Motor Sport and the Brooklands Society originated the post-war return of Brooklands personalities to the old Track which had unfortunately failed to survive the war as a race course, and in recent years the annual reunion there has been run by the Society, which was formed back in 1967. The last reunion was held this year, on June 29th. What may not be generally realised is that, since the development of their 30-acre site by Gallaher Ltd., in conjunction with the Elmbridge Borough Council’s forthcoming Brooklands Heritage Museum there, under an independent Charitable Trust other organisations have been returning to what remains of this historic place. For example, this year the MG CC, Swift Register, Lagonda CC, Alvis OC, Aston Martin OC, Riley Register, 12/50 Alvis Register, 750 MC, and Bean CC have had meetings there, and not long ago we saw a photograph of many pre-war Singers lined upon the bit of the Members banking restored by Gallaher.
Representatives of many other one-make clubs and motoring interests have been to inspect what has been done, and on October 26th a big rally was organised by the Brooklands Society so that visitors could look round the rebuilt Paddock Clubhouse, see other old buildings that are being re-established, like the BP petrol-pagoda, and drive pre-war vehicles up the Test Hill, which itself dates from 1909, and along that resuscitated part of the banking, returning to the Paddock in the direction taken by the old Finishing straight. Thus driving along the banking the “right” way, anti-clockwise, which has not been possible at the Reunion since Gallaher tore up part of it and the Campbell circuit to form their modem car-park. Incidentally, in all this I was glad to note that the old Press office, where I used to go to get the results of many pre-war races for Motor Sport has survived intact.
The day turned out magnificently sunny, as the Paddock filled up. Early arrivals lined up by the Clubhouse railings were the ex-Samuel Blackburne Frazer Nash, looking like new, an open 1934 Alvis SA Firebird, an Amilcar tourer, the ex-G. C. Harris Morgan 3-wheeler with KMB Blackburne engine, that ran at the Track in 1929, a twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam, a Matchless-powered Morgan 3-wheeler, an open Aston Martin, a big Lagonda tourer, a tiny tiller-steered Parisienne veteran, and a vintage Bentley, Alvis Special, MG Magna and a gate-crashing Triking — all very much as it was before the war. After which so many appropriate cars arrived that one lost count. The racing motorcycles were out in force, too, and the 1912 Lorraine-Dietrich “Vieux Charles III”, push-started by a Range-Rover (and on a new set of 34 x 4-1/2 Dunlops, which I hope means that we shall see it racing at VSCC events next year) was a centre of interest, as was the Tarring Napier Sixty, Tom Lightfoot’s 1902 Mercedes, and an Edwardian Lanchester, etc.
The Museum was open to inspection, and lunch was served to VIPs. The former will not be opened officially for some 18 months and at present has a distinct aeronautical bias, especially with the exhumed “Loch Ness” Wellington an impressive exhibit. Cars like a pedestrian 1928 Vauxhall and a 1932 A7 saloon are hardly what one expects at Brooklands, although an MG and a 1935 Le Mans Singer were better. Time will tell … (But I covet the fine model of the trans-Atlantic Vickers Vimy hanging from the ceiling).
By 1.30 Dudley Gahagan’s Type 57 Bugatti was busy giving celebrities rides round the “circuit”, of whom Alan Hess had very definite pre-war associations with the Track. It was all good fun, and I was lucky to be lent Robbie Hewitt’s 1934 Lagonda team-car, in which I at first stalled through not having found the lowest gear in its Alvis box, no doubt to the delight of the onlookers, before making two ascents of the Test Hill. I was allowed also to drive C J. Mann’s 1937 Triumph Southern Cross, which competes in VSCC races and which showed splendid poke up the Test Hill, after a quick change into 2nd gear and which, as a special made from largely standard parts, is in the best tradition of such cars as they once ran at Brooklands, Triumph teams doing well in the LCC Relay races for instance.
It was an enioyable day, that augurs well for future Club meetings at this venue, which may enable Gallaher Ltd to recover some of the large expenditure they have contributed to the 30-acre site, which should remain an oasis of the old time at this place, into the foreseeable future, sad as it is to see what has, and is, happening to the remainder the pioneer Brooklands Motor Course and Aerodrome. — W.B