THEY say that life begins at 40 – well, for one pensioner life really begins at 140 ... mph that is!
George Cooper (76) regularly takes part in historic racing events throughout Europe and is delighted to be still living life in the fast lane.
He raced at Pau in the south of France last month and Snetterton in Norwich early this month.
But that’s just a taste of the adventures he has experienced since a chance discovery led him to restore one of the world’s rarest cars – the Cooper MG prototype.
George painstakingly rebuilt the car – raced by Sir Stirling Moss at Goodwood in 1950 – after discovering the chassis in 1989 in Newton Stewart.
A few years later, lightning struck twice when a tip-off led George to Cumwhinton near Carlisle – where he found the car’s original works body hanging on a barn wall.
To his amazement, the restored car saw George invited to take part in an international racing event in 1992 at Dundrod – the green light to a remarkable run of racing achievements.
Since then, George has raced at Knockhill, Silverstone, Goodwood, Nürburgring in Germany, Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, Kirkistown in Ireland, Oulton Park in Cheshire, Cadwell in Lincolnshire, Copenhagen, New Zealand and Montlhery, Dijon, Pau and Le Mans in France.
Speaking from the garage he founded in Kirkintilloch, George said: “It just evolved. I never had any aspirations or pretensions – I still don’t.
“Because of that car and the history, I was invited to various international events. I didn’t plan to do anything like this. It just grew and grew.”
For the last few years his car has been the Cooper type 59, a Formula Junior (stepping stone to F1 in the 1960s) car. The single-seater has a top speed of 150mph and has carried George to the chequered flag in many races.
He said: “I enjoy the thrill of driving a single-seater racing car. It’s as simple as that. It just gives me such a buzz. If I do well, I’m very happy.
“It’s not just the racing, it’s the people - they are very friendly and helpful. If you get a problem your nearest rival will come and help you and, likewise, I would help them.”
George’s ‘hobby’ has not only secured him a houseful of trophies, he has met legends such as Sir Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham and Roy Salvadori.
In 1971 he bought The Cross Garage in Cowgate, Kirkintilloch. They moved in 1973 to premises he and his partner built from scratch at Canal Lane, Kirkintilloch.
George retired 12 years ago and will be racing at the Silverstone Classic in July – hitting speeds of up to 150mph in his Cooper type 59.
George said: “Unless you’ve driven a single seater, you’ve never experienced G-force. It’s exhilarating.
“It’s not really a car. It’s a precision racing tool. I just get a kick out of it. That’s why I do it.”
RACING STAR: George is pictured racing at Pau a few years ago.