Johnny Dumfries, seventh Marquess of Bute, 1958-2021

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The seventh Marquess of Bute, John Crichton-Stuart, who has passed away at the age of 62, was best known to motorsport fans as Johnny Dumfries, the Le Mans 24 Hours winner and one-time team mate to Ayrton Senna in Formula 1.

Dumfries won the British Formula 3 championship with Dave Price Racing in 1984 and enjoyed success in the European series as well, collecting a total of 15 wins.

However his graduation to the new Formula 3000 series the following year with Onyx was less successful. He qualified a strong fourth for the season-opener at Silverstone but crashed out on the second lap. Dumfries later picked up a point with a sixth-placed finish at Vallelunga, but didn’t see out the season.

It therefore caused widespread surprise when in January 1986 Lotus announced Dumfries as their replacement for Elio de Angelis. Senna had vetoed the hiring of Derek Warwick as his new team mate.

Facing a steep learning curve, Dumfries persevered, though he failed to make the cut for the starting grid in Monaco. He wrestled his turbocharged Lotus-Renault home in the first Hungarian Grand Prix, taking two points for fifth, and increased his haul to three with sixth place at the season finale in Adelaide.

But Lotus agreed a deal to use Honda’s engines for 1987, and signed their driver Satoru Nakajima as well, which spelled an end to Dumfries’ stint in F1.

Dumfries spent a single season in F1 in 1986
He made a brief return to F3 at Macau the following year, and later tested Benetton’s F1 cars, but his future lay in sportscar racing. He made his first start at Le Mans with Kouros, then joined the highly competitive Jaguar team for 1988.

Dumfries began the year well, sharing third place in an XJR-9 with team mates Eddie Cheever and John Watson at the Daytona 24 Hours. Crashes followed at Jarama, Monza and the Nurburgring, but he rose to the occasion at the series’ blue riband race.

Partnered with Jan Lammers and Andy Wallace for the Le Mans 24 Hours, the trio won, seeing off race-long pressure from Porsche’s defending winners Hans-Joachim Stuck and Derek Bell, plus Klaus Ludwig.

Dumfries returned to Le Mans three more times, twice with Toyota and once at Courage, before calling time on his motorsport career. He succeeded his father as Marquess of Bute in 1993.

In March 2021 his family announced he had passed away following a short illness.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 10 comments on “Johnny Dumfries, seventh Marquess of Bute, 1958-2021”

    1. RIP, albeit I never knew who he was. Not even the name until now.

      1. Dumfries is best remembered for being the first driver to trial on-board video cameras. Here is footage of its first ever use- on his Lotus, at the ’86 Australian GP:

        To get an idea of the man, here is an interview that Tom Clarkson did with him:

        1. Are we not supposed to post external website links? Apologies if so

        2. First to trial on-board cameras…umm no he wasn’t. For one thing, they were used on the Renaults in 1985.

    2. R.I.P. Johnny. Known for being Senna’s teammate, but remembered as a Le Mans winner.

    3. may he rest in peace — Le Mans Champion

    4. Sad moment for motorsport right now. Murray, Sabine and now Johnny. May they all rest in peace.

    5. Darn, another one gone. I lived in Adelaide in 1986 and remember the drivers pretty much walking around in the city chatting to the public without the sort of restrictions that they have now.
      Guys like Johnny were just so easy going and easy to talk to.

    6. RIP Last of the gentleman racers.

    Comments are closed.