Getting back to normal

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After World War Two ended, which not all of you will remember, there was great enthusiasm to get motorsport going again. But with Brooklands gone and Donington and the Crystal Palace not yet available, the difficulties were considerable. However, the more ambitious clubs had held rallies, socials and even trials in 1945, and on August 18 the Bristol MC and LCC held the first post war hill-climb at Naish House. On October 28th the Bristol Aeroplane Co’s Motor Sports Club managed a half-mile sprint at Filton aerodrome (FTD: Bob Gerard, ERA). But this was confined to local clubs, the public not admitted.

It was the VSCC that managed the first speed-trial in pre-war fashion, on Easter Monday 1946, over a quarter-mile of Elstree aerodrome. It was the only time I am likely to get my picture in The Times, and that only because my 1914 Alfonso Hispano-Suiza was caught on the start-line with John Bolster’s Edwardian Rolls-Royce; no doubt the picture editor felt that, as this was rather a British occasion, he should depict a British car, as the R-R then was.

The speed-hill climb scene re-opened with the Bugatti OC’s Prescott meeting on May 19 (FTD: Raymond Mays, ERA) though Southampton MC had run a smaller private climb at Fordingbridge the week before (FTD: Ken Hutchison, Allard). The MAC reopened Shelsley Walsh on June 1 (FTD: Raymond Mays, ERA). For war-weary enthusiasts it was all beginning to happen again there was another Naish hillclimb the week before Prescott, a speed trial on Hartlepool promenade (FTD: Charles Mortimer, Alta), and sand racing had been resumed at Jersey.

Before the close of 1946 things were almost normal again, but it was the Cambridge University AC which held the first full-scale race meeting on the mainland, at Grandsden Lodge aerodrome on June 15 1946. I was taken there in Holly Birkett’s 5-litre Bugatti truck (which he raced, to a second place). There was a fly-past by a Vampire and three Cambridge University Squadron Tiger Moths, and to recall the antique atmosphere Air Commodore Atcherley came in a Miles monoplane and Earl Howe was an active Steward. Happy days had returned…

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