Motorsport UK are saddened by the loss of our dear friend John Osborne – a well respected member of the Superkarting family. This tribute was put together by Ken Walker.
John Osborne’s motorsport career spanned just short of 50 years. He never raced, but took on numerous non-racing duties from the early 1970s. Beginning with lap scoring in pre- transponder days, scrutineering, dummy grid and numerous behind-the-scenes tasks, he subsequently climbed to the top as an International Steward and an International Race Director/Clerk of the Course. and only stepped down when his terminal illness made it impossible for him to continue.
His services were in demand and his appointments were worldwide. He officiated at world championships in Egypt and Dubai, UAE, and many European championships in mainland Europe at circuits like Le Mans, Magny Cours, Hockenheim, Nurburgring, Spa Francorchamps, Assen, etc. Similarly he was a regular figure at the British flagship events at Silverstone, Donington Park, Brands Hatch, Snetterton, Oulton Park, etc
He began his career at Beccles Kart Club at the start of what can now be seen as a game-changing era in karting. As today, direct drive karting attracted more entrants than gearbox racing. However. those racing Gearbox had some very big aspirations. If they could race at the likes of Ellough circuit, why not also on some of the Long Circuits? Peter Carter was the chairman of BKC at this time and John teamed up with him and Ian Rushforth to enquire of the Long Circuit owners if they could/would accommodate gearbox karts at some of their events.
Suffice to say that the ice was broken and slowly but surely, more and more of the major circuits agreed to gearbox kart racing. Snetterton, local to Beccles Kart Club, were one of the first to offer encouragement and Cadwell Park were also eager to welcome this new formula on to their circuit. What we now know as Superkart racing had been born and John could claim to be have been present at the birth. Having succeeded Peter Carter as chairman of Beccles Kart club, John also became chairman of Central Kart Club and it’s successor, British Superkart Racing Club.
The halcyon days were undoubtedly the British Grand Prix held at Silverstone in the 1980s with 300+ entries, huge spectator attendances and major sponsors like Daily Express. Incidentally, Cadet races on a section of the track at Luffield were staged to give youngsters a taste of the big time and Lewis Hamiliton was one of those youngsters. Full weekend All-Superkart events also attracted 200+ entrants at tracks like Donington Park, Brands Hatch, etc.
But the most poignant events were those surrounding his departure. His last 6 months were spent at Oulton Park Care Centre near his Lowestoft home. There is no connection with Oulton Park race Circuit in Cheshire, where John officiated many, many times but it does seem ironic in retrospect.
His cremation was at Waveney Crematorium. This is a relatively new facility built on the edge of the old Ellough airfield just yards away from the site of the Beccles Kart Club’s first race circuit. It is where John first entered the world of kart racing…and where he left it.