Archie Scott-Brown

13/5/1927 - 19/5/1958

Archie Scott-Brown
Archie was born with radically deformed legs and a partially formed right arm. After 22 operations without which he wouldn't even have walked he set out on an amazing journey to Formula 1. Archie Scott-Brown died 64 years ago, he was 31 , He would have been 95.

Archie was born in Paisley, Scotland, the only child of William and Jeanette Scott Brown.  Bill, as his father was always known, had been an observer in the R.F.C. during the Great War.

His mother had caught German measles when she was pregnant with Archie and when he was born he was dreadfully handicapped with radically deformed legs and right arm. He underwent 22 operations to repair and add as much function as possible to his partly formed right arm and badly deformed legs and feet. without which he would not even have been able to walk.

His father built him a miniature car which sparked his imagination and passion for motoring throughout his life.

Determined to lead as full a life as the next man, he was always bursting with vitality and exuberance, and earned a living as a travelling salesman in order to fund his motor sport ambitions.

Archie was quite short (five feet) and made light of the disabilities. Infact it was one of nature’s few compensations that he was gifted with an unerring sense of balance.

He started racing in 1951 in an MG TD and was at this time that he met up with Brian Lister and Don Moore. They realised that Archie was the best driver they had seen and soon had Archie driving Brian Lister’s fearsome Tojeiro special. And, when Lister deceided to build his own car, the Lister-Bristol, Archie was the obvious choice to drive it.

However when he entered the 1954 British Empire Trophy race there were protests due to his appearance and his competition licence was scandelessly revoked for two months. The press launched a campain in support of Archie and by the Summer of 1954 his licence was reinstated.

Soon Archie was winning club and national events all over the country including the Empire Trophy race in 1955.  He was given a drive in the Connaught F1 team for 1956, taking part in the British Grand Prix and finishing second in the International Trophy race. His performances drawing admiration from everyone including Fangio, who thought that his car control was phenomenal.

In 1957, he had the opportunity to race the works BRM in the British GP but, after a brake problem in testing and discussions with friends, he was persuaded to decline the offer. However, he continued to race in sports cars and returned to drive for Brian Lister.

Lister had been having an unhappy time using Maserati engines but in '57 they switched to Jaguar. Now up against the best of the fully funded works teams, with Archie at the wheel, this car became a benchmark for the classic front-engined sports racing car. Even its poor brakes didn't stop Archie. If they failed, he announced, he would: “carry on without them, old boy.”

Archie was becoming increasingly frustrated by his inability to gain an international licence. However in 1958 he finally obtained permission to race in New Zealand, winning the Lady Wigram Trophy. Sadly the following May, when competing in a big sports car race at Spa, he lost control of his Lister on a piece of damp track while dicing with Masten Gregory. He crashed into a field at the same spot which claimed Dick Seaman's Mercedes in 1939, the car burst into flames and the luckless Scot passed away the following day from his injuries.

His memorial plaque at Snetterton states that he “represented everything that was best in the sport”. That would have been true for any sport that Archie had been involved with. When he was banned from the 1956 Grand Prix, he just shrugged his shoulders, flew to Geneva and bought himself a new watch.

He died as he had lived, on the limit, and probably ‘going too bloody fast’!  He was thirty-one.


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