Tony Dron 1946-2021
Renowned journalist and former racing driver Tony Dron died on 16 November. He was 75. Embarking on his motor racing career in 1968 in Formula Ford, Dron showed early form and soon forged a lasting friendship with fellow aspiring wannabe, future F1 world Champion James Hunt. However, a lack of funds ended play in 1969, which prompted a change of tack. After a brief spell working for racing entrepreneur Nick Brittan, he joined Motor as road test editor.
Dron’s prowess as a writer was immediately obvious, but the pull of motor racing was never far away. Through his day job, he was afforded an entrée into the one-make Ford Escort Mexico Challenge series in which he was a front runner. In 1974 he was promoted to the British Saloon Car Championship, driving a works Triumph Dolomite Sprint for the crack Broadspeed team alongside Andy Rouse. Highlights that year included a third place and class honours in the Tourist Trophy encounter at Silverstone.
Despite his six-foot five frame being unsuited to single-seaters, he returned to the fray in 1976 aboard a Unipart-liveried, Triumph-engined March in Formula 3, but results proved hard to come by. A year later he returned to the BSCC and dominated his class in a Dolomite. Nevertheless, despite being beaten only twice that season, he narrowly missed out on the overall title. A year later he starred once again, but the crown somehow eluded him.
Dron continued racing after Broadspeed pulled the plug on its BSCC involvement at the end of the year, but earned his living selling cars. He continued to win, not least in one-make categories, in addition to establishing himself as a class victor in sports cars. Major scalps include category honours in the 1982 Le Mans 24 Hours, by which time he was dovetailing race outings alongside journalism. He returned to writing on joining Thoroughbred & Classic Cars via his former Motor colleague, Roger Bell. He soon took over as editor and his erudite prose enlivened any report, whether he was testing a Ford Zephyr or hustling a V16-engined BRM on a circuit.
His involvement in the world of historic vehicles inevitably led him to be afforded race outings in a variety of classics. He starred in everything from Jaguar Mk1s to priceless Ferraris and was a frequent winner at the Goodwood Revival Meeting until his battle with COPD (emphysema) prompted him to hang up his helmet in 2012. Dron wore his status lightly as a driver and a journalist and left behind quite the legacy in both disciplines.
Dron’s Dolomite Sprint fends off the Capri hordes into Old Hall at Oulton Park in March 1978.