CLASSIC KART COLLECTION OF NORTHUMBRIA

Subtitle

 

 DAVID FERRIS

Has now been found 

More DAVE FERRIS Pictures 

This picture said it all about David Ferris No1 

David Ferris on his Barlotti - Komet K77

With front wheel brakes at the 1967 SHENINGTON SIX HOUR 

        

From Jim coulthard

Sent: 15/11/2004 22:53

 

In last month's Karting Magazine (in "noteworthy") I said I was looking to find out where David Ferris and Stephen South were today.  I would like to thank Karting Magazine for the email explaining that they may be able to help by putting an article in the magazine.  I would like to thank the following people who have helped me to get this far in trying to trace David Ferris:  Karting Magazine; David Bewley; John Surtees and last but not least, Roy Salvadori, who rang me from Montecarlo on Saturday, 6 November, knowing I was looking for David Ferris.  When I picked myself up off the floor, and spoke to him, he said he had not seen David Ferris for 30years - about the time David had his accident with the stone that went through his crash helmet.  We had a short conversation on why I am trying to trace David and he said he would keep my phone number and contact me if he did find out where David is today.  Anyone else who could possibly help me with this situation of trying to find David Ferris - please contact me on 01665 714169.  Kind regards, Jim Coulthard
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DESPERATELY SEEKING DAVID.

"Yes, I’m David Ferris".

It is just over 30 years since I last met David. I had given up motor sport, and dropped in at Clay Pigeon to see whether any of my friends were racing. I was quite surprised to find David in the paddock. Not just because I had never seen him at Clay before, but also because he had given up karting to go into single seaters, and had then had a serious accident. What is more, he was alone, and nobody seemed to be aware of his presence.

I had never before seen Dave at a circuit without his father Horace, and in the past he had always been the centre of attention. Some things hadn’t changed, however. He was still beaming one of the broadest smiles in karting, and seemed genuinely pleased to see me. I hung around to give him a hand, and was surprised that nobody else came forward to offer to give him a push. He said he had been a bit bored, so he’d borrowed a motor and stuck it on to one of his old Barlotti chassis, and here he was facing up to the top guys who I had raced against at the end of my karting career. Of course, he won. He won with an ease which, once again, put other people’s talents to shame. I stood in a crowd about three or four deep, watching him leave everyone else for dead. We were standing by the fast right hander that leads on to the long straight past the pits. It is a tricky bend, vital if you want a fast exit onto the straight. Just after entering this bend, David took a hand off the wheel, turned his head to me and waved.

How did he know I was there? How did he find me in the crowd and take time to wave at the same time as making everyone else in the race look amateur? Well, I thought about it at the time, and I have thought about it many times since, and I just don’t know how.

David Ferris was one of a kind. I count myself fortunate to have been able to witness his rise to prominence. I first noticed him when he was racing against my mate Emlyn in Juniors. He was winning easily, and Emlyn thought he was great. I thought he was cocky. Almost immediately, he moved into the senior classes and won a bunch of classes at the British Championship finals, including the overall title. I wouldn’t have minded, but in the process he soundly beat all my boyhood heroes – Mickey Allen, Bobby Day, Jon-Jon Ermelli. The kid was obviously good, but that didn’t mean I had to like him!

It was when I was involved in the manufacture of Panther Karts that I finally got to know Dave a bit better. His father Horace got in touch with us because he wanted David to try the Panther, and he was so impressed that they ordered two, and went away with the prototype! To have had David racing the Panther would have been a ticket to immediate sales on a scale we hadn’t dared to consider. Unfortunately, the prototype worked in the wet, but not very well in the dry. The production Panthers worked well in the dry, but not in the wet. It was a dead end, and we were naturally very disappointed that Dave actually never raced the Panther.

But having been involved with the Ferris’, I got to know them well enough to have a very healthy respect for them both. They were straight and honest, they told you what they wanted, and they told you whether you were giving it to them. All the while they were entirely pleasant and friendly. I soon learned that David was not at all cocky, he was just very confident, and very happy. He just smiled all the time, was relaxed, open and friendly. He wanted to have fun, and he did. I don’t remember him ever being moody or depressed, even when he didn’t win important races.

As his true character became apparent, it dawned on me that his talent was an order above that of all the other drivers – including my heroes. He didn’t always have the best kit, but he was always competitive. I could waffle on for pages about the way I learned of the excessive skills of David – how long have you got? Let’s just say that in one corner he convinced me that I would never be a top driver. I knew he was behind me, and was determined to keep him behind. I was flat out in a 45 degree right hander when he overtook me around the outside. Oh well…….

Strip away the titles, take away karting altogether, and you still had a really nice bloke. I’ve often wondered what happened to Dave, where he went after karting. A search of the internet threw up no leads, apart from putting me in touch with one Jim Coulthard – a man obsessed with all thing karting. Jim knew Dave Ferris even less well that I did, but he held him in the same regard, and desperately wants to know that Dave is alive and well. So far his extensive efforts have led to nothing. Through former F1 World Champion John Surtees, jim was contacted by another ex-FI star, Roy Salvadori. Davis is his nephew, but they have had no contact in over thirty years. None of the great drivers of David’s era seem to know where he has gone.

Jim’s best lead was to a David Ferris living within a hundred miles of me. Rather than make a ‘phone call, I offered to drop in to try to meet him. It took a few months before I had the opportunity, but yesterday I asked a man who was cutting his hedge if he knew David Ferris, and he replied "Yes, I’m David Ferris".

I had ridden my motorcycle for about 100 miles, just to hear these words. Unfortunately, they came from the wrong mouth. It wasn’t the right David.

If anyone knows where he is, please let us know. There are a lot of people who, like Jim and me, just want to know that he is OK.

Simon Murphy

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KARTING MAGAZINE
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OFF TRACK!

NAME DROPPING

Those of us who ever watched him race knew instantly that his was a quite unique talent. At just 14 years of age, Dave Ferris was the youngest driver ever to win an outright British karting title and it appeared that he might be destined to follow his uncle, Roy Salvadori, into Formula One. Four years later, his motor racing dreams were cruelly destroyed when a freak accident left him with severe head injuries. For some time now Jim Coulthard has been trying to trace his whereabouts and finally located him in the sleepy town of Lytham St Anne’s. What had made the task so difficult was that Dave changed his surname about 20 years ago. Last month, Jim brought him up to Rowrah where he was reunited with his former British team-mates Paul Fletcher and Roger Mills. Naturally, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to have a gossip about old times.

 

I well recall the 1967 British Championships at Little Rissington which turned out to be a momentous occasion. Dave Ferris won all his heats and final in the class 1 Modified category to claim the outright title quite convincingly. At just 14 years old, he shouldn’t even have been competing in senior events. "Junior racing wasn’t all that competitive in those days and quite a few of us were impatient to move up," he claims "Another well known driver, who I’d better not name here, did a nice line in producing counterfeit birth certificates and my father made all the necessary arrangements That’s why I was able to move up into seniors two years ahead of Terry Fullerton, even though he’s actually older than me. It might seem shocking by today’s standards, but the practice was pretty widespread in those days. Most of the officials knew exactly what was going on, but they were prepared to turn a blind eye. We didn’t regard it as cheating, more like jumping up a class ahead of time."

  

Dave’s counterfeit birth certificate was destroyed many years ago along with the original. Today he is known as David Ferrari. "It’s actually our family name," he points out. "My father and most of his family came over to Britain in between the two wars. They anglicised the name from Ferrari to Ferris during World War 2 because, understandably, there was a lot of ill feeling towards the Italians. My father, especially, felt it necessary to adopt an English sounding name as he was fighting with the British forces and someone called Ferrari might have aroused suspicions. I reverted back to the old name about 20 years ago. In Italy, it’s quite a common name and certainly isn’t associated exclusively with cars. I did have a Ferrari together with two Porsches at the age of 20 which all seems very wasteful to me now. Back then I was still trying to come to terms with my accident that had put me out of motor racing permanently. My father never really got over it and he died exactly a year later."

 

The accident that Dave refers to took place whilst he was trying out a Formula 3 March at Silverstone back in 1971. "I’d had a very successful season in Formula Ford and this was a big step up the motor racing ladder," he states. "I was following another car at high speed and the next thing I remember was coming round in a hospital bed two days later with my hair all shaved off." The car in front had run slightly off course and thrown up a rock roughly the size of a tennis ball. Dave was travelling at around 130mph and, despite him wearing a full face helmet the missile smashed a hole in his skull. "For several years I wasn’t a pretty sight to behold," he confesses. "Plastic surgery eventually left me looking better but unfortunately the accident had impaired my vision and I wasn’t able to race cars again. Eventually, other complications manifested themselves as a result and I don’t drive at all now."

DAVE FERRIS Then, Now Called Dave Ferrari Original family name  

Dave was clearly delighted to be visiting Rowrah and talking with some of his old karting acquaintances. The karts are much different now to when I raced although the driving techniques haven’t changed that much. It’s great to see that Paul (Fletcher) and Roger (Mills) are still involved. They were two drivers who I always respected very much. In fact I met lots of great characters through karting, Buzz Ware, Glenn Beer, Dave Salamone, Jon Jon Ermelli, Terry Fullerton and Mickey Allen to name but a few. During my days on the British team I always looked up to Mickey and maybe idolised him too much. For most of our races, I was the young kid not old enough even to ride a motor scooter legally, whereas he was a real man of the world. He was also a fantastic driver, certainly the best in Britain at that time and arguably one of the world’s all time greats."

Had it not been for the unfortunate accident at Silverstone, might Dave have been the original Lewis Hamilton? Certainly his karting credentials couldn’t be faulted. Apart from that famous British Championship win, he’d come within a few centimetres of lifting the 1970 world title in Begium. After an enthralling battle, he’d finished virtually level with the legendary Francois Goldstein who had the important advantage of competing on his local circuit in Belgium. He’d then taken Formula Ford by storm and was soon being hailed as the new British sensation. "The chances of getting into F1 were much better back in those days and I suppose that I had better prospects than most," he concedes. "Ex karters like Tony Brise, Stephen South, Roger Williamson, Nigel Mansell and myself all went into Formula Ford with a big advantage over the regular stars. We’d been racing since the age of ten or eleven whereas most of them hadn’t driven a car in anger before their early twenties. You could always tell ex karters by the way we were prepared to overtake in places others hadn’t considered."

I gathered most of the material for this article during a conversation with Dave at the Ennerdale Hotel, about four miles from Rowrah. Whilst at the bar I bumped into a work colleague. "How’s the karting going? Have you found any Michael Schumachers lately?" he jokingly enquired. "It’s funny you should ask because right now I happen to be talking with Ferrari," was my response. We’re all guilty of name dropping every now and then.

IT’S A FACT

Last month’s photo showing Roger Mills at Ingliston was taken in 1965.

THIS MONTH’S POSER

For most of his karting career, Dave Ferris raced Barlotti karts.

Who built them?

David Bewley

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