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The strange case of A. V. Cowley


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#1 Barry Boor

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 08:16

As an addition to the thread on the Petty 500 c.c. F.3 car suspension, I came across the entry for that car in the A-Z of Formula Racing Cars. No picture, but a brief description of the suspension layout, plus the fact that in 1956 its regular driver received a LIFE BAN from motor racing for what is described by David Hodges as a controversial driving incident.

My curiosity is hugely aroused and I need to know more....... please!

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#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 09:38

Something like the life ban Roy Williams got for doing a mad lap of the warm-up circuit in the fifties in the Sheerline Special after being told he couldn't run in the main race at Bathurst...

#3 Roger Clark

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 09:56

Cowley was racing in 1958, by this time in a Cooper. In fact he drove a Cooper in 1956. I don't think Hodges actually says that Cowley was the Petty driver who received a ban.

#4 David McKinney

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 10:18

I don't recall Cowley racing anything but Coopers either.
The incident which led to his ban occurred at Brands Hatch early in 1958. I'll see if I can dig out more.

Alan Cowley actually had a pretty good record in F3. He won two of the 21 most important British 500 races of 1957, the same number as Bridger and Jones. Only Jim Russell (eight) and Lewis-Evans (four) scored more.

#5 Roger Clark

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 10:53

From Autosport May 2nd 1958:

"A tribunal representing the Royal Automobile Club as the controlling authority for motor sport in Britain was held in London on monday 21st april to consider incidents arising during hte 500cc race at Brands Hatch on Easter monday.

"Lord howe, Chairman of the RAC Competitions Committee presided with Mr W E Daniel and Major Harold Parker. The Tribunal was convened following complaints from stewards at the meeting.

"After hearing evidence from organisers, observers and stewards, the Tribunal decided to suspend indefinitely the competitions licence of A V Cowley of tunbridge Wells. They also gave a reprimand to Don Parker of Battersea.

"It was alleged that there was a series of collisions between the cars driven by Cowley and Parker during the race under review."

#6 KJJ

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 11:15

This is Autosport's report of the incident:


http://img29.exs.cx/...randsreport.jpg

The magazine also published a photograph of Cowley's car:


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#7 David McKinney

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 12:58

Thanks for saving me the trouble, Roger and KJ :lol:

Can anyone tell me if similar incidents in present-day racing, from F1 down, attract life bans?

#8 KJJ

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 14:03

By the way the report of the 1955 Boxing Day Brands Hatch meeting in the Febuary 1956 edition of Motor Sport confirms that Cowley did indeed race the Petty:

"Heat One of the Yuletide Trophy Race for 500cc run over ten laps, opened the prigramme, rain still falling steadily. Cowley, in Ray Petty's Petty-Norton, got away first, only to spin off.."

#9 RAP

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 17:47

Cowley seems to have been the regular driver of the Petty in 1956. The following are examples-
2 April Goodwood 5th
20 May Brands 1st in "Second Final
14 July Silverstone 14th
8 Sept Goodwood retired
Also driven (or at least entered) F Campbell Silverstone 29th Sept and Gordon Jones Brands 14th October

#10 ensign14

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 20:57

I suppose technically it was not a life ban, merely an indefinite suspension, so could have been lifted on application. Like Reg Parnell's licence being indefinitely suspended in 1937. He appealed, lost, applied to get his licence back in 1938, was refused, but encouraged to reapply the following year...in the end he applied in September 1938 and the suspension was lifted from 1939 onwards.

(Parnell lost control at Brooklands and bounced into Kay Petre's Austin Seven, Petre being seriously injured in the resulting barrel-rolling. Graham Gauld's book on Reg has all the details, including transcriptions of the minutes of the RAC Competitions Committee meetings, but maddeningly the minutes are all about protocol - so, for example, we know Reg and Oliver Bertram, Parnell's racing Counsel, spoke from 3.05pm to 3.40pm on 27 October 1937 but not what they said!)

Most recent long ban I can remember for anyone at a similar level was Marco Greco's 5 year ban back in 1987, but that was for assaulting Bertrand Gachot in the pitlane following an F3 collision (and breaking someone's rib with a wayward punch - Keith Wiggins'?) and from what has been said here perhaps he should have been given a Gold Star. Regardless, as Greco raced not long after, the ban must have been lifted.

#11 Ray Bell

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 21:22

Wasn't there a case back in the mid nineties?

Seems a driver who was well in the running for the World Championship hit a wall, and seeing as his opponent for that title was bearing down to pass his how crippled (but still mobile) car he steered into his rival's car and therefore got the points.

As I recall, the following hearing berated him severely, stripped him of his points, awarded the championship to his rival and banned him for racing for six years for bringing the sport into disrepute...

Additionally, he was obliged, should he return after that time, to start again in F3 and take at least two years to return to F1.

I'm sure I read all about it in Racing Car News... or did I dream it?

#12 Jim Thurman

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Posted 28 November 2004 - 02:07

If Buford sees this, he'll have some good comments. There were some short tracks in the U.S. where that sort of thing (if not worse) was only good for a two week suspension.

I'm also sure he'd find it pretty funny that it was all over one driver slowing down and waiting to get revenge. I've seen that several times myself.

Sergio Paese received a one year (or was it two?) ban from Indy Lights after getting out of his car and kicking Oriol Servia after they'd collided in the season finale at California Speedway in Fontana.

One short track driver in Oregon received a "lifetime ban" for an incident. He simply drove 17 miles to the next track.

The infamous Sargent family all received lengthy suspensions for attacking pit steward Clyde Palmer in the pits at San Jose. Palmer was a rival of Marshall Sargent (the father) and it carried over long after their retirements. A full explanation wasn't given, but Mark Sargent was suspended for two years by NASCAR in a separate incident. Considering the leniency in NASCAR, I have no idea what he did. The only word on the two year ban was that it was "cumulative."

#13 Buford

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Posted 28 November 2004 - 06:56

Well in the 1950s one year the track paid 3 brothers to wreck our cars. We had two. So we knew what was going to happen. One of the brothers got our 2nd car pinned against the wall and the other two brothers were after our #1 car. The welding truck driver got so pissed off he came out on the track in his truck and took out one of the two who was after our number one car. That guy got a lifetime ban from the track but I don't think the track owner banned himself for trying to wreck our cars. It was a tough sport in the 1950s.

Didn't Ed Elision get a lifetime ban from USAC for a couple years until it was recinded? I think Curtis Turner got a lifetime ban from Nascar for union organizing which lasted for awhile. The only other one I recall was a guy at the June Sprints at Road America who came over and sucker punched some guy and he got a lifetime ban from SCCA. Apparently we were supposed to be gentlemen and not mimic 1950s stock car racers. I was never big enough to hit anybody in person so I had to use my car on the track to teach a few lessons. But I waited for the right times.

#14 Richard Neale

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Posted 28 November 2004 - 11:42

"Wasn't there a case back in the mid nineties?

Seems a driver who was well in the running for the World Championship hit a wall, and seeing as his opponent for that title was bearing down to pass his how crippled (but still mobile) car he steered into his rival's car and therefore got the points."


D.H & M.S. ?????????????

#15 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 November 2004 - 12:59

Well... you have to have dreams, don't you?

#16 Richard Neale

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Posted 28 November 2004 - 21:06

Too Right ! Ray.

#17 stuartbrs

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Posted 28 November 2004 - 23:45

Why do have this recollection of reading a letter in MotorSport recently ( well, from the last 3 years or so ) from a relative of Cowely`s...

Does anyone else recall this?

#18 KJJ

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Posted 30 November 2004 - 13:04

So what did happen to A V Cowley? Still banned I guess?

#19 Richard Neale

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Posted 30 November 2004 - 13:17

Only if Saint Peter is an organising body of FIA ! :rotfl:

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#20 Ray Bell

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Posted 30 November 2004 - 13:18

They probably lifted the ban posthumously...

#21 KJJ

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Posted 30 November 2004 - 13:30

So he's entered that great pit lane in the sky? When did that happen?

#22 Ray Bell

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Posted 30 November 2004 - 20:45

Sorry, you missed the word 'probably'... or its intent...

I know not.

#23 Mike Lawrence

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Posted 04 December 2004 - 06:30

Just come across this thread.

I became friends with Don Parker in his later years. The Don was a very tough competitor (ask Stirling) and he banged wheels with Cowley at Brands Hatch, sending him off the track at Bottom Bend. Cowley waited until Don came round again and then T-boned him. Cowley did receive a lifetime suspension, but this was commuted. Don received a rap over the knuckles, which he ignored.

What about the Silverstone brothers who raced in F3 in the late 1970s? Didn't they both receive very long suspensions? Does my memory play me tricks, but were not they 25-year suspensions? I never did get to the bottom of that one, can anyone help?

#24 Jimmy Piget

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Posted 04 December 2004 - 08:22

I guess I remember Claude BOURILLOT (which was a GT driver in France and, one time, president of the French FFSA or previous name) who was life-banned after elections provided a new FFSA board.
I never knew the (political ?) reasons of this.

PS : Hello, Mike ! Remember me ? Cheers to Shakespeare !

#25 Jim Thurman

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Posted 04 December 2004 - 10:51

Originally posted by Buford
Didn't Ed Elision get a lifetime ban from USAC for a couple years until it was recinded? I think Curtis Turner got a lifetime ban from Nascar for union organizing which lasted for awhile. The only other one I recall was a guy at the June Sprints at Road America who came over and sucker punched some guy and he got a lifetime ban from SCCA. Apparently we were supposed to be gentlemen and not mimic 1950s stock car racers. I was never big enough to hit anybody in person so I had to use my car on the track to teach a few lessons. But I waited for the right times.


Buford, I think so. I believe Elisian got either a "lifetime" or "indefinite" suspension. They gave his gambling connections as a reason, but with his punching the cop, they had a bit of a PR nightmare on their hands. A couple of higher ups successfully argued for his re-instatement. Escapes me at the moment who it was that supported Elisian. I want to say one of them was Tom Binford.

I should have thought of Turner. Both he and Tim Flock were "banned for life" from NASCAR for their union efforts. And both were lifted, though I don't think Flock drove again. Turner, conveniently came when attendance was down at NASCAR events because of the Ford/MoPar alternating boycotts that left one then the other in complete dominance. "Big" Bill re-instated Turner hoping it would boost interest.

Your description of short track races in the 50's. Yep, it's amazing how much stuff like that went on, even well into the 70's. I went to a dirt track race in Northern California where a home track driver who usually only ran the B-Main, made the big money open competition feature race. Curiously, he had this massive welded bumper on the front and proceeded to ram into out of town drivers, spinning some and stuffing others into the wall so the locals could take all the money. After the first couple of these and a couple of "near misses", some of out of town hot shoes simply drove their cars to the pits for the night.

Of course, the local officials did nothing. And this was in the Fall of 1978!.

#26 Mike Lawrence

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Posted 05 December 2004 - 04:46

Nice to hear old mates are still around. Hello, Jimmy 'Galdiator' Piget.

Barry Boor clearly needs spectacles. At the end of 159 entries in David Hodges' 'A-Z of Formula Cars' are the initials, 'ML'. I was also the editor of the book, and am so credited. David returned the compliment on my 'A-Z Sports Cars', also credited.

David Hodges was a great bloke and I miss him.

#27 Pablo Vignone

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 02:22

I recall too 99 years-ban in Argentine motorsport. Counted those as life-bans?
First, the case of Eduardo Márquez, a touring car driver turned engine tuner. As a driver, Marquez drove several races in the 1977 ETCC in an Alfa Romeo argentinian team. Back to this country, he prepared the Formula 4 racing car of fellow Gustavo Sommi: both were from Chascomus town, roughly 120 kilometers from Buenos Aires.
Sommi was fighting the crown with Victor Rosso, who went to Europe later to beat once Ayrton Senna (in a Hockenheim FF2000 1982 race). At one of the final races of 1980 Formula 4 series, Rosso touched the Sommi's car, who spun and lost ground. Next lap, mr Marquez, who have watched the race incident from the pits, took a brick (yes!) and throw it to the Rosso's car. The brick hit a tyre, and what a mess!.
1. Marquez was given the 99 years ban and 2. Rosso won the championship in the last race at Buenos Aires.
Nine years later, in 1989, some drivers were fighting the Class 2 Argentinian Turismo Nacional championship. Maybe you remember the left-right downhill in which Gilles Villeneuve had a terrific spin in the 1980 Argentine Grand Prix, the compelx called Tobogan. OK, some drivers banged their cars at that corner, and one of them, Mr Aldo Caldarella, went off the tarmac, his car spun and lost time. He was son incensed that decided to wait for the bunch, and then took the car to the track in the race opposite directin, aiming to the cars that have got his off. The frontal impact never materialised, but he was banned from racing for, again, 99 years.

#28 jondoe955

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 02:59

KJJ - thanks for including a picture of the car. In this day and age of cars bumping all the time, it is easy to forget how delicate these cars were and how unprotected the drivers were!!!

#29 Barry Boor

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 21:44

Barry Boor clearly needs spectacles. At the end of 159 entries in David Hodges' 'A-Z of Formula Cars' are the initials, 'ML'.



Well, Mike, as you know, I already wear glasses :lol: but more to the point, there are NO initials after any of the entries in my A-Z of Formula Racing Cars, although a Mike Lawrence is mentioned as being the editor and contributor, at the ront of the book.

Would that be you?????  ;)