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A Racing Career: Dr. Lee Talbot

Young Talbot
Lee Talbot pictured in 1960.


Photos and story by Lee Talbot
February 2018

As you know one of my other outside activities has been auto racing. While not an academic endeavor in the usual sense, it has been an intellectual one and my students seem to enjoy talking about it. Most of my racing has been in sport or open-wheel cars on grand prix type road courses here and abroad. I have treated it as an intellectual sport as well as a physical one. Last December, for example, I was invited to give a lecture to the black-tie annual dinner of the Explorers Club at the Cosmos Club on “A fresh look at the art and science of motor racing and its impact on society” and I had previously given one for the Cosmos Club itself on “The intellectual basis for sport car racing.” Clearly the intellectual approach works, since most of my competitors are in their 20’s and 30’s, but I consistently win. In the past several years I’ve won all the major national and international awards available for my kind of racing.

L-R: Lee Talbot, winner of the 2017 “Spirit of Monterey” Rolex Award of Excellence and Mounia Mechbal, Rolex Watch USA (photo courtesy: © ROLEX/Stephan Cooper)
Lee Talbot accepting the 2017 “Spirit of Monterey” Rolex Award of Excellence from Mounia Mechbal, Rolex Watch USA.

Anyway, this season I’ll be 88, and after 69 years of racing I have decided to retire. It has been a very good run, including professional drives on four continents, induction into the Road Racing Drivers Club (for championship level international drivers) for my pre-vintage racing, and great fun and consistent wins in 19 years of vintage racing. I have been honored in recent years, for example, by the first Canadian Victory Lane Spirit of Vintage Racing and Sportsmanship award, SVRA Driver of the Year, HSR Mitty Challenge Cup, Rolex award from the Lime Rock Vintage Festival, and to cap it, the Spirit of Monterey Award from the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion last year (arguably the highest international award in the sport). Although I still feel frisky, it seems to make sense to retire now while I’m on top.

Update: Dr. Lee Talbot was featured in the Mason News 12/5/19 article on the movie “Ford vs Ferrari” here: