DRIVERS: KENNETH MCALPINE
Name: Kenneth McAlpine
Nationality: Great Britain
Date of birth: September 21, 1920 - Chobham
The McAlpine Family is famous in Britain as a dynasty of civil engineering barons, dating back to 1869 when Robert McAlpine, a miner turned bricklayer, built up a construction company using innovative techniques, notably the use of concrete. This made construction cheaper than the traditional techniques with stone and McAlpine, who gained the nickname "Concrete Bob", went on to build railways, roads and hundreds of public buildings, notably Wembley Stadium. The family business was carried on by his sons.
Kenneth McAlpine was thus born into wealth in Surrey and in his late twenties he developed an interest in racing cars. He acquired a Whitney Straight Maserati 8CM, which he took to Bugatti specialists Continental Cars at Send where Mike Oliver and Rodney Clarke prepared and developed the car for him. McAlpine was impressed and agreed to fund the construction of a sports car in 1950. The following year the Connaught company built Formula 2 machines and McAlpine took one to second place in the Daily Mail Trophy at Boreham. This led to an expansion in 1952 and there was a works team with McAlpine and Clark being joined by Ken Downing and others. These included Reg Parnell and Mike Hawthorn.
This led to more customer sales and many of the new young racing heroes cut their teeth with the cars, notably Stirling Moss. When the Formula 2 regulations were adopted for the World Championship in 1953, the Connaughts became Grand Prix cars although they were rarely a match for international machinery. However Tony Brooks did give the team an amazing victory in 1955 at Syracuse, beating the factory Maserati team. Connaught thus achieved the first British victory on the Continent since 1924.
By 1955 however, McAlpine found less time for racing and stood down as a driver, allowing Archie Scott-Brown, Jack Fairman, Ron Flockhart and Stuart Lewis-Evans to lead the attack. By 1957 however Connaught had run out of money and although the cars were sold to Lewis-Evans's manager Bernie Ecclestone, they were never very competitive.
McAlpine went on to work in the family business while also running his own subsidiaries, including McAlpine Helicopters. He also set up the Lamberhurst Vineyard in Kent and has done much to promote wine-growing in Britain.