It was with great sadness that we heard at the weekend that local Mini expert, engine rebuilder and industry stalwart Dennis Nathan, father of well-known Mini racing exponent Graeme Nathan, had passed away after suffering severe burns in a workshop accident on Friday 17 March.

Dennis was a long-standing member of the Killarney family, the go-to guy for know-how on building, repairing and tuning Mini engines – as well as a variety of other British motors. His passing leaves a huge gap in the paddock.

Originally from Bloemfontein in the Free State, where he was born on 26 January 1944, Dennis began his career in the automotive industry as an apprentice mechanic at Rodrick & Botha in Bloemfontein, under the tutelage of Stuart White, grandfather of the Stuart White who currently holds the ultimate lap record at Killarney.

After a spell at Castrol, which included an unforgettable visit to the Jordan F1 engine workshop, Dennis worked for many years at Leyland in South Africa, who sent him to Britain to learn about Minis – which became a lifelong passion.

In recent years Dennis operated a workshop here at Killarney, where he was always available to help with anything engine-related, especially British engines. Among the projects he was involved with was the restoration of an Austin-Healey 3000 belonging to Luis Fernandes of Schuurman Lasercut; the picture shows a very pleased Dennis the day they hauled the engine out of the Healey to begin rebuilding it. And that’s how we will remember Dennis Nathan, as a man who was good at what he did because he enjoyed it. Our thoughts and prayers are with his children Graeme, Darren and Candice at this difficult time.