Ex-racing driver John Youl dies at 77

TASMANIAN motor sport pioneer and prominent Northern Midlands grazier John Youl died yesterday.

Mr Youl, 77, died in hospital about 3am.

He had been ill for some time and had spent the past 10 days in hospital.

Mr Youl was instrumental in establishing the Symmons Plains motor racing circuit, which was opened in 1960 on his property beside the Midland Highway.

In 2007 Mr Youl reflected on a motor racing career that included racing against the likes of three-time world champion Jack Brabham and Jackie Stewart.

He recalled racing at Longford in its heyday in the '50s and '60s when the top formula one events were held in the town.

During the March long weekend Australia and the world's best drivers would race around the circuit at speeds up to 280kmh as part of the South Pacific Championship.

Mr Youl, a Tasmanian Motor Sport Hall of Fame inductee, talked of the Longford leg of the Tasman Series, which consisted of six races in Australia and six in New Zealand.

His best performance of the Longford leg was third.

He said it was long and tough.

Mr Youl had said winning the Horden Trophy at Warwick Farm in Sydney and placing second to Bruce McLaren in the Australian Grand Prix in Western Australia were other career highlights.

The Examiner's motor sport writer Barry Oliver said Mr Youl was an accomplished driver.

"I am thinking of The Examiner 1000 I think it was called. I watched him race and win that in a Cooper Climax," Mr Oliver said.

"I had a very healthy respect for John and think his contribution to the sport was quite exceptional over the years."

After his retirement Mr Youl was also an advocate for road safety, arguing in recent years that not enough was being done to curb the road toll.

Mr Youl argued for driver education as a key to making the roads safer.

Mr Youl's daughter-in-law Audrey Youl said the family was deeply saddened by the loss but also very proud of his achievements.

"Not just in motor sport but his agricultural achievements as well," she said.

Mr Youl had four children - Simon, Richard, Fiona and Andrew - from his first marriage. He had three step- children, James, Robert and Emma - from his second marriage, to Anna.

He also had nine grandchildren.

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