Former Lotus driver and team-mate to Ayrton Senna, Johnny Dumfries – better known by his royal titles as the 7th Marquess of Bute, or Earl of Dumfries – is celebrating his 52nd birthday today!

Determined to make it in his own right as a racing driver without the aristocratic lineage he carries, Johnny made himself out to be a south London painter and decorator in a bid to thwart his true identity being discovered.

He needn’t have worried about his royal ties, as his motorsport talent was quite sufficient to see him quickly rise through the ranks. Joining British F3 in 1983, he landed a plum drive with Dave Price Racing in 1984, and swept all comers to take the British crown – and nearly, the European title as well – with a staggering total of 15 wins.

Johnny Dumfries

With perceptions of his ability sky-high, he graduated to F3000 for 1985, but couldn’t replicate the same results and was out of a drive by mid-season.

A lucky twist of fate in 1986 would see Johnny appointed to the Lotus team as a number-two to Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian having torpedoed the team’s desire to pair him alongside Derek Warwick.

Johnny Dumfries

This was Johnny’s big chance, and while he certainly didn’t disgrace himself, he was very much the number two in the team where, as Clive James humorously put it: “Even the port-a-loo was set up for Senna”. He did, however, finish in the points in Hungary and Adelaide.

Lotus decision to take on Honda engines – and with Satoru Nakajima coming as part of the package – left no room at the inn for Johnny at the team and he was out of a F1 drive.

He did some testing with Benetton and then switched to endurance racing, driving for the likes of Porsche, Toyota and Jaguar. The major highlight of his motorsport career was undoubtedly the 1988 Le Mans 24 Hours victory in a TWR Jaguar.

[Images via The Cahier Archive and F1-Facts]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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