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Author: Stewart Penfound
Publisher: BR Books
Winner of the Michael Sedgwick Award 2015, presented by the Society Of Automotive Historians in Britain for the best motoring book in the English language demonstrating excellence in research and writing, published in the previous 12 months.
Garage owner and expert tuner of MG cars, Harry Lester was one of the more successful sports car competitors in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In 1949 he designed and built his own car, with a rigid tubular chassis, lightweight aluminium body and utilising the favoured engine of many club racers of the time, the XPAG unit from the MGTC. So successful was the car in his hands that a trio of wealthy young amateur racers decided to form a team and commissioned him to build them a car each, plus a spare. They called themselves "The Monkey Stable" and enjoyed much success in their first year, 1952, a highlight being winning the team prize at the first 9 hours race at Goodwood. In subsequent years their fortunes changed, as did their cars, going to Kieft MGs in 1953,then back to Lesters in 1955. In the interim, the Monkey Stable drivers twice drove for the Bristol team at Le Mans, and one of their number, Pat Griffith, briefly became a works driver for Aston Martin, partnering Peter Collins in a number of long-distance events. It all ended in tragedy, however, when team founder Jim Mayers was killed at Dundrod in the 1955 TT race, only weeks after another team member, Mike Keen, had crashed fatally at Goodwood. Never before published in its entirety, this is the story of Harry Lester and his cars, together with the exploits of The Monkey Stable during their brief but significant racing career.
The story is told by Stewart Penfound, MG enthusiast and owner of one of the last of the Lester MGs made. Containing much previously unseen material from both Harry Lester's and The Monkey Stable's archives it is a story as much about the characters as the cars and is a significant addition to the record of motor racing immediately after the end of the Second World War.
In addition to the initial financial support from the MSMT, the author also received the 2015 Michael Sedgwick Award for this book. The award, presented annually to the best book on a motoring subject, is decided by an independent committee, organised by the Society of Automotive Historians in Britain and includes a £250 cheque from the MSMT.