Brooklands Reunion

The 26th annual reunion of the Brooklands Society filled the historic site with vibrant activity, and socialising, on June 27. What is more, the day was perhaps the hottest yet this year, reminiscent of those torrid days at the Track before the war, when the next Lightning Long handicap, or the start of the Broadcast Trophy race with the Napier-Railton on scratch, for instance, were eagerly awaited. These days there is not quite so much of the banking to radiate the heat! But it recalled that classic opening to a 1920’s report of a race meeting there under similar conditions: ‘ “Phew! Pretty hot, isn’t it?” The speaker shaded his eyes and watched Meeson’s AC flash over the line at nearly 100 mph. His companion turned away despondently “Too hot for me”, he replied. The first man may have been talking about the weather. The other was referring to the race, as he tore his betting ticket into shreds . . .’ (But no bookies, nor ACs, there this time!). Events opened with a very much appreciated presentation to me, as the Society’s Founder (let’s forget I am 80!) by Dudley Gahagan, who then opened the Test Hill with his T57 Bugatti, passengered by Kenneth Day, Brian Dinsley and me.

This year only road-taxed vehicles were allowed up the 1909 gradient. Why I don’t know — noise considerations, the time factor, or too-rapid ascents for the hump at the crest? Anyway, there were sufficient two-, threeand four-wheeler contenders to fill the morning’s activities. Elsewhere, a large Alvis assembly was celebrating the make’s 1923 200 Mile Race victory. After a guests’ cocktail party in the Clubhouse I was asked to open the runway on which the sprints took place, in the ex-Michael May Alvis. When this was temporarily mislaid Dudley’s lames Young dh coupe Bugatti was used again. The course was straight for the bikes, a horseshoe for the cars, providing plenty of good sounds and entertainment for the spectators, especially those of the public who had never before seen fast cars in action.

Wyn Owen had “Babs” out again, and among the other ex-Brooklands cars were the Bentley-Jackson, Tom Delaney’s Hyper Lea-Francis, Gahagan’s ERA, the ex-Hodge Singer, the 1908 Napier, and the Dunham 12/70 Alvis that ran at the last BARC meeting in 1939. Stanley Mann had his “Millbrook” 3/8-litre Bentley. On the Test Hill the ex-Brooklands’ cars numbered StaffordEast’s 200 Mile Race Akela GN, Daley’s ex-Urquhart-Dykes’ 12/50 Alvis, Booth’s exHarris Super Sports Morgan 3-wheeler, Hardings’ 1929 Frazer Nash, the ex-Victoria Worsley D-12 MG Midget, the one-time Clive Lones’ Aero-Morgan and the “Alan Hess” 4 1/2-litre Lagonda of Cohn, who also ran the ex-Grist Monza Alfa Romeo. Titch Allen had brought the Blomfield works Norton as a static motorcycle exhibit, along with Foreshaw’s 1926 200 Mile Race Wallis and the Leverson Gower Douglas.

Pre-war personalities abounded — George Harvey Noble, Mort Morris Goodall, Vaughan Davis, AF Rivers-Fletcher, Guy Griffiths, Clive Windsor-Richards, Billy Rockell (who first went to Brooklands to tune up the 1922 TT Bentleys and was at the Birkin plaque and Norfolk ceremonies the previous week-end), Wilkie Wilkinson, E L Bouts, Harry Clayton, Stanley Sedgwick, and many more. Runway times: Class 1: J Brown (1930 Morgan, 38.76s); Class 2: D Lake (1930 Amilcar-Riley, 38.94s); Class 3: C Dunham (1938 Alvis, 39.32s); FTD: S Mann (1936 Bentley, 38.53s). Brian Dinsley Trophy for best-kept car: T Tarring (1908 Napier). W B