Ninian Sanderson

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Ninian Sanderson (14 May 1925 1 October 1985) was a Scottish car dealer, sports car racing driver, and winner of the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans. [1] [2]

Sports car racing Auto racing on circuits with two seat cars and enclosed wheels

Sports car racing is a form of motorsport road racing which utilises sports cars that have two seats and enclosed wheels. They may be purpose-built (Prototype) or related to road-going models.

1956 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans was a race for Sports Cars, and took place on 28 and 29 July 1956 on the Circuit de la Sarthe. The race was won by Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson driving a Jaguar D-Type for the new Ecurie Ecosse team. This race also marked the golden jubilee of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) founded in 1906, however because of the previous year's terrible accident, celebrations were deferred to 1957 to go along with the imminent 25th anniversary of the race.

Sanderson was born in Glasgow. In common with many drivers of his era, he cut his racing teeth in the highly competitive 500cc Formula 3 class in the early 1950s. He is best known for winning the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans for the Ecurie Ecosse team, together with Ron Flockhart in an ex-works Jaguar D-Type. [3] [4] The following year Sanderson again competed for Ecurie Ecosse, finishing second with co-driver John "Jock" Lawrence, only beaten by the other Ecurie Ecosse D-Type driven by Flockhart and Ivor Bueb.

Glasgow City and council area in Scotland

Glasgow is the most populous city in Scotland, and the third most populous city in the United Kingdom, as of the 2017 estimated city population of 621,020. Historically part of Lanarkshire, the city now forms the Glasgow City council area, one of the 32 council areas of Scotland; the local authority is Glasgow City Council. Glasgow is situated on the River Clyde in the country's West Central Lowlands. It is the fifth most visited city in the UK.

Ecurie Ecosse Former Scottish motor racing team

Ecurie Ecosse was a motor racing team from Scotland. The team was founded in November 1951 by Edinburgh businessman and racing driver David Murray and mechanic Wilkie Wilkinson, its most notable achievement was winning both the 1956 and 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans. The team also raced in three Formula One races. Ecurie Ecosse's cars were always distinctive in their Flag Blue Metallic paint.

Ron Flockhart was a British racing driver. He participated in 14 World Championship Formula One Grands Prix, achieving one podium finish and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans sportscar race twice.

In 1999 the Jaguar sports car that won the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans was sold at Christie's in London for £1.71 million. [5] At that time it was the most expensive car ever bought at auction. [5]

Christies British auction house

Christie's is a British auction house. It was founded in 1766 by James Christie. Its main premises are on King Street, St James's, in London and in the Rockefeller Center in New York City. The company is owned by Groupe Artémis, the holding company of François-Henri Pinault. Sales in 2015 totalled £4.8 billion. In 2017 the Salvator Mundi was sold for $450.3 million at Christie's, and which at that time was the highest price ever paid for a single painting at an auction.

Although reputedly not the easiest of men to get along with, Ninian Sanderson was well known in racing circles for his lively sense of humour. Fond of practical jokes he was not averse to putting firecrackers up exhaust pipes and ribbing members of the public with his race-bred black humour. The contrast in personalities within the Ecurie Ecosse team was stark; down-to-Earth, Glaswegian Sanderson, and refined, Edinburgh-born Flockhart were "like chalk and cheese".

Ninian was also a keen yachtsman and regularly raced his yachts on the Clyde with the same competitive spirit and ebullience as in his motor racing. He owned several beautiful Clyde boatyard McGruer-built yachts: a Dragon class keelboat named "Corsair" built in 1947, an 8-metre class cruiser racer "Debbie" built in 1966 and also commissioned McGruer in 1974 to build his well-known 3/4 Tonner racing yacht "Nippie Sweetie". [6] [7]

In 1983 Sanderson and Jim Watt raised £10,500 for the medical oncology unit at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary following a sponsored canoe trip from Broomielaw to Tarbert, Loch Fyne. [8] Sanderson had been receiving treatment at the unit for several years; he died of cancer in 1985. [1] [8] His wife Dorothy Sanderson died in 2007. [9]

Jim Watt MBE is a Scottish former boxer and commentator who became world champion in the lightweight division when Roberto Durán left the title vacant in 1979 and the WBC had him fight Alfredo Pitalua. Watt knocked out Pitalua in twelve rounds.

Glasgow Royal Infirmary Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland

The Glasgow Royal Infirmary (GRI) is a large teaching hospital. With a capacity of around 1,000 beds, the hospital campus covers an area of around 8 hectares, situated on the north-eastern edge of the city centre of Glasgow, Scotland. It is managed by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.


Broomielaw is a major thoroughfare in the city of Glasgow, Scotland. It runs adjacent to the River Clyde, on its north bank and forms the southern, waterside boundary of the city's International Financial Services District.

Educated at Strathallan School, in the announcement of his passing in the school magazine The Strathallian included a quote from F1 racing World champion Sir Jackie Stewart where Stewart described Sanderson as a ‘perfectionist, with immense spirit and commitment.’ [2]

Strathallan School Independent school in Perth and Kinross, Scotland

Strathallan School is an independent boarding and day school in Scotland for boys and girls aged 9–18. The school has a 150-acre (61-hectare) campus at Forgandenny, a few miles south of Perth.

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Designed specifically to win the Le Mans 24-hour race, the slippery D-Type was produced by Jaguar Cars Ltd. between 1954 and 1957. Sharing the straight-6 XK engine and many mechanical components with its C-Type predecessor its structure however was radically different. Innovative monocoque construction and aerodynamic efficiency integrated aviation technology in a sports racing car, some examples including a renowned vertical stabilizer.

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1959 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 27th 24 Hours of Le Mans, Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 20 and 21 June 1959, on Circuit de la Sarthe. It was also the fourth round of the F.I.A. World Sports Car Championship. The prospect of an exciting duel between Ferrari, Aston Martin and giantkillers Porsche was enough to draw large crowds and some 150,000 spectators gathered for France’s classic sports car race, around the 8.38-mile course.

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Events from the year 1956 in Scotland.

The 1956 Sveriges Grand Prix took place on 12 August, at the Rabelövsbanan, Kristianstad. Although this was the second running of the race, it was the first time as a round of the F.I.A. World Sports Car Championship. The previous year's race, won by Juan Manuel Fangio was the first big race held in Sweden, and the organiser, Kungl Automobil Klubben dealt with it so well, the F.I.A. promoted the race. For this year's event, the circuit was widened and resurfaced.

The 1957 Sveriges Grand Prix took place on 11 August, at the Rabelövsbanan, Kristianstad. Although this was the third running of the race, it was the last time as round of the F.I.A. World Sports Car Championship, and to sportscar regulations. Held on the same bumpy circuit as in 1956, the race differed this time, as it was for a period of six hours, instead of 1,000 km, it being felt that a time race would be more acceptable to the Swedish public.

The 2018–19 Asian Le Mans Series season was the seventh season of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest's Asian Le Mans Series. It is the sixth 24 Hours of Le Mans-based series created by the ACO, following the European Le Mans Series and the FIA World Endurance Championship. The four-event season began at the Shanghai International Circuit on 25 November 2018 and ended at the Sepang International Circuit in Selangor on 24 February 2019.


  1. 1 2 "Sanderson remains a battler until the end". The Herald (Glasgow) . 2 October 1985. p. 5. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  2. 1 2 "Ninian Sanderson" (PDF). The Strathallian 1985-1986 . Vol. 14 no. 3. p. 73. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 July 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  3. "Scottish win in Le Mans Grand Prix. Sanderson and Flockhart Defeat Moss and Collins". The Glasgow Herald . 30 July 1956. p. 5. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  4. "Death Marks End Of Le Mans Race". The Victoria Advocate . 30 July 1956. p. 5. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  5. 1 2 "Sports car sells for £1.71m". BBC. 28 October 1999. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  6. "McGruer build list" (PDF). McGruer boatyard build list.
  7. "McGruer yacht register - Debbie". McGruer yacht register.
  8. 1 2 "Charity cheque". The Herald (Glasgow). 15 June 1983. p. 3. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  9. "Dorothy Sanderson". The Herald (Glasgow). 17 February 2007. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Mike Hawthorn
Ivor Bueb
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1956 with:
Ron Flockhart
Succeeded by
Ron Flockhart
Ivor Bueb