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Louis Zborowski in the driving seat of Chitty Bang Bang 1 at Brooklands Count Louis Zborowski (20 February 1895 – 19 October 1924) was a racing driver and automobile engineer. Contents 1 Biography 2 Racing career 3 Indy 500 results 4 Car designs 5 Legacy 6 References 7 External links Biography His father, Count William Eliot Morris Zborowski (1858–1903) was also a racing driver, and died in a racing crash, in 1903 at La Turbie Hillclimb in France near Nice. His mother was a wealthy American heiress, born Margaret Laura Astor Carey (1853–1911), a granddaughter of William Backhouse Astor, Sr. of the prominent Astor family. She had been Madame de Stuers before her divorce and marriage in 1882 to Count Eliot Zborowski. He lived at Higham Park, a country estate at Bridge near Canterbury in Kent. Zborowski was killed when he hit a tree during the Italian GP. Racing career Louis Zborowski's career as an amateur racing driver encompassed a wide experience of marques and events. He was an early patron of Aston Martin, and raced for them at Brooklands and in the 1923 French Grand Prix. In the 1923 Indianapolis 500 he drove a Bugatti. He drove in the 1923 Italian Grand Prix at Monza in a car designed by American engineer Harry Arminius Miller, the single seat "American Miller 122". Louis Zborowski joined the Mercedes team in 1924 but died in one of their cars, after hitting a tree during the Italian Grand Prix. He was just 29 years old. Indy 500 results Year Car Start Qual Rank Finish Laps Led Retired 1923 27 5 91.800 15 20 41 0 Rod Totals 41 0 Starts 1 Poles 0 Front Row 0 Wins 0 Top 5 0 Top 10 0 Retired 1 Car designs Zborowski designed and built four of his own racing cars in the stables at Higham Park, assisted by his engineer and co-driver Captain Clive Gallop (one of the "Bentley Boys"). The first car was powered by a 23,093cc six cylinder Maybach aero engine and called "Chitty Bang Bang"[1]. A second "Chitty Bang Bang" was poweered by 18,882 Benz aero engine. A third car was based on a Mercedes 28/95, but fitted with a 14,778cc 6 cylinder Mercedes aero engine and was referred to as The White Mercedes. These cars achieved some success at Brooklands. Another car, also built at Higham Park with a huge 27 litre aero engine, was called the "Higham Special" and later "Babs" and was used in J.G. Parry-Thomas's fatal attempt for the land speed record at Pendine Sands in 1927. In January 1922 Louis, his wife Vi, Clive Gallop and Pixi Marix together with a couple of mechanics took Chitty Bang Bang and the White Mercedes across the Mediterranean for a drive into the Sahara Desert, in the tracks of Citroen's kegresse expedition. Legacy Zborowski was a railway enthusiast and a 15 inch (380 mm) gauge railway circuit, the Higham Railway, was built around his estate in Kent. This line was part of the inspiration behind the joint decision by Zborowski and his racing friend Captain J.E.P. Howey to construct a long-distance passenger-carrying railway line in the same gauge. Many locations were investigated, but this eventually led to the 14-mile (23 km) long Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway in Kent, which remains a popular tourist attraction and means of local transport. Zborowski ordered a steam locomotive from Bassett-Lowke, which ran on the Higham Railway in 1924. The locomotive was purchased by the Fairbourne Railway in Wales following the Count's death and named "Count Louis" in his honour. The locomotive remained at the Fairbourne until 1988. Zborowski also ordered the first locomotives for the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway from Davey Paxman & Co. of Essex. The order (and the project) was continued by Capt Howey alone, following the Count's death. The children's book by Ian Fleming, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and the subsequent musical film, were inspired by the romance of his exploits. Ian Fleming had known Higham Park as a guest of its later owner, Walter Whigham[2], chairman of Robert Fleming & Co. To avoid confusion, with the pronunciation of his surname, Walter Whigham renamed the house Highland Court. References ^ David Paine (August 2008). "The Zborowski Inheritance".  ^ Jeremy Whigham, grandson External links Higham Park Indy 500 stats for Zborowski Profile at "Historic Racing" Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway Louis Zborowski at Brooklands Photo of Louis Zborowski and Clive Gallop Persondata Name Zborowski, Louis Alternative names Short description Date of birth 20 February 1895 Place of birth Date of death 19 October 1924 Place of death