Major Tony Rolt MC was a British war hero who took part in the first ever F1 World Championship race at Silverstone in 1950 sharing a car with Peter Walker and later adding another 2 Grands Prix starts to his tally. He also won the 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race with Duncan Hamilton in a works C-Type Jaguar, nearly reapeting the result the following. Aside being an accomplished race driver, Tony was an engineer with a vision of making four-wheel drive work for performance cars. He retired from racing in 1955 and, with his mechanic Freddy Dixon, formed Dixon Rolt Developments which pioneered the viscous coupling.
Tractor manufacturer Harry Ferguson became the main backer of the project, hence the first 4WD race car they produced was called Ferguson P99, the only 4WD car to win a Formula 1 race with Stirling Moss taking it to victory in the Gold Cup at Oulton Park. The 4WD concept was also quite successful in America and in 1966 was built into the Jensen FF road car. After Ferguson’s death Rolt he founded FF Developments in 1971, a huge success with its technology being used throughout the motor industry and later sold to Ricardo Consulting Engineers. Tony Rolt retired a wealthy man and when he died early in 2008 after a spell of ill-health, he had been the last surviving driver from the inaugural World Championship Grand Prix held at Silverstone.
Born: 16th of October 1918 in Bordon, UK;
Died: 6th of February 2008 in Warwick, aged 89.