Up until now Tiff had remained a civil engineer, graduating from the City University in 1974 with an Honours Degree and then taking a full time job as a structural design engineer with George Wimpey – an engineer by day, a mechanic in the evening and a racing driver at the weekend!
The 1976 season though would be the turning point. With a fully paid for Formula Ford 2000 drive, Tiff now used his earnings to rent a Formula 3 car for the second half of the British F3 Championship and ended the year with a stunning second place at the last round.
All his efforts came to fruition when he was awarded the Premier Grovewood Award – receiving his prize from newly crowned World Champion James Hunt.
While the Unipart Formula Three Team was a huge leap up in Tiff’s career the British Leyland parts subsidiary obviously had to use one of their engines and the two litre Dolomite Sprint powerplant never quite matched the dominant Toyotas of that time.
Tiff did however finish fourth in the 1978 British Formula Three Championship, behind future Grand Prix stars Nelson Piquet, Derek Warwick and Chico Serra.
Tiff’s success in Formula Three led to him being offered a scholarship sponsored by Durex to move up to the British Formula One Championship for 1979 – and he finished second in his first ever Formula One race.
A year later Tiff achieved the ultimate status of Grand Prix Driver with a couple of outings for Team Ensign. Although only joining the team while they waited for Jan Lammers to be free from his commitment to another team, Tiff’s results in a difficult car were every bit as good as the Dutchman’s.
Away from sportcars there were wins in British Thundersports – racing a Chevron-DFV B26 and a CanAm March-Chevrolet 847. Victories in four out of ten races in the Saab Mobil 900 Turbo Championship in 1987 and four out of ten again, driving a Porsche 944 Turbo in the 1988 British Porsche Championship. One-off victories came in the British Touring Car Championship in 1987 and ’89 and there was another win in the one make Rover 216 GTi series in 1991.
As a ‘journeyman’ driver Tiff raced all over the world with single seater outings not only in Europe, but also in Japan, Malaysia, Macau and India where he won the 1985 Bangalore Grand Prix. There have been sportscar events in the USA, including six starts in the Daytona 24 hours and drives in the British Rallycross Grand Prix in both Metro 6R4 and Ford Escort Cosworth.
In 1992 Tiff won his first ever rally in a one-off outing in the Ford RS2000 Rally Sport Series and then finished 30th in his second event – the very much tougher Rally of Great Britain – driving a Group N Sierra Cosworth in this World Championship event. Further rally outings were in a Mini-Cooper in the ’93 Charrington’s Historic Event, the Scottish Rally in a Formula Two Vauxhall Astra and then the Rally of Great Britain again in 1996 in a works Skoda.
With the collapse of the World Sportscar Championship at the end of 1992, Tiff turned to the increasingly high profile scene of the British Touring Car Championship and landed a place with the works Nissan Team driving their Primera eGTs in ’93 and ’94 but the cars were not competitive and the team left Tiff without a drive when they withdrew from the British scene at the start of ’95.
For 1995 Tiff returned to endurance racing, which was now centred on GT cars, and drove first for PC Automotive in their Jaguar XJ220 and then for the works Lister Team which, in’96 and ‘97 was sponsored by the Newcastle United Football Club. Tiff ended his time at Lister with a hat-trick of victories in the British Championship!.
Other outings have been in TVR Tuscans, Formula Vee, Lotus Exige, and a variety of historic machinery – most noticeably a 1957 Lister Jaguar in which Tiff has been one of the stars of the Goodwood Revival meetings –while he was back in Europe driving an Aston Martin DBRS9 in the 2006 FIA GT3 European Championship.
Oh yes, and he was the man who helped Nigel Mansell into the wall at Donington Park in 1993 …