Norman Dewis, famous as Jaguar’s test and development driver was often entered as a relief driver but until 1955 had not raced a Jag…
Here he is in the factory ‘D Type’ during the 1955, horrific Le Mans event. He co-drove Don Beauman’s car the pair failed to finish when Beauman ‘beached the car atop the sand dunes’ at Arnage. Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb scored a hollow win in ‘XKD 505’.
Before he joined Jaguar, as the 500cc F3 movement grew, and with a fellow LeaF employee Dewis designed and built a neat Rudge-powered F3 car, the DNC. In its first race at Silverstone in July 1950, he qualified on pole and led for two laps before engine failure. It was rebuilt to do more races in 1951, in October that year Dewis joined Jaguar.
As noted Dewis had been a Jag reserve driver before, but the 1955 Le Mans was his only race/works drive for his Browns Lane employers. He had done most of the D development work, the result, the long-nose 1955 car.
Jaguar’s works 1955 Le Mans entries were for Hawthorn/Jimmy Stewart, Tony Rolt/Duncan Hamilton and Don Beauman/Desmond Titterington. Beauman, an old friend of Hawthorn’s was hired after a test under Lofty England’s watchful eye.
Two weeks before Le Mans Titterington and Stewart crashed their Ecosse D’s during the Eifelrennen at the Nurburgring. Stewart decided to retire and Des was hospitalised. So, days before the race Ivor Bueb was slotted into Hawthorn’s car and Dewis into Beauman’s. Their car ‘XKD508’ ran as high as 4th before the Mercedes team withdrew their 300 SLR’s but on lap 106 Beauman ‘parked it’ at Arnage and retired it unable to free it from the sand.
Click here to read an interesting interview with Norman Dewis in MotorSport about his life;
Getty Images, Klemantaski Collection, Nicholas Watts
Tailpiece: Hawthorn’s D from #12 Dreyfus/Lucas Ferrari 750 Monza and Fangio’s Benz 300SLR during the first torrid stint by both Mike and J-MF…