Born in Smallfield, nr Horley in Surrey, Jack Fairman was an engineer who started racing in trails and hillclimbs 1934 with a 12/50 Alvis. He also raced at Brooklands before WWII, during which he served in the Tank Corps. He did not race as regularly as others, due to his commitment to running the family precision tool manufacturing business.
After the war he achieved a god deal of success in endurance racing. He first drove at Le Mans in the late 1940s and his dogged driving style was ideally suited to this and other long distance events.
He drove for a number of sports car teams including Bristol, Jaguar, Ecurie Ecosse, and Aston Martin and his engineering experience and dependable driving made him a popular choice as a test driver.
In 1953 Turner Sports Cars built a single seater Formula 2 racing car. Jack Fairman was offered the drive for the USAF Trophy race at Snetterton on the 25th July. Fairman retired after only 2 laps when the engine stopped. It took him some time to realise that he had knocked off the ignition, causing the car to stop. The team then made the long journey to Charterhall in Scotland on the 15th August when Fairman again drove the car, only to retire when the engine ran its big ends. He drove it again at Goodwood but again the car retired.
In 1954 Turner adopted a 2.5 litre Alta engine, ready for the jump into Formula 1. Jack Fairman drove the Turner in the International Trophy at Silverstone on the 15th May, qualifying 6th fastest for the second of two heats, going on to finish 6th, one lap behind heat winner, Maurice Trintignant, in the works Ferrari. Jack occupied a position on the third row of the starting grid and finally finished 13th, some three laps behind the other works Ferrari driver, Froilan Gonzales, driving the car that Tritignant had used in the heat.
The new circuit at Aintree, alongside the grand National Steeplechase course, held its first meeting at the end of May, with the feature race, the Aintree 200, being held for Formula Libre cars. Fairman again drove the car, finishing 9th in the first 17 lap heat. He lined up on the 4th row of the starting grid in a field of 20 starters but, as yet, there is no record of where he finished.
Jack finished 4th in the second heat of the trophy race at Crystal Palace, after initially holding second place, but in the final retired with gearbox problems after 3 laps. An entry could not be obtained for the British Grand Prix in July but the car was out again at Crystal Palace on the 2nd August. This was another meeting held in two heats and a final. Fairman achieved 3rd place in Heat 2, going on to finish 8th in the final. Oulton Park was the next meeting on the 17h August. As Fairman came out for the Formula 1 race, the half shaft broke, posting him as a non starter race.
A quick trip back to Wolverhampton for a replacement saw the car out later in the afternoon in the Formula Libre race, but there is no record of how it performed. Both races were won by Stirling Moss in the latest Formula 1 250F Maserati. Snetterton a week later saw Fairman completing 13 laps of a 40-lap race before the car was retired with mechanical problems. The fourth race in as many weekends saw Fairman in the car at Castle Combe but the car retired in smoke. The engine was repaired in time for a formula 2 race at Goodwood on the 25th September but problems during practice meant the car did not start, bringing the season to a disappointing end.
He was involved with the development of Connaught's Formula 2 and Formula 1 cars and put in the occasional Grand Prix start, usually in the British and Italian Grand Prix, making his debut at the British Grand Prix in 1953 with an HWM-Alta. He also raced a Connaught Type A in Italy that year but was unclassified.
1956 was his best year in F1. He drove the Connaught Type B to fourth in the British Grand Prix and fifth in the Italian, ending up tenth in the World Championship.
In 1957 he drove a BRM P25 but apart from an 8th in Morocco in 1958 he never finished another Grand Prix. His last F1 season was in 1961 when he drove the Ferguson P99 in the British GP, becoming the first person to race a four wheel drive car in a World Championship race and at the same time the last to start with a front engined car, and a Cooper T45 entered by Fred Tuck Cars in the Italian. He was disqualified in the Britsh and retired in the Italian. He did drive one of Carel de Beaufort's Ecurie Maarsbergen Porsches in the non-Championship City of Imola Grand Prix, finished seventh, in 1963.
Fairmans greatest success came in sports cars and with Aston Martin. In 1959 partnered with Stirling Moss, they won the Nürburgring 1000km and they took another win at the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood joined by Shelby.
On the 12 February 2007 a pub was named The Jack Fairman in his birthplace of Horley.