John Dawson-Damer or D-D to his friends, was born in the UK and educated at Eton. He moved to Australia to live in 1964, moving to Sydney after a short stay in Perth. He owned Oran Park in New South Wales, part of which was developed in the early 1960s into the Oran Park Race Way.
He was the younger brother of the Earl of Portarlington. The Earldom was established in 1785.
He was Australian champion rally co-driver in 1978 with Canberra driver Greg Carr, although for most of his competitive rally career he co-drove for his long-time close friend, Colin Bond.
He had been racing historic motor cars for about 15 years and had a collection of Lotus Formula One racing cars. They including 16 & 18 2.5s, 25/33 1.5, the 39 that was built for the flat 16 Climax but only ran with a 2.5 FPF and a Repco 2.5, a 49, a 78, the 63 and an 11.
He was heavily involved in the Historic racing scene and was chairman of the historic section of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport. He was also a member of the historic commission of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile.
In 2000 he drove one of his Lotus F1 cars, an ex-Graham Hill Lotus 49, at the Adelaide historic F1 races supporting the Adelaide 500 touring car race on the city's GP street circuit. In June he attended the Goodwood Festival, having competed there twice previously, with a rare four-wheel-drive Lotus 63, once driven by Mario Andretti.
Tragically Dawson-Damer lost control of his Lotus 63 as he crossed the finishing line, hitting the finishing gantry at full speed and collecting two marshals - Andrew Carpenter and his colleague Steve Tarrant - before smashing into the surrounding trees.
Dawson-Damer was killed instantly, whilst Carpenter was transported to the St. Richard's hospital in Chichester, West Surrey, Unite Kingdom, where he passed away. Tarrant was critically injured and ended up losing the lower part of his right leg, however he was fortunate to survive.
After the crash it was discovered Mr Dawson-Damer's helmet had also not been MSA approved but this was not a contributing factor in the accident or the outcome.