Peter Jopp

2/5/1928 - 18/8/2008

Record updated 02-May-20

Peter Munro Jopp was a highly entertaining character and a very good driver. A leading light in Cliff Davis' legendary 'Filth Nights' in the early 1960s, he was also a great friend of Graham Hill.

Peter Jopp
Peter began racing 500s in 1952 driving a Mk VI Cooper before switching to an Emeryson in 1953. He had a number of reasonable results including a win in the consolation final at Brands Hatch in June and finishing second to another Emeryson driven by Harold Daniell in July. In 1954 he finished a creditable fifth in the Whitsun meeting at Goodwood.

In 1953 Paul Emery turned his attention to Formula 2 and an Alta-engined prototype began appearing in British events that summer with Emery driving. The car also appeared with an Aston Martin engine that year and was driven by Peter Jopp and Alan Brown. Peter didn't have much success on his few outings in the car with retirements and poor finishes. A fourth in the Curtis Trophy at the end of the year being his only result of any note.

He was down to drive at Le Mans in the tragic 1955 edition with Colin Chapman and Ron Flockhart in a Lotus Mk 9 but the car was disqualified for reversing and Peter didn't get to drive. He had a lucky escape shortly after in the first round of the World Sportscar Championship, the TT race at Dundrod in Ireland. Peter was driving a Lotus Mk.IX MG with Mike Anthony however 20 minutes after the start of the race, Jim Mayers crashed at about 130 mph while passing Henri de Barry's Mercedes-Benz 300SL on the right at the bottom of Deer's Leap. His car left the road and struck massive stone gatepost, his Cooper T39 Climax split in two and exploded. The first car on the scene was W.T. 'Bill' Smith's Connaught. Trapped between the steep banks at that section of the road it was impossible to avoided the burning wreckage, and Smith perished along with Mayers. Lance Macklin, Peter Jopp, Franz Kretschman and Ken Wharton were also involved but survived.

He was back at Le Mans in 1956 with a 'wide chassis' Lotus Eleven powered by an 1100 cc Climax FWA engine. Sharing the car with Reg Bicknell, they finished 7th overall, won the 1100 cc class and were 4th in the Index of Performance. He also competed on the Monte Carlo Rally with a Jaguar.

Motor sport was severely affect by petrol rationing in 1957 brought about by the Suez crisis. However le Mans went ahead and Peter teamed up with Dickie Stoop in a Frazer Nash Sebring - Bristol, but they retired in the final hour of the race with an oil leak.

He had a fine drive at Le Mans in 1958 with Percy Crabb driving a Peerless GT Coupe. They finished 16th overall and fourth in class in what was essentially a production car. In rallies he took on the Monte with P Garnier in a Sunbeam Rapier. The Coupes des Alpes had been cancelled in 1957 but was back in 1958. Peter teamed up with Peter Harper for the event in a Sunbeam Rapier and finished 6th. For 1959 he drove with Dickie Stoop again and the pair were joined by Ninian Sanderson in a works Triumph TR3. Unfortunately they retired late in the race with overheating. Had they been running they would have been classified in 13th spot and class winners. In Rallying he finished sixth again driving a Sunbeam Rapier with Les Leston in the Coupes des Alpes. He also raced an Elva in Formula Junior and took a win at Silverstone in August.

He was absent from Le Mans in 1960 but in October he was responsible for Ausper’s competition debut at Brands Hatch finishing ninth. In the early 1960s he became a Group Consultant to BSM and its associated company J. Coryton Ltd. He entered a number of Rallies including the Monte with Gawaine Baillie in a Sunbeam Rapier where they crashed out, the East African Safari Rally and the Alpine Rally In 1961 driving with Sir Gawaine Baillie, he finished runner up in the touring car category of the motor Tour de France, an event that lasted 10 days with six circuit races, nine mountain climbs and two hours' racing round the public roads of Corsica.

Back at Le Mans he drove a Sunbeam Alpine with Paddy Hopkirk, unfortunately being disqualified for having to take on oil outside the permitted window. Another oil related problem struck the pair the following year as well when their Sunbeam Alpine had to undergo a bearing change in the pit lane. The oil was drained, the engine dismantled and the big end bearings replaced. The oil then had to be filtered through a pair of ladies' tights as fresh oil was not permitted to be added at that point in the race. They rejoined the race but the engine failed in the 18th hour. He talked Graham Hill into having a go at the Monte Carlo Rally that year. The Rootes Group offered Graham fifty pounds to participate and Peter talked one of the TV companies to pay another fifty pounds to film them. They finished a respectable 10th.

In May he won the sports car race at Brands Hatch driving Sir Gawaine Baillie's Aston Martin DBR1, Peter also raced in the British Saloon Car Championship in 1962 driving one of Alan Fraser's Sunbeam Rapiers. He took a number of class podiums and a class win at Brands on his way to 6th overall in the series.

He made his last visit to Le Mans in 1963 with Ed Hugus in an A.C. Cobra. Once again oil proved to be his downfall as they were disqualified for requiring oil inside of 25 laps. He also regularly partnered Baillie in his Galaxie 500 during 1963 in endurance events.

Peter spent more and more time rallying and in 1963 entered the Monte Carlo Rally with Trant Jarman, finishing 34th overall and 1st in the over 3000cc class. For the RAC Rally he was partnered by Les Leston again in a Ford Falcon, however they retired with mechanical problems.

The 1964 Monte saw Peter drive with Alain Bertaud in a Ford Falcon finishing 50th overall.

He took on the Acropolis Rally in 1965 with a Lancia Flavia but went out with ignition problems.

For the 1968 Monte Carlo Rally, three Austin 1800s were prepared in Group 2 single carburettor form. Peter drove with Willy Cave but the car was well off the pace.

At the Monte Carlo Rally in 1969, with Tommy Wisdom as his co-driver, they were the highest placed British Crew finishing 25th Overall. Driving a BMC Austin 1800 Mk II (Reg: NOB 292F) entered by Special Tuning, the car ran a big end bearing on the last stage and only just managed to crawl over the finish line on 3 cylinders before expiring with a seized engine.

In 1970 he took on the London-Mexico World Cup Rally with Mark Kahn and Willy Cave in a Morris 1800. The London-Mexico Rally was a marathon event that started at Wembley Stadium in London on 19 April 1970 and finished in Mexico City on 27 May 1970, covering approximately 16,000 miles (25,750 km) through Europe and South America. It was won by Hannu Mikkola and Gunnar Palm, driving a Ford Escort.

A regularly competitor on the RAC Rally, he co-drove with Henri Gréder between 1971 and 1973 in a variety of Opels before retiring from competition. Peter continued to be involved in the sport and became a Director of the BRDC.

Peter died peacefully in his sleep at home on 13th August 2008.