Racer by Day, Getaway Driver by Night
Roy James, the Great Train Robber
Roy “The Weasel” James was a true racing driver but to fund his habit he turned to a life of crime. In the swinging sixties, crime sometimes did pay…for motor racing. Like any other sport, motor racing can boast its share of shady individuals. Whispers and rumours are as far as it gets in many cases, but sometimes the facts are incontrovertible and occasionally sensational.
In the early nineteen sixties, Roy James was a promising young racing driver. He was also a criminal*. In 1963 he was the getaway driver for what was referred to as ‘the crime of the century’- the Great Train Robbery that took place on August 8th, 1963.
He was a good racing driver and therefore an excellent getaway driver. When he took part in the Great Train Robbery, his intention was to use his share of the loot to finance a drive for himself in Formula One.
And he did have Formula One connections. This is why for many years, it was thought that the mastermind behind today’s F1 success was also the brains behind the train robbery.
James was sentenced to 30 years for his part in The Great Train Robbery, and spent 11 years in gaol for his part in The Great Train Robbery, and then, after 18 years of freedom which included an attempted racing comeback, went inside again for the attempted murder of his father-in-law. From a promising racer in Formula Junior, then F1’s training ground, he became instead a notorious double convict.
James didn’t smoke or drink and had a promising career as a racing driver, having won a series of trophies in 1963.