16 December 1920|
Bulwell, Nottinghamshire, England
13 May 2012 (aged 91)|
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 served 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 involved in 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 won the Luxembourg Grand Prix in 1952, and became a Cooper works driver in 1954 winning the British Formula Three championship in the same year. He participated in three Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, debuting on 2 September 1956, but scored no championship points. He was entered to 1962 Le Mans by Colin Chapman to co-drive with Tony Shelly in a Lotus 23, but the race organizer, ACO, denied the entry in the famous Lotus Le Mans debacle.
After escaping from a serious 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 merchandised aftermarket parts for cars, such as steering wheels and gear levers. Later he expanded into clothing, and was instrumental in pioneering the development of safety equipment such as flameproof overalls and crash helmets. He was still involved on track, though, in the early 1960s driving 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 sourcing-in from China the giveaways, etc., that were rewards for incentives such as submitting cereal-box tops. His lifestyle involved owning a large cruiser that he would take out to sea at weekends and a jazz radio show. He frequented the bar of the Foreign Correspondents' Club, and for leisure he rode a BMW 1,200 cc 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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