Michael W. B. May
THE death has occurred of that great Alvis exponent, Michael May. Michael began competitive motoring in his University days, with 8/18 and 10/23 Talbots and took part in trials with a Newton Ceirano tourer. an aged side-valve Aston-Manin, and the BP Special (Amilcar chassis. AC six engine. Alvis gearbox), before turning to the make that was to remain his favourite for the rest of his life — the Alvis. He started with the 12/50 and took part in discussions in the pages of MOTOR SPORT about the best methods of tuning these cars, in 1940, when so many of us were still learning about hitherto almost unheard of, or forgotten, vintage cars. He then raced two Alvin Silver Eagles at Brooklands and in VSCC and other events. The more famous of these was his Green car, a composite of the ex-Fotheringham-Parker Silver Eagle, later with a Robin Jackson-rebuilt 2 ½-litre engine that had been in one of Anthony Powys-Lybbe’s cars. May raced with verve on the Brooklands’ Outer, Mountain, and Campbell circuits, during the two seasons preceding WW2, lapping the former at nearly 114 m.p.h., and he had a really magnificent drive in the 1938 Irish GP at Phoenix Park, where he averaged 88 m.p.h. and lapped the road course at 91 m.p.h. With the Alvis in 2-litre form Michael May gut up Shelsley Walsh in 49 sec., perhaps the best of any pre-war Alvis ascent. He was elected Vice President of the VSCC in 1937. During the war, May rode an International Norton and his mother replaced her 3-litre Hotchkiss with a Chummy Austin 7.
Long after he had ceased to race, May kept the old “Green car” and enjoyed some fast drives in it, trying to temper his hive of speed with the reminder that he served on the local Bench of the Magistrates! I rode with him in this very well-known Alvis during a National Elvis Day at the Crystal Palace some years ago. In more carefree times, when the RAC and the Scrutineers were less exacting,there was a fine photograph gracing the front cover of the VSCC Bulletin, showing M. W. B. May in his favourite Alvis after winning a race on bald tyres— which is exactly in the spirit of the times and of this great motoring enthusiast and English gentleman, who in later times took to light aeroplanes with much the same carefree enjoyment. — W.B.
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”MONTY” MEO died in May at the age of 74. Before the war he was responsible for building — and racing — at Brooklands the Meo Special— which consisted of a well developed GN engine with home-made cylinder head in a GN frame. A young William Boddy was employed as “front axle polisher” and thus gained his first access to the Brooklands paddock. Financial considerations restricted development and the car was eventually dismantled — the frame and back axle live on the perhaps better known “Hardy Special”.
He also owned a Salmson for most of his life and he was always prepared to give advice to younger and less experienced owners — as well as being full of reminiscences. In this way be gathered round him a select following of somewhat younger VSCC members, he having been a member himself for manyyears. He retained his interest in the Sport to the end.