Hazel Chapman, wife to Colin Chapman and the co-founder of Lotus, has died at the age of 94.
Chapman gave a lot of her time to the motoring industry and was not only a successful racing driver, but also a keen businesswoman who was heavily involved in, and responsible for the birth of Lotus.
Matt Windle, Managing Director, Lotus Cars, said the following on Hazel’s inspiring life:
This is a very sad day for everyone around the world associated with Lotus. Without Hazel Chapman there would be no Lotus. The entire Hethel team, and those working at our facilities around the world, send their sincere condolences and best wishes to the Chapman family.
Born in 1927 as Hazel Williams, she grew up in North London. In 1944 she met her to-be husband Colin Chapman. It was in Hazel’s parents’ lock-up garage where Colin started to build his first Lotus, the Mark 1. As Colin entered the Royal Air Force, Hazel took over the building of the car, and following this, she built the Mark 2. The couple gained huge success racing in these cars, and eventually formed Lotus on 1 January 1952. A year later, thanks to funding from Hazel herself of £25, it became a limited company.
Hazel worked closely with almost every Formula 1 driver who ever drove for Lotus, including Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt, Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna, and also founded a women’s motorsport club called Dog House.
Since this and after becoming widowed in 1982, she stayed close with the Lotus family, and a tradition was created for her to sign off on every new Lotus road car before it was revealed to the public, including the latest Evija.
Hazel was a powerful driving force in the industry and should be remembered as such.