Born in the town of Ware, Hertfordshire, in the latter part of 1942, Terry O’Neil’s first memory was transport related – sitting in his pram in the back garden at his grandparents’ house in Buntingford, while his mother was working in a munitions factory helping with the war effort.
When Terry’s father returned home from duty in the Middle East,the family moved to Coventry, his father’s home town. After attending a local grammar school, Terry took up employment at a tyre distributor before moving on to work in the general sales department of the Rootes Group, based at Ryton-on-Dunsmore, near Coventry. Here he gained his first insight into the manufacture of cars, and had his first taste of public relations work: taking new cars for photographic shoots throughout the country, then working in the showroom at the Ryton factory, where he oversaw the factory visit programme for foreign guests.
After helping to conduct a dealer franchise review for the RootesGroup, Terry moved to British Leyland, based at Longbridge, Birmingham, to help carry out a similar review for it, before being moved to Sussex to take up the position of sales area manager for the company.
A similar job soon saw Terry and his family move back to the Midlands,to Stourbridge – and forty years later they are still living there. With the demise of British Leyland/Austin-Morris, Terry took up self employment, and in 1999 began researching what turned out to be his first book, although it was initially intended as an article for the Ferrari Owners Club ...
Terry had been fortunate enough to achieve his lifelong aim of owninga Ferrari, and having done so joined the FOC. His interest in motor racing history led him to write articles for the club magazine, and also for the Cavallino magazine in America, so when the club secretary asked Terry for an article with a difference, he came up with the idea of looking at the Bahamas Speed Weeks.
Terry had taken on two roles for the FOC: club archivist, and classic car show organiser. The former role allowed him the scope to gather material for the archives over a number of years, and at the same time the opportunity to increase his material for the Bahamas Speed Weeks project, until it eventually snowballed into enough content for a book, which Veloce's Rod Grainger agreed to publish in 2006. A large proportion of the research and sourcing of photographs was done in the Bahamas and America, and Terry has been fortunate enough to return to the Bahamas to enjoy the Speed Week Revival meetings over the past two years.
Since then, three further books written by Terry have been published by Veloce. Runways and Racers covered the history of the Sports Car Club of America/Strategic Air Command sports car races in the early 1950s, Motor Racing at Nassau, part of Veloce’s ‘Those were the days’ series, and Northeast American Sports Car Races 1950-59, which is the first book of an intended series covering sports car and formula racing in northeast America, mid-America, and the mid-Atlantic states.
A fifth book is now nearing completion, and should be published early in 2015. This title is different from Terry’s previous work, as it concentrates on the racing achievements of one particular car: the Ferrari 333 SP.