A shockwave went through the world of Alfa Romeo enthusiasts both here and abroad when we heard the news of the death of Jon Dooley last Wednesday.
With his father Alfred, Jon was the person who pushed the Alfa Romeo Owners Club forward when it was re-formed after the initial club faded, both as a Committee Member and as editor of the Club Magazine. He had already started to take part in races, sprints and hillclimbs in a Giulia Ti and a Giulietta while at University, but it was when he joined Alfa GB as financial controller that he had access to more modern cars, including the Alfetta, Alfasud and even, on one occasion, a Montreal.
Thereafter his competition life became frenetic with events such as the Avon Motor Tour of Britain, RAC Rally, Tourist Trophy and 750MC Six Hour Relay all in one year. However, the formation of Alfa Romeo Dealer Team with Leo Bertorelli and Michael Lindsay at the end of 1975 really allowed Jon to achieve his best results against strong competition. He started off in the British Saloon Car Championship (equivalent of today’s BTCC) in 1976 with a Sud, before moving on to an Alfetta GTV and then back to a Sud Ti with which he took a coveted 1300cc class championship win in 1981. The GTV6 (in Napolina colours again) took Jon to another class championship win in 1984. He raced a 75 in John West livery for another three years, the presence of the Dealer Team 75s being largely responsible for the Championship continuing in 1986 when entries had dwindled. All of this had required a great deal of hard work and physical effort on Jon’s part, both as a driver and team member, but he was ably supported by people including Brian Rouse, Bob Dove and team-mate for several years, Rob Kirby and he never seemed to flag. He only occasionally took part in Alfa Championship events but did take two wins in the 75 in 1986. After the Dealer Team closed, Jon raced in classic Alfa events and established a strong bond with the Scuderia del Portello. Many will also remember Brookside, the garage that he established in Wrestlingworth near Cambridge and ran for a while.
He had continued his involvement with AROC, writing regularly for the club magazine and many will recall his “Yesterday’s Alfa” articles while his most recent subject, covering the history of Alfa Romeo factories at Portello, Arese and Naples have been both illuminating and informative. More recently he has been involved in the huge task of putting the magazine onto the AROC website. He was also Club Chairman for a while.
We shall all miss Jon’s friendship and charm and loss of his enyclopaedic knowledge on all things Alfa Romeo that he had built up over the years cannot be over estimated. We send our condolences to his wife Meg and family, and to his beloved brother James. Michael Lindsay will be writing a fuller appreciation of Jon’s life and achievements in due course.