Stuart Lewis-Evans

Stuart Lewis-Evans was born at Luton in 1930. After leaving school in Bexleyheath he served a three year apprenticeship at Vauxhall Motors, did his National Service as a despatch rider and, with his father Lewis ‘Pop’ Lewis-Evans, started racing in 1951 in a Cooper Mk IV. Stuart showed well from the beginning, winning his heat of the Junior Championship at Brands on 21st April. This was followed by a second in his heat of the Open Challenge on 24th June to Don Parker and third in his heat for the International Trophy on the same day. In July, he took second fastest time at Great Auclum on the 28th then on 6th August, in very wet conditions, Stuart finished second in his heat for the Daily Telegraphy Trophy to Bill Whitehouse, who went on to win the final. Now with a Mk V bought from Ken Carter he took fourth in the Open Challenge Final at Brands on 9th September then won his heat and the final of the Open Challenge and the Junior Championship on 21st October to crown an impressive first year.

For 1952, Lewis-Evans embarked on a busy season both at home and on the continent with the Mk V. Significant results included second in the London Trophy and Holiday Special at Brands on 14th April, winning the International Trophy support race at Silverstone on 10th May and again at Brands on 20th July. His travels had also brought a win at Chimay in May and second at Orleans in June.

Stuart Lewis Evans Brands 54.jpg (16143 bytes)

Stuart after winning the Senior race at Brands Hatch, April 1954. Photo Courtesy of John Furlong.

He then acquired the MkVI that had been bent at Crystal Palace ending Ken Carter's career, and came second to Parker in the Seniors at Silverstone on 23rd August and fourth at Castle Combe on 4th October to Moss, Parker and Leston and third in Senior Race Final at Brands on the 12th.

It is not known in what car he started the 1953 season, but at the Easter Brands Hatch meeting, Stuart took a second in the Easter 25 and Open and third in the Handicap then, on the 3rd May, second in the Senior Final and third in the Seniors v. Juniors Handicap A trip to France yielded a win at Orleans on 31st May but he failed to finish the final at Amiens a week later. Meanwhile, over the winter a MkVI believed to be the ex-Carter car had been modified to capitalise on Stuart’s slight build (he was no more than 5’7” and under 9 stone) by producing a ‘lowline’ body; to keep the car competitive with the latest factory Mk VII. This car first appeared at Crystal Palace in July for the Elizabethan Trophy which he won convincingly and went on to have a successful season - he also had several drives in the Francis Beart prepared ‘Mk VIIa’ Cooper in which he continued to shine, including taking the Redex Trophy at Crystal Palace and a second at Goodwood.

Stuart Lewis Evans Crystal Palace 53.jpg (30822 bytes)Stuart on his way to victory in the Elizabethan Trophy, Crystal Palace 11th July 1953 and in the Beart Cooper with brother Trevor after winning the Redex Trophy, Crystal Palace in 1953. Photo courtesy of Motor Sport.

Photo at right of Stuart and Trevor courtesy of John Furlong.

For 1954 Stuart and Les Leston were signed up as Cooper Works Team Drivers in the new Mk VIII, a successful partnership, but with Don Parker (in his Kieft) always in the running and the emergence of Jim Russell and Ivor Bueb (both in Coopers) as further forces to be reckoned with, things were never going to be easy.

Stuart was second (to Parker) at Kirkistown in March and could only manage third in the Ashmead Tankard at Caste Combe to the Revis of Reg Bicknell and Ivor's private Cooper. At Brough on 17th April, Stuart dominated beating Charlie Headland in his heat and the final and second in the handicap final, and again at Brands on Easter Monday winning the Open Challenge and Senior Finals; meanwhile his team mate Leston was winning at Goodwood. Motor Sport said "Lewis-Evans will take a lot of beating this season - he is a very polished driver". Snetterton on the 24th brought a disappointing fourth to Leston, Russell and Parker and fourth again to Bicknell at Brands on the 1st with the consolation of a second place in the Whitsun Invitation. He could only manage a lowly tenth place at Silverstone Daily Express Race on the 15th but improved for a fifth in the Seniors at Brands on 7th June and second in the Seniors on 4th July. On the 10th at Oulton he won his heat of the Beart Trophy but failed to finish in the final and the Grand Prix only brought a lowly thirteenth but at Fairwood on 24th Stuart took third. Back at Brands on 2nd August Stuart took second in the Open Challenge Final. At Crystal Palace on 18th September, he was pipped for second by Bicknell in the Redex Trophy, Bueb winning, then at Brands on 3rd October, he won his heat, with "Pop" second but failed to finish the Open Final and was disqualified from the Senior race. Stuart's year finished with a second to Ivor in the Christmas Trophy at Brands on 27th December.

In trouble with the stewards, October '54.

Two shots of Stuart working on his Cooper Norton taken by Ian Frost in 1955.

Stuart Lewis Evans works on Cooper Norton 1955 2.jpg (28595 bytes)

Stuart Lewis Evans works on Cooper Norton 1955.jpg (38756 bytes)

For 1955, Stuart continued to run his Mk VIII privately and then a Mk IX. Things started badly failing to finish at Kirkistown on 19th March and Snetterton on the 26th but improved a little with a sixth in the Earl of March Trophy at Goodwood, then a win over Don Parker at Charterhall on 16th April and third at Ibsley on the 30th after a tussle with Don. At Brands on 1st May, Stuart won the first final beating George Wicken and Don Parker, then at Silverstone on 7th May in the 50 Mile Race, he took pole and set fastest lap before finishing third to Ivor and Jim, on the 29th he took fourth in the Sporting Record Trophy at Brands and fifth in the Redex Trophy at Crystal Palace the following day.

Back at Brands in July, Stuart won the final of the Sporting Record Trophy ahead of George Wicken and Ivor and at Aintree, for the Grand Prix he was denied by a misfire after a race long duel with Jim Russell but could only manage fifth at Crystal Palace on the 30th. A DNF at Snetterton on 13th August was followed by another win in the John Bull Trophy at Oulton Park ahead of Ivor, David Boshier-Jones and Jim and a disappointing sixth at Aintree on 3rd September and a fourth in the final of the Beart Trophy at Brands on the 4th. In the Gold Cup at Oulton on the 24th, Stuart took fifth, Boshier-Jones winning.

1956 started brightly with a second to Tommy Bridger at Snetterton on 25th March and another second to George Wicken at Brands on 3rd April and yet another second at Aintree on the 21st, this time to Colin Davis, son of SCH "Sammy" Davis. Stuart was second again at Brands in the Sporting Record Trophy to Russell and the symmetry continued in the Redex Trophy on the 21st May to Bueb, with a joint lap record, and at Silverstone to Jim again. It was the same story in the Midsummer 100 at Aintree on 23rd June. Bizarrely,  Stuart (driving the Beart car) was awarded joint first with Russell at Mallory Park on 7th July, breaking the run. In the Grand Prix race on the 14th, he took fourth then back to second at Brands on 6th August and finally an outright win in the John Bull Trophy at Oulton over Russell, Parker, Boshier-Jones, Bueb and Allison. Lewis-Evans failed to finish at Snetterton on 2nd September then took fourth in a very close battle at Goodwood, the following week. Another DNF followed at Brands the next day, after winning his heat, then a second to Jim in the Gold Cup on the 22nd and a win on 14th October back at Brands.

July 1955 at Brands Hatch

Impecunious Enthusiasts had to be inventive but one can't help feeling that a trailer is a simpler solution. Stuart rides the rollercoaster.

His talents were confined to Formula 3 until the end of 1956 when he started a brief and successful period with a F1 Connaught (including 4th place in the 1957 Monaco G P) until they suddenly closed down, leaving him with a fairly empty programme. He was able to secure a few F2 drives with the Beart T43 Cooper and, toward the end of the year, with Willment. Fortunately, Enzo Ferrari retained him to drive at Le Mans where he drove two thirds of the race to finish 5th overall, and when Brooks and Moss were both indisposed for the French G P Enzo Ferrari released him to Vanwall for what was to become the rest of 1957. Stuart fully justified his place in the team with several useful drives (including pole at Monza and a torrid drive at Pescara) and was signed up again by Tony Vandervell for the following year. Meanwhile, he wintered in New Zealand with a Connaught, returning via California where he made a guest appearance in a 500CC race at Pomona. The Connaught, incidentally, was owned by Bernie Ecclestone, who now assumed his personal management. (It is noteworthy that Ecclestone, who was very close to Stuart’s professional career, withdrew from motor sport for some years after the latter’s death).

Stuart in the Vanwall, complete with crumpled nose, at Spa in 1957.

In 1958 he drove Aston Martin in endurance events, Elva and Willment in short sports car races, the B R P Cooper-Climax in F2 in which he did consistently well, and kept the faith with a now ailing Formula 3 whenever his other commitments permitted (his 500cc lap record at Goodwood of 1 min 39.4 secs still stands today). Principally, he played a significant role in Vanwall’s successful bid for the Constructors’ Championship, finishing 3rd in the Belgian and Portuguese G Ps and fourth in the British GP Tragically, on lap 42 of the Moroccan GP he crashed heavily and sustained serious burns. He was flown in Tony Vandervell’s plane to Sir Archibald McIndoe’s East Grinstead specialist burns unit but died six days later.

There are those who believe that, had he survived, he was destined for great things. Certainly he had shown wide ability and was very much at home in the lighter rear-engined cars which were about to come. Described by Vanwall team colleague Stirling Moss as ‘very quick’ he is also portrayed as lacking stamina, and yet happily undertook endurance racing with his usual enthusiasm. Away from the circuit he was a lively character, full of fun, enjoying family life and modest to a fault about his considerable, sometimes hard-won, successes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multiple generations of the Lewis-Evans family, "Pop", Stuart and Steve then Steve's turn to be the doting grandfather at the Lewis-Evans Trophy, Brands Hatch, August 2009. Photo Roland Lewis-Evans.

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