John Miles, who died at the age of 74 on Sunday, was sadly one of the more forgotten racing drivers of the 1960’s who was a quiet, intellectual person as opposed to a pushy young charger.
He started racing modestly with a little Diva sports car before switching to Lotus where his name is best remembered. His early mentor was John Willment who gave him his main chance nationally when he put John into the Willment Lotus Elan and things started to happen. That was in 1966 and in his short racing career that ended in 1970 save for a one-off drive in a BRM. In his mere five major seasons, he achieved a lot and raced for Team Lotus in their factory Lotus Europa sports car before moving into Formula 3 with the Lotus 41.
As a trained engineer working with Colin Chapman must have had its difficult moments however Chapman brought him into Formula 1 in 1969 at the French Grand Prix with the Lotus 63 only for the fuel pump belt to break and put him out. In his other four grand prix races that year he was put out of three of them with mechanical problems but finished 10th in the British Grand Prix. He was kept in the Gold Leaf Team Lotus crew for 1970 and took his best overall result in the opening race in South Africa finishing 5th in a Lotus 49C. He was not to drive the new Lotus 72 – which did not impress him – until the Spanish Grand prix and he returned to the 49C for another three races that year but lost his drive at the end of the season being replaced by club member Reine Wisell.
He drove a few times for the DART team in sports cars with a Chevron but he then joined Autocar as their leading road test driver and became a consultant engineer.