A bit of fun with the 'Old Crocks'

The theme of the Brooklands reunion on 2 July will be Aston Martins and veteran cars. Both are appropriate, because Aston Martins were prominent at the Track from 1921 until it closed for racing in 1939 and several veteran car races took place there. By 1930 the Daily Sketch, which in 1927 and 1929 had staged a Brighton Run for cars at least 21 years old (The Autocar having taken this over in 1928), was permitted to hold an ‘Old Crocks’ event at Brooldands. It was not a race, the ancients being sent off in groups, the winner being the one to make up most on its handicap; they had to have been made before 20 October 1904, which a panel of eight famous old gentleman was asked to enforce — but how? But the following year an actual race was staged, for pre-1906 cars, the paper putting up 1,65 prize money with free entry and two heats being run on August Bank Holiday Saturday, the Final on the Monday. It was just a bit of fun, arguably with just a touch of the educational. The course was two laps, about 21ii miles, of the Mountain circuit and 32 cars took part. It was won by a 1903 Rover bought from an exasperated Scot for 30/-.

This was repeated in 1932, when 27 cars, now pre-1905, started and a 1906 Wolseley used as a hen-roost won. Racing driver Dick Shuttleworth drove his 1903 4-litre De Dietrich, which had lapped at 43.65mph in 1930. It had been in the family since 1905. He had endowed it with a ‘ParisMadrid’ racing body and, it was said, aluminium pistons. It had started 4min 35sec before his mother’s 1900 Peugeot. Other racing drivers who joined in this frolic to amuse the spectators were Dick Nash (1903 Oldsmobile) and Richard Marker (1907 Crowden), while Kent Karslake, Motor Sport’s celebrated contributor, was on his 1904 De Dion. We noted that “many entrants, with more pedantry than courtesy, had altered the number-cards from ‘Old Crock’ to ‘Veteran Car’. Some had to push up the mild gradient to the banking turn but only the 1901 Gladiator retired.

The entertainment was revived in 1939. With the war clouds thick about them, the veterans again had a couple of August races, won at 18.62mph by a 1903 De Dion which had lain in an orchard for years, and by a 1901 Arid Tricycle, which averaged 22.79mph.