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The son of a prominent Irish landowner who was murdered by Irish nationalists in an ambush, the family moved to England after the tragedy. Five years old when his father was killed, Brian Shawe-Taylor was educated in the private Shrewsbury School and Freiburg University in Germany.
His first race was the 1939 Nuffield Trophy at Donington Park when he shared the fourth placed ERA B-type with Bob Ansell. He served in an anti-aircraft battery during World War II and opened a garage in Cheltenham once the conflict was over.
Grand Prix debut
Shawe-Taylor also resumed his racing career, quickly establishing a strong reputation in British racing. He made his Grand Prix debut in the 1948 British GP at Silverstone – sharing Geoffrey Ansell’s ERA B-type but his co-driver rolled the car spectacularly after 22 laps, thankfully without serious injury.
They finished ninth in the 1949 British GP before Shawe-Taylor bought the chassis (R9B) a year later. Third in the 1950 Richmond Trophy at Goodwood, his entry for the British GP was refused as the car was deemed too old. He shared Joe Fry’s Maserati 4CL instead and finished 10th in the inaugural world championship race.
A fine third in the 1951 Ulster Trophy, he was fifth in that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours with a works Aston Martin DB2 and co-driver George Abecassis. Shawe-Taylor was chosen to drive the Thinwall Special Ferrari 375 in the French GP. However, he infuriated team patron G.A.Vandervell by complaining about the brakes during practice and was sent home before the race. Eighth in the 1951 British GP with his venerable old ERA was his second and final GP start.
A leading contender for the Goodwood Trophy later that season, Shawe-Taylor spun at St Mary’s and was hit by the following Maserati of Toni Branca. The ERA rolled and Shawe-Taylor was severely injured when thrown clear. He was in a coma for weeks and finally made a full recovery although he did not race again.
He worked as a civil servant after his racing career was over, including a time at GCHQ in Cheltenham.