John Whitmore (racing driver)

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Sir John Whitmore
Whitmore in 2007
BornJohn Henry Douglas Whitmore
(1937-10-16)16 October 1937
Died28 April 2017(2017-04-28) (aged 79)
Years active1959–1966 (racing) and 1979–2017 (coaching)
Previous series
24 Hours of Le Mans
British Saloon Car Championship
European Touring Car Championship
Championship titles
British Saloon Car Championship
European Touring Car Championship

Sir John Henry Douglas Whitmore, 2nd Baronet (16 October 1937 – 28 April 2017) was a pioneer of the executive coaching industry, an author and British racing driver.

Family life and background[edit]

John Whitmore was born on 16 October 1937, the son of Sir Francis Whitmore and Ellis Johnsen. He was educated at Eton College, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Cirencester Agricultural College. He inherited The Orsett Estate Company at Orsett, Essex, in 1962, on the death of his father. The inheritance included the family seat of Orsett Hall, from the grounds of which he used to take off and land his plane.[1] In 1968, he sold the house to his friends, Tony and Val Morgan. He married twice, first to Ella Gunilla Hansson, from whom he was divorced in 1969, and later to Diana Becchetti. He had a child from each marriage. He died on 28 April 2017.[2][3][4][5]

Early career (in motor racing)[edit]

In his first year in the competition, 1961, Whitmore won the British Saloon Car Championship in his BMC Mini Minor. In 1963 he drove again in the BSCC and came second in the championship in a Mini Cooper, finishing just two points behind Jack Sears. In 1965 he won the European Touring Car Championship in a Lotus Cortina (KPU392C). He won by finishing first in his class in 8 of the 9 1965 ETCC races (and finishing first overall in 6 of the races).

Sir John drove in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for five years between 1959 and 1966. In the first year he finished tenth overall and second in class along with Jim Clark in the Border Reivers Lotus Elite. In 1965 (with Innes Ireland) and 1966 (with Frank Gardner) he raced in a works Ford GT40, but had to retire from the race both years with mechanical problems. At the end of 1966 he retired from racing. He returned later in life to driving in historic car events such as the Goodwood Revival.

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Team Co-drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
1959 United Kingdom Border Reivers United Kingdom Jim Clark Lotus Elite Mk.14-Climax GT
257 10th 2nd
1960 United Kingdom Team Lotus Engineering United Kingdom Innes Ireland Lotus Elite Mk.14-Climax S
1962 United Kingdom Ecurie Chiltern South Africa Bob Olthoff Austin-Healey 3000 GT
1963 United Kingdom Donald Healey Motor Company South Africa Bob Olthoff Austin-Healey Sebring Sprite P
1965 United Kingdom Ford Advanced Vehicles United Kingdom Innes Ireland Ford GT40 GT
1966 United Kingdom Alan Mann Racing Australia Frank Gardner Ford GT40 Mk.II P

Later career (in business and coaching)[edit]

Sir John Whitmore receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association of Coaching

After leaving racing and the world of motor-sports, he became interested in transpersonal psychology and its emphasis on the principle of will, intention, or responsibility. He went on to apply his learning and skills first to the world of sport and then to business. In 1970, he studied at the Esalen Institute in Slates Hot Springs, California, with the likes of William Schutz (creator of team development model FIRO-B), and then trained with Harvard educationalist and tennis expert Timothy Gallwey, who created the Inner Game methodology of performance coaching.

Sir John founded the Inner Game in Britain in 1979 with a small team of Inner Game coaches trained by Gallwey.[3] Initially they coached tennis players and golfers but they soon realized the value for leaders and managers of organizations. At this point Sir John coined the term "performance coaching" - this was the birth of the modern coaching movement as we know it.

In the early 1980s he and partners founded Performance Consultants, the leading global provider of coaching, leadership development and performance improvement.[7] Sir John and his colleagues spent much of the 1980s developing the methodology, concepts, and techniques for performance improvement in organizations and showed it was possible to improve performance, increase learning and enjoyment, and find a sense of purpose in work.[8]

Sir John is regarded as the pioneer in the field of business coaching.[8] Along with Tim Gallwey, Laura Whitworth and Thomas J. Leonard, he is credited with launching modern coaching in the 1970s.[9] For some people, Sir John will always be best known as the co-creator of the GROW model, one of the most established and successful coaching models. He presented at numerous conferences around the world and contributed to many other books such as Challenging Coaching[10] and Coaching at Work.[11]

In the 1990s, Sir John was a co-founder, along with Eric Parsloe, David Clutterbuck, David Megginson and Julie Hay, of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC).[12]

Sir John was involved with the Professional and Personal Coaches Association (PPCA), an organization that merged in 1998 with the International Coach Federation (ICF). He served as a Trustee for the ICF Foundation[13] until his death in 2017.


Sir John Whitmore with coach & author Nigel Cumberland

Whitmore received a number of awards outside his career in motor racing, including:


Whitmore wrote a book titled Coaching for Performance. published by Nicholas Brealey Publishing. It contains details of his coaching model, known as the GROW model. The first four editions sold a million copies in 23 languages. The fifth edition was published in 2017.[16]

Whitmore also wrote the foreword to and is extensively quoted in a book called Nine: Briefing from Deep Space which was published in 2005. The book is based upon interviews with extraterrestrial beings which a group of people including Whitmore, as well as Phyllis Schlemmer[17] and Uri Geller,[18] claimed to have had over a number of years.[19] The book and Whitmore himself have been quoted and spoken about on a number of websites which explore such claims.[20][21]

Media coverage[edit]

Sir John has been interviewed numerous times. Some examples include:

  • By Coaching at Work magazine[22]
  • At the European Commission[23]
  • In Coaching Magazine[24]
  • In a journal titled Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice[25]


  1. ^ from The Essex Village Book, written by members of the Federation of Essex Women's Institutes and published by Countryside Books
  2. ^ "Sir John Whitmore: 1937 – 2017".
  3. ^ a b "Obituary: Godfather of coaching, Sir John Whitmore is no more". Archived from the original on 10 May 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  4. ^ "Sir John Whitmore: 1937-2017 –".
  5. ^ "British Racing Drivers' Club".
  6. ^ "All Results of John Whitmore". RacingSportCars. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
  7. ^ "Sir John Whitmore - Founder Of Performance Consultants International".
  8. ^ a b "Sir John Whitmore". Institute of Coaching. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  9. ^ Coaching at Work (2010). "Inside Out", Coaching at Work, Vol 5, issue 3.
  10. ^ "Challenging Coaching". Challenging Coaching.
  11. ^ "Coaching and mentoring industry looks to the future - Major event draws professionals from across Europe". Training Press Releases. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  12. ^ Renton, Jane (2009). Coaching and Mentoring: What They are and How to Make the Most of Them. New York: Bloomberg Press. p. 107. ISBN 9781576603307. OCLC 263978214.
  13. ^ "Home - ICF Foundation".
  14. ^ "International Association of Coaching Blog: President's Message". Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  15. ^ "From the President | International Association of Coaching". 7 October 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  16. ^ Whitmore, John (24 October 2017). "Coaching for Performance Fifth Edition: The Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership UPDATED 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION". Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  17. ^ "The Only Planet Of Choice Author Bio".
  18. ^ "Uri Geller - The Nine - Uri Geller".
  19. ^ "Sir John Whitmore".
  20. ^ "The Council Of Nine". 31 January 2013.
  21. ^ "Project Stargate: Ancient Aliens and the CIA - Conspiracy School".
  22. ^ Inside Out, including John Whitmore and Tim Gallwey in conversation
  23. ^ Leadership in the 21st Century
  24. ^ El Reto del Líder: En busca de los valores. Entrevista a John Whitmore
  25. ^ The Evolution of Coaching: An interview with Sir John Whitmore

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by British Touring Car Champion
Succeeded by
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Baronet
(of Orsett, Essex)
Succeeded by
Jason Whitmore