KEEPING THE SPIRIT ALIVE SINCE 1999

Trevor Taylor - widely recognised as the man behind the yellow stripe down the middle of Team Lotus racing cars.

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22-May-20/historicracing.com/

At Zandvoort in 1962. Photo Horst Baumann

Trevor Taylor was born in Sheffield in 1936. His father Raymond had been in the building trade before WWII and had become good friends with Stan Watson, a well known turner in the North of England.


His father, Raymond, had started racing motorcycles at club level but lack of funds and the outbreak of war prevented any further thoughts of four wheel racing. He passed on his love of motor sport to a young Trevor and took him to Silverstone in 1948 for the International Trophy.

By now Raymond was working at his brother's garage near Rotherham and a 14 year old Trevor and his brother Michael, a year older than him, learned to drive in the yard.

Trevor and Michael in the Ford 8 Special they built together.

Trevor and Michael in the Ford 8 Special they built together.

Trevor left school at 15, joining his father at the family garage. He started racing in 1954 in a special that he built with Michael, based on a Model Y Ford. Christened the X100 it was even featured on a television programme at the time. They entered it in hillclimbs and sprints and had a great deal of fun. It was already apparent that Trevor was the quicker of the two so they agreed that Mike would look after the car and Trevor would be in charge of driving duties.

Trevor's first proper race with the TR2 at Aintree in 1955.

Trevor's first proper race with the TR2 at Aintree in 1955.

Trevor with the Erskine Staride

Trevor with the Erskine Staride

For 1955 his father bought him a TR2 and after a couple of autocross events he entered his first proper race at Aintree. The only memorable thing about the race was being grazed by Archie Scott-Brown on his way past! After a couple of more races the Triumph was replaced by a Staride 500cc F3 car, with which he finished second to Don Parker in his first race. The Staride made way for the ex-Stuart Lewis-Evans Mk8 Cooper-Norton by mid season in 1956, and by the end of the season Trevor was getting more proficient.

Over the winter the Cooper was upgraded to Mk 9 spec and during the year he score a number of wins to finish third in the F3 Championship. With renewed confidence he won the title the following year, 1958.

 

With his family's backing he entered the Formula 2 arena in 1959.

The garage purchased an F2 Cooper for him to race, and he won a minor Libre win at Rufforth, where he beat Jim Clark in the Border Reivers Lister. A few week later at Mallory Park he crashed braking three ribs and destroying the car. Fortunately it was insured and a few weeks later he was back in action but little else of note was achieved.

Colin Chapman offered to run Taylor as part of his Junior team in 1960 if he purchased a Lotus 18, and it proved to be a sound decision for both parties. He had his first continental foray that year at Aix Les Baines in a tragic race which saw Chris Threlfal killed when a bridge collapsed. At Monaco he finished third and with one round to go he was equal on points with Clark. With Clark unable to make the last race, Trevor sportingly called John Eason Gibson and asked if they could share the title.

For 1961 he was taken into the team proper when he again won the title without having to share this time. With Innes Ireland injured at Monaco, Trevor was given his Grand Prix debut at Zandvoort where he finished 13th, and last, in a race unique for its complete lack of a pit stop or retirement. There were a few other Formula 1 outings that year, his best results being a second place in the Rand GP at Kyalami, followed by a win in the Cape GP at Killarney early in 1962.

At the Nürburgring in 1962 with the Lotus 24

At the Nürburgring in 1962 with the Lotus 24

By this time Chapman had placed his faith in the youngster, putting him into the Formula 1 team at the expense of Innes Ireland. A second place at Zandvoort was a great start, but he was shaken up at Spa when a duel with Willy Mairesse left both cars wrecked and the Belgian in hospital. This was followed by an 80 mph crash-test into the back of Trintignant's stalled car at Rouen which left him bruised from head to foot, and at the Nurburgring he was the victim of an engine malady which sent him through a hedge. His confidence was restored at the end of the year, however, when he shared the winning car in the Mexican GP with Clark and then won the Natal GP at Westmead.

Retained for 1963, Taylor took second places at Pau and Karlskoga, but apart from a single point at Monaco was out of luck in championship events. The Mediterranean GP at Enna supplied perhaps Taylor's most astounding escape, when he was pitched from his Lotus at over 100 mph, rolling some 50 yards down the circuit as his car hurtled to destruction. Amazingly he emerged with just grazes and bruising.

Dan Gurney's Brabham BT7 passing Taylor's parked BRP-BRM Mk1 at Zeltweg in 1964

Dan Gurney's Brabham BT7 passing Taylor's parked BRP-BRM Mk1 at Zeltweg in 1964With Peter Arundell knocking at the door, Taylor was released to join the BRP team in 1964, but apart from a sixth place at Watkins Glen there was little to enthuse about in the performances of the pale-green cars. He also raced BMC Mini Cooper Ss in touring cars that year with his sister Anita under the Aurora Gear Racing banner.

At the 1966 British Grand Prix with the Shannon

At the 1966 British Grand Prix with the Shannon

Without a regular F1 drive, Trevor raced a Brabham in Formula 2 during 1965-66, though he was briefly involved in the amateurish Shannon F1 project, which represented the nadir of his career.

From 1967 he went back to basics, first running a Lotus 47 with encouraging results before moving up to a Lola T70 to win the 1969 Tourist Trophy at Oulton Park. This was the inaugural year of F5000, and Trevor took his Surtees TS5 right to the brink of a championship win before losing out to Peter Gethin after the pair collided in the final round at Brands Hatch.

Trevor continued in the formula throughout the next three seasons, always a competitive proposition but never quite the force of that first year. At the end of 1972 he brought the curtain down on a sometimes unlucky career, but the fact that he had emerged intact after some of those early mishaps was probably cause enough for him to count his blessings.

Trevor Taylor died from cancer at the age of 73 in 2010.


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