Sir Francis Samuelson

Sir Francis Samuelson

22/2/1890 - 8/1/1981

Sir Francis Samuelson, fourth Baronet of Bodicote, raced before WWI and after WWII becoming probably the oly driver to do so. Raced in cyclecars then sports cars, particularly MGs and finaly 500cc F3.

Sir Francis Samuelson inherited the title of the fourth Baronet of Bodicote in 1946 on the death of his father. His family made a considerable fortune from the iron industry, owning the Britannia Steel Works in Banbury.

He was interested in cars from an early age and started racing in 1908. He raced before World War I in cyclecars. In fact on his honeymoon in France, he even had his new bride compete with him as his riding mechanic.

After WWI while still a Captain, he returned to racing, driving an Austin 7 at Le Mans in 1925 with Gordon England, they went out with a holed radiator.

He competed with his 2 Litre Lagonda, racing at Le Mans in 1928, driving with F King. However they crashed on lap 14 when they were hit from behind by the car of Baron d'Erlanger. He also drove in the Monte Carlo Rally a number of times. Once in 1929 he drove the whole rally himself as his co-driver having been taken ill and unable to take part, his long suffering wife duly navigated.

In 1930 he drove at Le Mans with Freddy Kindell in an MG M type. They did not finish, going out after 458Km.

In 1931 he competed in the German Grand Prix with a MG Midget C type 'Montlhery' and was back at Le Mans with a MG Midget C Type once again driving with Freddy Kindell. Though they finished 7th they were disqualified as their last lap took over half an hour!

He was back at le Mans in 1932 in an MG C Type with Norman Black but once again failed to finish. He then retired from racing for a number of years.

After the Second World War, he had moved to the South Downs and taken up farming and become active in the local hunt. Despite being well into his fifties, his racing interest was re-kindled by the 500cc F3 movement.

In September 1947, he drove the original Marwyn prototype at the Brighton Speed Trials, finishing third. Realising, as did everyone who ever drove one, that it was a difficult car to control, he ordered a Mark II Cooper.

In March 1948 he shared the works Mk II with John Cooper at Luton Hoo, finishing last of the five classified runners. By June, he had taken delivery his own car. In October he finished third at the Grand Prix meeting at Silverstone.

A regular top ten finisher in 1949, he also raced overseas travelling to Brussels in May and Zandvoort in July. He also helped to organis the British entries in France's first Formula 3 race at Montlhery in April 1950.

In 1951 he aquired a new Mark V Cooper and continued racing, especially on the continent.

Gradually he cut down his racing though he did continue to compete in VSCC events into the 1970s. He was probably the only man to have raced competetively before WWI and after WWII.


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