All through motor-racing the mechanics working in the background have played a vital part in the game, without receiving the rewards and plaudits reserved for the drivers. The days of the intrepid riding-mechanic ended as far as Grand Prix racing was concerned in 1925 but these important passengers, who kept an eye on the instruments, pumped-up air-pressure in the fuel tank, indicated to their driver when a faster car was trying to pass, and leapt out to perform skilled work at pit-stops, persisted for many years thereafter in sports-car races.
So it is nice to know that the British Racing Mechanics’ Club thrives and held its annual dinner not long ago. The first of these functions took place in February 1936, actually before a Club had been formed, I think, and a look-back at the dinner menu cannot fail to interest those of us who remember pre-war racing. The venue was Pagani’s Restaurant in Great Portland Street (“the street of cars”), where, incidentally, the 105 dinners and 20 pints of bitter beer (served in Esso oil-bottles, rather as I drink my office Bovril today from a Castrol GTX flask) cost less than £35. Ken Taylor of T & Ts took the Chair and the guests included Hugh McConnell, listed simply as “The Scrutineer of British Motor Racing”, Percy Bradley, Fred Craner, S. C. H. Davis. Tommy Wisdom, Robin Jackson, Sr. G. Riley of Riley’s and M. H. Wood of Barretes Photo Press — together with the Accessory Companies’ reps.
The latter came from Dunlop’s, headed by “Dunlop Mac”, Esso headed by Reg. Tanner, Shell & BP, Champion Plugs, SU, Duron Brake Linings, the Brooklands Engineering Co. and Lucas, who operated their own Brooklands Service. There was also a Mr. L. Anstead, described just “of Weybridge”, which someone may be able to explain. The car manufacturers had their own lads: Bentley led by Walter Hassan, Riley by E. and P. Maclure, Austin by Brockas and Depper, MG by Jackson and Enever, while ERA, Frazer Nash, Aston Martin, Talbot, Rolls-Royce (presumably from the LSR aspect), Singer, Squire and Alta each contributed one or more representatives, as did T & Ts, R. R. Jacksons, Bellevue Motors, Byfleet Motors, H. W. Papworth, Fox St Nicholl, LBB Motors and L. C. Rawlence. In some cases drivers were with their mechanics, as in the case of Hadley and Goodacre.
Then there were those drivers who attended to pay tribute to their personal mechanics, Sir Malcolm Campbell to Leo Villa and Danby, The Earl Howe to Thomas, Holgate, Maslin and Playford, Capt. George Eyston to Dente and Harvey, Freddie Dixon to Maiden, Rose to Rockell and Stone, Briault to Wilcox, Oats to Moore, Bartlett to Hayes, Appleton to Sutton, Rayson to Franks, Balls to Cook, Manby-Colegrave to Smith, Dobbs to Bull and Hayne, Horton to Clarke and Dick Seaman to Finlayson. Ken Taylor proposed the toast of “The King”, and then “The Guests”, to which McConnell and Bradley replied, after which F. G. Skelton thanked the Chairman and there was entertainment by Claude Chandler and Party. Goodness, how time flies. . . ! — W.B.