Alan Brown

Alan Brown

20/11/1919 - 20/1/2004

Alan Brown was a star of the 500 cc championships with his F3 Cooper. He moved up to F2 with a Cooper-Bristol and gave the prototype Vanwall its debut at the 1954 International Trophy.

Alan Brown lived in Shamley Green near Guildford. He was an interesting (if slightly pompous) fellow, and certainly had an interesting life. He was a key member of that post war wheeler dealer racing set.

Durning the war he had served under Norman Garrad (the rally driver who would later run the Sunbeam-Talbot works team). Afterwards, Brown started working for Dennis Bros as their Midlands sales rep, Alan sold trucks through a hauler named Bob Hamblin. A brief boom in truck sales made Bob a considerable profit so in 1949, he agreed to buy a Cooper Mk III for Alan to race. Hamblin paid for the car, Alan bought the engines, a truck and trailer.

Alan started his career by finishing second at Great Auclum, second at Luton Hoo, and third at Blandford. Convinced that he had a future, Alan sold the car to another newcomer, Ken Tyrrell and bought a new Mk IV for 1950. Things did not start well, he crashed at Silverstone, and borrowed a replacement for Monaco but crashed again while leading Heat Two. After that, things picked up and Alan took a win, three seconds and a number of third places.

During 1950 he became friends with Jimmy Richmond, a public works and haulage contractor from Nottinghamshire. Jimmy was keen to become involved in racing, but at 22 stones was hardly the ideal shape for Formula 3. Alan Brown convinced Richmond to start racing professionally together in 1951.

Eric Brandon, a friend of Brown and also of John Cooper, agreed to form a two-car team running Cooper Mk Vs with Norton engines. Jimmy Richmond provided a truck to transport the team, and bought two Manx Norton engines. Expenses, prize and start money were to be split three ways. Ecurie Richmond had a very successful year that included 16 major victories plus 41 other heats wins and podium finishes with Alan winning both the Half-Litre Club's Championship and the Light Car Cup, highlights being the victory in the Luxembourg GP and second to Moss in the important BRDC Gold Star.

At the end of 51, some Cooper customers wanted to progress to Formula 2, which seemed set to take over the 1952 World Championship. Grand Prix racing ambitions suddenly seemed within reach and all that was needed was an economically priced, practical F2 car suitable for the private owner. The result was the Cooper-Bristol.

For 1952 he teamed up with Brandon to race the new F2 Cooper-Bristols under the Ecurie Richmond banner, but they were effectively works machines. Things started well when Brown scored two points on the car's Continental debut at Bremgarten and followed this with two sixths, at the Monza Autodrome GP and the Belgian GP at Spa, but it was steadily overtaken by more sophisticated machinery, encouraging Alan to look elsewhere for racing success.

Brown's Cooper-Bristol, chassis No CB/2/52 (ie. the 2nd one built), was driven by Fangio in one race at the Easter Goodwood meeting in 1952 in which Hawthorn starred, but the car misbehaved with a misfire and the Maestro finished 4th. At the end of the year Brown converted the car to a sports car with a Barchetta style body, as did Hawthorn. Brown's car was reg as UPF440, Hawthorn's was HPN???.

Brown sold UPF to a guy who's name I cannot remember, but whoever it was, he died later by failing to notice a continental level crossing and beheading himself (Please email me at rcopeman@dv3.net if you know who this was)! Brown raced HPN in a number of international sports car events.

He gave the prototype Vanwall its debut at the 1954 International Trophy, and raced a Connaught at the same event a year later, but he concentrated on sports cars - Coopers and Connaughts from 1953 to 1955 and then a Jaguar D-Type in 1956, his last season of racing.

He then went on to enter Formula 2 Coopers, giving rides to many aspiring racers, including Innes Ireland, Ken Tyrrell, Peter Ashdown and Mike Taylor. He also had a period of managing saloon cars before retiring from racing to concentrate on car dealing.

John Roberts bought CB/2/52 in 1968 still in UPF/sports car guise and raced it as such in the early form of HSCC racing, known as the Griffiths Formula, before converting it back to a single seater for Historic racing in 1969/70.

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