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Roy James the 'Great Train Robber'... and other criminals


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#1 rallen

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 12:01

There was an excellent thread by John Winfield 'Brands Hatch May 19th 1963' which mentions the drivers that attended that race meeting, a whole host of interesting and great names with Roy James won the 1500cc single seater race.

Now I have heard that Roy James was a very talented racing driver until that was curtailed by his involvment with the Great Train Robbery. However because of the fact that he was a great train robber, I am aware that a lot of the things I have read or heard about him maybe an exageration or the press/documentary makers overspinning a yarn. What are the views of TNF's here on him, how good was he and how far could he have gone if he hadn't been a criminal?

My other question was this, what other racing drivers or members of the racing communtiy have been mixed up with the law? I can't think of anyone else that I know of other than Salt Walther who became additcted to drugs after his Indy accident. Are there any other examples of careers being derailed becasue of crime?



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#2 pete53

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 12:14

I believe the late Tony Dean was found guilty of evading paying tax duty on cigars which he brought in from the US? Not quite in the Roy James league though.

On the topic of Roy James, he does appear in one of the Motor Racing 60s style videos that were released some years ago. He is shown winning a race at Cadwell in early 1963. At the end of the clip as James disappears off on his lap of honour the narrator drolly remarks .. " and we say goodbye to Roy James and the Sheffield Telegraph Trophy". An obvious reference to James and his subsequent misdemeanors.

#3 Tim Murray

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 12:18

There's some useful info in these earlier threads:

Racing and drug-related busts

The Great Train Robbery...

Driven to crime


#4 D-Type

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 12:21

Inevitably we have been here before:

A search for "drug smuggler" turned This up amongst others and a search for "jail" brought up thr5 pages including
The Great Train Robbery and Crooks in Motor Sport.

I'm sure a more refined search could narrow the field down further.

Edit: Tim beat me to it

Edited by D-Type, 07 September 2010 - 12:22.


#5 rallen

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 12:22

There's some useful info in these earlier threads:

Racing and drug-related busts

The Great Train Robbery...

Driven to crime


Thanks Tim, I did a search for Roy James but no thread came up - didn't think of searching for Great Train Robbery.

#6 arttidesco

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 12:25

Bernie E mentions Ray in the 60th Anniversary edition of Autosport, I think Ray once beat Jackie Stewart in a straight race IIRC it was mentioned in a Race of My Life feature on the back page of Autosport in the late 1980's.

Other drivers who have got on the wrong side of the the law include Jean Paul Snr was involved in drug trafficking and worse IIRC his son IMSA champion Jean Paul Jnr also got incarcerated for similar serious offences.

Bertrand Gachot went to Brixton at Her Majesties pleasure for using mace on a cabbie allowing on M. Schumacher to show his talents in the Jordan 911.

Vic Lee got caught smuggling drugs in a fire extinguisher of a BTCC car.

Kurt Bush was sentenced to 50 hours community service by in Maricopa County in 2005 for DUI related offences in 2005, a year later he was made an honorary deputy of in Maricopa County so maybe that one got wiped off the slate.

I guess motor racing is not wholly immune from the seedier side of life.

#7 Tim Murray

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 12:28

Edit: Tim beat me to it

Ah, but you found one I'd missed, Duncan.

Rallen, I don't know why they didn't come up for you, but I found two of the threads I linked to above by entering 'Roy James' in the search engine. :)

#8 D-Type

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 12:33

I hope rallen isn't posting at work or it will be half a day's lost production reading this lot!  ;)

#9 24hourman

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 06:41

I think I am right in saying that The man that Ruth Ellis shot and was later hanged for was a Le Mans 24 hour driver. Anyone with further info ?

#10 RCH

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 06:57

I think I am right in saying that The man that Ruth Ellis shot and was later hanged for was a Le Mans 24 hour driver. Anyone with further info ?


David Blakely was listed as a reserve for the Bristol team at Le Mans in 1955. He didn't live that long! IIRC the film "Dance with a Stranger" shows a newsreel clip of the '55 Le Mans disaster which had of course not happened at the time.

#11 Nick Wa

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 15:44

We teased Graeme White who was then secretary of the B.A.R.C. as to whether Roy James had paid his entry fees in cash!

PS Ronnie Biggs owed me half a crown!

Edited by Nick Wa, 08 September 2010 - 15:51.


#12 john winfield

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 22:51

We teased Graeme White who was then secretary of the B.A.R.C. as to whether Roy James had paid his entry fees in cash!

PS Ronnie Biggs owed me half a crown!


My brother, a school boy motor racing enthusiast in 1963, was also into trains, and was spotting just down the line at Cheddington in the weeks before the robbery. But if he'd spotted Roy James, somehow, I don't think RJ would have been too keen to sign his autograph book!

#13 Bernard

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Posted 09 September 2010 - 09:02

Didnt Raymond Baxter describe Roys non appearance on a grid as "I understand Roy James has retired from motor racing..for about 30 years"

#14 ry6

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 12:15

Didnt Raymond Baxter describe Roys non appearance on a grid as "I understand Roy James has retired from motor racing..for about 30 years"

Robert Ryan's new book "Signal Red' is based on the Great Train Robbery and while it is a 'factional' novel gives many insights into the characters - especially Roy James.
The book is well worth a read.
Robert Ryan has written other interesting books with a motor sporting flavour. His account of the exploits of the Bugatti driver "Williams' during WW2 is also highly readable.

#15 RCH

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 15:43

Robert Ryan has written other interesting books with a motor sporting flavour. His account of the exploits of the Bugatti driver "Williams' during WW2 is also highly readable.


So long as you bear in mind it is fiction and you read Joe Saward's "proper" book on the subject immediately afterwards!

#16 RShaw

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 16:02

Racing drivers on the whole don't seem to be much better than the general population in their law-abidiness (to coin a Palinism).
The 1935 Indy 500 winner Kelly Petillo supposedly died in prison after a conviction for murdering his girlfriend. Motorsport writer Joe Scalzo dubbed him "The Knife" for his expertise with the blade.
NASCAR Hall-Of-Famer Junior Johnson famously did a stretch in jail for failing to out-run the "revenooers" while delivering illegal liquor for his moonshiner father.

#17 ensign14

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 19:27

No, Junior was arrested at the still. No-one ever outran him...

#18 RS2000

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 21:25

Robert Ryan's new book "Signal Red' is based on the Great Train Robbery and while it is a 'factional' novel gives many insights into the characters - especially Roy James.
The book is well worth a read.


I'm currently reading it. Fascinating in a way to sort the fact from the fiction. Ryan has James turning up at MRD Byfleet (by implication in December 62) with a case of cash, being initially denied access to Ron Tauranac by a hostile Denny Hulme but eventually ordering an FJ BT6 with chassis number FJ-13-62 allocated.
Looking at current BT6 records elsewhere, which seem by no means complete/finalised as to who had which car, 20 are said to have been built with chassis numbers FJ-1-63 to 20-63.

Edited by RS2000, 16 October 2010 - 21:26.


#19 andyrp26

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 23:47

I'm currently reading it. Fascinating in a way to sort the fact from the fiction. Ryan has James turning up at MRD Byfleet (by implication in December 62) with a case of cash, being initially denied access to Ron Tauranac by a hostile Denny Hulme but eventually ordering an FJ BT6 with chassis number FJ-13-62 allocated.
Looking at current BT6 records elsewhere, which seem by no means complete/finalised as to who had which car, 20 are said to have been built with chassis numbers FJ-1-63 to 20-63.

Posted Image

Michael C. Brown took this image of Roy James in his Royale RP21 that he raced in 1976/77 not sure where it is, looks every part a seventies race driver. :smoking:

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#20 Doug Nye

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 19:06

If I recall correctly didn't Roy James crash at Silverstone while trying a single-seater after his release from jail, breaking a leg? One of the marshals who became a Silverstone fixture for many years told friends of mine how - a few days later - a nice set of wheels swished silently into the paddock, a couple of heavies emerged and asked specifically for him. He gulped and admitted his name, whereupon they became all smiles and passed on the compliments of their employer "...for doin' such a good job of lookin' arter Roy arter 'is crash the uvver day...".

Further to this thread's earlier mention of Tony Dean, I believe that a former racing friend-cum-rival of his did porridge - "was jailed" for the non-British readership - for burning down Tony's garage business?

DCN

Edited by Doug Nye, 17 October 2010 - 19:11.


#21 Derwent Motorsport

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 09:53

I think Vic Lee went down twice for smuggling drugs in his touring car team. I thinkthe last time it was with the works Peugeots which needed to go aborad a lot for tests for some reason!
There are a fair number of rally drivers who paid for their sport by dubious means. Some got caught, others did not!

#22 adamcooperf1

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 11:03

Just an aside to the ancient Bernie/Great Train Robbery rumours, a good source told me recently that back in 1963 the closest private house to Leatherslade Farm - the infamous gang hideout - was the home of one Max Mosley! Don't know if anyone can verify that, but it's a funny co-incidence...

#23 Mallory Dan

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 11:51

When travelling on the railway into London, I've always tried to work out where the famous bridge is where they stopped the train. Anyone know if there are any clues, I think Tring is the nearest station?

#24 GD66

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 12:55

Bridego Railway bridge, Ledburn.

#25 john winfield

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 13:44

Dan, the bridge is between Leighton Buzzard and Tring. I don't remember Ledburn having a station so I expect that the nearest small station is, or was, Cheddington. Bridego bridge is near Ledburn village, north of Cheddington station, south of Leighton Buzzard. I had a look the other day on the way back from London but I couldn't see much as I was on the King's Cross line at the time. Roy James was just too small to make out.

#26 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 15:09

I think Vic Lee went down twice for smuggling drugs in his touring car team. I thinkthe last time it was with the works Peugeots which needed to go aborad a lot for tests for some reason!
There are a fair number of rally drivers who paid for their sport by dubious means. Some got caught, others did not!

They tested also in Zandvoort and were caught on the ferry. Stuff was found hidden within the tyres if memory serves me correctly.

#27 Geoff E

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 15:27

Bridego Railway bridge, Ledburn.


Here http://tinyurl.com/3yvqm8u

http://tinyurl.com/36kodk3

Edited by Geoff E, 18 October 2010 - 15:29.


#28 JtP1

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 17:08

They tested also in Zandvoort and were caught on the ferry. Stuff was found hidden within the tyres if memory serves me correctly.


Again from memory, was it not BMW BTCC team that Lee ran? The stuff being in the compressed air bottles in the transporter which was not actually part of the team, but belonged to a totally innocent other racing driver.


#29 Tony Matthews

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 17:15

Roy James was just too small to make out.

Any sign of a Lotus Cotrina parked up?

#30 Phil Rainford

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 17:22

I think Vic Lee went down twice for smuggling drugs in his touring car team. I thinkthe last time it was with the works Peugeots which needed to go aborad a lot for tests for some reason!


BTCC front runner Jerry Mahony was also caught up in this drug crime .....

PAR

#31 glyn parham

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 18:10

On the rally side of things there was a chap called Jason Humble who rallied a Metro 6R4 in 1987 and is now doing life at Her Majesties Pleasure. His crimes were not pleasant however and include deliberately running other motorists off the road with tragic consequences.

Again from memory, was it not BMW BTCC team that Lee ran? The stuff being in the compressed air bottles in the transporter which was not actually part of the team, but belonged to a totally innocent other racing driver.


This was the first time he was caught, the second time he was involved with Peugeot.

Glyn



#32 opplock

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 18:35

Again from memory, was it not BMW BTCC team that Lee ran? The stuff being in the compressed air bottles in the transporter which was not actually part of the team, but belonged to a totally innocent other racing driver.


The car used in this escapade belonged to a private entrant but was run by Lee's team. I was told that they were caught because a marshal, who's day job was customs officer, couldn't understand why they needed to test a BTCC car at Zandvoort and decided to investigate. A friend of mine bought the car after the legal processes were completed and raced it in the BMW club series.

I would be surprised if Lee used the same modus operandi a second time. Even customs officials can think laterally. An earlier example occurred in New Zealand in the 1960's. As I understand the story some bright spark from Customs attended a Moto Cross meeting and on returning to his office worked out that there were more specialist Moto Cross bikes entered than had ever been imported duty paid. The scam at that time was to export old bikes to Australia for repair. On return the crates contained somewhat more modern looking bikes. I'm sure that no-one was ever prosecuted due to lack of evidence but a few motor cycle dealers were read the Riot Act and these exports stopped suddenly.

#33 RS2000

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 19:41

On the rally side of things there was a chap called Jason Humble who rallied a Metro 6R4 in 1987 and is now doing life at Her Majesties Pleasure. His crimes were not pleasant however and include deliberately running other motorists off the road with tragic consequences.
Glyn


Another piece of work if ever there was one. Climbing the fence into the Cowley compound of unsold cars at night and swapping 6R4 transmissions was the first claim to notoriety, wasn't it? (at about the same time Austin Rover team manager John Davenport went down for fraud?). Pushing a dawdling driver out of the way at speed (and into the opposite carriageway, somewhere near Twickenham, where one or two were killed) was 10 years for manslaughter IIRC - so he'd be long out by now, unless he's been digging himself in deeper, of course.


#34 LittleChris

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 21:51

Another piece of work if ever there was one. Climbing the fence into the Cowley compound of unsold cars at night and swapping 6R4 transmissions was the first claim to notoriety, wasn't it? (at about the same time Austin Rover team manager John Davenport went down for fraud?). Pushing a dawdling driver out of the way at speed (and into the opposite carriageway, somewhere near Twickenham, where one or two were killed) was 10 years for manslaughter IIRC - so he'd be long out by now, unless he's been digging himself in deeper, of course.



http://www.walesonli...91466-26505502/

http://www.thesun.co...-criminals.html

Edited by LittleChris, 18 October 2010 - 21:56.


#35 RS2000

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 21:57

Farnborough fits...

but I see you've just edited out that reference in your post!

#36 LittleChris

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 22:06

Yep, I found more up to date reports that indicated it was the same person whereas the original link indicated the Farnborough connection but not that it was the same Jason Humble.

#37 mfd

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 23:43

Here http://tinyurl.com/3yvqm8u


If you follow this link & then after it's loaded, just put your cursor on the arrow near the bottom, then click :eek: Could this be a ghost?

Edited by mfd, 18 October 2010 - 23:44.


#38 LB

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 18:02

http://www.motorspor...---massive-roll

same Mr Humble? misidentified as John on the Havoc! video.

The scottish club racer Ian Donaldson, he of the repeatedly crashing Lamborghini Gallado fame, Is apparently in a fair bit of trouble regarding a few things.

#39 RS2000

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 21:29

same Mr Humble?


Yes. "Co-driver Starkey" mentioned is Nick Starkey. Also co-drove him in the Clubman Spec 6R4 in 87. Won the South West Stages Rally in 87 (which I also ran in) and declined to hand the time card in at the finish because they were the only 4wd car in the event and it would have been a hollow victory. Pity that gesture wasn't replicated by a few more famous crews at WRC level...

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#40 RS2000

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 21:39

The scottish club racer Ian Donaldson, he of the repeatedly crashing Lamborghini Gallado fame, Is apparently in a fair bit of trouble regarding a few things.


At a quoted age of 30 now, at least there's no confusion with Ian Donaldson of Oakfields, a contemporary of Mr. Humble in the same part of Hampshire at the time with another 6R4...

Edited by RS2000, 21 October 2010 - 21:40.


#41 Doug Nye

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 21:47

At a quoted age of 30 now, at least there's no confusion with Ian Donaldson of Oakfields, a contemporary of Mr. Humble in the same part of Hampshire at the time with another 6R4...


Yeeesss. I must my confess my eyebrows shot up when I first read this...

DCN

#42 Sharman

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 08:22

This Humble chap, any relation to George?