Motor racing history is full of great champions and larger-than-life characters. Archie Scott-Brown is very much from the latter school – an outgoing and popular Scot who was no mean driver as well. That was all-the-more remarkable because he had severely deformed right arm, legs and feet – the result of his mother suffering from German measles while pregnant.
He always made light of those disabilities, but at one stage the RAC refused his racing licence only for a groundswell of opinion and J.D.Benjafield’s intervention to see that decision reversed.
Early racing career
Having first raced an MG TD in 1950, it was four years before he began to make a name for himself in national sports cars. That was at the start of a partnership with Brian Lister driving his various Bristol, Jaguar and Maserati-powered sports cars.
Formula 1 with Connaught
Those performances included victory in the 1955 British Empire Trophy at Oulton Park and attracted interest from the Connaught Formula 1 team for 1956. He starred in the early-season non-championship races, his works Connaught B-Alta dicing with Mike Hawthorn and Stirling Moss on his debut at Goodwood and twice qualifying on pole position at Aintree only to retire. The highlight was the International Trophy when Scott-Brown finished second, albeit a lap behind Moss.
The 5ft tall Scot made his world championship debut in the 1956 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Tenth on the grid, he battled the Lancia-Ferraris of Alfonso de Portago and Eugenio Castellotti in the early laps before retiring from seventh when his wheel collapsed. He was entered for the Italian GP but the stewards refused to let him race on medical grounds. That his replacement (Ron Flockhart) finished third must have been particularly galling.
Return to sports cars
Scott-Brown then won a minor race at Brands Hatch and the following year’s Glover Trophy at Goodwood. A BRM drive for the 1957 British GP was politely turned down after his brakes failed during testing. Instead, he dominated the British sports car scene with a Lister-Jaguar and won the British Empire Trophy for a second time.
His Lister-Jaguar was battling Masten Gregory for the lead of the 1958 Belgian Sportscar GP at a wet Spa-Francorchamps when he crashed approaching La Source. The car rolled and came to rest at the point where Dick Seaman had lost his life 19 years earlier. Scott-Brown was thrown clear from the burning wreckage and suffered severe injuries from which he died in hospital the following day.
A plaque at Snetterton states that "Archie Scott-Brown represented everything that was best in the sport."