Hazel just passed away in her 90th year, she was Colin Chapman’s widow. In today’s world, women finally get the place they deserve. In this respect, Hazel Chapman was a true pioneer. Back in the early 1950s, she made her mark, both by her human and commercial qualities, in a man’s , even macho world. For years she supported her husband, enabling him to make the right decisions to develop Lotus.
Colin and Hazel met at a party in 1944, they were just 16 years old. In 1947-48, Hazel’s parents allowed Colin Chapman to use the shed located at the back of their Hornsey hotel to build the very first Lotus, the Mark 1. Soon, Colin graduated as an engineer and worked for the Royal Air Force.
Hazel supervised the cars’ assembly. Together, they took part in various competitions and their successes brought more and more customers to buy cars. Thanks to her, Lotus became a fully-fledged company on 1st January 1952. A few months later, Hazel financed the transformation of the company into a limited one. They married in 1954 and throughout her life, Hazel held various management positions at Lotus Cars, Team Lotus and Lotus Components.
As well as being a good manager, she was committed to the Lotus organisation, justifying the saying that « behind every strong man is a woman… » She was very proud to have worked with most Lotus F1 drivers: Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt, Emerson Fitipaldi, Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell and, of course, Ayrton Senna. She was also involved in the creation of The Dog House, a “women only” racing team.
In 1982, Colin passed away. She decided to sell Lotus in order to ensure the company a better future. Then, she became a Classic Team Lotus director, alongside her son, Clive. CTL restores historic racing Lotus cars and manages the brand’s heritage… that didn’t stop her to remain involved with Lotus, the manufacturer. In 2018, she even signed the 100,000th Lotus. During Colin’s era, every new road-going Lotus was shown to her before its unveiling… of course, the brand kept this tradition right up to the end of her life. Her smile and her influence will remain forever associated with Lotus.