One year after its 1928 founding, the British Racing Drivers’ Club organised the 500-Mile Race over Brooklands’ Outer Circuit. In the foreword to the programme, Earl Howe CBE VD remarked on the way in which car races often attracted genuine standard cars and those “as different from a racing car as anything could be”. He implied that pure speed was no longer the principal objective and that motor racing in its modern form had changed from that which we knew from years gone by.
The modern tendency was to put data before speed, and there were those who were worried that racing as we know it might pass from us for ever, as data took precedence over velocity. So it was opportune of the committee of the BRDC to organise a race for proper racing cars, and that the circuit used should be unhampered by artificial objects and corners.
Lord Howe said, “That in this race there would be an effort to bring before the spectators the joys of seeing speed cars stretching their legs to the full, and that they would be released from their surroundings in which they had been hibernating too often.”
Howe predicted that undoubtedly this ‘500’ would be the fastest ever race run over a long distance in England, the speed of the cars being impeded only by their own limitations. He ended his comments by remarking that the thrills of long-distance racing should be more clearly evident in this new race than had been seen for many years.
In fact the entry list was divided into engine size classes and comprised five Austin 7s, four supercharged, and small cars apart from those in the other classes which included two supercharged Sunbeams for Kay Don and Leon Cushman, their other drivers being Dudley Froy and Cyril Paul. Other notably quick cars included Henry Birkin’s supercharged Bentley and three non-supercharged Bentleys, while the class for cars over 5000cc, although poorly supported, included Woolf Barnato’s Bentley, to be driven by Jack Dunfee and himself, F Lago’s Isotta-Fraschini to be driven by Kenyon Thom and Lago, and the aged 16,200cc Mercedes driven by John Pole and John Noel, which they had found derelict in the London depot and put into running order. They might have done better if Dunlop had not advised them to keep their lap speeds down to 100mph to conserve the tyres. The winner was the Bentley of Jack Barclay and Frank Clement, with an average speed of 107.32mph.