Ivor Léon John Bueb, born on 6 June 1923 in East Ham, Essex, was a British professional sports car, racing car, and Formula One driver, as well as being known for being a fun-loving, extrovert garage owner from Cheltenham. He drove for Jaguar from 1954 to 1957, winning Le Mans in both 1955 and 1957, then drove for the Scottish team Ecurie Ecosse before dying in a racing accident at the age of only 36.
While taking care of his garage business, he started his racing career in a Formula Three 500 cc Cooper in 1953 (aged 30), harbouring ambitions to drive in Formula One, from the outset. At the 1954 Brighton Speed Trials he broke the record for 500 cc racing cars. He drove for the Cooper Works team throughout 1955 entering 22 races, taking nine 1st places, six 2nd and one 3rd.
1955 – Le Mans 24 Hour Race
In November 1954 ‘Lofty’ England organised a formal driver test session with the new D-types XKC 404 and XKD 406, at Silverstone. Bueb was one of the seven drivers tested along with: Don Beauman; Bob Berry; Geoff Duke; Ninian Sanderson; Jimmy Stewart and Peter Walker. The track started off damp and by the time it was described as ‘semi-dry’, Bob Berry had recorded a best of 1 minute 54.5 seconds, with Peter Walker on 1-57, Jimmy Stewart on 1-58 and Ninian Sanderson on 2-01. Although Bueb’s time isn’t recorded he must have impressed as he was one of the drivers selected to drive for Jaguar for the following year’s Le Mans 24 race.
For the 1955 Le Mans race three D-types were transported by air, instead of being driven all the way down as in previous years, and entered for the race. Mike Hawthorn was partnered with Ivor Bueb in XKD 505 (trade plate 774 RW), 1953 winners Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton were in XKD 506 (732 RW) and Don Beauman and Norman Dewis in XKD 508 (194 WK).
Three and a half hours into the race, during a duel between Hawthorn and Bueb’s D-type and the Mercedes SLR of Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss, an accident involving the Mercedes of Pierre Levegh and the Austin-Healey of Lance Macklin took place in front of the pits. This tragic accident claimed the lives of over 80 spectators and Levegh himself. Hours later the Mercedes team withdrew from the race as a sign of respect to the victims, giving Jaguar a 1-2 lead with Hawthorn/Bueb in front of Rolt/Hamilton. After Rolt/Hamilton retired due to their gearbox seizing, Hawthorn/Bueb not only won the race at an average speed of 107.067 mph for a total distance of 2,569.601 miles, but set a new record.
The short-nose D-type of the Belgian team, Ecurie Francorchamps, driven by Jacques Swaters and Johnny Claes finished third behind the Aston Martin DB3S of Peter Collins and Paul Frère.
Due to the accident, Jaguar’s celebrations were muted. “Had it not been for this accident the race would have been one of the most interesting in the history of Le Mans”, reckoned Bill Heynes. “Fangio and Hawthorn were perfectly matched in the first three hours. It is doubtful whether Ivor Bueb, who was driving for the first time for Jaguar, could have held Stirling Moss… but it was almost certain that, despite the assistance of air brakes, the trouble which Mercedes were having with their drum brakes would have influenced the end of the race. I think the great thing about ’55, was that in spite of the accident, which might have set Hawthorn back a lot, he still drove in a magnificent manner in bloody awful conditions, and Ivor Bueb, who had never driven in a long-distance race, or in a race at night, did a perfect job of driving with him. The two of them did a wonderful job”.
Speculation about what / who had caused the crash was rife in international press for months, some of aimed at Jaguar and Hawthorn. Jaguar issued an instruction to their dealers that no publicity was to be given to the victory.
1956 – Racing For Jaguar
For the Sebring, Florida, 12-Hours race, in March 1956, England teamed Duncan Hamilton with Ivor Bueb. Four D-types were entered jointly by Jaguar and Briggs Cunningham. Unfortunately, the works Jaguars did not win – Hamilton and Bueb (XKD 508) retired with overheating brakes – and it was Ferrari that took the first two places. England recalled: “The brake temperatures were quite incredible – something like 1,200 degrees C. We were still using round-pad brakes and when a car stopped in practice the brake hoses almost caught fire, so we had to bind them with asbestos. And of course the higher the temperature, the quicker the rate of wear. In the race Hawthorn led but simply ran out of brakes. Then my dear friend Duncan arrived in the pit with the wheels locked, causing the pad to weld to the disc. Ivor got in and about five yards later half the pad came off”.
Jaguar were much more successful at the 1956 Reims 12 hour race at the end of June. The D-types dominated the race and as it drew to a close the three leading cars were Frère / Hawthorn, Hamilton / Bueb (in XKD 605, the last but one D-type built) and Titterington / Fairman. They were signalled by England to hold position and cross the finish line in that order, but Hamilton could not resist speeding up to set a new lap record and in doing so overtook Paul Frère, coming in first. England was not pleased and while Hamilton tried to make light of the fact that he ignored a team order, Lofty England sacked him on the spot. Jaguar could not have someone who treated the business of racing in such a cavalier manner, so while the race win was good for Bueb, Hamilton was out.
England recalls, “When Ivor came in for the last stop, I said to Duncan, whom I could see was up to something, ‘No nonsense, Duncan, you will win this race anyway, Frère’s got to make another stop’. So Hamilton gets in, goes like a lunatic and completely ignores all pit signals. He came in at the end and said, ‘Suppose I’m in trouble?’ I said, ‘Not really. There won’t be any trouble because you’re not going to drive for us again’. And he never did – but we remained friends”.
D-types took the first four places : Hamilton/Bueb in XKD 605 (on Petrol Injection) finishing first; Hawthorn/Frère (XKD 601, now on Webers) came second; Desmond Titterington / Jack Fairman third and the Ecurie Ecosse entry driven by Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson finishing fourth.
For the 1956 Le Mans race, (run late that year to allow for changes to the track and pits following the 1955 disaster) Hawthorn was partnered with Bueb in XKD 605 (with PI), Ken Wharton was brought in as a replacement for Hamilton and partnered with Fairman in XKD 602 (with PI), and Frère with Titterington in XKD 603 (on Webers). A spare car (XKD 606) was also taken.
Two factory D-types crashed on the second lap and on the third lap, Hawthorn and Bueb’s car XKD 605, experienced delays due to a cracked pipe in the fuel injection system. England recalled: “We had injection pipe trouble with Mike’s car. The injector pipe had split longways out of sight. By the time we’d traced this and fixed it, we were 26 laps behind – hardly worth restarting. So I said to Mike and Ivor, ‘Look, I reckon if you have a bloody go, you can finish eight’. ‘We’re on’ they said, ‘we’ll have a bloody go’. They finished sixth and do you know how much the prize money was? £30 between them [about 4 week’s average wage]. But they couldn’t have cared less because they’d enjoyed themselves so much. During the race one would come in and say, ‘What’s it like, Mike?’ ‘Wet!’ Then next time, “what’s it like, Ivor?’ ‘Still wet!’ great chaps – super. Our mechanics loved Hawthorn most of all – great bloke”.
Although the Jaguar Team only managed 6th place, the race turned into a celebration for Jaguar as the lone entry of David Murray’s Scottish team, Ecurie Ecosse, scored a win with its own D-type, driven by Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson. The 4th win at Le Mans for a Jaguar!
At the end of 1956 Jaguar announced that they were withdrawing from racing to concentrate on producing and selling cars. Although not formally announced, they continued to support the efforts of privateers including Ecurie Ecosse.
Throughout 1956 Bueb continued to race Coopers but now driving for Ecurie Demi-Litre.
1957 – Racing For Ecurie Ecosse
Hawthorn and Bueb raced XKD 605 at Sebring in March 1957, but despite a strong performance, finished third due to brake problems. Five D-types were entered for the 1957 Le Mans: two by Ecurie Ecosse – Flockhart/Bueb in XKD 606 (the last of 87 D-types built) and Sanderson/John Lawrence in XKD 603; Duncan Hamilton/Masten Gregory with Hamilton’s own XKD 601; Paul Frère/Freddy Rouselle with the Equipe Nationale Belge entry XKD 573 and Jean Lucas/‘Mary’ Brussin, the pseudonym used by Jean-Marie, with XKD 513 as Equipe Los Amigos.
Despite not fielding a works team, Jaguar took their 5th Le Mans win in style, finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th. Bueb scored his second win at Le Mans driving with Flockhart at an average speed of 113.85 mph. Sanderson/Lawrence came in second, Lucas/Brussin were third, Frère/Rouselle fourth and Hamilton/Gregory sixth, behind the Ferrari of Stuart Lewis-Evans and Martino Severi.
Following Le Mans, Ecurie Ecosse took part in the ‘Race of Two Worlds’ at Monza in Italy, a 500-mile race between American Indianapolis cars and European racing cars, dubbed ‘Monzanopolis’. Most of the Formula One teams boycotted the event with only 1 Ferrari, 2 Maseratis and 3 Jaguar D-types entered. The Ferrari and Maseratis had problems with tyres and handling during testing and withdrew from the event, leaving Ecurie Ecosse’s D-types of Masten Gregory and Ivor Bueb and a Lister for Jack Fairman as the only European entries. The D-types finished last of the runners in all three heats. Gregory and Bueb were 15th and 16th respectively in heat one and Bueb 11th in heat two, Gregory deciding not to continue. Bueb was seventh but still last, in the third and final heat.
Race Results – Jaguar Related
Car / Co-driver
Entrant / Team
|1954||20 March||Kirkistown, (Open Handicap Final)
His first race win
|1955||12 April||Goodwood, Easter Meeting||3rd||Cooper 500||His first race for Cooper Works Team|
|12 June||Le Mans 24 hours||1st||Jaguar D-type with
|Jaguar Cars Ltd|
|1956||24 March||Sebring 12 hours, Florida, USA||DNF||Jaguar D-type with
|Jaguars of New York|
|5 May||Silverstone, Daily Express Trophy Meeting||DNF||Jaguar D-type||Sir William Lyons|
|23 June||Aintree 100, Over 1.5 Litres||3rd||Jaguar D-type||Duncan Hamilton|
|30 June||Reims, France, 12 hours||1st||Jaguar D-type with
|Jaguar Cars Ltd|
|29 July||Le Mans 24 hours||6th||Jaguar D-type with
|Jaguar Cars Ltd|
|22 September||Oulton Park, GT + Touring Cars||2nd||Jaguar XK140||Ecurie Demi-Litre|
|1957||23 March||Sebring 12 hours, Florida, USA||3rd||Jaguar D-type with
|Jaguar Cars North America|
|26 May||Nürburgring, 1,000 km||11th||Jaguar D-type with John Lawrence||Ecurie Ecosse|
|23 June||Le Mans 24 hours||1st||Jaguar D-type with
|25 August||Spa, Belgium, Grand Prix des Ancetres||DNF||Jaguar D-type||Ivor Bueb|
|14 September||Silverstone International||Jaguar D-type||Jack Broadhead|
|1958||22 March||Sebring 12 hours, Florida, USA||DNF||Jaguar D-type with
|19 April||Aintree 200, Over 1.1 Litres||4th||Jaguar D-type||Ecurie Ecosse|
|3 May||Silverstone, Daily Express Trophy Meeting||6th||Jaguar D-type|
|18 May||Spa, Belgium, Grand Prix||4th||Jaguar D-type||Ecurie Ecosse|
|1 June||Nürburgring, 1,000 km||DNF||Jaguar D-type with
|22 June||Le Mans 24 hours||DNF||Jaguar D-type with
|5 July||Crystal Palace, National Open||1st||Lister-Jaguar||Brian Lister (Light Eng.) Ltd|
|19 July||Silverstone, Grand Prix Support Race||4th||Tojeiro-Jaguar||Ecurie Ecosse|
|4 August||Brands Hatch, National , Over 1.9 Litres, Archie Scott-Brown Memorial Trophy||1st||Lister-Jaguar||Brian Lister Eng.|
|13 September||Goodwood, Tourist Trophy||DNF||Lister-Jaguar with
|Brian Lister (Light Eng.) Ltd|
|20 September||Oulton Park, Over 1.1 Litres||2nd||Lister-Jaguar||Lister Engineering|
|1959||21 March||Sebring 12 hours, Florida, USA||DNF||Lister-Jaguar with
|The Lister Corp|
|30 March||Goodwood, Easter, Over 1.1 Litres||1st||Lister-Jaguar||Lister Engineering|
|30 March||Goodwood, Easter, British Saloon Car Championship (BSCC)||1st||Jaguar 3.4 Saloon||Equipe Endeavour|
|11 April||Oulton Park, British Empire Trophy||5th||Lister-Jaguar||Lister Engineering|
|18 April||Aintree 200, Over 1.1 Litres||DNF||Lister-Costin||Brian Lister (Lister Engineering) Ltd|
|18 April||Aintree 200, (BSCC)||1st||Jaguar 3.4 Saloon||Equipe Endeavour|
|2 May||Silverstone, International, Over 1.1 Litres||3rd||Lister-Jaguar||B Lister|
|2 May||Silverstone, (BSCC)||1st||Jaguar 3.4 Saloon||Equipe Endeavour|
|18 May||Crystal Palace, National Open, Norbury Trophy Over 1.5 Litres||4th||Lister-Jaguar||Lister Engineering|
|21 June||Le Mans 24 hours||DNF||Lister-Costin with
Circuit de Charade, Clermont-Ferrand, Formula Two Race
Bueb crashed and died in hospital 6 days later
|DNF||Cooper-Borgward T51||British Racing Partnership (BRP)|
Other Racing – Formulas One, Two, Tojeiro, Lister and BRP
Bueb had made his Formula One debut in 1957, driving a works Connaught at the Monaco Grand Prix. In 1958 he raced Bernie Ecclestone’s Connaught at Silverstone, and a Lotus-Climax 12 at the Nürburgring, but retired on both occasions.
Bueb drove a Tojeiro-Jaguar, finishing fourth, in the sports-car event that featured in the programme of the British Grand Prix meeting at Silverstone in 19 July 1958. Archie Scott-Brown, who drove for Lister, was killed while racing at Spa in May 1958 and Brian Lister hired Bueb to fill the vacant seat. A Memorial Trophy race was held for Scott-Brown on 4th August at Brands Hatch, which Bueb won in a Lister-Jaguar. He also competed a private Lotus-Climax 12 in Formula Two races. In the Lister-Jaguar seat, he scored the team various victories including Crystal Palace and Goodwood races in 1958 and 1959.
Ecurie Ecosse entered two D-types for the Sebring 12-Hours in March 1958, Bueb partnered with Ninian Sanderson in XKD 504 and Ron Flockhart/Masten Gregory drove XKD 603. Both retired before the halfway mark due to valve problems in the new 3-litre version of the XK engine. The same teams were entered for the Nürburgring 1,000km race with the same cars, but despite the new engines proving to be more reliable, Bueb and Sanderson had to retire due to front suspension damage while Gregory and Flockhart spun off and crashed. The best Jaguar related result was Fairman and Lawrence in XKD 606 who finished ninth.
At the 1958 Le Mans, racing a 3-litre engined XKD 601, Bueb was partnered with Duncan Hamilton. Despite remaining second place behind a Ferrari for most of the race, they were giving a great performance, until Hamilton left the track. Racing conditions weren’t ideal due to heavy rain which was causing problems for several of the cars and one, a DB-Panhard, had to be abandoned in the middle of the road. Poor visibility meant that Hamilton did not see it until he was almost on top of the Panhard, swerving to miss it, he put a wheel on the grass and the car somersaulted and overturned into a water-filled ditch. A couple of spectators sheltering nearby came to immediate assistance which might have prevented him from drowning. Hamilton, bruised but not badly hurt, was out of the race.
During July 1958, Hawthorn and Bueb tested the experimental car E1A, fitted with a 3.0 litre alloy engine, but ‘Lofty’ recalled that “they were not very quick” and other work took priority with his small team of engineers. Hawthorn reported that he “only used 3 – 4 gears, engine performance good; handling in corners lacking, due to initial understeer changing to over-steer, car weaving under heavy braking, severe wheel spin out of corners under power, steering lacks feel.” He goes on to add that he completed six laps at an average time of 1 minute 49 seconds per lap and for a return of nine miles to the gallon. “To improve lap times suspension must be stiffened and the roll-stiffener sorted out to overcome the change from under-steer to over-steer.” Hawthorn thought the steering should be improved and the column raised to give more space for a tall driver. “Clearance between wheel rim and wind-screen on right-hand side is inadequate; gearbox cowling against driver’s leg needs heat insulation.” The caster angles were increased and the front wheels and tyres were changed, which improved steering and handling. “The brakes are not ideal for racing and a five-speed gearbox would be advantageous and in reality a necessity.”
This report, which is too long to be reproduced here in full, was circulated by England and many of Hawthorn’s comments were acted upon. However, by this time the first E-Type prototype was on test, so the E1A was used for other trials, for example a 4HU drive with ZF differential replaced the 3HU unit and the rear end strengthened which appears as a hump on the rear decking in some later film of Dewis driving at MIRA.
1959 – Bueb’s Final Races
Brian Lister produced a revised Lister-Jaguar for the 1959 season, retaining Bueb and Halford as drivers. A new low-drag body was used, and the 3-litre version of the XK engine to conform with the international regulations. At Sebring in Florida, in March, Lister entered a 1959 Lister-Jaguar prepared by Cunningham, driven by Bueb and Moss, and two 1958 cars. The engines used in these Cunningham entries were not the 3-litre type as raced in 1958, but a new ‘bored and stroked’ 2.4-litre evolved by Jaguars. None of the cars finished, the 1958 models retiring and Moss running out of petrol – a capacity limit of 3 litres effectively eliminated Jaguars from the Gran Turismo class.
Ivor Bueb was victorious at the 1959 Easter Goodwood meeting, winning the Sussex Trophy Race in a Lister-Jaguar. He scored three wins from three starts driving a 3.4-litre Jaguar in the British Saloon Car Championship for Equipe Endeavour (founded by Tommy Sopwith), first at the Goodwood Easter meeting, then at Aintree and at Silverstone in May, where he led a trio of Jaguar 3.4-litre saloons to victory, followed by Salvadori and Baillie.
1959 was not a good year at Le Mans for Jaguar powered cars. Two Lister-Jaguars, Bueb partnering with Bruce Halford in one of them, a Tojeiro-Jaguar and Ecurie Ecosse’s D-type started, but none of them finished. Broken connecting-rods accounted for Bueb and Halford’s Lister-Jaguar, which went out while lying fourth – Bueb’s last Le Mans.
That year Bueb joined the British Racing Partnership (BRP) – which was managed by Alfred Moss (Stirling Moss’s father and manager) and Ken Gregory. He raced at Monaco and at the British Grand Prix as a Formula Two entry. Apart from participating in numerous non-Championship Formula One races, he competed in six Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, but scored no championship points.
Driving one of the team’s Formula Two Cooper-Borgward T51 in the Trophee d’Auvergne at Clermont-Ferrand on 26th July, he crashed and was thrown out.
He died from his injuries six days later, on 1 August 1959 in the hospital near the circuit , at the age of 36.
Having lost Archie Scott-Brown in 1958 and then Ivor Bueb in 1959 (although not in a Lister car), Brian Lister closed down his otherwise successful racing team although he continued to run Lister Engineering.
Author: Shihanki Elpitiya and Tony Merrygold
Race results from www.RacingSportsCars.com
© Text and Images – Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust