Brian Shawe-Taylor

Brian Shawe-Taylor

29/1/1915 - 1/6/1999

Although he only drove in two world championship grands prix, Shawe-Taylor was a regular and accomplished competitor on the British domestic Formula 1 scene in the late 1940s at a time that the calendar included many such events for elderly grand prix cars such as the 1936 ERA which this Dublin-born driver acquired. Educated at Shrewsbury school, Shawe-Taylor came from an Anglo-Irish landowning family and spent his childhood at Moore Park, Athenry, in County Galway, coming England after his father, Frank Shawe-Taylor, was killed in a Sinn Fein ambush while on the way to market in 1920. Before the war he also studied German in Freiburg before serving as an anti-aircraft gunner during the war, prior to which he had raced once at Donington Park in the summer of 1939, sharing an ERA with Robert Ansell in the Nuffield trophy race where they finished fourth. In 1948 he shared an ERA with Geoff Ansell in the first British grand prix to be held at Silverstone, although this was not a proper title round as the official world championship would not start for another two years. In 1950 his ERA entry was turned down for the same race - ostensibly because it was too old fashioned looking - but he shared a private Maserati owned by Joe Fry and finished tenth. Ironically, two other ERAs driven by Bob Gerard and Cuth Harrison finished sixth and seventh. In 1951 Shawe-Taylor acquired a later ERA and enjoyed significant successes in the regular round of British national Formula 1 races which preceded the main international season. He finished fourth behind Reg Parnell's Thinwall Special Ferrari and the Maseratis of reigning world champion Giuseppe Farina and 1949 British GP winner Baron Emannuel de Graffenried in the Festival of Britain Trophy at Goodwood in May. However, the following month Shawe-Taylor produced the very best result of his career in the 200 mile Ulster Trophy race over 27 laps of the challenging Dundrod road circuit outside Belfast. Behind Farina's winning factory Alfa Romeo 159 and Parnell's Thinwall Special, Shawe-Taylor fought tooth and nail with Bob Gerard, the acknowledged ERA driving ace of that era, to beat his rival into third place by two-tenths of a second. Soon afterwards he finished fifth at Le Mans, sharing an Aston Martin with George Abecassis. What made this such a remarkable performance was the fact that Shawe-Taylor spent much of the race being unsettled by an overzealous marshal who kept waving the blue overtaking flag at him on one particular corner. Taking one hand off the wheel to shake a fist at the enthusiastic official, Shawe-Taylor almost lost control of his car but controlled the resultant skid with great skill and still managed to keep ahead of Gerard. Although the ERA was significantly outclassed by the Italian opposition, Shawe-Taylor finished eighth in the 1951 British Grand Prix at Silverstone on a day which was marked by Ferrari's first ever world championship victory by Froilan Gonzalez. Shawe-Taylor's racing career ended just three months later during the Daily Graphic Trophy race at Goodwood, being hurled from his car after a collision with Antonio Branca's Maserati on the second lap. He was taken to hospital where he remained unconscious for many weeks. Eventually he made a full recovery, but was never to race again. Thereafter Brian Shawe-Taylor - whose elder brother Desmond was to become a respected music critic - worked at GCHQ in Cheltenham, the city in which he had previously established a garage business to prepare his racing cars, up until his retirement in 1980 at the age of sixty-five.

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