Stalwart of the historic racing scene and MG community, Barry Sidery-Smith, has died. He was 81.
'Sideways' Smith’s love affair with motor racing began at a young age, after a chance meeting with a local amateur racer in Long Ditton while on his paper round resulted in his first competitive drive at the wheel of a Parker JAP. By 1959, he had bought an Austin-Healey 100/4, which he first campaigned at Goodwood, then Brands Hatch all in the same weekend. He eventually moved on to Triumphs, regularly racing TR4s among others before buying an ex-works MGB in 1970.
A talented racer who became known for his skill in the wet, Sidery-Smith raced throughout the 1970s in the BRSCC Prodsports series and in the BCV8 Championship, which he co-founded in 1973. He and his MGBs were well travelled, competing at events throughout Europe. One of his proudest moments was capturing third place at Spa-Francorchamps in 1980, where he met Juan Manuel Fangio, who had made the journey to Belgium for the opening of the new short circuit at the request of the Belgian Automobile Racing Club. The MGB fanatic later organised countless races at the circuit, helping many historic racers to experience a track for which he had a great fondness.
Sidery-Smith also had a long association with Le Mans, returning to the circuit on a number of occasions including 2002, when he and his Le Mans MGB were involved in a support race ahead of the 24 Hours. At the Le Mans Classic in the same year the veteran racer suffered an uncharacteristic crash at Arnage, in which he was hurt and his MGB severely damaged. A fundraising effort saw the car restored, and both were back at the event in 2004.
A pillar of both motor racing and MG fraternities, Barry Sidery-Smith will be remembered for his camaraderie in the pits and generosity of spirit, and for helping countless historic racers access and progress in the sport.