No driver is more difficult to assess than Archie Scott-Brown. He was a great driver, yet he did not prove himself in the way in which great drivers prove themselves. He won no Grands Prix and, indeed, started in only one. He took part in only two World Sports Car Championship races. He competed in only a handful of races outside of Britain and most of those were in New Zealand Formula Libre events during the winter of 1957/8. When assessing Archie, though the normal rules do not apply any more than they applied when he raced.
Archie was born in Paisley, Scotland, on May 13th, 1927, and was named William Archibald Scott-Brown after his father who had been an Alvis works driver. His mother, Jeay, had twice raced at Brooklands, though in later life she was to disapprove of her son’s chosen profession. It was an ideal background for a future racing driver except for the fact that Archie was born deformed.
Archie had the trunk of a tall. well developed man, but his legs were extraordinarily short and his feet were deformed, causing him to wear special shoes made to look like chukka boots, and he stood no more than 5 ft 1 in tall. His right arm terminated just below the elbow in a vestigial thumb and palm.
Despite the obvious problems he faced, he was able to play tennis, soccer, golf and billiards (at which he was very good), he fenced for his school, Merchistan Castle, and turned out for St Andrews University as a fast left arm bowler. Archie was deformed, he was not handicapped or disabled.
In a Le Mans start he was capable of beating Stirling Moss, the acknowledged master. He could beat Moss on the track as well, and Brooks, Salvadori, Parnell, Collins and Lewis-Evans. His problem was not his deformity or lack of skill or courage behind the wheel of a car, it was with race organisers.
Throughout his comparatively short career, he constantly faced rejection from organisers on medical grounds. The Italians were particularly difficult and so, for some reason, were the organisers of the Dundrod TT. Still, he had powerful allies and one was the British press. Both the specialist press and the serious daily and Sunday newspaper writers protected him, out of affection and admiration. Occasionally a newspaper would break ranks with a headline like “One armed driver wins race” (Archie took legal advice to redress the balance for such publicity could damage his career) but, on the whole, the press played fair with him
Preparation of this article began many months ago with tapping the opinions of those who knew him on the track. The opinions were unanimous, he was a great driver, a great character, a kind man, a thoughtful man, always cheerful. The eulogies began to make him sound too good to be true, he must have had some faults.
Brian Lister, Archie’s entrant for almost all of his career, arranged for me to visit his works, George Lister and Sons of Cambridge, to talk to men who had been part of the racing operation. Then we would have an extended lunch with his wife. Jose, Don Moore, who tuned and prepared his engines. Don’s wife Babs, and Edwin “Dick” Barton, who was his crew chief. That way the full picture would emerge from the lips of those who knew him both as a friend and as a driver.
Ken Hazlewood, one of Archie’s mechanics said, “He was never without a smile and a word for everyone. He was not at all fussy like some drivers we had, he put his faith in his team and got on with the job of driving and he drove so well because he wasn’t afraid of the Lister, he’d put it into a corner hard, bring out the tail and drive through it. The only other driver I’ve seen do anything like it is Gerry Marshall in Historic events.”
George Tyrrell and Colin Crisp both confirm his unfailing good humour and add that he was a joker too. Both drove frequently in his Alexander-tuned Ford Zephyr which, Colin reckoned, had had the engine tweaked but not the suspension, “but I never ever felt unsafe with him.” Brian Lister recalls how Archie liked to smoke while driving, “He’d pass around the cigarettes and then get out a box of matches. With his stump curled around the steering wheel, he’d take out a match with his left hand, close the box, light the match and pass it around. I never worked out how he did it.”
Bob Gawthrop recalls that, just once. Archie did allow his temper to become a little frayed, “We’d just won the British Empire Trophy (1955) and were packing up the car with all the press getting in the way. Archie told them they could have all the time they wanted with him but would they please get out of the garage so the boys could work. They’d a long drive back to base. It was typical of him that he was always thinking of others, and that’s how he was when he came around the workshop.
“I’ve never met anyone like him, he was always the same. If you want to know what he was like, look at his photographs they tell you everything about the man. When I heard he was killed I said to Mr Brian, ‘That’s it I want nothing more to do with cars’.”
The same unstinting praise came from Brian, Jose, Dick, Don and Babs, though Brian recalled that he was a little casual sometimes in his business affairs. When Archie was a partner in a garage business, he ordered some equipment from a salesman which the firm did not need. It seems that Archie felt sorry for the man and wanted to buck him up by giving him an order. It that was the worse thing that could be said about most of us, our living would not be in vain.
Babs and Jose recall him as a great ladies man with a string of girl friends, and a marvellous dancer who would slay on the floor as long as the band played.
There have not been many articles published about Archie and those which have been contain slight inaccuracies. It is said he loathed F2, for example, but that comes down to a brief, unhappy encounter with the Lister F2 cars. In fact, Archie loved driving and would drive almost anything. His Zephyr was entered into driving tests and sprints, he drove Elvas for Frank Nichols. “Doc” Shepherd’s A35, a DKW, John Coomb’s Lotus XI, a Bugatti, F1 Connaughts, a D Type for Ecurie Ecosse, an MG TD, a Standard Eight and, of course, every type of Lister made up to his death. It has also been written that he could not drive cars with right hand gear changes, but Don Moore is certain that he saw Archie drive a Bugatti with such a change in a sprint at Bedwell.
His deformity did present problems when sharing sports cars. His regular cars were fitted with extended steering columns and pedals but when the need arose, he would simply pack in cushions behind his back and make a compromise. Bob Gawthrop recalls, “Some drivers we had were always fussing over things like seats but not Archie. He never demanded changes, but would simply say, ‘Could you do thus?’, or, ‘I think it would be better with that’. When we had the prototype Lister-MG ready to run in chassis form, we hadn’t a seat so he used a wooden box tied on to the chassis frame.”
Archie was a man given a rough deal at birth but, as the hearing of a blind person becomes more acute, so he compensated for his deformities and so he was never “handicapped” or “disabled”, those “kind” labels which categorise and limit. As has been said, he was a very good sportsman and he also possessed a remarkable sense of balance, winning the slow bicycle race at school four successive years. He was bright, too, though he didn’t try hard at school, bright enough to win a place at St Andrews University where he first studied Economics and then Accountancy. Motor racing gave him an opportunity to compete on equal terms with anyone at the highest levels of excellence.
Sad to say, he was also perhaps living on borrowed time. So energetic was he that he was perhaps overtaxing his great heart. His mother thought so and, apparently, medical opinion was on her side. He forced himself to be the best by sheer will power but, he taxed himself. He lived life to the full and though he died at the wheel of a racing car, aged rust 32, it is likely that he would not have made old bones.
When Archie was seven he had a little pedal car which he ran into a gate post. The car was taken away from him by his father but was eventually returned — with a 125 cc Villiers engine and three speed gearbox! W.A.S.B Snr also took his soon around Brooklands in a V12 Lagonda in 1939 and taught him to drive so he was able to pass his test the day after his seventeenth birthday.
1950 saw Archie living in the Cambridge area and working as a sales rep for Dobie’s 4-Square Tobacco. It says a great deal for the man’s, personality that he was able to obtain, and hold down, a job in face-to-face selling. It seems Archie sailed through life with immense charm and because he was apparently unconcerned about his shape, nobody else was bothered either. Time and again one hears the same story, “We met and shook hands. It was only afterwards that I realised we’d shaken with our left hands for Archie made the first move to spare me any possible embarrassment.” He affected not to be concerned about his job, but of course he was, for selling is a competitive world and Archie was nothing if not competitive.
He’d recall, with laughter, the day he had a crash and a marshal who came to his assistance took one look at his stump, concluded he d suffered amputation as a result of his accident and promptly fainted. The man’s unfailing good humour can be demonstrated with another story when he inverted a car. A schoolboy ran to him and asked for his autograph. “Certainly, sonnie,” said a Scottish accent from under the inverted machine, “just give me a minute to get out of here.” At the time Archie could hear the petrol pump ticking away and was wondering if the whole thing might turn into his pyre.
His first competition appearances were in driving tests in a Standard Eight Saloon and he won all three. Then his grandmother died leaving him £500 which was translated into the first MG TD seen in the Cambridge area. This car was raced and rallied and used in driving tests, hill climbs, autocross and sprints, anything for which it was eligible and he was remarkably successful.
Two men who competed against him were Brian Lister and Don Moore. We told some of Brian’s story in MOTOR SPORT, August 1984 and it is superbly chronicled in Doug Nye’s “Powered By Jaguar”, a book which Doug wrote because he basically wanted to write about Archie Scott-Brown. Don Moore is less well-known but was one of the great post-war engine men. Successful himself in early post-war events with a stripped-down MG “P”. Don prepared all Brian Lusters units and worked subsequently as a freelance for BMC, preparing race and rally engines, Ford and BL. Now retired, he can look back on a career in which his engines gained over 2,500 first places, though most of these successes have been unacknowledged. His conversation is punctuated by fascinating tit-bits, like the turbocharged twin-cam and BDA units he prepared for Ford, the rally version of the latter overextending his 400 bhp-limit dynamotor!
Moore and Lister were to tom forces with Scott-Brown and the fourth member of the team was the crew chief, Dick Barton. Dick stayed with Lister until 1960 when he joined the Cambridge University Chemistry Dept. as a research technician.
Brian’s own competition career had begun in 1948 with a Morgan 4/4 bought while still in the RAF. Next step was a Cooper-MG which John Tojeiro, who had been at school with him, saw and thought he could improve upon. “Toj” began producing his own specials and had some work undertaken by Geo Lister and Sons. Brian commissioned from “Toj” a chassis which was fitted with a rudimentary body and a Robin Jackson-tuned 1100 cc V-Twin JAP engine which was then christened “Asteroid”.
“Asteroid” was fearsomely quick, and it was after only a few outings with it in sprints that Brian decided he’d really too much imagination to have what it took to be a top class driver. Besides, there was this little guy in a standard MG TD who kept beating him. Brian and Archie struck up an acquaintanceship which quickly grew to close friendship. A plan was formed, Brian would enter his car for races and Archie would drive it. As Bogart said to Rains at the end of “Casablanca”, it was the start of a beautiful friendship.
In 1953, Archie drove “Asteroid” in twelve races, and not only won all twelve but often lapped the entire field during the typical five laps Don Moore says, “When I knew Archie was in a race, I knew there was no hope for me so went and raced elsewhere.”
At the end of the year, Brian approached his father with a proposition. Given a grant of £1,500, he would design and build an MG-Powered special to bear the name of the family business. Archie would drive it, Don Moore would tune the engine. If it was a failure it would be forgotten, put down to experience, but if it succeeded, then the racing project would carry the name of the family firm to a wider audience.
Brian designed a simple, lozenge-shaped, ladder chassis to be made from 3 in steel tubing, with Girling drum brakes, front suspension by coil springs and equal wishbones and at the rear, a de Dion tube suspended by coil springs and twin trailing arms which was to be the basis for all the Lister sports cars completed by the factory (there was a later, Frank Costin,designed spaceframe chassis) Don Moore built up an MG XPAG engine based on a Morris 10 block and the chassis was first run at Bourne (Carnbs) airfield, with Archie sitting on a small crate and without the aluminium body which was being made by Wakefields of Byfleet. A half shaft seized on the test, but it ended in a harmless spin.
On April 3rd, 1954, the partnership entered two races at Snetterton, and won both, with Don Moore finishing runner-up on both occasions. Fuel starvation in a sprint the following weekend kept Archie only in third but the point had been made and the time had come to move up a notch to an important event, the British Empire Trophy race at Oulton Park.
Having qualified well, despite the car being under-powered against serious competition, it came to the stewards’ notice that Archie was deformed and they promptly suspended his licence. Ken Wharton was drafted in to drive and, after a pit stop to report falling oil pressure, finished eighth in his heat and missed the cut for the final, “Archie was so gentle on his car and engine that he’d have finished in the top three,” says Don, “I never knew him to over-rev a car. Everyone who ever worked on his cars confirmed that Archie was exceptionally gentle with them even though as diagrams he once drew to demonstrate his lines around Goodwood and Silverstone show, he was “out of line” for over 70% of each lap.
“When we used to hang out the “Slow sign”, says Don, “Archie would ease off, become more smooth, and his lap speeds would actually increase.” Brian says, “He simply loved driving sideways and putting on a show.”
The great little man’s heart must have been broken by the stewards decision and it must have seemed to have been the end of his racing career. He did not, however, show his disappointment. Having committed himself to the Lister cause he helped to find Brian the best possible replacement and pointed him in the direction of Jack Sears. Sears, he knew, was good and he might have been forgiven had he kept silent and allowed Brian to choose one of the other, lesser, candidates under consideration.
Luckily, Earl Howe had watched Archie in practice at Oulton Park, been impressed by his performance, and was as surprised as anyone to learn of the man’s deformities. Gregor Grant of Autosport and Dr J.D. Benjafield were other allies. Weeks dragged by, and young Sears was doing well in the Lister, before Archie’s licence and drive were restored to him.
The car was still under-powered and had a short run of seconds behind the Lotuses of Peter Gammon and Colin Chapman. Brian had persuaded his father, however. that his project was viable and the funds became available for a second car, this time with a Don Moore prepared Bristol engine.
This car was ready by the British Grand Prix Meeting at Silverstone and, in the second of his two races, Archie put on a star performance, winning his class by miles and finishing fifth overall. The race happened to be televised and Horace Lister, Brian’s father, was so astonished at the number of times he heard his firms name mentioned, that the future of the racing project was assured. Sponsorship is not new.
Archie ended the season with five firsts and eight seconds in the Bristol-engined car, so establishing both his name and that of Lister in a keenly competitive class.
If 1954 had seen Archie established as a front runner in 2-litre sports car racing, the following year saw him marked as a future star.
With the Lister he took 13 wins, two seconds and two thirds and some of these were in Unlimited races At Snetterton on Whit Saturday, for example, he beat Peter Collins who was driving an Aston Martin DB3S and Collins, remember, was the moral victor of the following year’s World Championship. At Crystal Palace on May 30th he led home Roy Salvadori’s DB3S.
The sweetest win of the year however must have been at Oulton Park where, this time his entry was accepted for the British Empire Trophy. In his heat he took things easily but in the final ran as a handicap in pouring rain he scored a memorable victory ahead of such competition as Reg Parnell arid Peter Collins in Aston Martins and the Jaguar D Type of Duncan Hamilton.
Archie and Brian had a gentlemen’s agreement which since they were gentlemen, was worth a good deal more than a modern written contract. The agreement allowed Archie to drive other cars and he co-drove Les Leston’s 1500 cc Connaught in the Goodwood Nine Hour race, the pair finishing sixth overall and an easy first in class. At the Boxing Day Brands Hatch meeting he had his first F1 drive, at the wheel of a works Connaught.
It was only a 15-lapper and the field was not choice, but it did include Tony Brooks fresh from his Syracuse triumph. Brooks, though, was at the wheel of Risley-Pritchard, 2-litre Connaught which had considerably less power but his presence added lustre to Archie’s win which was by 26 sec.
For 1956, Brian Lister produced a Maserati-engined variant of the Lister theme. It was a very rapid car but the engine was appalling. First the camshafts seized because oil was prevented from getting to them try solder on the gauze filter. When replacement camshafts arrived, Don Moore and Dick Barton watched as they machined themselves against the tappets, for the factory had forgotten to harden them. Pistons arrived with the crowns unmachined but with a note saying “machine to requirement”. It was little wonder then that the success of the previous year was not repeated. The car did take three wins, two seconds and some class wins, and only the more important races were entered.
As motor racing became more important so the interests of Dobie’s 4-Square Tobacco tended to be relegated and eventually Archie and some friends bought a small garage business on the Huntingdon Road out of Cambridge. It could not have been a gold mine, there were too many partners, it was not well sited and, by the end of the year, was hit by the petrol shortage which followed Suez but Archie’s family were reasonably well to do and it gave him the semblance of an occupation.
Connaught had been impressed by Archie’s debut and he was entered by the works in the 32 lap Richmond Trophy for F1 cars at Goodwood on Easter Monday. For the first half of the race he and Stirling Moss (Maserati 250F) had a battle royal with Archie gaining the upper hand. Then his brakes began to fade and after 16 laps the crankshaft broke. Bill Boddy commented In MOTOR SPORT “Archie, his name now linked with Nuvolan and Brooks from different eras of motor racing….”
At the International Trophy Meeting at Silverstone, he brought the Connaught home second to Moss in the Vanwall and, for good measure, drove a little DKW to ninth overall and first in class in the Production Touring Car race and brought the 2-litre Lister-Maserati home sixth overall in the Unlimited Sports Car race. A varied and honest day’s work.
July 14th saw the British Grand Prix at Silverstone where Archie was again at the wheel of a works Connaught. In the race he enjoyed a furious battle with the works Lancia-Ferraris of de Portago and Castelotti, which he won, only to have a rear hub collapse at Becketts on the 18th lap when lying seventh. It was a notable Grand Prix debut but it was also to be his only Grand Prix Connaught entered him for Monza but the organisers refused to accept the entry.
If there is a question mark at all about the man’s potential, it is in the area of stamina. I think it is true to say that he never continuously drove over a full Grand Prix length and Bill Boddy recalls that at the end of a longish sprint race, Archie would be winded and his stump would often be raw and bleeding, for there was no way he could protect it since his technique was to hook it around the wheel. Its a question which will never be answered and all one can do is point to the man’s prowess at sport and the astonishing willpower he had.
Late in the year he won another F1 race at Brands Hatch, this time from the Connaughts of Lewis-Evans (in a works car). Leston and Fairman and the Maserati 250Fs of Salvadori, and Halford. Also late in the year, Brian Lister built his first F2 car. Brian doesn’t recall it ever running but MOTOR SPORT records that in testing it suffered from excessive wheelspin. At any rate it never appeared at a race and Brian, had it sawn up.
In between other commitments, Archie also appeared successfully a couple of times at the wheel of a works Elva Mk2, a car he enjoyed for it had the same sort of neutral handling as the Listers.
Nineteen-fifty-seven was the year of the works Lister-Jaguar, MVE 303. It debuted on March 31st at Snetterton when the clutch failed while it led. Then it was on to the British Empire Trophy where Archie practised a full two seconds clear of Salvadori’s works 2.5 Aston Martin DBR1 and went on to win as he pleased. Easter Monday Goodwood was next and it was another win by 21.2 sec from Salvadori’s Aston Martin over 21 laps. So the season went on, 14 starts, 11 wins, a second and two retirements.
Aston Martin’s team manager, Reg Parnell, got a little tired of seeing his thoroughbred cars constantly beaten by a special and it was not until the International Trophy Meeting on September 14th that the Lister was beaten — by Salvadori in a 3,7-litre Aston. Afterwards it was discovered that the rear springs had settled and the de Dion tube was hitting its bump stops.
That year with the Lister-Jaguar is one of the great seasons in British motor racing history. There was a symmetry about it, a completeness, which marks it out as special. It was not the limit of Archie’s season, though. On Easter Monday at Goodwood his was easily the quickest of the Connaughts until early retirement with oil pressure problems but shortly afterwards Connaught folded.
His entry was accepted for a race in Italy with the Lister but the car could not be prepared in time but he did make his European racing debut in the Swedish round of the World Sports Car Championship where he and Jock Lawrence brought an Ecurie Ecosse D Type home eighth. It could have been higher for Archie had handed the car over to Lawrence in third place but Jock had an “off”
Sweden had been his racing debut but he had also taken part in that year’s Monte Carlo Rally (he’d been a regular runner in club rallies during 1950-54) but he was a rotten passenger and spent his non-driving stints cowering under a blanket on the back seat! Ross Jensen remembers something similar happening when driving Archie on dirt roads in New Zealand.
BRM invited him to drive at Aintree in the British Grand Prix but in testing at Folkingham first an oil pipe broke and then the throttle stuck open. Brian Lister, Roy Salvadori and Stirling Moss all counselled against accepting the drive and he finally declined the offer.
Brian Lister built another F2 car but it was a disaster. Archie practised way off the pace for the International Trophy on September 14th and non-started due to low oil pressure. A fortnight later he started 13th from 19 runners at Goodwood and retired with a broken oil pipe. Though entered for the Oulton Park Gold Cup, Archie refused to drive. Dick Barton says, “He hated the idea of the propshaft rotating at full engine speed (the gearbox was at the rear), just inches away from his hip.”
Archie persevered with the flat four AJB-powered works Elva Mk 3 (see MOTOR SPORT, January 1986) and finally it held together for long enough to give him a late season win in a Brands Hatch five-lapper. There were other odd appearances in other cars too.
If European organisers had been slow to accept him, though they were beginning to thaw during 1957, the Kiwis welcomed Archie with open arms and he headed Down Under with the Lister and Dick Barton for a winter of Formula Libre. The fields were mixed and, on occasions, included Lewis-Evans and Salvadori in Bernie Ecclestone’s Connaught, Ross Jensen’s ex-Moss 250F. Brabharn and McLaren in Coopers and a number of single-seater Ferraris. It was a happy time, in a letter to Brian Lister Archie writes glowingly of the hospitality, and a fairly successful time too. Seven races resulted in two wins, two seconds, a sixth and two retirements. It was all good fun and a chance to sample circuits other than British airfield tracks.
On his return from his New Zealand adventure, Archie did some tyre testing during which it was found that Avon rubber was worth 1.5 sec a lap over Dunlop. Brian was ready to sign with Avon when the company declared itself to be over-committed. Convinced that Aston Martin had blocked him, Brian phoned Dunlop to ask if the company would like to look at the Avons he still had. Dunlop personnel appeared the next day and, shortly afterwards, produced the R5 which was more than an Avon-copy, it was an improvement.
Archie flew out to Sebring to share one of Briggs Cunningham’s 3.0 litre Lister-Jaguars with Walt Hangsen. Four laps into the race and the Lister slowed suddenly and Olivier Gendebien ran his Ferrari up its back putting tyre marks on Archie s helmet and depositing its front wheel in the Lister’s “passenger space”. The short stroke 3-litre Jaguar engine holed a piston but its not known whether that caused the accident or resulted from over-revving during it.
Babs Moore and Jose Lister both recall feeling concerned about Archie when he came home for he seemed very tired. In the first important race of the British Season, Easter Monday Goodwood, he led from Moss’ works Aston Martin 3.7-litre DBR2 until the dynamics of the new Dunlop tyres put such strain on the steering mechanism that it failed. At the British Empire Trophy race at Oulton Park, Moss led Scott-Brown until lap four when again the tyres caused the steering to break. Archie was to finish third in the final driving Bruce Halford’s car with loads of cushions stuffed behind his back. Brian Lister went away and modified the Lister’s steering to cope with the new tyres.
At the Aintree 200 meeting, Archie won the Unlimited Sportscar race, just, from Salvadori’s, works Aston Martin and Masten Gregory’s Ecurie Ecosse Lister. Gregory was fairly new on the European scene and an unknown quantity.
At the Silverstone International Trophy meeting on May 3rd, Gregory put in an inspired drive in the sports car race and, over 25 laps of the Grand Prix circuit, beat Archie by half a minute. Babs Moore recalls that afterwards Archie sat in the car looking bemused, “I was beaten.” he said with disbelief.
The following weekend Archie won at Mallory Park from Bruce Halfords, Lister and then prepared for the GP de Spa on May 18th. This would be his third encounter with Gregory’s Ecurie Ecosse Lister. Ken Hazlewood says. “I’ve always felt that, for Archie, that race was a continuation of the Silverstone battle. Archie had a point to make”
On the same day, the Monaco GP took place and Archie should have been there instead driving a Cooper converted to take an F1 version of Archie Butterworth s flat-four engine. Unfortunately the car was not ready in time, leaving Archie free to drive at Spa. When Archie was killed, Butterworth stopped work on his car and withdrew from motor racing. His Cooper chassis still exists. unused.
Archie’s acceptance at Spa should have been a moment for happiness all round for it looked as though he had been accepted in Europe at last and a good performance would open up other opportunities including F1, for BRM was still very interested in him. Strangely, though, four of those close to him had premonitions of disaster, even though he’d never hurt himself at the wheel of a car. Jose went so far as to phone the team on a pretence simply to speak to Archie and tell him to take care, winning wasn’t everything.
It is likely that Archie had communicated anxiety to those close to him following his defeat at Masten Gregory’s hands a fortnight before.
Certainly none of the four are at all superstitious, though Archie was.
He liked numbers which contained the number nine or multiples of nine, he always wore a “lucky” red scarf and he always drove with a mascot, a toy black cat wearing a “Cambridge” blue bow he For some reason he did not take it to Spa.
Gregory sat on pole with Scott-Brown alongside. From the start they constantly passed and re-passed each other when, on lap six, when leading, Archie came to Clubhouse Bend and found the road damp from a local shower. Archie left the road, brushed the memorial to Dick Seaman who had died at that spot in 1939, scraped along a wall and hit a road sign which Paul Frere had requested the organisers to remove. This bent the oft side front suspension and put the car out of control The car rolled and petrol came gushing out and ignited. Archie s car had been fitted with a magnesium body, for lightness, and this caught fire too.
Archie was dragged from his car by a gendarme. Back in the medical centre in the paddock he murmured something like “I made a right bloody mess of that, didn’t l?” By a macabre coincidence. the doctor who attended him had attended Seaman in 1939 and he announced that the burns were identical. Archie died the following afternoon with his father by his bedside. Among his last words was a message to Brian not to feel too badly about the crash.
Brian Lister’s lirst reaction was to withdraw from racing but he had orders to fulfil and employees to whom he owed loyalty. A little over a year later, following the death of his works driver, Ivor Bueb, in an F2 race and the serious injury of Bruce Halford in the same race, Brian withdrew from the sport. He’d anyway made up his mind to do so by the end of that year but brought his decision forward by a few months.
In truth, he’d lost his appetite for racing when Archie died. They’d been a wonderful partnership, and nothing would ever be as much fun without him. Had Archie not died at Spa, he would have almost certainly been able to have taken up the offers to drive in F1 and for the major factory teams.
The bitter irony of Archie ‘s death is that it came just at the time when he had won his personal fight to be accepted on his own terms. — M.L.
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