Former Grand Prix driver Jackie Lewis is celebrating his 75th birthday today!
Lewis competed in two Formula 1 championship seasons between 1961-2, achieving a best finish (also his sole points’ finish) at the 1961 Italian Grand Prix where Phil Hill took the championship crown for Ferrari.
Gloucestershire-born Lewis’ father ran a motorcycle dealership called H&L Motors, and it was with the backing of his dad’s firm that Lewis started in motorcycle racing in 1958 before moving to Formula 3 at the age of 22. His results were good enough for him to graduate into Formula 2 the following year, and he won the 1960 Autocar Formula 2 crown on the back of some competitive wins at Chimay and Montlhery.
The H&L family team decided it would have a crack at Formula 1, buying a Cooper Climax and making its debut at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1961. Lewis finished a strong ninth in his first outing, and qualified well at (but retired from) the following races at Reims and Aintree. Another ninth-placed followed at the Nurburgring, but his proudest moment came with that run to fourth at Monza, beating his compatriots Tony Brooks and Roy Salvadori.
The result saw him offered a works BRM drive, but he turned that down in favour of staying with the family team, now known as Ecurie Galloise in deference to its Welsh roots. Starting out with his old Cooper, he switched to the BRM – finishing a fine third in the non-championship round at Pau – but failed to qualify it at Monaco, before reverting back to his Cooper once again.
He made the headlines for the wrong reasons at Rouen when a brake failure saw him take out Graham Hill, and he decided by mid-season that he’d had enough and retired from the sport to return to the family farm in central Wales.
Lewis would later turn his attention to harness racing – a field in which he achieved much success.
[Original image via F1 Facts]