Ninian Sanderson
Born(1925-03-14)14 March 1925
Glasgow, Scotland
Died1 October 1985(1985-10-01) (aged 60)
Glasgow, Scotland
NationalityBritish
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Years19551963
TeamsTriumph
Ecurie Ecosse
TVR
AC Cars
Best finish1st (1956)
Class wins2 (1956, 1963)

Ninian Sanderson (14 May 1925 – 1 October 1985) was a Scottish car dealer, sports car racing driver, and winner of the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans.[1][2]

Racing career

Sanderson was born in Glasgow. In common with many drivers of his era, he cut his racing teeth in the highly competitive 500cc Formula 3 class in the early 1950s. He is best known for winning the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans for the Ecurie Ecosse team, together with Ron Flockhart in an ex-works Jaguar D-Type.[3][4] The following year Sanderson again competed for Ecurie Ecosse, finishing second with co-driver John "Jock" Lawrence, only beaten by the other Ecurie Ecosse D-Type driven by Flockhart and Ivor Bueb.

He took part in several non-championship Formula Two and Formula One races with Ecurie Ecosse, with a best result of third in the 1952 Scotland National Trophy and 1952 Joe Fry Memorial Trophy.[5] He was a reserve driver with the team for the 1953 British Grand Prix but did not compete in the race.[6]

In 1999 the Jaguar sports car that won the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans was sold at Christie's in London for £1.71 million.[7] At that time it was the most expensive car ever bought at auction.[7]

Although reputedly not the easiest of men to get along with, Ninian Sanderson was well known in racing circles for his lively sense of humour. Fond of practical jokes he was not averse to putting firecrackers up exhaust pipes and ribbing members of the public with his race-bred black humour. The contrast in personalities within the Ecurie Ecosse team was stark; down-to-Earth, Glaswegian Sanderson, and refined, Edinburgh-born Flockhart were "like chalk and cheese".

Ninian was also a keen yachtsman and regularly raced his yachts on the Clyde with the same competitive spirit and ebullience as in his motor racing. He owned several beautiful Clyde boatyard McGruer-built yachts: a Dragon class keelboat named "Corsair" built in 1947 and an 8-metre class cruiser racer "Debbie" built in 1966. In 1974 he also commissioned McGruer to build his well-known 3/4-Tonner racing yacht "Nippie Sweetie".[8][9]

In 1983 Sanderson and Jim Watt raised £10,500 for the medical oncology unit at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary following a sponsored canoe trip from Broomielaw to Tarbert, Loch Fyne.[10] Sanderson had been receiving treatment at the unit for several years; he died of cancer in 1985.[1][10] His wife Dorothy Sanderson died in 2007.[11]

Educated at Strathallan School, in the announcement of his passing in the school magazine The Strathallian included a quote from F1 racing World champion Sir Jackie Stewart where Stewart described Sanderson as a 'perfectionist, with immense spirit and commitment.'[2]

Racing record

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1955 United Kingdom Standard Triumph Ltd. United Kingdom Bob Dickson Triumph TR2 S2.0 242 14th 5th
1956 United Kingdom Ecurie Ecosse United Kingdom Ron Flockhart Jaguar D-Type S5.0 300 1st 1st
1957 United Kingdom Ecurie Ecosse United Kingdom John ‘Jock’ Lawrence Jaguar D-Type S5.0 319 2nd 2nd
1958 United Kingdom Ecurie Ecosse United Kingdom John ‘Jock’ Lawrence Jaguar D-Type S3.0 2 DNF
(Engine)
1959 United Kingdom Standard Triumph Ltd Belgium Claude Dubois Triumph TR3S GT2.0 114 DNF
(Radiator)
1960 United Kingdom Standard Triumph Ltd United Kingdom Peter Bolton Triumph TRS S2.0 249 N/C*
1961 United Kingdom Ecurie Ecosse United Kingdom Alan McKay Austin-Healey Sebring Sprite S1.0 40 DNF
(Accident)
1962 United Kingdom TVR Cars United Kingdom Peter Bolton TVR Grantura Mk3 E2.0 3 DNF
(Overheating)
1963 United Kingdom AC Cars Ltd United Kingdom Peter Bolton AC Cobra Hardtop GT+3.0 310 7th 1st

Complete 12 Hours of Sebring results

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1958 United Kingdom Ecurie Ecosse United Kingdom Ivor Bueb Jaguar D-Type S3.0 22 DNF
(Valve springs)

References

  1. ^ a b "Sanderson remains a battler until the end". The Herald. Glasgow. 2 October 1985. p. 5. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Ninian Sanderson" (PDF). The Strathallian 1985-1986. Vol. 14 no. 3. p. 73. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 July 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Scottish win in Le Mans Grand Prix. Sanderson and Flockhart Defeat Moss and Collins". The Herald. Glasgow. 30 July 1956. p. 5. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Death Marks End of Le Mans Race". The Victoria Advocate. 30 July 1956. p. 5. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Ninian SANDERSON - Involvement Non World Championship • STATS F1". statsf1.com. Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  6. ^ "Britain 1953 - Race entrants • STATS F1". statsf1.com. Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Sports car sells for £1.71m". BBC. 28 October 1999. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  8. ^ "McGruer build list" (PDF). McGruer boatyard build list. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 February 2015. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  9. ^ "McGruer yacht register - Debbie". McGruer yacht register. Archived from the original on 17 September 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Charity cheque". The Herald. Glasgow. 15 June 1983. p. 3. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  11. ^ "Dorothy Sanderson". The Herald. Glasgow. 17 February 2007. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
Sporting positions Preceded byMike HawthornIvor Bueb Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans 1956 with:Ron Flockhart Succeeded byRon FlockhartIvor Bueb