Farewell Ian Norris
Larger than life in every way, former Dunlop and Jaguar press officer Ian Norris collapsed and died on the eve of the Geneva Motor Show, depriving sportscar racing of one of its most colourful figures - writes Mark Cole.

Ian, who would have been 66 the following day, was known throughout the sport as Dunlop's Racing PR manager during its Formula 1 and Le Mans glory days of the 1960s and 1970s. He went on to serve time with Lucas and Champion, before becoming Jaguar press officer in its Group C and IMSA era.

As the Leaping Cat's PR Manager for North America, he was heavily involved in Jaguar's US racing programme, which netted it 1998 and 1990 Daytona 24 Hours victories and countless US IMSA GTP wins, working with Tom Walkinshaw and Tony Dowe (now of Tafel Racing), and rarely missed the Le Mans 24 Hours in the 30 years I knew him.

Ian's first love was always writing, and after leaving Jaguar in 1990 he went freelance, editing the annual 'Automobile Year' and contributing to 'Road & Track' and other publications.

Fluent in French, in 2004 Ian left the Midlands to move to his spiritual home of Le Mans, to work for the ACO on the organisation side of the 24 Hours and its historic relation. Once there, he set to work restoring a city-centre house with his wife Linda, to which many of his racing friends were to have been invited once completed. Alas, it was not to be.

Even those unfortunate enough not have met this gentle bear of a man may have known him by reputation: he created the mythical motorcycle racer and rally driver Edgar Jessop, and gave Roger Clark his 'Albert' soubriquet.

His racing stories were legion, many of them unprintable, but always hilarious and delivered in a variety of accents.

As an occasional contributor to 'Automobile Year', I kept in touch with Ian through the years, but sadly had not seen him since last year's 24 Hours, where he was as funny and unmissable as ever. Now he will be missed, by all his many friends in motorsport.

 

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