Last week many of the F1 headlines were occupied by issues connected with Lotus. Overwhelmingly, there was the row between Tony Fernandes and the Proton top brass over who can use which name under which circumstances.
Then there was the news that the F1 team – whether it eventually ends up titled Team Lotus or Lotus Racing – has terminated its Cosworth engine contract for 2011 and instead will be using Renault V8 power. And there was also recorded the death of Trevor Taylor the age of 73.
A sad day indeed for dyed-in-the-wool fans of F1. Taylor’s name may be remembered by only relatively few aficionados, but in 1962 and 63 he was the Lotus team-mate to the legendary Jimmy Clark and a very fine driver in his own right. And from an era when F1 was not all private jets and offshore bank accounts.
More than a decade after Trevor’s retirement I interviewed him one rainy day in the Rotherham suburb of Wickersley. It was not a glamorous location but we spent a couple of memorable hours chatting in the salubrious setting of the local Little Chef. Monaco it certainly wasn’t.
Trev won the 1960 British F/Junior title and retained it solo in 1961 before he joined Clark in the Lotus F1 line-up the following year. Taylor, who cut a dashing figure in his bright yellow helmet and overalls, managed a second place to Graham Hill’s BRM in the ’62 Dutch GP at Zandvoort, but that was about the sum total of his F1 achievement.
He was lucky to survive a horrifying collision with the tempestuous Willy Mairesse’s Ferrari at Spa, hit Maurice Tringtignant at Rouen and was hurled from the cockpit as his Lotus 25 somersaulted at Enna Pergusa in Sicily, lucky to escape with a few grazes and bruises.
Colin Chapman replaced Taylor with Peter Arundell in 1964. He joined that other cast-aside Lotus star Innes Ireland in the BRP-BRM squad, but only until it closed its doors at the end of that year. From then on it was sports car racing and Formula 5000, with mixed success, through to his retirement in 1972.
Trevor Taylor was always in awe of Jimmy Clark whom he referred to as ‘that fine man.’ Taylor himself could be bracketed in the same category. He was also a far better racing driver than the record books suggest.