Green race!

With news of experimental and forthcoming electric cars penetrating the news, an observant reader has noticed that Motor Transport recalled, in its September issue, a “green” race which took place at Brooklands 26 years ago and had even dug out a photograph of the competing vehicles. He asked if we could identify them. Well, they were Paul Dutoit in a 1924 200 Mile Race Alvis, a Gordon England Brooklands-Super-Sports stripped A7, and RM Hanlon on a Greenbat electric trolley of the kind used at that time to carry luggage about railway station platforms. The cars carried passengers and the truck was laden with two tons of sacks containing sand.

In fact, this seems to have been a publicity picture for the Press, as the actual race, over three laps, was contested between the Alvis, Parry Thomas in his Leyland-Thomas, and George Duller, the jockey/driver, in the supercharged racing A7. Hanlon had expected his truck to get progressively slower as its batteries exhausted themselves. He was given a start of one hour, 25 minutes and 38.4 seconds (Ebblewhite had been at work on the handicapping!). The A7 had a start of one minute and 24 seconds and Thomas was on scratch. As it happened, the Greenbat went faster and faster, to record a best lap of 5.48mph and it won by 32.4 seconds from the Alvis, which had done a lap at 91.22mph. The A7 and the Leyland Thomas misfired and both pulled in after the first lap; perhaps neither driver had taken this stunt race very seriously.

To see how far it would get, the Greenbat continued after the three laps had been completed but in hard braking for a rapid pit-stop for another driver to take over, as Hanlon had understandably got fed up after circulating the track for getting on for three hours at this snails-pace, a transmission shaft was damaged and the electric vehicle was out after covering 13 miles, 1055 yards (the meticulous Brooklands calculations!). However, this “green” happening gained much publicity in the newspapers and in the motor journals, and the Greenbat was given a BARC Certificate recording its average speed of 4.79mph for the distance, on one set of batteries. Just one of the unusual things that went on down at Weybridge in those days. WB