Early life and business career
Yip was born in Medan, on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia in 1907 to Chinese parents. At that time Indonesia was the Dutch East Indies, a colony of the Netherlands. Teddy Yip studied in the Netherlands and took Dutch nationality. He moved to Hong Kong in the 1940s and began to build up his business empire which included travel agencies, hotels, casinos and trading companies. Yip spoke many languages including six Chinese variants, Dutch, English, French, German, Malay and Thai, which helped him expand his businesses into property and finance.
Yip started racing cars for fun in the 1950s at the wheel of a Jaguar XK120. In 1962 he and several partners, including his brother-in-law Stanley Ho, formed the Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau with a monopoly to run all casino operations and many other leisure activities in Macau, including lotteries, ferries and hotels. Teddy Yip established the Casino Lisboa along with Stanley Ho (the brother of his wife Susie Ho) and their two other partners (Yip Hon and Henry Fok). The Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau transformed Macau into a major tourist destination. Yip was the force behind the Macau Grand Prix, a prestigious annual motor racing event in the streets of Macau often won by drivers who would go on to great success in Formula One.
In the early 1970s Yip met Sid Taylor, a racing team manager and former racing driver from Ireland. In 1974 Teddy Yip sponsored Australian driver Vern Schuppan in a Formula 5000 team managed by Taylor and in Formula One with Team Ensign. In 1975 he continued to sponsor Schuppan in races in America and for 1976 supported Alan Jones in the US Formula 5000 series, also establishing his Theodore Racing, run by Sid Taylor, who entered an Ensign in F1 with Patrick Tambay as the driver. After a difficult year in 1977, Yip commissioned Ron Tauranac to build him a Formula One car. The car was difficult to drive and Eddie Cheever failed to qualify in both Brazil and Argentina but Keke Rosberg took the car to a shock victory at the 1978 BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone, a non-championship race that was held in extremely wet conditions that year. Rosberg qualified for only one Grand Prix that year, in South Africa. The car was abandoned in mid-season. In America, Yip financially supported Dan Gurney's Eagle team.
In 1979, Yip helped to fund Ensign but the car was not a success. The car was driven by Derek Daly, Patrick Gaillard, and Marc Surer but there were no points scored. At the end of 1978 and through 1979 Teddy also funded a British F1 programme with Walter Wolf Racing WR3, WR4 and WR6 for Dave Kennedy who finished runner up in the series. His British F1 programme also ran Desiré Wilson in Wolf WR4 to a famous win at Brands Hatch in 1980.
Kennedy moved to Shadow in 1980 with, initially, Stefan Johansson and later Geoff Lees as team mate but the team was chronically underfunded and using a very poorly engineered DN11 chassis. After a few races Yip took over ownership from founder Don Nichols and introduced a DN12 chassis which also proved a failure. After both cars failed to qualify for the French Grand Prix in June Yip closed down the Shadow team. Yip rethought his involvement in racing and ended most of his other activities in order to concentrate on F1.
With Sid Taylor and Julian Randles he established Theodore Racing Ltd. and recruited designer Tony Southgate and team manager Jo Ramírez. The new car was dubbed the TY01 and was driven by Tambay at the start of 1981. In the mid-season Tambay was lured away by Ligier and Yip gave the drive to Marc Surer. The same car was developed in 1982 and it became obvious that small teams could not easily survive in the turbo era. Yip merged Theodore with Ensign and used the Nigel Bennett-designed Ensign N183 design as a Theodore. The team hired drivers Johnny Cecotto and Roberto Guerrero but at the end of that season the team shut down and Mo Nunn moved to America, where he enjoyed great success as a race engineer through the 1980s and into the 1990s and eventually set up a successful team of his own in Champ Car.
Yip had long run a team each year at the Macau GP and in 1983 was behind the switch from Formula Atlantic rules to Formula Three rules. The result was a huge success and Theodore Racing has won the event many times, notably with Ayrton Senna in 1983.
Yip reduced his involvement in motor racing sponsorship in the late 1980s and finally sold his share of his company in Macau to his brother-in-law.
Teddy Yip died at the age of 96 in 2003. News of his death and the subsequent funeral received extensive coverage in television, radio and print media in South East Asia.
- Glick, Shav. "Yep, the Man Named Yip Was Unforgettable". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 October 2011.