Archie Scott Brown

Chairman`s note:
 
Please forgive my indulgence but when I was 13 years old and not yet fitted with artificial legs my uncle Frank took me to Silverstone and I saw Archie who raced the famous "Knobbly" Listers so when Marshall`s of Cambridge kindly invited me to the unveiling of the blue plaque in his honour I just had to pose by a Lister Jaguar!

Archie was truly an inspiration. He really was the first driver with disabilities to race at the highest level.

As it was, one of nature’s few compensations proved to be an unerring sense of balance, which he was able to use to good effect when he started competitive driving.
  
 His racing accident and untimely death at Spa did have profound repercussions regarding the sports legislation which then severely discriminated against disabled drivers participating in motorsport events for decades to come.
 

An Appreciation
Archie was born on May 13th, 1927 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.

The arrival of their son Archie proved to be a hammer blow; he was dreadfully handicapped with radically deformed legs and right arm.  Only a prolonged series of painful operations would permit him to walk at all, and one of Bill’s first decisions was to build his son a miniature motor car, an act which would serve to bond Archie and the automobile firmly together for the duration of his brief life.

I rather think that Archie Scott Brown would have been a great driver, and a great man, even without his disabilities.  As it was, one of nature’s few compensations proved to be an unerring sense of balance, which he was able to use to good effect when he started competitive driving in 1951 in the MG which a modest legacy permitted him to buy.  The car still exists, in fact, and is here today.  His relationship with two others, Brian Lister and Don Moore, dates from his time as it became clear that however odd his appearance (he would never be more than five feet tall) his skill was altogether of a higher order than either man had experienced so far.  Swiftly, he took to driving Brian Lister’s fearsome Tojeiro special, and when the idea of building a car bearing the Lister family name was mooted, Archie was the obvious choice as a driver.
 
Not everyone agreed; when he entered the 1954 British Empire Trophy race and a wider world caught sight of him, an entrant who himself was one-armed due to an accident, protested that Archie should be banned from competing.  His competition licence was revoked and for two months, during which a persistent lobby in the press developed, his chosen career hung in the balance.
Sanity prevailed, and by the Summer of 1954 all was well again, whereupon the motor racing career of Archie Scott Brown took off and pleasingly he won the Empire Trophy race in 1955.  By 1957, after an unhappy experiment with Maserati power, the Lister chassis was powered by a Jaguar engine and, up against the best of the fully funded works teams, this awesome machine – Archie’s missile – became a benchmark for the classic front-engined sports racing car.  Its lack of decent brakes troubled the driver not at all; if they failed, he announced, he would: “carry on without them, old boy.”

But that was not why he was great; as his memorial plaque at Snetterton celebrates, he “represented everything that was best in the sport”.  Or any other sport, for that matter; when he was banned from the 1956 Grand Prix, he merely shrugged, flew to Geneva and bought himself a fine watch.  In a world where many sports stars calculate their own narrow interests down to very fine tolerances indeed, it is all too easy to forget people like Archie.

He died as he had lived; on the limit, and probably ‘going too bloody fast’ at the Sports Car Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps in May 1958.  He was thirty-one.

Robert Edwards

Photo right - Brian Lister & Murray Walker
 
George Lister & Sons Ltd is one of the oldest companies in Cambridge.  In 1890 George set up a small company offering an engineering service.  It grew and prospered in the first half of the 20th Century into a medium sized organisation.
In 1954 Brian Lister, grandson of the founder, wished to gain the Company some publicity through the medium of motor racing.  He produced a car for his friend and fellow competitor Archie Scott Brown to drive and another friend, Don Moore, to tune. 
 
The combination of Lister, Scott Brown and Moore was an immediate success.  Less than 50 cars were made between 1954 and 1959 but these cars have won or been placed well over 2000 times world-wide since then.

George Lister and Sons Ltd are still in business making capital equipment and components for many companies in this, their 114th year of operation.

The Lister marque is now represented by Lister Cars of Leatherhead who are having similar success to the original cars on circuits throughout the world.