Tiff Needell

Former Grand Prix driver, sports car ace turned media personality, Timothy ‘Tiff’ Needell, is turning 61 today!

After winning his first racing car in a magazine competition, Tiff spent his formative years in Formula Ford (including winning the 1600cc title in 1975 and finishing runner-up in the 1976 2000cc title).

Tiff Needell, 1980 Monaco GPThe man from Hampshire moved into being a frontrunner in Formula 3, and then quickly jumping into the Aurora Formula 1 championship.

After being unable to move into the top flight in 1979, his Formula 1 dreams came true in 1980, when he was signed by the Ensign team as the replacement for Clay Regazzoni, who’d been tragically paralysed in a sickening smash at the Long Beach race.

But sadly for Tiff, his Grand Prix ambitions were over after just two races. After qualifying (and retiring) from the Belgian Grand Prix, he failed to make the grid at the next race at Monaco.

Following this, Tiff enjoyed success in a host of categories, including Formula 2, touring cars, sports cars and the ProCar championship, remaining active throughout the 1980s and into the following decade.

Tiff also served as the longstanding host of Top Gear, during the show’s first incarnation before it was cancelled in 2001. He later joined Channel 5 and is now the front-man for the Fifth Gear show, although he does still make occasional appearances on Top Gear.

Tiff’s autobiography, entitled Tiff Gear (© Haynes, 2011), can be reviewed on our website at this link.

[Images via Corbis Images, Flickr, Motorsport.com]

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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.