Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,124 pages of information and 233,665 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Leo Villa

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Leo Villa (November 30, 1899 – January 18, 1979) was the long-serving mechanic of Malcolm Campbell and Donald Campbell.

He was born in London, of Italian and Scottish parents.

Through his uncle he found employment as a riding mechanic with the Italian racing driver Giulio Foresti who held the British franchise for the Italia automobile.

Between 1915 and 1922 Villa and Foresti were lucky to escape serious injury after a number of serious incidents when motor racing, however during preparations for the French Grand Prix at Strasbourg in which Foresti was to drive a French Ballot Villa’s luck ran out when he was seriously burnt when a generator exploded.

After a period of convalescence in England Villa found himself out of work after Foresti had taken on another mechanic in his absence

Malcolm Campbell was so impressed with Villa’s manner and ability he offered him a job and though he was Campbell’s employee, Villa was be a key part in Malcolm Campbell’s 9 land and 4 water world speed record attempts

After Campbell’s death Villa spent his time at home in Reigate in Surrey with his wife Joan where he took up gardening.

He received an OBE in June 1976 for services to land and water speed records

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