CONCERNING BROOKLANDS.

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32

CONCERNING BROOKLANDS.

By H. M. CHUBB.

Reminiscences are sometimes boring. But not mine. When I state that at the age of ten I actually walked eight miles to Brooklands and back in a driving rainstorm to watch a race which wasn’t run, well—it sounds’ too like a traveller’s tale, doesn’t it ? But allow me to introduce both myself and my brother. We differ only in height, he being six feet four inches,

whilst my overall measurement cannot better five feet seven inches. In other respects we are as one. Our love of speed, our desire to become racing drivers and our inability to achieve either, form a bond unimpeded by the passing of years and of fast cars. In the days of the war we would decant our insignificant persons beneath an insignificant bridge near Bylieet and point eager fingers at ancient aeroplanes which periodically cropped up above the trees. To us

this phenomenon was rivalled only by the sight of an express train above the Weybridge banking. We envied those passengers. They could see into Brooklands aerodrome ; we could not. However, we managed to compliment an

officer on his exploits to the extent of gaining from him a free pass into the land of the Brook. In we rushed like a mighty wind. Firstly, we looked up Vickers, where we beheld busy men earning hundreds

of pounds and trying to look mysterious. These aeroplanes were all supposed to be secrets. So were the Martinsydes we inspected, although a fiver pressed slyly into the hand by a German secret agent would undoubtedly have opened our mouths.

Beneath green canvas hangars crouched a number of Sopwith triplanes. On removal of the hangar out popped the triplane and, like a grasshopper, whizzed up into the heavens at a great pace.

At that moment we did not associate Brooklands with motor cars ; we thought of it merely as an aerodrome. We harboured some vague idea that the big Vickers machines lumbered contentedly round the track for a lap or two before taking to the upper regions. In a

dilapidated shed we ran to earth a disused biplane into which we clambered. Here we ate sandwiches and dwelt on the excellence of life in general.

In later years we were still to be seen flocking silently into the course on peddle-cycles. We assisted monarchs of the track in starting their dirigibles, hung around ” likelies ” in hope of a ride, and referred in a loud voice to our Rolls in the paddock.

We found these visits too costly, however. Therefore, a pathway was investigated, which led round the Weybridge banking. And on the top of this banking we would lie for hours, hoping against hope some gentleman would career past us at 150 m.p.h. Count Zborrowski usually jogged by at about two miles a minute. It was a wonderful sensation to stand within a few feet of ” Chitti ” at her best. Often she was followed by a determined Ballot, and the two would hurtle past our lair, lap after lap, at twice the speed of an express train. About this time we decided to invest thirty pounds in a second-hand motor-cycle. The pater put the handsdme sum of twenty-seven pounds towards the total amount required. My brother then raised three pounds through

CONCERNING BROOKLANDS—concluded.

the sale of a presentation watch,-Awhilst I offered my opinions on the subject of purchase, gratis. We took over an 8 h.p. belt-driven brute, stoked it with Castrol R—and bellowed into the track. The bike was a real shifter and ever afterwards we felt justified in considering ourselves two of the “big bangs” of Brooklands. Sometimes we would visit the sheds in which the world-famous Parry Thomas concocted speed. His clothing invariably included a jazz-patterned pull-over and a pair of grimy tennis shoes. On his appearance at the shed entrance he once found himself greeted by a battery of vest-pocket Kodaks, my brother and I vigorously clicking in unision. Outside his shed there

usually stood a private Leyland straight eight car, the identical machine of which the performance and photograph appeared in a noted motoring journal. I have seen five private Leyland cars.

As the various ages of the earth are termed ice,” ” heat,” etc., so might one period of Brooklands activity become known as the Wolseley age. A silver-coloured racer of this make periodically took lease of the course and rotated monotonously for hours on end in search of long-distance records. On asking an official, ” Much doing to-day ? ” we could estimate to a nicety his reply.

No, but the Wolseley is going round.”

It always was. I be’ eve Mr. Miller thought he was a planet.

Of late the general public has come to realise the existence of Brooklands and in fast cars and plus-fours have patronised the course.

Beneath huge umbrellas poverty-stricken bookies count the odds whilst on the top of other umbrellas card-sharpers count the quids.

At motor-cycle meetings there is to be seen a gathering of enthusiasts who dash into the course at 6o m.p.h. and out of it at 7o. They usually wear oil-stained breeches, foul pull-overs and Triplex goggles. It is almost a crowd of professionals.

In conclusion, I will form an analogy. In spite of the continuous changes in our earth the sun remains ever constant. So let it be with Brooklands. Speed-kings may come and speed-kings go, but the spirit of sport must live on for ever.