DRIVERS: LES LESTON

Name: Les Leston
Nationality: Great Britain
Date of birth: December 16, 1920 - Nottingham

Born in 1920, Leston began racing in a Jaguar SS100 in 1949 before deciding to switch to 500cc Formula 3 racing in 1950 with a Keift chassis. The following year he began winning races and in 1952 won 16 races in his own Les Leston Special. That led to the chance of a works drive with Cooper and more wins in 1953 and 1954. In the second season he was the British F3 champion and expanded his activities to include a programme with Connaught sports cars. He also raced a Cooper in a number of Formula Libre races. This led to a number of drives in F1 races with Connaught in 1955. He continued to win in F3 and raced Cooper sports cars as well.

It was not until 1956 that he made his debut in the World Championship, driving a Connaught at Monza. For most of the year he concentrated on running his own F2 programme with a Cooper but he continued to win in sports cars and enjoyed some success in non-championship F1 events, finishing second in a race at Brands Hatch and third at Goodwood.

In 1957 he continued to race in F2 while also joining the Aston Martin sports car team. He failed to qualify a Cooper at Monaco that year but did appear in a BRM at the British GP at Aintree. The 1958 season would be a low key one for Leston as he had a huge accident while racing a Lotus F2 car during the Grand Prix of Caen in Normandy after the engine seized.

After that he turned his attention to building up a racewear and accessory business but continued to compete in races and rallies in a variety of different machines including a Riley, a Volvo and a Lotus Elite in the 1960s. He won the British saloon car championship in 1958 and the British GT series in 1961 and was a regular rally driver in events such as the Monte Carlo Rally, the Tour de France Automobile, the Alpine Rally and the Liege-Sofia-Liege. His business proved to be highly successful and included a shop in London but in the 1970s Leston decided to move to Hong Kong where he worked successfully as a broadcaster before retiring to England in the mid 1980s.

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