Ken Carter

Ken Carter

Kenneth Ernest Carter was born in Bexleyheath in May 1914. He began 500cc racing in the summer of 1949 in a Cooper Mk III and quickly became one of the fastest, finishing second on his debut to "Curly" Dryden at Blandford in August (after taking out Don Parker in the final) and winning at Silverstone in September but could only manage tenth at Prescott Hill on the 11th, failed to finish at Goodwood on the 17th and took seventh at Gosport on 16th October.

Squaddies attempt to untangle Ken and Don Parker at Blandford, August 1949. Photo courtesy of the Carter Family.

He performed more consistently through 1950 with several outright wins and numerous placings and Heat wins. Things started well with a fourth at the  Goodwood Easter meeting then a win in the Open Challenge Final for the Inaugural Brands Hatch event on the 16th April and eighth at "Royal" Silverstone. A trip to Paris for the 30th April brought a win at Montlhéry over the massed ranks of DBs, then at Monaco he took sixth in the final and seventh at Rheims on 2nd July. At the Commander Yorke meeting, Ken took a win and a third in the scratch races then a third in the 100 Mile race. A continental trip brought victory in the Coupe Du Monde at Ostend on 14th August.

Once again at Silverstone on 26th August, he took fifth against the very best, ahead of Peter Collins and Don Parker, then a fourth in the Open Championship and second in the Championship of the Meeting at Brands on 17th September. At Goodwood on the 30th, he took fifth then at the final Brands meeting of the year on 14th October, he won his heat of the Open Challenge but retired from the final, then won the final of the Brands Hatch Championship. This was enough to become national champion and take the Seaman Trophy for overseas success so for 1951 Ken became a Cooper works driver using the new Mk V, alongside Bill Whitehouse.

Ken accepts the plaudits, Ostend August 1950. Photo Courtesy Maurice Van de Brempt

1951 would not prove the easiest for Cooper works team and they would see stiff competition from the JBS drivers; Bottoms, Parker, Dryden, Collins and others as well as the sister Richmond team of Brandon and Brown and occasionally, Kieft. For Ken, things started fairly well with a third in the Earl of March Trophy and third again at Caste Combe on 31st March. At Brands Hatch on 8th April, he could only manage fifth in the Open Challenge but won the Brands Hatch Championship race, the team finishing third to Richmond and JBS in the Team prize. After a disappointing meeting on the 21st, Ken took fifth in the Daily Telegraph Trophy at Silverstone on 5th May and fourth at the Nürburgring on the 3rd June then more disappointment back at Brands on 24th June in the German Grand Prix on July 29th, Brands again on 6th August and a DNF in the 100 Mile race at Silverstone on the 18th. A trip to Rouen, in the meantime was mixed, comfortably fastest, a broken conrod at half distance ruined his race.

Ken bounced back with a win in the Open Challenge over Bernie Ecclestone and a third in the Brands Hatch Championship on 9th September and another win, over Eric Brandon, in the Brands Hatch Championship on the 23rd. As a result, Ken took the Brands Hatch Championship for the year but neither he nor Bill Whitehouse were in the reckoning for the Formula 3 Championship.

The 1951 Cooper Team transporter

Ken was injured at Crystal Palace in June 1952 at a session to establish the viability of racing returning to the circuit and subsequently gave up competition. The highlights of Ken's year being wins in Brussels in May and at Amiens on 15th June. His Cooper Mk V was probably sold to Stuart Lewis-Evans. Ken became Secretary of the Half-Litre Car Club for 1952, taking over from Ken Gregory, but resigned before the end of the year so the post passed back to Gregory. Ken still finished third in the Light Car Trophy, to Don Parker and Stirling Moss, in spite of only competing for half the season.

Ken wins in Brussels, May '52


Ken's results for 1952 include:

Brussels, Belgium 11th May 1952, 1st in heat, 1st in final

Luxembourg Grand Prix 22nd May 1952, 2nd in heat, 2nd in final

Nürburgring 24th May 1952, DNF

Snetterton 31st May 1952, 1st in heat, 5th in final

Goodwood Whitsun 4th June 1952 International Trophy, 5th in heat, DNS in final

Amiens 15th June1952, 2nd in heat, 1st in final

The editorial team at Autosport must have got a little bored during the off season at the end of 1950 and proposed a 200 mile race, this in spite of the fact that there were only five finishers in that year's 100 Mile race! Here Ken tactfully responds in the 15th December issue.