It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of my oldest Le Mans friend Ian. Ian, affectionately dubbed 'The Chief Tourist' by me many moons ago was responsible for introducing me to Le Mans in 1986. We knew each other professionally and shared an interest in motor racing. He invited me to join him and his friends (some of whom I also already knew) on that year's trip to Le Mans. The rest, as they say, is history. I travelled to Le Mans every year with Ian and the core of the group (Martyn, Alan and often Jim) every year between 1986 and 2009, before giving in to my desire to do the full event in 2010 with James.
We had some splendid times in some lovely places on route to Le Mans and back again and indulged in a great deal of lovely French food and the occasional glass of wine (!). Ian was always the mainstay of the group, organising the trips, the ferries, the cars, the accommodation, restaurants and so on. It was entirely thanks to Ian that I developed my passion for Le Mans, and indeed France and the French people.
Ian had been unwell for some time but despite missing Le Mans in 2015, he managed to make it back each year thereafter and I was delighted to meet with him, Martyn, Alan and Jim late on the Saturday afternoon of the race last year. Despite the fact that I only met with Ian a couple of days each year for lunch, he was a good friend. He was always immaculately dressed - I only remember seeing him in a t-shirt twice, once when we were presented with shirts by Madame at Le Cheval Blanc in 2007 and in 1995 when we got so wet while at the circuit that I recall he had to borrow one of Jamie's t-shirts to wear to dinner. A man of great style and manners, who I never saw display anger or animosity towards anyone or any thing. Even during his illness, when we met he was always in good cheer, putting a brave face on it. I will miss him a great deal and even though I no longer travel to Le Mans with the Tourists , it won't quite be the same (as and when we ever get back there).
So, having trawled through my archives, here is a little photographic tribute to my friend Ian, the Chief Tourist. The photos are randomly added, other than the first at Le Mans in 1986 and the last three in 2019 (with thanks to Keith for two of them). My heartfelt condolences to Carole, Jamie and Robert and to the rest of his friends and family, including the rest of 'The Tourists' (many of whom can be seen in the team photos of which we were so fond).