Jim Endruweit: Driving force behind spectacular success of Team Lotus

A driving force behind the spectacular early success of Team Lotus, racing manager Jim Endruweit, has died aged 83.

He was chief mechanic when Jim Clark won his first world championship for Lotus in 1963 and then again two years later.

The charismatic Colin Chapman had formed Team Lotus in 1957 and Jim Endruweit rapidly became his right-hand man. The Team enjoyed early success with the first of many sensational wins as Lotus scorched to victory at the Le Mans 24-hour in 1957.

A year later, Lotus launched an onslaught on Formula One and in 1960, Jim was promoted to chief mechanic. 'There were so few staff involved then,' said Norwich motoring author, journalist and Lotus historian Jonny Tipler.

The Team was also running the Lotus Cortina and the Lotus 23 sports car as well as the Formula Two cars. He had also led the Indianapolis team during the attempts on the 'Indy' in the early 1960s.

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Immediately after the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen in 1962, Jim was asked to take the Lotus 25 to Indianapolis, a drive of 1,500 miles.

As he later recalled, when the puny-looking rear-engined car arrived, it looked like a toy alongside the big American monsters.

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And success in the 500 – one of the great American races – was a huge boost to Lotus.

He was chief mechanic until 1965 and then team or racing manager until 1968 when he became service manager at Lotus Cars.

He returned to the racing scene in February 1973, when he was made manager of the Team Lotus Formula Two effort, then backed by Texaco. And the oil giant's impact on that season's racing with its distinctive F2 Texaco Stars and the 'red badge' on the white Lotus cars was dramatic with Emerson Fittipaldi and Ronnie Peterson at the wheel.

When Lotus moved to Hethel in 1966, Jim came too and lived in Norfolk for the rest of his life. Sadly, Colin Chapman died, aged 54, in 1982.

His son, Clive, who runs Classic Team Lotus, said: 'Jim made sure that the cars were built in time, repaired, transported and then run at circuits. He very much had a finger in every pie.'

'Jim was a thoroughly responsible man who liked things to be done properly and was never really intimidated by the scale of the challenge.'

His 12 years' experience in the Fleet Air Arm gave him a first class mechanical grounding, he added.

'It also gave him a good sense of organisation and team work which he gained in the military. It was something my father appreciated.'

'In those days, he was without computers or any support but managed to coordinate the whole thing almost out of thin air,' said Mr Chapman.

Team Lotus was possibly a maximum of 30 people at most and probably a handful of mechanics would go to the races, he recalled.

Mr Tipler, who also got to knew him and visited his Brundall home, said: 'He was a modest and seemingly quiet man and had the knack or gift of getting the most out of a small team of engineers and back-up staff.'

He leaves a widow Celia. Funeral arrangements will be announced.

Michael Pollitt

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