An Injustice to Kay Petre

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Writing in The Motor of November 9th last year, Dennis May, in an article called ” Ladies’ Singles,” dealt with some of the better-known lady drivers of the Brooklands days—Gwenda Hawkes, Kay Petre, Jill Scott, Elsie (” Bill “) Wisdom, Fay Taylour, Doreen Evans, Dorothy Stanley Turner and Margaret Allen.

In the course of this article he made the following statement : ” I suspect, though the oracular Mr. Boddy may be able to correct me, that the fastest-ever win by a woman at Brooklands was Miss Allen’s in a 1936 Whitsun Handicap— 115.25 m.p.h. average and a lap at over 122, driving the Marker Bentley.”

The “oracular Mr. Boddy ” waswas able to correct Mr. May, for a year earlier, in winning from scratch the Easter Junior Long Handicap at the wheel of R. O. Shuttleworth’s supercharged ” 2.3 ” G.P. Bugatti, charming little Kay Petre had averaged 118.62 m.p.h., her best lap being at 125.48 m.p.h. Incidentally, in this race Kay gave 65 sec. start to Miss Allen’s Bentley and passed it, the Bentley’s best lap being 98.62 m.p.h.

Having been virtually called upon to do so by Mr. May, Mr. Boddy wrote a brief letter to the Editor of The Motor, whose wife Margaret Allen is, pointing out the inaccuracy. This letter was neither acknowledged, nor published, so, in justice to Kay Petre, we wish to make the facts known—incidentally, they are correctly given on page 285 in ” The History of Brooklands Motor Course,” by W. Boddy, which Mr. May Presumably read before writing his interesting article, for he refers to this book as ” an indispensable memory-deruster or all who aspire to write about the old track.” Apparently it failed to derust the May memory and it seems a pity that The Motor, which published two pictures of Miss Allen in the 4½-litre Bentley, captioning her as winner of the fastest-ever race by a woman at Brooklands, has not seen fit to correct this error, if only for the sake of future motor-racing historians. However, apparently it is not over-concerned with with the absolute truth, for some years ago the same writer contributed an article to The Motor in which the Earl of March and S. C. H. Davis were credited with winning the 1930 B.R.D.C. 500-Mile Race at the wheel of an M.G. and a letter pointing out that the winning car was an Austin Seven was likewise ignored.

Incidentally, Kay Petre went on to faster things. Driving the venerable 10½-litre V12 Delage she finally lapped Brooklands at the truly creditable speed of 134.20 m.p.h. (she had been fractionally faster in practice) when contesting the Ladies’ Lap Record with Gwenda Hawkes (then Mrs. Stewart), who took the honours at a rousing 135.95 m.p.h. in the supercharged 2-litre front-wheel-drive Derby in August 1935.