The Old Aldenhamian Society
t. 01923 851612 e. oas@aldenham.com
Tony Dron (P1959-64) has died
01 December 2021
Roger Crabb (M1957-61) has sent the following notice: ‘For a racing driver Tony Dron was a remarkably good writer. And for a motoring journalist, he was an exceptional racer – so good, in fact that on one of the many occasions he won a round of the British Saloon Car Championship outright, his works-backed 2.0-litre Triumph Dolomite Sprint beating the massed ranks of more powerful 3.0-litre Ford Capris, the cover of that week’s Autosport carried the headline ‘DRONINGTON’. That year, 1977, he missed becoming overall series champion by one point…
Tony was always meant to be a racing driver. It all began, aged 12, with a 1932 Austin Seven in which he and brother Peter undertook time trials around the garden at the family home when their mother had gone shopping. He had plans – later abandoned – to turn the Seven into an aluminium-bodied special to compete in the 750 MC championship but his racing aspirations became rather more serious in 1968 when, aged 21, he bought a Titan Mk 4 Formula Ford competing against (and often beating) the likes of James Hunt.
Motor racing needs more than just talent, however, and a lack of funds forced him to consider another career. Innes Ireland, another racer-turned-writer, suggested he should try motoring journalism. He entered, and won, the Guild’s Sir William Lyons Award for aspiring journalists in 1968 and in 1971 joined the road test team of Motor, becoming the magazine’s sports editor a couple of years later. Ironically, this new career meant greater chance to go racing. Hoping for exposure in the pages of the magazine, manufacturers and sponsors started offering him drives and he grabbed the opportunities with both hands.
He juggled both careers until the end of 1974 when he left Motor to take up the offer of a seat in a Capri 3000 in the ’75 BSCC only for the drive to fall through at the last minute. Fate was smiling, however, as British Leyland was looking for a journalist to race a second Broadspeed Dolomite in the championship alongside Andy Rouse. As Dron told Octane in 2018: “It wasn’t difficult to be quite a bit quicker than the other journos, so I got the job.”
That year he won his class in the Tourist Trophy and came fifth overall with Rouse in the Spa 24 Hours. The following year he raced a works Alfa and in 1976 he returned to single seaters in a Unipart-backed Dolomite-engined March F3 car. He also managed to win the Porsche 924 Challenge in 1978.
The racing, meanwhile, stepped up a gear with a works drive at Le Mans in a Porsche 924 GTP in 1980 – 12th overall – and a class win in 1982 in a Porsche 934. Throughout the 1980s Tony was closely associated with AFN Porsche. He was always quick in their 928, often taking pole but invariably arrived at the first corner in fifth or sixth having lost out to 911 traction off the line. And ten laps seldom gave him enough time to get back to the front.
In 1982 he stopped selling cars and returned to the keyboard, first as features editor and then editor of Thoroughbred & Classic Cars (later just Classic Cars).
Among many successful outings he won the Sussex Trophy at the Goodwood Revival three years running in a Ferrari 246S Dino and won the 1996 Eifel Klassik outright in a Ferrari 330 LMB.’
Tony Dron died on Tuesday November 16, aged 75, from medical complications relating to his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
On behalf of the OA Society, I send sincere condolences to Tony’s wife, Chris Whitcombe, daughters Amy and Katy also son, Will and his brother Peter Dron (P1962-65). The family has established an on-line memorial book – www.remembr.com/tony.dron – where friends and fans can post their memories of a remarkable man.
James James-Crook
President, OA Society & Governor, The Aldenham Foundation
OASocWhite
The Old Aldenhamian Society
t. 01923 851612
e. oas@aldenham.com
InTouch-Online (v 2.9.1.1) supplied by InTouch Software