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Gerry Birrell became a star driver for CrosslŽ in several categories, and here he is in the 16F Formula Ford.
Paul McMorran
Paul McMorran

The loss of John Crosslé at the end of August 2014 completes the passing of a remarkable generation in motorsport. John had much in common with the contemporaries and friends who founded Lola, Mallock, Chevron and other icons of what many consider a golden age. Eric Broadley, Arthur Mallock and Derek Bennett each began as determined competitors whose innovations led to replica cars for customers, thus each became a constructor quite unintentionally. The circumstances in which John founded and built the Crosslé Car Company, however, help explain not only its unconventional trajectory as a business, but also its survival as the world’s oldest constructor of production racing cars.

After the Second World War, and particularly through the 1960s, English racecar constructors proliferated. A large and diverse domestic automotive industry, as well as specialist providers of racing engines, gearboxes, chassis and other key components formed a potent technical community. Circuits multiplied and club racing flourished. This made it possible for small groups of engineers and competitors to create their own racing cars relatively easily. By contrast, Northern Ireland had no automotive industry to speak of and few precedents for racing car manufacture. There were maverick innovators like Rex McCandless with his spectacularly original 4WD Norton-engined Formula Three racer, but little or no motorsport infrastructure to provide common parts, technical advice or encouragement among peers. Communications and transport with the UK mainland were very different from today. John Crosslé had few options but to rely on his own ingenuity, and that’s what he did.

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