Archie Scott-Brown

Archie Scott-Brown, Lister, Oulton Park

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

 

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4 comments

  1. Regrettably. I never had the opportunity to see Scott-Brown
    wheeling a Lister, but was so impressed with his driving the
    D type Jaguar from same Scottish team which won at Le Mans
    ion 1957
    The occasion was the World Championship round in Sweden
    of 6 hours duration, The headliners were Maserati and Ferrari
    but Archie pushed that car to limits. He would shift gears with
    his ” Good” arm and merely steady the wheel with the other.!

    Connaught win, also meant beating Stirling Moss, no small
    feat for anybody. Sadly his tangle with Masten Gregory brought
    his death, thinking that nobody could drive a Lister any faster.

    Jim Sitz
    Oregon,USA

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  2. Thank you for your good post today about Archie Scott-Brown. Several years ago, I was speaking with Carroll Shelby for a column topic we were doing about Masten Gregory, for Octane magazine. Carroll, who well knew and very much admired both Masten and Archie, had this insight to relate about these two men in a race in Belgium that included himself. Quoted from his column are these words from Carroll Shelby:

    “At Spa in 1958, I was right behind Masten, and Archie Scott-Brown, Britain’s fastest then, was determined to beat Masten after losing to him at Silverstone. Both were driving Lister-Jaguars, and what probably cost Archie his life was trying to keep up with Masten. Their lead-swapping came to a rain-wet bend, Archie lost control and crashed, and he died the next day. Masten was shocked at suggestions he caused it, but Archie and Masten didn’t touch.”

    William Edgar

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  3. Thank you, William. Some contemporary reports seem to indicate that the Ecurie Ecosse Lister-Jag had had some modifications which made it somewhat quicker. Also, the severity of Scott-Brown’s crash was perhaps caused by his hitting a sign at the side of the road on the exit of the Clubhouse bend, a sign which Paul Frère had asked to be removed as being dangerously placed. Hitting that sign evidently caused the damage which destroyed the Lister’s steering with the resulting total loss of control.

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    1. Those were especially hard times on the lives of these drivers, when safety was so often a second concern.

      Shelby thought the world of Archie Scott-Brown, and he was very close to Masten Gregory, saying that Masten “should be in every racing hall of fame.” For the same column mentioned above, Carroll gave this personal view of his friend Masten:

      “Off track he was at loose ends. He lived for racing and always wanted to be doing it. He was impassive about the rest of life. He loved risk, and only driving really did it for him. We often talked about this, and we shared a flat in London for a while during those times. Nursing Masten back from crash injuries was a regular thing.”

      William Edgar

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