1/5/1884 - 26/7/1964
The 'Grand Old Man' who didn't start racing until he was 44, suffered numerous 'prangs' and mechanical failures, but Francis Curzon, 5th Earl of Howe, dusted himself off each time and just got on with things.Francis Curzon died 57 years ago, he was 80
Howe sporting his cloth cap which he even wore to Parliament with his 1927 1.5 litre Delage
Francis Richard Henry Penn Curzon, 5th Earl Howe, CBE was born in May 1884 in Mayfair, London. After school he followed the family tradition of joining the Royal Navy and served his country during the First World War seeing action in Turkey, Greece, France and Belgium. He also served as ADC (aide-de-camp) to King George V.
After the war he entered politics and in 1918 won the Battersea South seat for the Conservative Party. He liked cars and owned a 30/98 Vauxhall and a 3 litre Sunbeam but it was his friendship with Malcolm Campbell that finally got him interested in racing and in 1928, at the age of 44, he purchased a Type 43 Bugatti. He raced it at Brooklands in May failing to finish however in June he finished second in the Surbiton 150 mile race (hard to imagine a less glamorous name for a race!). Later in the year he entered the Type 43 in the TT and also raced a 1750cc Alfa Romeo in hillclimbs and sprints and acquired the ex-Carraciola Mercedes 28-250 SS which was painted, as were all his cars, in his racing colours of blue and silver (He hated British Racing Green and lobbied the British Authorities to change the national colour to Blue with a Union Jack).
Howe in the Type 43 during the 1928 TT. He retired with a fuel leak.
In 1929 his father died and he succeeded to the title becoming the 5th Earl Howe. He increased his racing and added Campbell's 1.5 litre Delage to his stable along with a Type 51 and a Type 54 Bugatti. Affectionately nicknamed the 'Old Man' he drove with courage and speed though he did have a number of fairly large accidents. He wrote off one of his Delages at Monza and on his 54th birthday he had a big one in his ERA at Brooklands, summersaulting end over end and ending up being hospitalised. Despite the severity of his injuries he was back racing in a few months having lost none of his passion for the sport.
As a member of Parliament he had come in for considerable criticism for the number of speeding tickets he got and I understand that he was a terrifying man to drive with on the road.
On the way to winning the 1931 le Mans 24hr race with Tim Birkin in the Alfa-romeo 8C-2300.
He took a number of wins including the Avusrennen in 1932 with the 1.5 litre Delage 15S8. He raced at le Mans six times between 1929 and 1935, only missing 1933, and in 1931 he won the race with Tim Birkin in an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 LM. In 1933 he entered the Mille Miglia with a team of K3 MG Magnettes, winning the team prize. He also won the 1938 Grosvenor Grand Prix at the wheel of his ERA.
Howe with Rudolf Caracciola at Donnington in 1937
Though he was always keen to help young drivers with the right attitude, he never permitted his son Richard to race, despite the fact that he had shown great promise. he did enter a few races when his father was out of the country, racing under a nom de Volant, but he was caught and further participation was out of the question. Richard maintained his passion for racing and did go on to serve as President of the BARC.
Still sporting his trademark cloth cap at Goodwood in 1953 with Mike Hawthorn.
During his career he raced at least twenty one different cars but then came further hostilities and WWII put an end to any further racing. When the dust had settled in 1945 he was too old for any further action though he continued to play a key part in the development of motor sport in Britain, both as President of the BRDC (which he had co-founded with Dudley Benjafield in April 1928) and Patron of the 500 Club. Earl Howe died in July 1964. His daughter, Lady Sarah Curzon, married Formula 1 driver Piers Courage and his great-granddaughter Cressida Bonas is an ex girlfriend of Prince Harry’s