Brooklands

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Itook advantage of a staff visit to Brooklands Museum to discuss last month’s 70th Anniversary issue of MOTOR SPORT. (I bought my first copy of The Brooklands Gazette from the bookstall on Marylebone Station in 1924, at the age of II. I was there with my mother, awaiting the arrival of her sister from Aylesbury, and ordered all issues from then on.)

After the meeting, 1 went round to the other side of Brooklands, and had tea in the big Tesco there. The overgrown Byfleet banking curves round close to the supermarket and its enormous car park (above), and there is a hole in the banking to permit entry and exit. For me, that was goodbye to the old Brooklands. . . Tesco has, admittedly, put up on its walls about a dozen sizeable photographs of Track happenings (one incorrectly captioned), but I regard this as no more compensation for the devastation of this once historic aerodrome than the memorial Vickers-Armstrongs erected in 1957, which

the late Lord Brabazon of Tata called “Brooklands’ tombstone”. As we drove away I felt very, very sad . . .

We then went on to Old Byfleet Church, where Parry Thomas was buried in 1927 Not far away we found the grave of another Brooklands exponent, Herbert le Vack (below), the greatest of all the motorcycle riders, who lost his life in a road accident in Switzerland in 1931 while returning to Geneva, where he was then based, having joined Motosacoche.

assembly of members and guests with commendable efficiency.

Next it was to a buffet lunch at the Forest Hotel in Dorridge, where Ian Glass had called for as many of the surviving Rover 75-based Marauder sports-cars to gather, at this venue very close to Mead’s factory (now a garage) where these cars were built.

Although the total made in 1950/52 numbered only 15, it is notable that 12 can still be accounted for, including the prototype KAC 313 and a coupe MOE 645, with BMW-like radiator grille. Seven came to the jolly, although one of these was a three-litre chassis and another a similarly rough engineless example, both on trailers awaiting rebuilds.

The running Marauders comprised Glass’s own Mead-bodied OUG 777, wellknown from Lelog and other competition events, the 2.6-litre HFT 330, the Wilkinsonrebodied KW I 11, the Abbey-bodied BSN 823 and MOL 629. Past owners eagerily inspected these, produced photographs, and cornpared experiences. Moreover, George Mackie attended, which reminded me of being asked to collect any Marauder photographs I needed at the press preview 44 years ago and inadvertently gathering up all they had, thinking they were different views of this new sports Rover, when, as I later discovered, these were all the same, and all they had . . !

Back-up cars included two Rover 12 tourers, of which the tuned-up one has an overdrive gearbox incorporated, for motorway crusing at some 80 mph I was told, a rare Rover 16 saloon, its dark green body and wheel discs gold-lined, and a white Rover 110 “auntie”. A small gathering, and a happy, interesting occasion . . .

Richard Mead, who made the first Marauder bodies, pictured with Ian Glass’s car in 1991.

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