John Button, the 1976 British Rallycross Championship runner-up and father of Formula One star Jenson Button, has passed away on Sunday.
We at ERC24 are very sad to announce the passing of another former Rallycross driver. John Button was a successful British competitor of the 1970s, after starting his motorsport career in circuit racing at his by then home circuit of Brands Hatch and later in Autocross events. On Sunday Button senior has died at the age of 70 from a suspected heart attack in his home in southern France.
When Jenson Button became a Formula One pilot in the year 2000 some British motorsport magazines told their readers, that his father John in his Rallycross days was a strong opponent of Alexander Wurz’ dad Franz, the threefold European Rallycross Champion. Which was quite an exaggeration. While Wurz senior was fully committed to the European series and raced for almost a decade everywhere between Finland and Italy, John Button was hardly known outside the UK, as he remained on his island. The two met on only a handful of occasions at Lydden Circuit, during the British rounds of the ERC.
However, John Button’s main Rallycross success was to become runner-up of both, the 1976 RAC British Rallycross Championship and the 1976 TEAC/Lydden Rallycross Championship. He used to drive a VW Beetle by then, eventually with 2.1-litre engine that was, due to its striking black, yellow and red paintwork, dubbed the “Colorado Beetle”. By the end of the 1970s Button had moved onto a more modern Volkswagen and raced a Bose HiFi and Central Tyre sponsored almost 200bhp strong VW Golf Mk1 SuperCar with 1.9-litre engine. Run by his own VW-Audi dealership and tuning garage, Autoconti of Trowbridge in Wiltshire, the results achieved in the front-drive car by Button and his two team mates, Dick Griffiths and Nick Pierce, were rather erratic and insignificant. Therefore, John Button pulled the plug on racing and when his in 1980 born son was old enough he became the pivotal force behind Jenson’s own career, crowned by the 2009 Formula One World Championship title.
Photo: John Button (27.07.1943 – 12.01.2014) and his VW Golf Mk1 pictured during the 1978 ERC round at Lydden Hill. © EL/ERC24