Jack Sears, the first-ever British Touring Car Champion in the inaugural season in 1958, has died at the age of 86.
Sears won the title in 1958 when the championship was known as the British Saloon Car Championship, tying on points with rival Tommy Sopwith at the end of the season.
In order to decide the champion, the duo then took each other on in identical Riley One-Point-Five rally cars, even switching cars half-way through to ensure that neither driver had an advantage.
Sears followed up the first-ever title with another in 1963, this time against the likes of Jaguar in a huge seven-litre Ford Galaxie.
In more recent times, fans will associate Sears with the Jack Sears Trophy, which has been handed out to the top rookie at the end of the year, or in 2014 to the driver who overtook the most cars during the season.
BTCC Series Director Alan Gow paid tribute to Sears and his lasting legacy on the BTCC.
“It is with great regret and genuine sadness to learn of Jack’s death,” said Gow. “I really liked Jack a lot… not only as an extremely talented and inspirational racing driver, but more importantly as a hugely popular, humble and impressive human being.
“Jack loved this championship and continued to play an active part in the BTCC right up until his passing.
“He will be sorely missed by everyone involved in the BTCC, but our immediate thoughts are with his family and closest friends at this time.”
The championship will mark Sears’ passing with a one-minute silence at the next round at Knockhill this weekend.