16 December 1920|
Bulwell, Nottinghamshire, England
|Died||13 May 2012
Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, England
|Formula One World Championship career|
|Active years||1956 – 1957|
|Teams||Connaught, Cooper, BRM|
|Entries||3 (2 starts)|
|First entry||1956 Italian Grand Prix|
|Last entry||1957 British Grand Prix|
In his early life Leston was a successful drummer for the jazz band The Clay Pigeons. He also fought in WW2 as a mid upper gunner in a Lancaster.
Soon after the war finished he and his father 'Monty' set up a successful aeronautical accessories business, Aero Spares, a company that benefited from a variety of technical appliances made for war planes.
He started racing in a Jaguar SS100 before acquiring a Cooper and his own Leston Special. He became a Cooper works driver in 1954 and took the British Formula Three championship in the same year. He participated in three Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, debuting on 2 September 1956. He scored no championship points. Leston won the Luxembourg Grand Prix in 1952.
After his racing career
After escaping from a life-threatening crash at Caen in 1958 when his F2 Lotus seized, he concentrated on his ever expanding motorcar accessories business – the field that he was best known for. Les Leston Accessories manufactured and sold aftermarket parts for cars, such as steering wheels and gear shifters. Later he expanded into clothing, and was instrumental in pioneering the development of safety equipment such as flameproof overalls and properly constructed crash helmets. He was no stranger to the track, though, having great fun in the early 1960s with his red Lotus Elite - the famous DAD10.
In the late 1960s Leston became a Formula One pit reporter for the BBC, until he was replaced by Barrie Gill.
In the 1990s Leston lived in Hong Kong, where he was married twice and expanded his merchandising business to sourcing in China the giveaways, etc, that were rewards for submitting cereal box tops, etc. His lifestyle consisted of him having a large cruiser that he would take out to sea at weekends (not with Leston at the wheel!) and a jazz radio show. He was also a loved character at the bar of the Foreign Correspondents' Club. For fun he drove a BMW 1,200cc motor bike.
Complete Formula One World Championship results
|1956||Connaught Engineering||Connaught Type B||Alta Straight-4||ARG||MON||500||BEL||FRA||GBR||GER||ITA
|1957||Cooper Car Company||Cooper T43||Climax Straight-4||ARG||MON
|Owen Racing Organisation||BRM P25||BRM Straight-4||GBR
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