Brooklands reunion

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The Brooklands Society held another of its annual reunions at the old Surrey Motor Course on June 30th, which attracted the usual large crowds, their cars occupying deep rows along much of the aerodrome runway and spectators lining the length of the aerodrome road to watch the “competing” cars take the Byfleet banking in the reverse direction.

Proceedings opened with the older visitors being taken for runs in energetic Dudley Gahagan’s “VIP Wagon”, in the form of his Type 57 Bugatti coupe, the Society’s popular President TASO Mathieson, over from France for the occasion, Vice-President Alan Hess, and ex-Brooklands driver Windsor-Richards going on one run, Cyril Posthumus and myself on another. Cllr Gibson, Mayor of Elmbridge Council, went in the ex-Michael May Alvis and Mr Robertson, ViceChairman of Surrey CC, was another interested participant.

The arrival of “Babs” was the signal for the banking excursions to begin. Then, after lunch in the President’s tent, there were timed runs along the wartime runway, and demonstrations there by the more exciting motorcycles. For this “Babs” had had to be refilled with ten gallons of water, Wyn-Owen having drained her after the Byfleet banking onslaught, after which the big Parry Thomas car did several runs, from a flying start in deference to its small clutch, although in her hey-day Thomas had taken standing-start records with her.

There were not as many ex-Brooklands cars as hoped for, but “Jonty” Williamson had brought the ex-lap record 10 1/2-litre Deluge, and wound it up to a timed run in 15.65 sec, the Halford Special was looking as smart as ever, as was Benfield’s 200 Mile Race Alvis, and Tarring ran the ex-Barker 60 hp Napier that has run on the hallowed concrete in pre-WW1 days. Quite the highest up the banking was Gahagan’s ERA R7B, with Rivers Fletcher’s Alvis running it close in the altitude stakes. Other notable cars in a Brooklands’ context included the Ulster Aston Martin LM7, Stafford-East’s GN Akela, and Guy Shoosmith in the 1921 straight-eight bolster-tank GP Sunbeam. Heal and Miller brought their 3-litre twincam sports Sunbeams, and by way of contrast a Calcott light-car and a 1935 Ford V8 saloon braved the banking, the latter rendolent of those MCCC and JCC highspeed-trial days, while the Morgan threewheeler contingent was out in force. The rusty Young Special was on show on its trailer, a very sorry racing tyre displayed with it as a reminder of Track ambitions it never attained.

The motorcycle racing fraternity was very well represented, with some nostalgic sounds from Brooklands’ “cans”, and the National Motorcycle Museum had a small display, including the 1908 NLG-Peugeot claimed to be the first bike to win at Brooklands. The Clubhouse being unavailable, the display of Society photographs had to be staged in the President’s tent. The weather behaved, and on all sides one met old friends and encountered great personalities from the old days, too numerous to list. This Reunion, the 18th to be held, must be regarded as a great success, and a credit to those who tirelessly organise it, with Gahagan very much in command of affairs on the day. — W.B.