John Miles (racing driver)

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John Miles
John Miles 1970 NÃŒrburgring.JPG
Born (1943-06-14) 14 June 1943 (age 72)
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality British
Active years 19691970
Teams Lotus
Entries 15 (12 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 2
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First entry 1969 French Grand Prix
Last entry 1970 Italian Grand Prix

The Hon. John Miles (born 14 June 1943 in London[1]) is a British former racing driver from England. He participated in 15 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, making his debut on 6 July 1969, in the Lotus 63 4-wheel drive F1 car for which he was the official Team Lotus test driver. He scored a total of 2 championship points with a fifth place in the 1970 South African Grand Prix.

Early career[edit]

In 1963/64, John E Miles began his serious racing career and became the overall champion of the Autosport Veedol Sports and Saloon Championship, with 15 outright wins from 17 races, driving the legendary Turner VUD 701 Mk2 race car with Cosworth power. This particular Turner sports car was never beaten in a race and became known as the 'Cobra Eater'. Miles then drove a Lotus Elan to good effect, then he drove a Lotus 41 and a Formula 3 car for the works team in 1967–68, winning four international F3 events in 1968.[2]

Formula One[edit]

Lotus 63 4WD

In 1969, Miles had to develop the Lotus 63 4WD car while World Champion Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt refused to drive this design, considering it a death trap. In five GPs, Miles finished only once, in 10th place. In between, the car was given twice to Mario Andretti, but he did not finish either. John Miles did qualify mid-grid for the Canadian GP at Mosport, where the difficult combination of fast sweeping bends suited the 4 wheel drive Lotus 63, which was a 'disaster' on twisty tracks.[3]

After Graham Hill had broken his legs in late 1969, he did not return to Team Lotus, driving Lotus cars for the Rob Walker Racing Team instead. Miles was promoted to number two Lotus F1 driver behind Jochen Rindt for the 1970 Formula One season. In the 1970 South African Grand Prix, where a total of five Lotus cars were entered, he finished fifth in a Lotus 49 with Hill behind him. Miles had driven most of the race with petrol leaking over him, but Colin Chapman expressed dissatisfaction he had not taken Beltoise for fourth. For the Spanish GP, the new Lotus 72 was entered, but Miles failed to qualify for the race in which Rindt had to retire early. Due to the problems with the 72, the updated Lotus 49C was used in Monaco, with Miles driving a few practice laps in the 72, and failing to qualify in the 49C. Graham Hill was slower in practice, but had a guaranteed grid place as a past World Champion, and was allocated Miles' 49C for the race, which was won by Rindt. In Belgium, Miles raced the 72, while Rindt relied on the old 49C, and both had to retire. In Zandvoort, the 72 finally proved to be competitive, with Rindt qualifying on pole and winning, while Miles qualified and finished seventh in the race, losing a points finish after John Surtees passed him after a long duel. Regazzoni and Piers Courage passed Miles in the opening laps, although Courage, notorious for overdriving, was killed a few laps later.[4] In France, Rindt won again in the 72 despite an injury, while Miles finished outside the points once again, although on the same lap as his team leader.

By now, it was evident that Miles was thoroughly overshadowed by his team leader who won five races to earn the F1 World Championship that year. According to John Miles, Chapman regarded him 'as a sort of grease monkey' and paid him a mere 300 pounds per race,[5] out of which he had to pay his own travel expenses, occasionally supplemented by a roll of notes, on request, from Chapman's back pocket to get Miles back to England.[6]

For the British GP, Lotus cars founder and Team Lotus principal Colin Chapman started to enter a third car with Emerson Fittipaldi. With the reliable 49C, the young Brazilian finished his first three GPs while Miles had to retire from each race. Miles qualified seventh at Brands Hatch, 1.2 seconds slower than Rindt on pole, who beat Brabham on the finishing line to win the British GP. Rindt scored a final victory at Hockenheim where Miles qualified tenth and diced with Denny Hulme, until the Lotus 72's Cosworth blew. With the three car team, John Miles' car did not get the same attention as Chapman obviously saw Fittipaldi as the future, as his old Lotus finished eighth and fourth in the British and German races, while Miles retired at both races and had blown three Cosworth V8s during the practice sessions. During the Hockenheim practice sessions, Miles spent many laps providing a slipsteam tow to enable Fittipaldi to qualify. Rindt said "a monkey could have won in the car" (the 72) and told Miles who qualified tenth, two seconds behind Rindt, that he was mystified than Miles didn't drive faster, as two seconds slower was no safer in Rindt's view. This may have been true in a Lotus 72 as Miles qualified on the fifth row again at the next race in Austria, a new, high speed lethal circuit. Miles found himself without braking on the fourth lap: 'coming through the downhill before the final corner, my left front brake shaft broke '[7] Matters came to a head at the Italian GP, where Chapman ordered Miles to follow Rindt in running a new Lotus 72 without front and rear wings to take advantage of the Monza circuit's long straights and fast, low-downforce corners. Miles reluctantly complied but was concerned by the wingless 72's handling on the straights. His teammate Rindt was killed when one of the brake shafts on his new Type 72 failed and his car veered off the track, ploughing into the steel barrier which was placed too high for the revolutionary wedge design of the 72. Rindt, who had only recently acquiesced to wearing a simple lap belt, slid underneath and had his throat cut by the belt buckle. That was too much for Miles, who was widely regarded as too cerebral and sensitive to fit Chapman's idea of a race driver, and he left the team. The team skipped the next race in Canada, and at Watkins Glen, Reine Wisell drove the second Lotus car, while Fittipaldi won, thereby securing both championships for Lotus.

Miles was signed for BRM for 1971, Lou and Jean Stanley recruiting him at the Dorchester, a precursor to the signing of Niki Lauda, (as seen in the doco/drama film, 'Rush') with Lou making a phone call to Bourne to receive the apparent reply that yet another 20 hp was being produced by the BRM V12 on the dyno. He was employed mainly as a test driver and raced in two non-championship rounds at Brands Hatch and Hockenheim in the BRM and also won the British sports car championship that year in 2-litre sports cars – in a Chevron B19 he beat a competitive field, including Chris Craft and Wilson Fittipaldi.[8]

A qualified mechanical engineer, Miles later made a name for himself working for Lotus' road car division. He wrote a column, Miles Behind The Wheel, for Autocar magazine, giving his road impressions of sportier cars.

Personal life[edit]

Miles is the son of the actor Bernard Miles.

Business career[edit]

In 1985 Miles founded 'Miles Music', a jazz recording company, with Peter Watts. In 1996 their release of the CD Tamburello by Peter King won the BT Jazz CD of the year award, it was inspired by the death of Ayrton Senna.[9][10]

Complete Formula One World Championship results[edit]


Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 WDC Points
1969 Gold Leaf Team Lotus Lotus 63 Cosworth V8 RSA ESP MON NED FRA
NC 0
1970 Gold Leaf Team Lotus Lotus 49C Cosworth V8 RSA
19th 2
Lotus 72 ESP
Lotus 72C AUT


  1. ^ Jenkins, Richard. "The World Championship drivers – Where are they now?". Retrieved 29 July 2007. 
  2. ^ S. Taylor. Lunch with John Miles. Motorsport.Oct 2014. Vol 80, No 10, p92.
  3. ^ S.Taylor. Lunch with John Miles. Motor sport. Oct 2014, p93.
  4. ^ Max Mosley and Robin Herd the March team founders, considered Piers Courage the most likely driver to be killed in the 1970 season- ref Champion Year, Ted Simon.
  5. ^ S. Taylor. Lunch with J.Miles. Oct 2014. Motor Sport, p93
  6. ^ Motor Sport. Oct 2014, p93
  7. ^ S. Taylor. Lunch with John Miles. Motor Sport. October 2014, p93
  8. ^ S. Taylor. Lunch with J. Miles. Motor Sport. Oct 2014 p96
  9. ^ Autosport, Mark Hughes on Pete King
  10. ^ Miles Music, History