Chris Lowe, the promoter behind the legendary Transatlantic Trophy series which transformed British racing in the seventies and eighties, has died. He was 92 and passed away peacefully on Sunday at his home at Benenden, Kent.
It was the first time that home based fans had seen top American riders such as Dick Mann, Cal Rayborn, Kenny Roberts and Freddie Spencer. And it was a sellout at the three circuits owned by Lowe’s company, Brands Hatch, Mallory Park and Oulton Park.
The latter was in Cheshire, home territory for Mr Lowe, who was in the merchant navy before moving to London in the early 60s, for a job in advertising and marketing with the weekly magazine Motorcycling, known as the Green’un, and edited by the legendary Bob Holliday. It was one of three weekly magazines, it’s closest rival Motor Cycle, the Blue’un, and an upstart MCN.
It was not long before he was offered a job by Grovewood Securities/Motor Circuit Developments, owners of Brands Hatch, where he joined John Webb, well known among the four wheel fraternity. Together they built up a racing circuit empire, eventually embracing four circuits.
The Anglo American Transatlantic Match Races, as they were then known, was the brainchild of Chris Lowe together with a couple of British journalists, Gavin Trippe and Bruce Cox, who had become race promoters in the States, It was first held in 1971 on 750cc triples supplied and backed by BSA Triumph. Dick Mann, a Daytona 200 winner, were the US stars while the UK lined up Paul Smart and Tony Jefferies, among others.
To nobody’s surprise the UK team won but it was close enough to run it again and four years later the Yanks, with Kenny Roberts, Dave Aldana, Gene Romero, Steve Baker and Pat Hennessy on board whipped the home team even though it included Barry Sheene.
By 1991 the series had run its course as the Japanese factories had seen some of their top riders injure themselves. But for Chris Lowe it was his legacy to motor cycle racing in the UK and although Brands Hatch staged other great events, like World Superbikes starring Carl Fogarty, there was nothing quite like it or probably ever will be again.
He later moved on to run a trackside advertising business Aerosigns so his contact with the sports was never lost. Not just a business man, he was a character with many other interests, cricket and music being foremost. Indeed he was a more than useful trumpet player, a talent he passed on to his daughter Lindsey whose career, both in media and music has an uncanny likeness, and his son Simon, artistic director at Loretta School in Musselburgh. His wife Kitty was killed in a car accident in 1996.