Bill Aston

Bill Aston

Bill Aston was born in Stafford, in March 1900. He fought in the First World War, worked as a test pilot and began his racing career on motorcycles.

He was an early Cooper customer, acquiring a Mk III JAP in 1949 quickly became a regular front runner. At Brough in April he won his heat but failed to finish the final, then took a fine third at the British Grand Prix meeting in May to Moss and Dryden and a win in Brussels over Don Parker and Stan Coldham then another third on 25th June back at Silverstone. A trip to Zandvoort brought a fine second to Moss, pipping Lex Beels and Eric Brandon to the line. Clutch troubles forced him out of the 100 Mile Race in July, in spite of running in the top order for much of the race and more disappointment followed in the 50 Mile Race in August.

1950 began badly, a broken conrod taking Bill out while leading at Montlhéry but improved with a second to Harry Schell at Mons and "Royal" Silverstone in May brought a fourth in the heats and fifth in the Grand Prix d'Europe ahead of John Cooper and Eric Brandon in the factory cars. Monaco proved mixed, a fine second in the heats but retirement in the final and another retirement followed at Rheims. He could only manage fifteenth in the Daily Express meeting and tenth at Ostend in August. A very respectable year, especially given that Bill was still running a JAP when many of the top drivers had acquired Manx Nortons. Bill also became a director of the Club in 1950.

Bill takes the Madgwick Cup for 2 litre cars in his Cooper JAP 1,100 at Goodwood in September 1950

For 1951, he tried a Triumph twin engine in a new Cooper Mk V but this would not have given any more power than the JAP and eventually swapped to a Norton. He led the Grand Prix des Frontieres at Chimay before retiring with a seized engine and he could only manage fifth at Rouen in July. Bill's Cooper was sold to Frank Bacon at point after this but he drove the Cooper Mk V streamlined car at Montlhéry in October 1951 where he set new records for the 500cc class at 99 mph.

For 1952, his business acumen helped fund his Formula 2 Aston-Butterworth cars which he ran with Robin Montgomerie-Charrington and were based on a Cooper chassis with engines by Archie Butterworth. Sadly, the car was unreliable and failed to finish in Britain, Italy and Germany. Bill was slated to return to Montlhéry for more record breaking with John Cooper but snow forced abandonment.

After his brief Grand Prix career he switched to club events racing a Jaguar D-Type and Aston Martins, often winning his class. He continued to race into his sixties and scored wins with Jaguar saloons and Minis. Bill Aston died in March 1974.