Chassis builder and engineer John Leek sadly passed away on January 10th 2016 after a long battle against cancer. His most famous car in british club racing was probably the Skoda turbo of Tony Sugden which won so many races during the 90`s.
Andrew Hannah was one of the first to post a personal tribute on social media about John and this is his tribute :
"John was involved in club motor racing as a marshal, a racing driver, and a race mechanic. He built several very successful cars, and was particularly well known for his outrageous Skoda special saloon creations, and his racing exploits with Tony Sugden and Jim Evans, to name but a couple.
I had the privilege of spending many, many years in a cold Yorkshire barn alongside John, whilst he patiently taught me the proper way to build and maintain racing cars, including a Cobra, a replica McLaren M1C which he built from scratch, and latterly a full race Ultima GTR. John could turn his skills to virtually anything from exquisite fabricating (and repairing) expensive monocoques, to designing a venturi and underfloor. And in true John Leek fashion he would always create some remarkable racing part from scratch... and it would cost buttons.
John was a gentle giant who has helped many, many people with their broken racing cars in paddocks. John's old BRM F1 transporter was a regular sight at all kind of racing events, and he always seemed able to work miracles out of the various collection of old parts to be found inside his transporter. Nothing was ever thrown away...he always had just the bit you needed "in stock".
John fought a long battle with illness, all the while continuing to work on his latest racing project. He never ever complained about his difficulties, and shortly before he passed away he was still working out how best to design and create a low-cost honeycomb chassis in the barn to replace the tube frame he had just made.
He gave his skills for free, and would help anyone genuinely in need. You will be sadly missed , John."
This was the John Leek chassis JL001 originally raced by Jim Evans with Esprit bodywork using March 762 components and a 1.8 FVC Cosworth with AET turbo giving around 400bhp. This car made a dramatic debut in July 1980 when Evans qualified 4th in the German Group 5 race at Donington against the Zakspeed Capris and Porsche 935s.
AET Motorsport then began a long association with racer Tony Sugden , who quite possibly has the most wins in UK modified history. The car was raced by Sugden in Donington GT from 1981 to 1987 , and some Thundersports events. It was prone to unreliability initially , winning its first GT race in 1983 with a 2.1 turbo. Regular podiums followed in `84 with a 1.7 BDG turbo thereafter the car ran with revised wider , yellow bodywork as shown in most of the photos and using a 3.4 Cosworth G.A. 6 Cylinder took the story to the end of 1987.
The car and driver were back out for 1988 but the lovely Esprit body had been replaced over the winter by a Skoda Coupe one. Suggy had returned to his saloon roots and ran in the Barc Wendy Wools championship. When he took the theme one stage further with the 3rd John Leek chassis ,new Skoda body and a 500-bhp Cosworth engine this would keep Suggy terrorising grids for many years . The old car featured in Skoda form was bought by Pete Edwards and he continued the cars race history through to 90s in a white livery. Edwards and Sugden in the new AET car would have many battles in the BARC NW sports / saloons.
This chassis was completed by Neil Bailey Racing of Bolton and features a narrower Skoda body from Richard Simms` moulds. Known as the Stelrad Skoda this car has remained largely unchanged during its long , 25 year plus career with owner Bob Claxton. The power comes from a rare Bill Blydenstein-develpoed Lotus-Vauxhall 904 2.5 litre unit giving around 270bhp and was origionally in Bill Dryden`s SMT Firenza saloon.
This car / driver combination was still active in 2015 in the CSCC Special Saloon + Modsport series.
Built in 1989 originaly as open 2-seater for Thundersports but when the series was cancelled it became Tony Sugden`s replacement Skoda Saloon but with improvements and more power. This driver/car combination proved to be hugely succesfull right up to Tony`s retirement at the end of the 2003 season and was certainly one of the most recognisable club racing saloons of the time.
Leek used March running gear in the build , F2 type at the front with his own design lower wishbones , F1 at the rear. Power came from a Rouse Cosworth turbo giving some 520bhp Marcus Pye track tested the car along with the other 2 Leek Skodas for Autosport in the summer of `92 and was so impressed he wrote `without doubt , Suggy`s Skoda is the best set up national racing car ive ever had the privilidge of driving a tribute to Tony and John , the epitome of amateur sportmen`.
What happened to this car ? Well Edwards sold the car on to Tony Brown who later sold it on to Steve Brady. This marked the end of the car in this guise as the engine was taken out for his Ultima GT project and the chassis broken up. Current owner Simon Turnock and his brother are currently nearing the cars rebirth having refabricated the chassis and installed a Porsche 3.2 litre flat 6 so it may well yet return to the track sometime in the future.