20/6/1918 - 3/5/1951
Having started in motorcycle speedway, Alf switched to 500cc F3 in 1950 with his own car the JBS. A tallented driver destined for greater things, he was killed in the F3 Grand Prix de Luxembourg the following year. Alfred Bottoms died 71 years ago, he was 33
Alfred John Herbert Bottoms was born in Kensington, London. After the war he started competing in motocycle speedway racing, riding for Rye House (Hertfordshire) in 1945.
For 1946 he signed for the Wembley Lions and went on to win the League Championship with them. After a quiet year in 1947, he joined the Southampton Saints as captain for 1948 and helped the team win promotion.
In 1949 he returned to Wembley. If he even ran last, the crowd would chant 'Alf Bottoms is behind'. He quit speedway at the end of 1949 and moved to circuit racing.
1950 he entered 500cc F3 racing with his own chassis, the JBS-Norton (James Bottoms and Son). Developed from the Cowlan Special of Coward and Lang, and featuring a multi tubular chassis and mid mounted engine, the car was very competitive and consistently challenged the more established Coopers. The team was run by his father "Pop" and his brother, Charlie.
In 1950 Alf won the Première Coupe des Racers 500, the Challenge Robert Benoist, raced at Rheims in hot conditions, Ronald "Curly" Dryden took the lead but was soon passed by Alf. By the fourth lap Alf had opened up a gap on the field, though he was still closely followed by Ake Jonsson's Effyth. On the fifth lap Bottoms had 2.3 seconds over Jonsson. Dryden, the next driver, however was already half a minute behind the leader. The Coopers of Stirling Moss, Harry Schell and Raymond Sommer all struggled in the high temperatures. By lap seven his lead was up to seven seconds and two laps later it was 21 seconds. Pressing on at an amazing speed he won the thirteen-lap event by more than forty-seven seconds over Jonsson. Only three of the twenty four starters finished on the same lap. Moss, in a lightweight Cooper/JAP engine, was one of the ones to finish a lap down in sixth place. It was Alf Bottoms' finest race.
He took a win at Blandford and a third place at Silverstone in August. He also took a third place at Silverstone. Then at the Grand Prix de Luxembourg held on the Finden street circuit, a 3.76-kilometer long triangular course located beside the main Luxemburg airport, Alf crashed in practice. His throttle stuck open at the hairpin bend which connected the two fastest straights, probably due to getting his shoe caught in the pedals as he was not wearing his usual racing footwear. The car left the track going flat out down an escape road Unfortunately a car had been parked there and the JBS went under the vehicle killing Alf instantly.
Alf’s father carried on building and preparing the JBS cars and drivers included Peter Collins, Don Parker, "Curly" Dryden and Les Leston. But 'Pop' was dogged by bad luck and tragedy. First Alf's younger brother died in a motorcycle accident, then Charles was injured in an F3 crash at Brands Hatch. 1951 ended with another fatal accident in the last event of the season at Castle Combe when Dryden was killed when his car rolled on the first lap.