Bill Boddy

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Over-egging the pudding?

Daimler-Chrysler has announced its purchase of 150 acres of the Brooklands estate, for development into one of its many new Mercedes-Benz Technology and Heritage Centres. By the time this is read it may or may not have attained the required planning permission from Elmbridge Council. It is said the land has cost just over £5 million; with so many average houses with little land selling for £500,000 and more, this seems a very good bargain!

The proposal is for a track to allow potential Mercedes customers to try out M-B cars, as well the creation of a 60-acre public park and a Mercedes museum, apparently quite close to the present Brooklands Museum, where MD Geoff Brady says, “the long history of racing Mercedes at Brooklands can be exhibited, with a theatre and hospitality facilities.” So, potential competition with the existing Brooklands Museum?

I have nothing but admiration for Mercedes-Benz, who make the best-engineered cars in the world, have top PR and have a terrific record of grand prix successes, etc. But to quote that ‘long Brooklands racing history’ is rather rich! On Opening Day there in 1907, a Mercedes won the big race and other recent GP Mercedes thrilled the onlookers. But they were privately owned. Many leading makers raced and took records at Brooklands, but not Mercedes. After WWI, the aged GP Mercedes still impressed fora short time, but were outdated.

Private owners, not Stuttgart, comprised the post-war Mercedes element. No Mercedes won any of Brooklands’ long-distance races, and of all those drivers who earned 120/130mph badges only one (Goffredo Zehender) drove a Mercedes, and only Sir Malcolm Campbell’s broke a local lap record. So only GP cars will presumably occupy these proposed M-B galleries at Weybridge/Byfleet?

We must wait to see how it all turns out. Many may think that the Brooklands Society and Museum provide adequate representation of the Track as it once was.

Will too many three-pointed stars detract from these commendable aims?

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