Obituary

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George Harvey Noble

It is with extreme sadness that I have to report the death, in a nursing home after a series of setbacks borne as bravely as when he raced at Brooklands, of George Harvey Noble. George was the personification of the true Brooklands dedicated enthusiast. He gave up a flourishing business to live near the Track and was there almost every day it was open. He tested racing cars of all kinds, perhaps more than anyone else at this period, apart from his racing and record breaking achievements, and right to the end retained his intense interest in Brooklands.

A fuller story is told in my interview with this warm-hearted, welcoming man (Motor Sport, March 1972). It started with a GE A7, and a 12/50 Alvis and in earnest with a Salmson, in which George drove in Vic Derrington’s team of these cars that came home second in the 1932 LCC Relay Race. By 1935 George was racing a GP Bugatti, which, although he was essentially an “outer-circuit” exponent, he drove on the Mountain circuit. In this 2-litre Bugatti George got a second place in 1936, diving sensationally off the home banking to pass slower cars. By now Harvey Noble’s track-craft was established — he knew Brooklands probably better than anyone else in the later 1930s. He was also tenacious in working up cars to their top performance, whether small or large. He did a great deal of high-speed testing of the difficult Bimotore Alfa Romeo for the Hon Peter Aitken before it was decided that it wouldn’t get the lap record and became the single-engined Alfa Aitken, by 1939. George also developed a single-seater 750cc MG to such a high pitch of perfection that it won a 1937 long handicap by a big margin and set the hotly-contested Class-H lap record to 122.40 mph that August, which was never bettered, not even by the works twin-cam A7s.

In the same determined style George learnt the art of racing the big cars and took the last 130 mph BARC badge to be awarded, with the Bentley-Jackson, just before the Track closed in August 1939. He likewise did much development work on, and successfully raced, Robin Jackson’s 2-litre Alta and lapped at over 122 mph in the Bowler-Hofman. The aforesaid MG would hold off a very quick Talbot; its story is told, in George’s own words, on pages 302-303 of my History of Brooklands Motor Course. Although primarily an outer-circuit driver, George drove over the Campbell course and was third in Summer’s MG. He shared Aitken’s s/c Frazer Nash and 6C Maserati, among other cars. Very well known and liked by those who frequented the Track, George might well be termed “Mr Brooklands of the 1930s”. He became a keen Brooklands Society member after the war and painstakingly collected badges from every car he had raced at Brooklands, to attach to a favourite racing steering wheel. Failing eye-sight George coped with, and he made a point of being at Millbrook when the Bentley-Jackson was breaking records there. All motor racing enthusiasts will mourn his passing and will wish to convey their profound sympathy to Mrs Vera Harvey Noble, who looked after her husband so well in his last years.

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