Castrol R hanging heavy in the air and the drone of racing cars balanced high on the banking — evocative sensations for a Bank Holiday Monday. Organised by Stanley Mann and Moy Motorsport to benefit the Brooklands Museum, and sponsored by NGK Spark Plugs, this Action Day was entirely non-competitive, but allowed a brief glimpse of great days at the Weybridge track, transported to the modem test-track equivalent, Millbrook Proving Ground.
Amongst Bentleys galore, Rileys (White and Dixon), GP Bugattis, two Amilcars and Jaye’s Alta, we saw the debut of Paul Grist’s 8C35 Alfa Romeo, which sounded gorgeous and needed a light foot to prevent it winding itself over the rev limit. (“Can you imagine anyone building a car with Volkswagen front and Triumph Herald rear suspension?” Paul asked, before demonstrating how stable it actually was at 450 to the vertical.) Some drivers found these circular demo laps rather tame, but those who reached the top lane, designed to be “hands-off” at 100mph, were rivalling Brooklands speeds — Donald Day’s ERA and Mann’s 3/8Itr streaked round the rim of the huge bowl with 140mph flickering on the speed display. Rare sights included both Vauxhall racers together, Villiers and T T, a pair of skimpy Squires, eternal cooling problems more or less solved, and Mann’s wonderful “new” truck, which once ferried the Radio Luxemburg road-show.
A healthy class of aero and Outer-Circuit Brooklands cars made it, including the ex-Kaye Don Sunbeam “Tigress”, the Pacey-Hassan, Vaughan Davis’s Bentley-Jackson, in which Prince Michael, the Museum’s Patron, exceeded 125mph, and “Babs”, although the huge Parry Thomas record car was still not running cleanly. But the high point for me was when Schellenberg’s Bamato-Hassan and George Daniels’ Birkin single-seater bellowed past side by side — or rather, from where we were placed, one above the other. Magnificent.