Veteran to classic
Following the VSCC meeting at Silverstone, we drove to Weybridge for the Brooklands Society Annual Reunion. Staying at the famous Hand & Spear, we found Mr and Mrs Owen Wyn Owen, who had brought "Babs" on its trailer behind a Range Rover. The 27-litre Liberty-engined Parry Thomas LSR car ran on the banking once or twice, but it was not in a very good mood, a broken gearbox cross-shaft having to be bodged. The engine had not been run for two years, and in the hotel courtyard ten gallons of water were needed to fill the coolant system, which called for work with various priming-cocks.
Dudley Gahagan gave his usual VIP runs on the Byfleet banking before a very large crowd of onlookers; his Bugatti had developed magneto trouble, so he had commandeered a fine Le Mans Bentley from Stanley Mann. He packed Sir Peter Masefield, Lady Masefield, David Gilbert, the local mayor and myself into it for two fast runs, on one of which he outbraked a GP Bugatti into the run-off! Dudley then drove his ERA and the Napier-Railton lent by the Midland Motor Museum.
Other genuine racing cars included Daniels' ex-Birkin single-seater blower-41/2 Bentley (equipped for road use with a spare wheel on each side), the Dixon Riley which won the 1934 and 1936 500-Mile races, the 101/2-litre Delage, the GN Kim II, Dunham's Alvis, the 200-Mile Race Alvis, Nash's 1912 Lorraine-Dietrich Vieux Charles III, the Coupe de l'Auto Delage, the Akela 200-Mile Race GN, Robbie Hewitt's Fox & Nichol Lagonda, the Marendaz Special No 1, and various motorcycles and Morgans. The total entry numbered 300.
Before the banking demonstrations, there was a parade of Lanchesters, presumably because one or two examples of this illustrious marque were raced at the Track. The Tiger Club sent over six biplanes to perform a "Salute to Brooklands" (to be repeated at Redhill Aerodrome on July 26) and on all sides Brooklands personalities were encountered. Unhappily, ill-health prevented the Society's President TASO Mathieson and Vice President Alan Hess from attending. But we did meet George Harvey-Noble, Bert Denly, Harry Clayton (who knows all about the banking!), John Morgan, Leslie Bellamy, Wilky Wilkinson, Lindsay Eccles (who had a run in Haajanen's ex-Staniland 2-litre GP Bugatti), Bert Hadley, Harry Rose, George Abecassis, Frank Kennington, Ian Connell, "Mort" Morris-Goodall, Tim Carson, Charles Mortimer and many others.
It is impossible to pick out all the interesting cars which came to Brooklands for this memorable day, but they included Bunny Tubbs' enormous Gobron-Brille from Kent, Damaus' Arab, the V8 Harker Special, the ex-Michael May Alvis, Parris' magnificent H6 Hispano Suiza tourer, Sutherland's 8C Maserati, a 1906 40hp Berliet, Hescroffs Montlhery AC Six, a smart Calthorpe Sporting Four and Agg's fine open 36/220 Mercedes-Benz.
The Richard Bolster Special made FTD in the paired runway sprints, with two runs each in 13.4 seconds, ahead of the Avon Bentley (14.6 sec) and the MG PA "Cream Cracker" (14.9 sec). The lap-record Napier-Railton and Sparrowhawk's 4.3 Alvis both did 15.1 sec. Fastest motorcycle was Henry Body's 1929 Douglas (13.3 sec) and quickest three-wheeler Spencer's 1930 Morgan (19.0 sec). There was the usual VIP lunch, at which it was good to see Society and Museum officials together on very affable terms, and Sir Peter had a drinks session for his friends after the runway sprints. Even the weather was in co-operative mood, so the twentieth anniversary of the Society and the eightieth of the Track itself were very appropriately celebrated. WB
Two excellent souvenir booklets have been issued to celebrate the eightieth anniversary of Brooklands: one by the Museum, called Under Starter's Orders and the other by the Brooklands Society, titled Brooklands Commemorative Brochure — 1907, 1937, 1987.
The first was circulated at the June 7 celebrations and contains congratulatory messages on the Museum's foundation from HRH the Queen Mother, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, His Grace The Duke of Richmond & Gordon, the Hon Gerald Lascelles, Tom Sopwith, George Edwards, the Hon Sir Clive Bossom Bt, C Shea-Simmonds, Sir Austin Pearce, Dr J Fozard, the Rt Hon Geoffrey Pattie and Ian Robertson. This landscape, loose-leaf publication has articles by Sir Peter Masefield, the chairman of the Brooklands Museum Trust, and others, on aviation (by Mike Goodall and Dr Barfield), on the Hennebique bridge (with a copy of the original order for it), Noel Pope, cycle racing, Brooklands archaeology, and the recovery of the Loch Ness Wellington bomber. Morag Barton writes of the Museum, and Rivers-Fletcher and myself contributed nostalgic articles.
The Society's 52-page booklet also contains articles by His Grace The Duke of Richmond & Gordon, the Hon Sir Clive Bossom Bt, Sir Peter Masefield, and other reminiscences by TASO Mathieson, Alan Hess, Bert Denly, Kay Peter, G Harvey-Noble, Harry Clayton (with dramatic pictures of his "over-the-top" MG accident), Charles Mortimer, Graham Brown and myself.
Both books are extremely well illustrated and although most of the photographs have been used previously, blowing them up has much enhanced them. Some of the full page and half-page pictures in the Society publication are magnificent, covering aviation and motorcycles, as well as the great personalities (Locke King's account of how he built Brooklands is reprinted) and many views of the old Track. WB
V to C miscellany
Those interested in motorcycles as well as in cars should note that the Festival of 1000 Bikes, with a vintage flavour, takes place at Brands Hatch on September 20. Admission costs £3 (no charge for children) and parking is free.
When we interviewed the late Sir Leonard Ropner Bt (Motor Sport, May 1968), about his 30/98 Vauxhall racing at Brooklands, he was running a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud 1 and a Phantom 1 Park Ward tourer. We hear that the latter Rolls-Royce was sold to Van Martens in Holland, who disposed of it to the dealer CAR Howard. It has since been purchased by someone in Bromsgrove, who is anxious to discover when its original blue paintwork with polished bonnet was changed for its present all-black finish.
Athought for students of Bugatti history: Christies described a Type 40 four-seater in its Monaco Auction Sale as holding the "four-cylinder record" at Prescott.
We regret to learn that the Calthorpe and Alvis competition driver Ian MacDonald, whom Motor Sport interviewed some time ago, has died at the age of 94. At 92 he was asked to take a driving-test, which he passed satisfactorily.
Last month's story on the Merlin-Aerees referred to Civilian Coupe light aeroplane flown by the car's builder. The statement that this was made at Hendon was incorrect , as it should have read Hedon. WB