- December 16, 1932
- October 24, 2013
- United Kingdom
- Not Active
Henry Taylor (1932-2013) was a British racing and rally driver who recorded eight starts in Formula One World Championship Grand Prix races from 1959 to 1961. After retiring from single-seater racing, Taylor competed in touring car races and rally events until 1965. Following his retirement from rallying, he worked for Ford as a competition manager.
During his car racing career, Henry Taylor was also competing in bobsleigh. In 1964, he combined car racing and bobsleigh racing, driving a Ford Cortina down the bobsleigh track in Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Formula 3 champion early in a career
Born in December 1932 in Shefford, Bedfordshire, Henry Taylor competed in speedway before switching to four wheels in 1954, driving a Cooper Mk IV-Vincent in Formula 3.
In 1955, his first full season of racing, he won British F3 JAP championship in a Cooper Mk VIII-JAP. Next year, he defended a title in a Cooper Mk X-JAP.
Taylor was successful bobsleigh competitor
Because of his love of speed, Taylor also started another racing career in bobsleigh competitions in 1956. That year, he won the Fairchilds Morgan Cup on St Moritz’s Cresta Run. Next year, he finished second in the European Four Man Junior Championship in Switzerland.
In 1958, Taylor and Robin Dixon (Lord Glentoran) were representing Great Britain at the World Bobsleigh Championship.
Racing with Jaguar D-Type since 1956
In a car racing, Taylor started to race with Jaguar D-Type in 1956. He was pretty successful, scoring some podiums and wins in national sports car races.
In May 1957, he gained his first international success, finishing third in the Belgian Grand Prix support race at the wheel of Jaguar D-Type, behind Aston Martin drivers Tony Brooks and Roy Salvadori. Two weeks later, Taylor participated at 1000 km of Nurburgring, a part of the FIA World Sportscar Championship, not finishing the race due to an accident.
Formula 1 Grand Prix debut in 1959
In 1958, Taylor continued a single-seater career in the Formula 2 races. Driving the Cooper T45-Climax, he won the Grand Prix race at Montlhery circuit. In the sports car races, he was driving mostly Lotus Eleven.
In 1959, Henry Taylor graduated to Formula One. He was given a seat in Reg Parnell's #58 Cooper T51-Climax in the British Grand Prix at the Aintree Circuit. He finished 12th, six laps behind race winner Jack Brabham.
Le Mans 24h debut with Ferrari
In 1959, Taylor joined Aston Martin in some sports car races but not at Le Mans. He continued a cooperation with British manufacturer in 1960, driving an Aston Martin DBR1 at Nurburgring 1000 km together with Graham Whitehead.
A month later, in June 1960, Taylor made a debut at 24 Hours of Le Mans alongside Graham Whitehead. They were driving the #15 Ferrari 250 GT SWB. After 258 laps and 21 hours of racing, while Taylor was driving, an engine blew up and they had to retire.
Four starts in the 1960 Formula 1 season
Taylor's Formula 1 career continued in 1960 with the British Racing Partnership (renamed to Yeoman Credit Racing Team). He made a debut with the team in the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, finishing 7th in the #10 Cooper T51-Climax.
In the next race, the French Grand Prix at Reims-Gueux circuit, Taylor finished fourth, what remained his career-best F1 result. He recorded two more starts with BRP, finishing 8th in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and 14th in the US Grand Prix at Riverside International Raceway.
In 1960, Taylor was also driving for Ken Tyrrell's Formula Junior team, winning one time in the championship and the non-championship Monaco Grand Prix.
Serious crash at 1961 British GP
In 1961 Formula 1 season, the British Racing Partnership contested under the name of UDT Laystall Racing Team and switched to Lotus-Climax racs. Taylor stayed with the team, having the first race at Monaco Grand Prix, where he failed to qualify. He then finished 10th in the French Grand Prix and came to Aintree Circuit to race in the British Grand Prix.
Unfortunately, he had a serious accident early in the race, suffering internal injuries. However, he returned to F1 race car one more time in the Italian Grand Prix two months later. The race at Monza was marked by a fatal accident of Wolfgang von Trips which killed him and fifteen spectators. Taylor finished 11th in that race and then decided to race never more in single-seaters.
Driving Fords in rally events until 1965
Following his withdrawal from single-seater racing, Taylor switched a focus on rallying. Earlier in 1961, he participated at Rallye Monte-Carlo in a Ford Anglia, finishing 26th. In November 1961, he entered RAC Rally and finished 9th in a Ford Anglia.
In 1962, he was driving Ford Anglia and Ford Zodiac in selected European Rally Championship events, expanding his schedule in 1963. That year, he was driving Ford Cortina Lotus of Ford Cortina GT, finishing third in the European Rally Championship.
Taylor participated in rally events with Ford until 1965, scoring few ERC podiums but never winning a rally. His co-driver for entire rally career was Brian Melia.
Racing with Ford Cortina Lotus
While rallying with Fords between 1961 and 1965, Taylor was also racing with Fords in touring car competitions. He scored few European Touring Car Challenge podiums in Ford Cortina Lotus and won the hill climb race at Mont Ventoux. At 1964 Spa 24 Hours, Henry Taylor and Peter Harper didn't finish the race.
Taylor continued to drive Alan Mann Racing's Ford Cortina Lotus in 1965, closing his racing career at the end of the year.
Taylor invented auto-bobbing in 1964
One of the highlights of Taylor's racing career was his stunt drive with Ford Cortina Lotus down the bobsleigh track in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. The stunt was some kind of celebration of Ford Cortina's two hundred victories in previous years. After Taylor did it, many other drivers successfully raced down the ice-covered track, inventing the auto-bobbing discipline.
After retiring from racing, Taylor didn't leave motorsport completely because he continued to work for Ford as a competition manager. Taylor was a life member of the British Racing Drivers Club, of which he became a vice-president after eight years as a director. He died in October 2013.