Kenneth McAlpine

Full Name:
Kenneth McAlpine, OBE
Born:
21st September 1920 (Age 98)
Cobham, Surrey
Nationality:
British
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

A wealthy amateur who started seven Grands Prix during the 1950s, Kenneth McAlpine was the chief financier behind the Connaught marque.

Family background and early racing career

Sir Robert McAlpine founded the company that bears his name in 1869 and it remains Britain’s leading civil engineering contractor today. Responsible for building the original Wembley stadium in 1923, recent projects include London’s O2 Arena and Emirates Stadium.

A member of that family, Kenneth McAlpine sought new pastimes after serving in the Royal Air Force during World War II. He was awarded his aviators’ certificate in October 1946 and started to compete in hillclimbs and sprints with an ex-Whitney Straight Maserati 8CM.

Connaught and McAlpine's Grand Prix career

The car was prepared by Mike Oliver and Rodney Clarke of Continental Cars and they approached McAlpine with plans for a new British marque. He agreed to finance the project and Connaught’s first sports car was built in 1949. The Formula 2 A-type was introduced a year later and McAlpine raced in national F2 and 2-litre events for the next couple of seasons. Victory in a voiturette race at Ibsley and second in the Daily Mail Trophy at Boreham represented minor success for driver and marque alike.

The World Championship was run to F2 rules in 1952 and McAlpine raced in the British and Italian GPs. He finished a distant 16th at Silverstone and retired early at Monza. Thirteenth on the grid for the following year’s British GP, he finished in that position in Germany – both career bests. McAlpine was more at home in British club racing and he won against meagre opposition at Snetterton in 1953.

New Formula 1 rules were introduced in 1954 and McAlpine made one more GP start – retiring a Connaught B-type from the 1955 British GP. He also raced Connaught’s ALSR sports car at the time. Second in that year’s British Empire Trophy at Oulton Park, he retired from his debut in the Le Mans 24 Hours with engine failure during the night.

Motor racing retirement

McAlpine’s last season as a driver came in 1955 and he retired to get married and work in the family business. He continued to appear at historic events especially when Connaught was represented.

In addition to his prominent role in the family business he was awarded the OBE for services to the building industry. Further business interests included McAlpine Helicopters and he established the Lamberhurst Vineyard on the Kent Downs in 1972. Within two years he was producing acclaimed white wines before selling the enterprise in 1994.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1955 F1 World Championship
Connaught Engineering
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1955 World Sportscar Championship
Connaught Engineering
1 0 0 0 0
1953 F1 World Championship
Connaught Engineering
4 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1952 F1 World Championship
Connaught Engineering
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
0