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Duncan Hamilton (racing driver)

Duncan Hamilton
Born (1920-04-30)30 April 1920
Died 13 May 1994(1994-05-13) (aged 74)
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality 23x15px British
Active years 1951 – 1953
Teams Talbot-Lago, HWM
Races 5
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 0
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First race 1951 British Grand Prix
Last race 1953 British Grand Prix

Duncan Hamilton (30 April 1920 in Cork, County Cork, Ireland – 13 May 1994 in Sherborne, Dorset, England) was a British amateur racing driver. Born in County Cork, Ireland, he was educated at Brighton College. He flew Lysanders with the Fleet Air Arm in World War II and later ran a garage in Byfleet, Surrey.

Formula One career

He participated in five World Championship Grands Prix and 18 non-Championship Formula One races.[1] His best results in the non-Championship events were fourth place in the 1948 Zandvoort Grand Prix with a Maserati 6CM, third in the 1951 Richmond Trophy (ERA B-Type), second in the 1951 BRDC International Trophy (Talbot-Lago T26C), third in the 1952 Richmond Trophy (Talbot-Lago T26C) and fourth in the 1952 Internationales ADAC Eifelrennen (HWM-Alta).[1]

Le Mans 24 Hours

He also took part in numerous sports car races and contested the 24 Hours of Le Mans nine times, most famously in partnership with Tony Rolt. The pair finished fourth at their first attempt in the 1950 race and sixth in 1951, both times in a special-bodied Nash-Healey coupe. Their Jaguar C-Type did not finish in 1952, but they returned with a C-Type to win in 1953, despite Hamilton colliding with a bird at 130 mph, which broke his nose.[2] They were second with a Jaguar D-Type in 1954 but failed to finish in 1955. For 1956 Hamilton partnered Alfonso de Portago in a Ferrari but again did not finish. In 1957 he reverted to a Jaguar D-Type: partnered by the American driver Masten Gregory he came sixth. His last Le Mans appearance was in 1958, when the D-Type he shared with Ivor Bueb failed to finish.

1953 24 Hours of Le Mans

At the 1953 event Hamilton and Rolt had been disqualified for practising in a car with the same number as another on the circuit at the same time.

Hamilton was a larger-than-life character[clarification needed],[3] and his account of what followed has passed into motor racing legend: by the time Jaguar team manager Lofty England persuaded the organisers to let them race, both drivers were drunk in a local bar; when the race was under way the team tried to sober Hamilton up by giving him coffee during the pit stops but he refused it, saying it made his arms twitch; instead he was given brandy. Lofty England refuted the story: "Of course I would never have let them race under the influence. I had enough trouble when they were sober!"[4] Tony Rolt likewise maintained that it was fiction.[5]

Privateer races

Hamilton also won the 1956 Rheims 12-hour race for Jaguar with a D-Type co-driven by Ivor Bueb. Despite the win, the factory dropped him from their 1956 Le Mans roster for speeding up and passing team-mate Paul Frère's car at Rheims when Lofty England had ordered the entire team to slow down,[6] hence his switch to a Ferrari that year. In 1957 Jaguar did not enter Le Mans – cars and equipment had been destroyed by a fire at the factory – and Hamilton used his privately owned D-Type.


After he retired from racing in 1958 he concentrated on his garage business in Byfleet. He co-wrote an autobiography called Touch Wood!. Duncan Hamilton died in Sherborne, Dorset.[7] His son Adrian Hamilton, a classic car dealer, runs his father's garage in another location today. Duncan's grandson Archie Hamilton is also a racing driver.

Complete World Championship results


Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 WDC Points
1951 Duncan Hamilton Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot-Lago S6 SUI 500 BEL FRA GBR
1952 HW Motors HWM 52 HWM S4 SUI 500 BEL FRA GBR
1953 HW Motors HWM 53 HWM S4 ARG 500 NED BEL FRA GBR



  • Duncan Hamilton and Lionel Scott (ed. Doug Nye): Touch Wood! Duncan Hamilton & Co. 1992 ISBN 0-9516945-0-2.
  • Paul Skilleter: Jaguar Sports Cars GT Foulis & Co. 1976 ISBN 0-85429-166-0
Preceded by
Hermann Lang
Fritz Riess
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1953 with:
Tony Rolt
Succeeded by
José Froilán González
Maurice Trintignant