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A Tribute:

Dizzy Addicott 1922-2005

Dizzy AddicottDesmond "Dizzy" Addicott, the father of our cars, died of an aneurism while driving his car on the M11 near Stansted on December 10th 2005, at the age of 83.

He was nicknamed "Dismal Desmond" at school but this became "Dizzy" when he joined the RAF in 1941. Following his demob in 1957 he joined the Royal Navy as a civilian ferry pilot which enabled him to fly a wide variety of aircraft prior to their introduction into service. Following this Dizzy became a senior test pilot for Percival Aircraft at Luton where he worked on the Jet Provost.

Addicott was a keen racing driver, and in the early 60s he raced an Elva-DKW alongside such names as Jim Clark, Mike Spence, Hugh Dibley (another pilot), Peter Arundell, Frank Gardner and Tony Maggs. He even had plans for a go at Craig Breedlove's 407mph land speed record using a vehicle based on a Swift fighter!

Martin Forge, who worked for Paul Emery (of Emeryson F1 fame) in the 1960s, writes:

"Dizzy was a friend of Paul's and was well known (and loved) as the lucky 'nutter'. Dizzy had a warehouse unit on the south coast, I cant quite remember where (somewhere near Brighton), anyway it was loaded with his collection of racing cars. Trouble was that Dizzy was exactly that, 'Dizzy' I remember being at the warehouse once and Dizzy said that he had a Lola car (can't remember which one), but that he must have lent it to someone, but couldn't remember whom!. That was Dizzy to a tee. He once crashed a Mini Cooper through two fences and a greenhouse, ended up in the french windows of someone's house, and came out unscathed - that was also Dizzy to a tee.

"Whist I worked for Paul Emery, I built the first twin engined Mini ever to run and, my next project, was to build a 'speed record attempt 250cc car' for Dizzy. It was an Italian 2 stroke motorcycle engine, in a fibreglass Bond bodyshell. The car did run and was very quick,if unstable, but I think that it just ended up in the warehouse. I remember another time going to the warehouse on a very cold day, Dizzy was sitting in the middle, by a 'Tortoise' stove (remember those? - tall cast iron things) Dizzy had rigged up a diesel injector in the stove, there was a diesel tank up high on the wall and the whole stove was glowing red hot!!"

DART at the Racing Car ShowHaving acquired a damaged Mini Van for 5, Dizzy and Paul Emery set about modifying it for racing. The upper bodywork was removed and replaced with a much more streamlined aluminium superstructure, which thanks to Dizzy's aviation contacts was tested in the wind tunnel at Weybridge. Known as the DART because of the initials of "Dizzy Addicott Racing Team" emblazoned across the bonnet, the car was shown at the 1964 Racing Car Show in the Horticultural Halls in London.

Jem Marsh suggested that the car should be manufactured as a fibreglass monocoque. It was going to be made by Marcos but following some problems with the original shells (and maybe other difficulties) the project was cancelled by Jem Marsh and Dizzy returned to his aviation career. Marcos went on the produce the Mini Marcos and the original shape subsequently emerged as the Mini Jem. The Jem was further modified to create the Kingfisher Sprint.

Dizzy in cockpitDizzy joined Vickers (later BAC) as a test pilot and then as an air display pilot which involved some film work. He flew the Junkers Ju 52 in "The Dirty Dozen", Mosquitos in "Mosquito Squadron", various WW1 replica aircraft in "The Blue Max" and the B-25 camera aircraft in the "Memphis Belle" remake in 1990. He was also in the 1986 release, "Biggles: Adventures in Time". He flew a wide variety of aircraft and became well known on the air show circuit. In his 'daytime job' he flew well known production aircraft ranging from Viscounts and Vanguards to the VC-10 and BAC One-Eleven.

As recently as 2003 Dizzy appeared as himself in a Canadian TV documentary, "The Great Atlantic Air Race". He was one of the real characters of both aviation and motor sport, and a great racconteur who will be greatly missed.

Richard Porter

See also Paul Lethbridge talks to Dizzy Addicott

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Last updated 31st January, 2012