil Didsbury
Book launch of Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials' by Johnny Tipler. Picture: Neil Didsbury

•Mario Andretti - 1978

Constructor Championship wins

•1972 Season

•1973 Season

Book launch of Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials' by Johnny Tipler. Picture: Neil Didsbury
Book launch of Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials' by Johnny Tipler. Picture: Neil Didsbury

•1978 Season

Other notable drivers to sit in the Lotus JPS seat included

•Elio DeAngelis

•Ayrton Senna

•Nigel Mansell

•Johnny Dumfries

•Ronnie Peterson

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