HALL OF FAME
Short biographies of some famous faces in the motorsport world who were or are associated with the club...
Prince Bira (1914-1985)
Siamese (now Thai) royal Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh (or “B. Bira” as he was entered in races) remains by far the most successful exponent of car racing of his country, having scored points in three World Championship races in the early 1950s, and having also won three non-championship Formula 1 races. He usually drove privately-entered cars, resplendent in the light blue-and-yellow Thai racing colours that he himself devised, but also had stints with the works Gordini, Connaught and Maserati teams. He also achieved a string of notable results in British pre-war events with his cousin’s White Mouse Racing team. Away from the circuit, he was furthermore an accomplished pilot and sculptor.
Mike Doodson is a veteran motorsports journalist and author who was the “third man” alongside Murray Walker and James Hunt in the BBC’s original coverage of Formula 1 on Grandstand.
Tony Crook (1920-2014)
Anthony Crook was a racing driver who went as far as participating in a couple of World Championship races in 1952-53. However, he is most famous for his involvement with Bristol Cars. He acquired the marque in 1960 alongside the grandson of its original founder, becoming its sole owner and the managing director in 1973. He fastidiously tailored the cars and the company to satisfy the needs of its faithful and exacting customers. In 2004 Tony Crook relinquished his control of the company, having acquired new financial backing prior to the turn of the millennium, but was still active on its behalf until 2008, well into his eighties.
Brian Lister (1926-2014)
Cambridge native Brian Lister was born into a family of engineers and followed in this tradition. A motorsports enthusiast, he co-founded the Cambridge 50 Car Club soon after WWII, and struck up a friendship with racing driver Archie Scott Brown (see below) after they met at a CUAC sprint at Bottisham Aerodrome in 1951. After engineering other cars for a couple of years, he successfully approached his father to secure funding for his own construction project. The resulting sportscar chassis were paired with first Bristol and then Maserati engines, before culminating in the remarkable Lister-Jaguar, which won 12 out of the 14 races it entered in 1957. Now in demand as a supplier of cars to customer teams, Lister’s involvement in the sport was, however, abruptly ended when he chose to withdraw from competition as a result Scott Brown’s fatal crash the following year.
Raymond Mays (1899-1980)
Raymond Mays is one of the most significant figures in British motorsports, as he was a principle figure in the founding of both the English Racing Automobiles (ERA) and British Racing Motors (BRM). During a successful circuit racing and hillclimbing career, he and Peter Berthon established ERA at Mays’s family house in Bourne; the marque subsequently became extremely successful in voiturette racing, and several examples were also entered for individual races in the early years of the post-war World Championship. BRM was likewise founded by Mays and Berthon in 1945 as a national prestige project to produce an all-British champion racing car following WWII. After encountering numerous technical and financial difficulties stymied progress in the 1950s, Mays’s dream was realised in 1962, when Graham Hill won the World Drivers’ Championship and BRM the World Constructors’ Championship.
Archie Scott Brown (1927-1958)
Although not a Cambridge student, Archie Scott Brown was closely associated with CUAC, having started his racing career participating in events organised by the club. For five seasons from 1954, Archie drove for the Cambridge-based Lister marque, run by Brian Lister (see above) and Don Moore, in sports car races with great success. This was despite the fact that he was born with severe disabilities to both legs and his right harm, following his mother’s affliction with German measles during her pregnancy, which precluded a full-time move to Formula 1 due to difficulties in obtaining the highest level of racing licence on medical grounds (although he did start the 1956 British Grand Prix). Tragically, he died at the age of 31 after crashing while in the lead of a race at Spa-Francorchamps in 1958, at the same corner as fellow CUAC Hall of Fame member Dick Seaman (see below). In his career he won 71 major races, 44 of them in Lister cars.
Richard Seaman (1913-1939)
Dick Seaman was the outstanding British driving talent before WWII. After numerous successes on the British racing scene, he overcame rising international tensions to sign for the works Mercedes team in 1936. His breakthrough season came in 1938, as he beat his local team-mates to win the German Grand Prix, and also finished second in the Swiss Grand Prix. Sadly, Archie Scott Brown (see above) he was killed after crashing from the lead of the 1939 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
Whitney Straight (1912-1979)
Although born in New York, Whitney Straight’s family moved to England when he was a child. In the early 1930s he established himself as a leading racing driver, and in 1933 he won a succession of prestigious events in his Maserati: the Mountain Championship at Brooklands, the Mont Ventoux Hill Climb in France, and the Brighton Speed Trials. He also achieved a class victory in the Coppa Acerbo in Italy, and an overall victory in the 1934 South African Grand Prix at East London. A keen pilot, he saw active service with the RAF during WWII, for which he was awarded the Military Cross, and later became an aviation executive.
Another veteran motorsports journalist, author and broadcaster, Simon Taylor was the “Voice of Formula 1” as the sport’s commentator for BBC Radio from 1976 to 1996, before briefly moving to television as a pundit for ITV’s coverage in 1997. Starting out in the field as a writer for Autosport magazine, he was rapidly elevated to become its editor between 1968 and 1971, and continued this upward trajectory to become the managing director of its publisher, Haymarket Magazines. In more recent years, he has perhaps become best-known for his regular, extensive “Lunch with…” interviews for Motor Sport magazine.
Oliver Turvey is CUAC’s current leading exponent, with a GP2 Series race win at Monaco, a class win at the Le Mans 24 Hours, and a McLaren Formula 1 testing contract amongst his numerous achievements. A rapid rise through the junior formulae was recognised when he won the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award in 2006, and he was a consistent frontrunner (and often championship contender) in series such as British Formula 3, Formula Renault 3.5, and the GP2 Series. He first tested for McLaren in 2010, and currently carries a great deal of simulator work for the team, but has remained race-ready by competing in the Le Mans 24 Hours – winning the LMP2 class in 2014 – the Japanese Super GT Series, and the new FIA Formula E Championship. The University of Cambridge acknowledged his achievements by awarding him a Full Blue in 2008; he is the first racing driver to receive this accolade.
Gijs van Lennep
An accomplished Dutch sportscar driver, Gijs van Lennep was a long-term works driver for Porsche. He won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1971 (in an iconic Martini-liveried Porsche 917K with Helmut Marko, establishing a distance record that stood until 2010) and again in 1976 (in a Porsche 936 Turbo with Jacky Ickx. He also won the last running of the Targa Florio, in 1973, in a Porsche Carrera RSR with Herbert Müller. In single-seater racing, he was victorious in the 1972 European F5000 Championship, and was also an occasional Formula 1 entrant, entering nine races between 1971 and 1975 with two points-scoring finishes.