On 26th October, our good friend Maitland Cook delivered the second AMHT David Brown Memorial Lecture to a select audience, after we had shared a very pleasant dinner together at the Principal Hotel in York.
Maitland, whose subject was 'John Wyer, the Man and the Myth', was recruited by Wyer to work in his team (after 'a terrifying interview') and thereafter became a friend and even confidante at times. He worked on the Ford GT 40 project with JW Advanced Automobiles, when the team won Le Mans in 1968 AND 1969, using only three cars and against formidable opposition from larger teams with much newer cars. The process by which Wyer methodically managed every detail of the team's operations on and off the track has become legendary and the model from which many other racing teams have built their own success. For instance, it was over 60 years ago, in 1955, that Wyer drew a diagram showing how to correctly conduct a pit stop, indicating each man's role and positioning to ensure speed and accuracy every time. This kind of attention to detail sometimes made John Wyer a difficult man to live with. Maitland Cook knew him well enough to see some of this side of him at first hand and shared with us many anecdotes. Although it was several years since he had left the David Brown organisation, John Wyer really treasured a personal telegram of congratulations sent by David Brown when the JW team won at Le Mans in 1968, nine years after the great Aston Martin victory that Wyer had also master-minded. Cook re-emphasised that John Wyer's career success was guaranteed largely as a result of the experience he had gained whilst working under David Brown as Aston Martin Racing Manager from 1949 to the early 1960s.
This was a modified version of the Dudley Coram Memorial Lecture delivered in October 2016 at the Barn in Drayton St Leonard and given again in order to bring it to a new, northern audience who may not have been able to travel to the Barn. In this year's audience we were delighted to welcome a number of ex Farsley David Brown employees, the Viscountess Downe, President of the Aston Martin Owners Club, who joined us for the evening from her Yorkshire home and many northern AMOC members.
In his lecture, Maitland Cook made mention of the iconic Hotel de France at La Chartre sur Loir and the special place it has in the hearts of the many racing teams who continued to use it as their Le Mans base for many a year. It is this hotel and its associations with Aston Martin in particular that will form the basis of Maitland's Walter Hayes Memorial Lecture, to be given at the RAC Pall Mall, London on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018. Get your tickets now - places are limited!
The Aston Martin Heritage Trust would like to formally thank our speaker Maitland Cook, Jon Radgick for organising all the details of this event and everyone who came to the excellent dinner and lecture.