Rex Woodgate 2 July 1926 – 15 June 2021
It is not a stretch to say that, without Rex Woodgate, Aston Martin would not exist today.
Born in Cricklewood, London, Rex was immersed in motor cars from an early age, having visited Brooklands and met Prince Bira. The lure of cars continued after the war, and at Prescott in 1947 he met Stirling Moss and became one of Moss’s first mechanics, the two forming a lifelong friendship.
He had a stint at HWM and with an F2 Alta team, including a spell as a driver, but it was working on Reg Parnell’s Ferrari that led to Rex meeting John Wyer and in 1955 joining Aston Martin. He starting working on DB3Ss before moving on to DBR2s, heading out to the States in 1958 to run a DBR2 for Elisha Walker’s team. With driver George Constantine, they enjoyed two years of huge success. The image of him (above) receiving the trophy for Mechanic of the Year is clear testament to the respect and affection in which he was held.
Wyer later asked him to represent Aston Martin in North America, which led to the setting up of the Aston business there. For many years Rex was known as ‘Mr Aston Martin in America’. The 1960s were a very successful period but the 1970s were more challenging. Rex helped to innovate the emissions-friendly carburettor V8 and later the Volante, and also played a key role in bringing wealthy backers to rescue the company after its collapse in 1974.
Rex returned to the UK in 1978 to work on product refinement at Newport Pagnell but he left in 1982 to set up race prep and restoration specialist Rex J Woodgate Automotive, which is now at Silverstone and run by his son Chris.
He owned and raced one of the ex-Sebring DB4 GTs for many years, both in the US and the UK, and was an elected member of the BRDC for his achievements with Aston Martin motorsport. In 2016 Rex bought a 2006 V8 Vantage for his personal enjoyment at the wonderful age of 90. He is survived by his wife Joyce and sons Neil and Chris.