So just WHO were John & Haysie Morgan?
H. J. MORGAN (John Morgan) 1906 - 1990
General Secretary, later Vice-President, British Automobile Racing Club (B.A.R.C.)
B.A.R.C. Council Member
Life Hon. Member, British Racing Drivers’ Club (B.R.D.C.)
Secretary of the Order of The Road 1946-1979
Director & Hon. Treasurer, Order of The Road, 1979-1990
Co-founder, Steering Wheel Club, London, 1946. Sole owner 1956 - 1979.
Vice-President & Life Hon. Member, Guild of Motoring Writers
Life Hon. Member, Brooklands Society
Hon. Secretary British Motor Racing Circuit Owners Association 1962-1979
R.A.C. Associates Committee Member
Junior Car Club; Joined staff 25th May 1925
Assist. Secretary 1934
General Secretary 1st Jan. 1937-1962
Council Member 1962-1972
Vice-President 1972 - 1990
Brooklands; Assisted at 200 Miles Race, 1925-1928
The Double Twelve Hours Race, 1929-1931
1000 Miles Race, 1932
The International Trophy, 1933-1939
Assisted with the organisation of early B.R.D.C. 500 Miles Races and Empire Trophy Races
An Official at most main Brooklands Automobile Racing Club events to 1939
Clerk of The Course at all J.C.C. meetings (Brooklands Rally, High Speed Trial) 1937 until closure, 1939
Donington Park; Race Organiser and Clerk of The Course at post 1937 J.C.C. events, and Official at main Donington pre-war car racing events
(Note:- The Junior Car Club changed its’ Title to the British Automobile Racing Club, in 1949).
Race Organiser and Clerk of The Course at:
Goodwood; Bank Holiday events, Nine-Hours Race, R.A.C. TT, etc. (The 9-hours race was the first after-dark motor-racing event
held in England)
Aintree; The five (5) British Grand Prix held at Aintree in 1955, 1957, 1959, 1961 & 1962
Crystal Palace; First Post-War meeting 1953, and subsequent B.A.R.C. events
Jersey; Road Races 1947-1950, & 1952
Oulton Park; Club meetings
Mallory Park; Club meetings
Other Events; Rallies and social events, eg. Eastbourne Rally 1947-1950
Other Activities: Co-founder, Steering Wheel Club, London, 1946. Sole owner 1956-1979.
Order of The Road (founded 1928): Secretary 1946-1979, Director & Hon. Treasurer, 1979-1990
Guild of Motoring Writers: Secretarial work and assistance with Goodwood Motor Show Test Days, 1948 onwards
British Motor Racing Circuit Owners Association: Hon. Secretary 1962-1979
Publications: Compiler & Editor of all J.C.C./B.A.R.C. Official Programmes
Editor B.A.R.C. Gazette (formerly J.C.C. Gazette), 1937-1962
Safe Driver (Order of The Road Magazine), 1946-1979
Comittees: B.A.R.C. Council
Served variously on R.A.C. Competitions Committee both pre-war & post-war
R.A.C. Associates Committee
The name John Morgan is not, perhaps, well known. He doesn’t feature in ‘Who’s Who’ or Wikipedia, nor is his name to be found on ‘Google’. Indeed, unless you know where to look, you’d be hard pushed to find any mention of him anywhere. Should you browse through an old B.A.R.C. program however, for any of the major Goodwood events, or indeed the British Grand Prix 1955, 1957, 1959, 1961 or 1962, you’ll find him listed in the credits as ‘Race Organiser & Clerk of The Course’.
It’s little surprise that his isn’t a household name, - as is Bernie Ecclestone’s, - as John didn’t court publicity and went about his business organising race events and running his day-to-day businesses in a quiet, unobtrusive way, working mainly behind the scenes well away from the glare of publicity. In those days the Press were only interested in the drivers: Team Managers, chief mechanics, directors of tyre companies, driver’s of the safety car, (were there safety cars back then?), officials of the FIA, were all very much incognito behind the scenes and it’s only since the intrusion of the media that we’ve become familiar with the likes of Mr. Ecclestone, Jean Todd, Charlie Whiting, Paul Hembery, et al! You can find John in many a period photograph depicting the winner of a race being presented with his trophy, but always he will be standing to the side, out of the immediate spotlight.
Yet here was a man who probably did as much for motor-racing as anyone throughout it’s history, until his retirement following the closure of Goodwood in 1966. It’s well documented that following a suggestion made in 1947 by Squadron Leader Tony Gaze to the Duke of Richmond, ‘Freddy’ March, owner of the Goodwood Estate, that the perimeter of Westhampnett airfield be turned into a race-track; steps were taken to bring this idea to fruition, thus in 1948 the first race meeting was held there. It’s also documented that following the ‘go-ahead’ being given, the question as to who was to run the meetings was also considered. John Morgan, who’d run pre-war meetings at both Brooklands and Donington, was Secretary of the Junior Car Club (J.C.C.), and an experienced organiser. He was asked to take on the position, and agreed to do so. The J.C.C. subsequently became the British Automobile Racing Club, (B.A.R.C.), and John remained at Goodwood for some 18 years until it’s closure. A journalist once described him as “completely unflappable”. “Like a duck, serene on the surface, peddling like hell underneath!”
John then, began his career at Brooklands motor-racing circuit with the J.C.C. in 1925, becoming Clerk of The Course in 1937 until it‘s closure in 1939. He was, in additon, an Official at the main Donington pre-war motor-racing events, and Race Organiser & Clerk of The Course at post 1937 J.C.C. events held at Donington. He was also Race Organiser & Clerk of the Course at the first post-war meeting and subsequent B.A.R.C. events held at Crystal Palace. From it’s very first meeting in 1948, John was Race Organiser & Clerk of the Course at Goodwood for all Bank Holiday events, the Nine Hours Race, and the R.A.C. Tourist Trophy Race, becoming Vice-President of the B.A.R.C. as his career progressed. In 1955, 1957, 1959, 1961 & 1962, John was Race Organsier & Clerk of the Course for all five of the British Grand Prix held at Aintree, waiving the Chequered Flag for Stirling Moss in the Mercedes W196 ahead of Juan Manuel Fangio in the sister car, in 1955.
He compiled and edited all the J.C.C./B.A.R.C. Official Programmes, and was Editor of the B.A.R.C. Gazette, (formerly J.C.C. Gazette), from 1937 - 1962. With his wife Haysie, they together owned and run London’s renown Steering Wheel Club in Shepherds Market, Mayfair, (formerly in Brick Lane). The Steering Wheel Club, frequented by racing drivers and celebrities, featured in a number of articles published in motoring magazines, and a TV documentary. Its’ walls were decorated with steering wheels from the cars of top drivers and Championship-winning cars, motor-racing momentos and a stunning collection of badges. John and Haysie sold the club in 1979 and moved out of London to Surrey. Under its’ new ownership the club later went into receivership but the name has recently been resurrected by Robert Brooks of Bonhams, who purchased the company. Just as you’ll not find John mentioned much, if at all, on the internet, neither (until now), has there been any accurate information regarding the Steering Wheel Club, apart from some brief forum discussion which in the main has been pretty inaccurate, for example the rumour circulating that the Club was owned by Stirling Moss!
Florence Lavinia Morgan (nee Hayes) "Haysie"
1945 - 1990
Haysie married John in 1952 in Hammersmith. In February 1962 the Womens Motor Racing Associates Club (WMRAC), known affectionately in motor racing circles as the 'Doghouse Owners' Club, was founded by a group of Grand Prix drivers' wives and girlfriends, Haysie becoming a founder member and serving on the committee from 1964 - 1969, alongside Sheila Van Damn, (Chairman), Mrs. Colin Chapman, Mrs John Cooper, Mrs. Gregor Grant, Mrs. Graham Hill, Mrs. John Webb, and Peggy Sandberg (Mrs. Peggy Rowe), acting Secretary. Both Haysie and John were staunch supporters of the club. Haysie and John also owned the Headfort Place Hotel in Belgravia, where the first general meeting of the club was held, and this became the venue for various Doghouse Club events, such as a fashion show, theatre party and childrens' parties. Haysie managed all these events, seeing that everything was carried out with the minimum of fuss. It's doubtful as to whether the Doghouse would ever have 'got off the ground' without the Steering Wheel Club, as it was used by the club for its' committee meetings, an A.G.M. and Christmas childrens' parties. Haysie's succinct comments at club meetings were delivered with rare charm and a sweet smile. She was very much loved for her unpretencious style, sense of fun and complete lack of vanity. She supported the Doghouse Owners' Club without ever realising how much she gave. Haysie’s name by the way, derived from her maiden name Hayes, is frequently mis-spelt “Hazie”, (I don’t think she minded)!
One of my regrets is that practically no credit is ever given to John in any official capacity by the current organisers of the Goodwood Revival. I once heard his name read out at one of the Revival meetings in commemoration of people associated with Goodwood, but little or no information is provided about him in any of the official publications. His picture appears fairly regularly in photographs, programs, and billboards displayed around the circuit, but credit is invariably given to the car taking the Chequered Flag, not the figure waiving it! There is no plaque in memory of his service to Goodwood, no building, grandstand nor part of the track named after him. My requests to implement something along those lines have all failed, the reason given, a purely commercial one, is that the sponsors want only an association with celebrity figures. I frequently ask people I meet if they knew John or Haysie, but I forget that such people would be in their 80’s or 90’s! I often wonder though, if anyone does remember them, or indeed whether there are any former members of the Steering Wheel Club still around.
OBITUARY TO JOHN MORGAN - MOTORSPORT MAGAZINE
Page 34, December 1990
John Morgan, known to his friends as 'Johnny', died last October, at the age of 84. This quiet, almost uncommunicative, man had more of great importance to do with motor racing than is generally realised, perhaps. He became associated with it early in 1925 and for many years ran the ambitious and innovative Junior Car Club as its Secretary, before taking on the same exacting task for the British Automobile Racing Club, which the Brooklands ARC became after the war, for 25 years. Johnny had to organise their important races, negotiate starting fees with famous drivers, and generally look after the Club's affairs, which he did with unobtrusive efficiency, from his office at 55 Park Lane, W1 . He also took an interest in road safety, founding the Order of the Road, and his Steering Wheel Club was racing's top social centre, He also set up the Guild of Motoring Writers Test Days at Goodwood Circuit. H.J. Morgan's contribution to the sport was widespread, and widely appreciated. WB
British G. P. 1955
John waves the Chequered Flag for Stirling Moss in the winning Mercedes W196, British G.P. Aintree, 1955.
British G.P. 1957
On the Winners' Rostrum with Stirling Moss & Tony Brooks, British G.P. Aintree, 1957.
John waves home Stirling Moss at Goodwood, early 1960's.