Johnny Dumfries, or John Colum Crichton-Stuart, 7th Marquess of Bute, what is his full name and title, is a former British racing driver.
He recorded 15 starts with Lotus in the 1986 Formula One World Championship season. He participated five times at 24 Hours of Le Mans, scoring an overall victory in 1988 with Silk Cut Jaguar XJR-9.
Late start of racing career
He was born on April 26, 1958, in Rothesay, Isle of Bute, in one of the country's oldest aristocratic families. He was the heir of a vast fortune and had an easy childhood. Johnny later followed family tradition and attended Ampleforth College but did not complete the studies. As a teenager, he became passionate motorsport lover and decided to try his luck in the world of racing.
He never liked to use his title and always preferred to be known as John Bute or Johnny Dumfries. Under that name, young aristocrat started his career. He worked as a part of support staff with the Williams F1 Team and at the age of 22 debuted in karting racing.
Sensational debut in Formula 3
After four years in karting, he moved to Formula 3 and surprised after scoring 14 wins in the British F3 Championship. The same year he also was the European Formula 3 Championship runner-up to Ivan Capelli. Those results were surprising and Johnny instantly made headlines. Aristocrats in motorsport were common before the WW2 but in the 1980s they were a pretty rare occurrence, so Johnny made headlines.
At Spa, 1985 Formula 3000
In the following year, Dumfries progressed to the FIA International Formula 3000 but the results were bad. The only good moment of the season was the 6th place won the race at Vallelunga circuit. The same year Johnny also was a test driver for Ferrari F1 team.
Johnny debuted in Formula 1 with Lotus
It was a big surprise when Lotus confirmed Dumfries as their second driver in 1986. Ayrton Senna had a decisive role in signing Dumfries. The legendary Brazilian vetoed an arrival of Derek Warwick that year, so Johnny got an unexpected chance. Five retirements and one DNQ in the first half of the season were disappointing but in the second half was somewhat better. Dumfries scored his maiden points by finishing 5th at Hungaroring and later he won another point after finishing 6th at Adelaide Street Circuit.
Driving a Lotus 98T, 1986 Spanish Grand Prix
When Lotus signed a deal with Honda in 1987, Dumfries lost his place in the team and was replaced with Satoru Nakajima. At the same time, that was the end of an F1 career for the Scottish aristocrat but his biggest success in racing still had to come.
Le Mans 24h winner
In 1987 Dumfries tried his skills and luck at Circuit de la Sarthe, in the world’s most important race. His debut at Le Mans 24 Hours was with Kouros Racing’s Sauber C9. Johnny shared the seat with Chip Ganassi and Mike Thackwell but they retired early, on lap 37.
However, the following year was triumphant. John Bute was behind the wheel of Jaguar XJR-9 alongside Jan Lammers and Andy Wallace and they bit surprisingly won the race after having huge gearbox problems. Their victory ended Porsche’s 7-year reign at Le Mans. Interestingly, that was the only Le Mans 24h that Dumfries was able to finish. He raced at Le Mans thrice more from 1989 to 1991 with Toyota factory team and Courage Competition but retired from each race in its early stage.
1988 Le Mans 24hr podium - Dumfries, Jan Lammers, Andy Wallace
After that, Marquess of Bute retired from racing but in 2002 decided to promote the Mount Stuart Motorsport Classic, a motoring festival at his family home on the Isle of Bute in Scotland. The event was a big success but disappeared quickly because it was too big for the facilities.