This handsome gent, cotton earplugs in place, is Archie Scott-Brown, sitting on the grid in his Lister-Bristol before the start of the second heat of the British Empire Trophy, a race for sports cars, at Oulton Park on April 2, 1955. The BET was run that year in three separate 16-lap heats, for cars up to 1500cc, cars from over 1500 to 2700cc and for cars over 2700cc, followed by a 25-lap final for the fastest 24 cars. Scott-Brown’s Lister was entered by Brian Lister’s Lister Engineering which would soon became famous for its Jaguar-engined cars. The final was run in the wet and Scott-Brown used those conditions on the tight Oulton circuit to win overall ahead of such well-known drivers as Peter Collins (Aston Martin), Duncan Hamilton (Jaguar D-Type), Reg Parnell (Aston Martin) and Mike Sparken (Ferrari 750 Monza).
The BET had first been run in the early 1930s at Brooklands as a Formula Libre event. It became a sports car race in 1951 before returning to single-seaters in 1960 then reverting to sports cars in 1990. Oulton Park, in Cheshire, was created in 1953 and is a tight 2.8-mile circuit which winds up and down through parkland with numerous trees. It was in the 1950s, and continues today, as a true road course, whereas many of the postwar British race courses, such as Goodwood, Silverstone and Snetterton, used former airfields.
Archie Scott-Brown was a unique racing driver. He had been disabled from birth with club feet, malformed legs, and no right hand, probably as a result of his mother having contracted rubella during her pregnancy. Although he had received a novice racing license, this was then revoked because of his disabilities, but soon reinstated as his immense natural talent as a driver was obvious to all. His early relationship with Brian Lister put Scott-Brown in some of the most competitive of 1950s sports cars, such as the Lister-Bristol and the later Lister-Jaguar. He also competed in several grand prix races, wining his first time out in a Connaught. It was in a Lister-Jaguar at Spa-Francorchamps in May 1958, during a close duel with Masten Gregory driving a Lister-Jaguar for Ecurie Ecosse, when Scott-Brown slid off in wet conditions, hitting a signpost that tore off part of the right front steering at the same corner where Richard Seaman had been killed in 1939. The Lister rolled into a ditch and against straw bales catching fire instantly. Scott-Brown died of his burns the next day.
Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com