Algernon Lee Guinness

11/5/1883 - 26/10/1954

Record updated 11-May-20

Sir Algernon Arthur St.Lawrence Lee Guinness, 3rd Baronet of the famous brewing family, specialised in straight-line speed trials and record attempts, setting a world Land Speed Record in 1908.

Algernon Lee Guinness
Algernon Arthur St Lawrence Guinness, of the famous brewing family, started racing at the age of 21 with a Mercedes 60. Throughout his racing career he tended to specialise in straight-line speed trials and record attempts.

His strict upbringing and education at Eton did little to tame Algy who maintained that any law designed to restrict how fast one could go was merely a challenge to be overcome.

Racing cars were hard to obtain but Algy managed to purchase the famous “200hp” V8 Darracq from the factory in 1906. The naked chassis had two seats secured to it and a hand throttle that which he firmly believed was to be kept fully open at all times. His race preparation consisted of towing the Darracq to a long straight that is now part of Blackbushe airfield with his friends who were then dispatched to block off all the side roads. Two lines were laid down one kilometre apart using flour and the times would be taken by his brother Kenelm. The Darracq was a mighty beast and it would not be long before the police would be dispatched from Camberly. However when they arrived all they ever found was a chassis being towed away and Algy making rude signs at them.

Algy was especially successful with the Darracq, winning events in Belgium and France as well as the British Isles, and setting a world Land Speed Record in 1908.

He also took part in circuit events and was a starter in the Tourist Trophy on the Isle of Man every year from 1905 to 1908, always in Darracqs. He finished third in the 1906 race and second in 1908. In the intervening year he raced at the Circuit of Ardennes meeting, leading both the GP event in the 200hp Darracq and the Kaiserpreis race, in a Minerva, finishing third and second respectively.

In 1914 he returned to racing after several years, driving a Sunbeam, retiring in the TT but winning the Beacon Hill hill climb the following month.

In 1915 he succeeded to a baronetcy and assumed the title of Sir Algernon Guinness and raced only once more, in 1922, when he took the place of his brother Kenelm, who was otherwise engaged driving the big 18.3-litre Sunbeam, in the International 1500 Trophy on the Isle of Man. He went on to win the race.

In the First World War he served in the Royal Navy and in WWII he joined the air sea rescue as a Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. During WWI a village near Portsmouth was terrorised by a monkey. Despite the efforts of police, fire brigade and others, all ended up being bitten. Algy volunteered to capture the monkey and, after climbing a ladder and making his way along a roof, he hit the monkey on the head and brought it down in his jacket. He was treated as a hero by the villagers though they were not to know that it was actually Algy's monkey in the first place and that he hit it on the head to cover for the fact that it was willing to come to it's master without a whisper.

After he died in 1954 the 200hp Darracq sprint car was acquired from Lady Guinness by Gerald Firkins, already an owner of a much-loved 1914 Darracq tourer.