Ken Downing (1917-2004) was a British racing driver who was active from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. He was pretty successful in sports car racing and recorded two starts in the Formula 1 World Championship in 1952.
Many victories in national sports car races
Kenneth Henry Downing was born in December 1917 in Chesterton, Staffordshire, in a wealthy family whose interests included manufacturing, transport and garages. He started his racing career at the age 21, first in rallying and then in sports car races. After World War II, he resumed with racing in 1950, participating in sports car events on a national level.
He raced in a Healey Saloon and Connaught L2, scoring sixteen victories in a period between October 1950 and May 1952.
Ken Downing in the #4 Connaught at 1952 British Grand Prix
Formula One debut at 1952 British Grand Prix
In 1952, Downing also decided to try himself in Formula 1. He had a great debut in the non-championship Grand Prix des Frontieres at Chimay in Belgium, finishing second after he lost a lead in the last meters to Paul Frere. In July 1952, Downing made a debut in the Formula 1 World Championship, driving the #4 Connaught Type A in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
He was very good in qualifying, starting from the second row on P5. In the race, he had run fourth when he spun and lost few places. In the end, he was ninth, three laps behind Alberto Ascari (Ferrari).
Ken Downing had a short but successful career
Victory at Madgwick Cup at Goodwood
In August, Downing made his second starts in the F1 Championship, driving the #22 Connaught Type A at Zandvoort. Starting 13th on the grid, he retired from the race after 27 laps due to technical failure.
In September 1952, Downing scored his greatest victory, winning at the Madgwick Cup at Goodwood, the non-championship race for Formula 1 cars.
The last year of racing in an Aston Martin DB3
In 1953, Downing didn't return to Formula 1, recording just several starts in national sports car events in an Aston Martin DB3. He won one race at Silverstone in June, what was in a fact his last race.
He decided to retire from racing soon after. Downing emigrated to South Africa in 1955. Later he lived in Monaco where he died in 2004.