Grand Prix driver Ian Burgess, who died in May at the age of 81, was notable more for some shady associations than for track success, culminating in a period at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.
After 500cc racing from 1951 Burgess joined Cooper, teaching at the Brands Hatch race school and racing the company’s cars in F2 and F1 into 1958, as well as Tommy Atkins’s Cooper. For 1959 he joined Scuderia Centro Sud, posting a career-best sixth in the German GP, and then raced privateer Lotus or Cooper chassis for Centro Sud, Camoradi and Anglo American.
Joining the ill-fated Scirocco enterprise for 1963, he struggled with the underdeveloped car, intermittently financed by a youthful American millionaire. That was the end of his racing. Later business deals involved a large quantity of heroin that the ebullient Burgess claimed was supplied to him by MI5 as payment for services rendered. When MI5 failed to corroborate this he received a 10-year jail sentence, after which he lived in Spain but made brief, unannounced visits home.