“He continued to rocket round to the end, passing Lewis-Evans as though he was touring – as, indeed, he was relatively, with victory well in his grasp. The final order was thus: Lewis-Evans, Fairman, Flockhart, Brabham, Russell and Brooks – such a result could never, surely, have been anticipated beforehand. Verily, the bookmakers’ delight!”.
It was a terrific win for Lewis-Evans upon his Formula 1 debut, just like his exemplar Brooks two years before, again driving a Connaught, in the 1955 Syracuse GP. Stuart had been born in Luton in 1930, the son of Lewis ‘Pop’ Lewis-Evans, who had at one time worked as a mechanic for Earl Howe. Stuart served an apprenticeship with Vauxhall Motors before becoming a National Service despatch rider in the Army’s Royal Corps of Signals. His ambition to become a racing driver. ‘Pop’ had a small garage business in Walling, Kent, and a young wheeler-dealer operating nearby was one Bernard Charles ‘Bernie’ Ecclestone – who was another convert to 500 racing. Fifty-one years old ‘Pop’ Lewis-Evans and son Stuart shared the driving of their green and cream Cooper Mark IV through 1951 with sufficient success to invest in a pair of Mk Vs for the following year.
At the 1952 BRDC Silverstone May meeting, Stuart scored his first big win, defeating the established stars, Alan Brown and Stirling Moss. He became a 500cc Formula 3 star driver. His sparse physical frame made him ideally suited to the class. Since that time, many references have been made to his ability to maintain incredible pace for short periods, before he would begin to tire. He certainly looked frail, and he did develop a problem with stomach ulcers.
Bernie Ecclestone became his friend and advisor, and when Stuart graduated to Formula 1 – as with the Connaught at Goodwood in ’57 – he would accompany him to many events. Mr. E still goes quiet, thoughtful and genuinely misty-eyed in unguarded moments if one speaks to him about Lewis-Evans. “He was a really good bloke” – he will admit – “and yes, I did carry milk around for him to get him comfortable before a long race”.
Stuart Lewis-Evans’s 500cc race wins included particularly fine drives in the wet at Silverstone in 1952, a hat-trick at Orleans, France, 1953-5, Italian race wins at such romantic road-racing venues as Senigallia and Teramo.
Rodney Clarke of Connaught first asked him to drive for the team at Brands Hatch in October 1956. As a 500cc regular he was a Brands expert, and he immediately finished second behind little one-handed Archie Scott-Brown’s sister car. Into 1957 his second outing as a works Connaught driver produced the Glover Trophy win. He ran second in the Naples GP, before the ailing Connaught team – fast running out of money, and hope – went to Monaco. When Connaught collapsed, Ferrari offered the young Englishman a sports car drive at Le Mans. He certainly showed sufficient stamina co-drove the first Ferrari home, fifth, sharing with Martino Severi.