30/7/1920 - 19/5/1968
Record updated 07-May-08
James Richard Stoop was never known other than by the name Dickie As a schoolboy his hero was A. F. P. Fane, and in 1936 he did a drawing, which is still retained by Fane's widow, of his hero at the Shelsley Walsh hillclimb In the Frazer Nash CMH5OO.
During the war Dickie joined the Royal Air Force. Fight Lieutenant Dickie Stoop was stationed at Westhampnett along with among others, Squadron Leader Tony Gaze. This airfield saw much action from the Battle of Britain to the Normandy landings and "D-Day." Douglas Bader also flew from there. The perimeter track had a proper tarmac surface, a fact which did not escape either Tony Gaze or "Dickie" Stoop, and in their off hours were often seen tearing around the perimeter in their MGs'. He was shot down while on a flight to Malta, and had to bale out and parachute into the sea, thus qualifying for membership of the Caterpillar Club'.
He stayed In the RAF after the war and joined the Empire Test Pilots School at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, which was conveniently close to his family home at The Grange, Hartley Whitney, where his father, mother and younger brother lived. Dickie's father, Sir Adrian Stoop, was a well-known England Rugby player and a great friend of Douglas Bader. When Bader was leaning to walk with his artificial limbs, following his air crash in 1931 after which both legs had to be amputated, he spent a lot of time with the Stoop family at The Grange, coming to terms with life again.
His first proper race was the supporting F.3 event at the 1948 Daily Express Meeting at Silverstone, when he drove a GS1. He then bought one of the Frazer Nash - BMW Type 328 sports cars which had been stored in chassis form since 1939 He had an all-enveloping body built for the car (chassis no 85.427, Reg MMG253) and entered It for the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps in 1949 By this time Dickie had left the Test Pilots school and had been posted to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down where he Joined Peter Wilson’s test flight. One day he asked Peter if the Spa race was a good idea and if the 328 would be suitable. The answer was yes and two weeks later Peter Wilson found himself as Dickie's co driver in the 23-hour race!
Following the success of 'Aldy' and Norman Culpan in the 1949 Le Mans 24-Hour race, Dickie bought the Mille Miglia Frazer Nash (chassis no 421/100/1 15, Reg VHX837) together with an entry for the 1950 Le Mans race and was a regular competition at the Sathe circuit thereafter, competed ten times and winning the 2 Litre class in 1950 and 1958.
From Boscombe Down Dickie was posted to Stradishall, near Newmarket, with promotion to Squadron Leader to follow, and was now set on a busy program of racing with the Mille Miglia model Frazer Nash, competing in anything from a short club race to the Le Mans 24-Hour race.
His promotion meant more responsibility and after a while he found the RAF was preventing him doing all the racing he had planned and he promptly resigned his commission! As he was one of those fortunate young men with a sufficiently large private income from his father's wealth that he did not need to work, he was able to go motor racing full-time, and he spent more and more time at the Falcon Works, always ready to help with any driving or testing just for the hell of it.
In 1949 he was delivering Norman Culpan's Nash TMX 545 with John Aldington to Italy where it was to compete in the Mille Miglia driven by Serafini and Norman. However somewhere near Dijon, it ended upside down in a ditch. Dickie had asked John to watch the oil temp during the high speed "break in" of the engine, as the bonnet was slightly propped up at the rear to solve a high temperature situation. But it seems Dickie wanted to check himself, and did not notice a large rock in the road until the last minute. A swerve at 120 mph saved the front wheel, but a rear tire hit the rock, burst, and sent the LMR into a slide and a ditch, upside down, with John trapped under the car. With the gas leaking down on him, John did not have much sympathy for Dickie, who complained of an injured thumb.
HJA driving behind in a Bristol, saw what had happened, stopped, jumped out and grabbed the nearest part of the car which happened to be the hot exhaust pipe, resulting in a burnt hand. Fortunately a large crowd materialised from nowhere and righted the car. John and Dickie were marginally shaken, but poor Culpan must have been very pissed off, when arriving in Geneva to learn what had happened to his car.
After racing the Mille Miglia extensively, he sold it and bought a Mk 2 Le Mans Replica which the works used for their entry in the Tourist Trophy before he took delivery of it. This was 421/200/192, Reg 7834H, but for the TT it had a very special Bristol engine installed, and it ran on the works prototype registration number XMC2 Another engine change took place before Dickie took delivery of the car, which he entered for a Goodwood race where he had a monumental accident, escaping unhurt but destroying the car. Most of the wreckage was scrapped, but the good bits such as the engine, gearbox and de Dion rear axle were salvaged and built into a new car for him.
This was 421/200/205, using the same registration, Reg 7834H a Sebring model with all enveloping body, but this particular car was fitted with an experimental front suspension utilizing double-wishbones and coil spring/ damper units in place of the normal Frazer Nash transverse leaf sprang and lower wish- bones It was maintained by the works for Dickie and he raced it continuously until the Porsche influence began to take over at Isle- worth, whereupon he transferred his allegiance to the Stuttgart marque. With the Sebrlng he won the Autosport championship in 1959, when the car was already five years old, tying with Bob Gerard's Turner. He owned two of the Porsche 4cam Carrera 356 models, registering them HOT4 and YOU4 and in the latter he won the Autosport 3 hour race at Snetterton In 1960. In 1964 he purchased the first 904 to come to England and transferred YOU4 to this car, and when the 911 series was introduced he was an early customer. His silver 911 took the registration YOU4 off the 904 and was raced in club events.
In 1963 he raced also an European Touring-cars Championship race at Nurburgring, 10th in a works Austin Mini Cooper shared with Rob Slotemaker and in 1964 he was 3rd overall in the Rand 3 Hours at Kyalami co-driving Peter Sutcliffe’s 3.8 Jaguar XKE. He also drove Triumphs, Austin-Healeys, Jaguar and a Lotus 11. He even had a drive in a F.2 Cooper in the late 50s,
In 1965 in the second round of the World Championship at Monaco Paul Hawkins was driving a private Lotus entered by Dickie. He lost control at the chicane and the car went over the wall and into the harbor, "Hawkeye" having to swim to safety.
He died at a club meeting at Croft on the 19.May.1968. On the third lap he suffered a coronary thrombosis at the wheel of his silver Porsche 911S. The car mounted the banking at the exit to Barcroft, rolled and crashed through fencing.
Dickie was very thrifty by nature, often referred to by his friends as being ‘a bit tight. . .' But he was not mean and certainly not mean when it came to sports cars or racing or cameras and photography, which was his other absorbing hobby. He was a strict teetotaler and did not smoke, but he loved his food. One of the nicest stories about Dickie Step comes from his old test pilot friend and Le Mans co-driver, Peter Wilson. They were engaged on endurance test flying of twin-jet-engined Meteors at very high altitude, when the time came to start descending for the return to Boscombe Down, Dickie would switch off one engine and descend on the other one in order to gain the odd minutes' more flying on the available fuel.
Frequently the engine he had stopped would not relict and after landing on one engine he would be stranded at the far end of the runway, unable to do anything except taxi round in circles on one engine. He was not very popular with the ground crew who had to go out and tow him in.
Information from 'From Chain Drive to Turbocharger' by Dennis Jenkinson with other research.