Lotus co-founder Hazel Chapman dies aged 94

The first Lotus Mark 1 was built in a garage behind her parents’ house in 1948

Most people associate Lotus with the late great Colin Chapman, but it was a racing team and car company he co-founded with his wife Hazel Chapman. Earlier on the same day, Mrs. Hazel Chapman, 94 years old, passed away.

Notably, Hazel Chapman met her husband at a dance in 1944 and she married him in 1954. The Lotus Mark 1 was built around an Austin 7 chassis in a locked garage in the back. Hazel Chapman’s parents’ home in Hornsey, North London in 1948. She herself took over the development of the Ford-powered Mark 2 when her husband was drafted into the Royal Air Force.

After the Lotus organization was founded in 1952, she sat on the boards of several companies including the F1 team. She played a matriarchal role in the success of the F1 team that won 6 world drivers’ championships and 7 constructors’ championships in the 1960s and 70s.


She became the brand’s biggest woman following the death of her iconic husband in 1982

Her tenure has yielded some of F1’s greatest drivers including the late great Jim Clark, Graham Hill (father of Damon Hill), Jochen Rindt, Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti, and Nigel Mansell, and Ayrton The late great Senna from the 80’s.

When her husband died in 1982, she was instrumental in attracting new corporate investment to secure its future by selling equity to a consortium led by British Car Auctions. The F1 team remained in family ownership until 1990 and after its disbandment in 1994, Hazel became the director of Classic Team Lotus.

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“This is a very sad day for everyone in the world associated with Lotus. Without Hazel Chapman there would be no Lotus,” said Matt Windle, MD of Lotus Cars.

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Sarah Ridley

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