CoolDrive Auto Parts founder and popular motorsport man John Blanchard Snr has passed away today at the age of 87.
Tributes have already began flooding in as the industry honours John Snr.
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“Obviously he had a lifelong career in the automotive industry and started CoolDrive, or Melbourne Auto Air as it was known back in 1977, with my grandmother,” Tim Blanchard told Speedcafe.com.
“So he has had a huge career in the automotive industry and in car racing; he did a lot of rallying himself and a bit of circuit racing.
“He was instrumental in my dad's racing career and was a regular at the track all through the late ‘80s and early ‘90s with my dad's Formula Ford and BMW days, and then obviously later with my own racing and my cousin Simon [Fallon, Porsche Carrera Cup Australia driver].
“So he has been actively involved in all our racing careers – he's just been a massive figure in our lives but also the motorsport industry.”
He added the John Snr way was an inspiration behind starting BRT, the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship having been its rookie campaign.
“Having a team bearing our name in the top level of the sport this year and in the colours of CoolDrive, the business that he started, was pretty special,” said Tim.
“It's something we had kind of dreamed and spoken about for a very long time and it was just fantastic, I'm just really pleased that he got to see it all come to life.
“His last few days were in hospital and he was hanging out just to watch the race on Sunday.
“Especially after where we qualified [last] Friday, he was hanging out to watch our first Bathurst.”
Tim's father John Jnr said of his own dad: “He did a lot and did it his way.
“He achieved a lot in business and enjoyed traveling and meeting people, but he had a real passion for motorsport and especially the historic side of things in later years.
“He had to wait for a negative COVID test before he could go to hospital and it arrived on Sunday.
“As they were wheeling him out he was watching the coverage on his iPad, he didn't want to miss anything.
“In the end he was ready to go.”
BRT driver Tim Slade has long had a close association with the Blanchard family, as signified by his way of referring to John Snr being “Grandpa”.
“I got to know Grandpa pretty well over the years and that's exactly what I called him, just given Tim and I were team-mates at Sonic and the Blanchards had quite a big tie-in with Sonic, and then again team-mates at BJR,” Slade told Speedcafe.com.
“I always remember Grandpa wondering around, whether he was allowed or not, in certain areas and taking pictures with his camera. Whenever you saw Grandpa at the track, he had his camera and he was taking pictures everywhere.
“The reason why CoolDrive is what it is today, is because of him.
“He's started a massively successful business and still to his last day, he still had a pretty big say in what went on. He obviously had quite a big passion for motor racing so I'm proud that I can be a part of the Blanchard Racing Team, which Granpda is a part of that.”
Speedcafe.com owner and founder Brett ‘Crusher' Murray was a friend of Blanchard Snr for 30 years.
“JB Snr was a good man,” said Murray
“He had an incredible passion for the sport and his business acumen was first class which has now been passed down two generations.
“He was a big fan and supporter of Speedcafe.com.
“I will miss his random calls to talk about a particular story or just to get my opinion on something. Sometimes they would last half an hour and I would always get off the phone with a smile on my face hoping to have as much passion for something when I reach his age.
“He was so proud of what Tim and John have accomplished with their own CoolDrive Supercars team and it is ironic one of his last real enjoyable moments was watching the team roll out at Bathurst this year, albeit on TV.”
Speedcafe.com extends its condolences to John Snr's family and friends.
Those wanting to leave a message in John Snr's honour can do so at a dedicated website HERE.