In his youth he had been a racing driver himself, but quit in 1951. In 1957 he became manager of the Connaught team, and bought the Brabham team in 1972. He became president of the Formula One Constructors Assocation and was instrumental in gaining large deals for tv rights.
In 1997 he was involved in a scandal when it transpired he had given the Labour Party a million pound donation - which raised eyebrows when the Labour government changed its policy to allow Formula One to be continue being sponsored by tobacco manufacturers. The Labour Party returned the donation.