Henry Taylor

Henry Taylor was born in December 1932 in Bedfordshire. He cut his racing teeth doing Speedway at West Ham, them building an Austin 7 Special before progressing to a Cooper Mk IV with a Vincent engine which was uncompetitive by the time he acquired it. He did manage a ninth in the heat for the Junior Race at Brands Hatch in October 1954 but that was about it.

For 1955, Henry bought a Mk VIII from Bob Gerard and having overcome paternal opposition was supplied with 2 new JAP engines by his father. The JAP wasn't equal to the best tuned Manx Nortons but Henry put in some creditable performances, helped by the running of JAP only races at Brands at that time, such was the popularity of the class. This allowed Henry to shine, even if he wasn't in a position to always challenge for outright senior wins. On 11th April he finished third in the Senior Second Final and the JAP Race at Brands, then on 1st May he improved this to a win in the Second Final and second in the JAP Race. Silverstone, two weeks later brought a third then on the 29th back at Brands, a win in the second Final and again in the JAP Race. The next day at the less familiar Crystal Palace, Henry had a fifth in his heat but didn't figure in the final of the Redex Trophy, then another win in the Consolation Final on 12th June but he was beaten in the JAP Race at home. A trip to Oulton Park in July yielded a podium but the Sporting Record Trophy meeting brought only a third in the JAP Race and he could only manage a sixth in the JAP Race in the Daily Telegraph Meeting.

Henry Taylor Silverstone 55.jpg (73068 bytes)He bounced back with a win at Silverstone on 3rd September and, the following day in the Francis Beart Trophy at Brands, a win in the Second Final and the JAP race and a JAP win at Cadwell Park on 2nd October. A week later he took a second at Silverstone to Tommy Bridger and on the Sunday a second in the Second Final and another JAP win. In the Boxing Day meeting, he led the great Don Parker, in spite of his disadvantage and eventually finishing second in the main final to complete a good year for which Henry was awarded the Autosport Trophy.

 

 

Henry in the Cooper Mk VIII at Silverstone in 1955 and the same car at Cadwell Park in 2004 now in the hands of James Holland

James Holland Cooper Mk VIII Cadwell June 04.JPG (65543 bytes)Things continued in a similar vein in '56 starting with a fifth overall at Snetterton and a JAP win at the Easter Brands meeting, a sixth at Aintree on 21st April then on the 29th at Brands, a fifth in the First Final and second in the JAP Race. May brought a change of scene with a third fastest time at Prescott then a win in his heat and the Final at Silverstone on the 12th and back to Brands for a JAP win on the 20th. Crystal Palace brought no more luck than the previous year but Independence Day yielded another JAP win at Brands. The British Grand Prix brought a creditable fifth, behind Stuart Lewis-Evans then two more hills, Westbrook Hey and Great Auclum saw a brace of seconds to CAN May. Henry took a win on 11th August at Silverstone but, after a third in his heat at Oulton Park, he didn't figure in the final of the John Bull Trophy. September started with a disappointing DNF at Snetterton then improved with a JAP win and sixth in the main Final for the Rochester Cup, now in a Cooper Mk X. A week later at Silverstone he took two seconds in the Scratch and Sweepstake races and another second at the same venue on the 6th October to take the JAP championship comfortably.

With his reputation now established, Henry began to participate on other classes but continued in Formula 3. The Earl of March Trophy in April 1957 brought Henry a fifth, then wins at Snetterton on 28th April and Templeford on 13th May and after a DNF, a fourth in the Daily Telegraph Trophy at Brands on 5th August. The next day he took a win at Mallory Park then another retirement at Snetterton on 1st September. Henry also drove for the British Bobsleigh team during '57 and '58.

In 1959, Henry moved up to Formula 1 with the Yeoman Credit British Racing Partnership Team, managed by Ken Gregory and running Cooper T51s and then with the UDT Laystall/BRP Team using Lotus 18s. After a promising start in non works machinery, his circuit racing career came to an end against the barriers at Aintree in '61 when he was Lotus spun in the wet and, though his injuries weren't life threatening, he lost the sight in one eye and with it, his Formula ambitions.

Henry's disability didn't stop him, during the 60s he raced and rallied Ford Cortinas in the European Touring Car Championship before retiring from racing to become Ford's Competition Manager. In 1967, Geoff Clarke, who managed the Brands Hatch racing school, persuaded Henry to support a new formula based around a standard Cortina engine. The new Formula Ford very much reflected the original intentions of the 500 pioneers and went on to become one of the most influential racing classes of all time.

After retiring from motorsport, Henry moved to the South of France to run a boat business in Cannes.

Henry died in October 2013

Henry and Brian Media on the '65 Monte Carlo Rally.

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