The unveiling ceremony at the Montagu Motor Museum for the E.R.A. ” Romulus ” on April 25th was a very pleasant party primarily because Lord Montagu of Beaulieu stages these occasions so ably. Briefly, this E.R.A. was bought by the late Prince Chula Chakrabongse for his cousin ” Bira,” also a Thailand Prince, to drive, and after its active racing career was over and the two Princes had pursued separate paths, Chula kept the car in a place of honour in his house at Bodmin, on the Cornish moors.
After Prince Chula’s death, Princess Chula agreed to lend the E.R.A. to the Montagu Motor Museum, where the unveiling ceremony was performed before an assembly of pre-war E.R.A. owners, drivers, mechanics and personalities.
H.R.H. Princess Chula Chakrabongse of Thailand arrived in her Rolls-Royce, Raymond Mays in his 3-litre Rover and ” Bira ” sent a telegram.
After a lavish champagne buffet lunch in a big marquee decorated with some excellent photographs of E.R.A.s in action, Lord Montagu thanked the Princess for her gift and Mays recalled ” Bira “ as a worthy friend, customer and adversary, saying that those E.R.A.s still active give enjoyment to millions of race-goers and from now on ” Romulus ” would give pleasure to the millions of visitors to the world-famous Montagu Museum, an answer to those of us who would prefer that this E.R.A. joined its fellows on the circuits. Mays also remarked that Lord Montagu had recently won a hill-climb in New Zealand and might well win another if allowed by the Princess to drive “Romulus.” (And Lord Montagu’s driving skill would certainly make this possible, although his Lordship may regard ” Romulus ” as too valuable to extend in this fashion.) Her Royal Highness, in a charming speech, recalled the happy days she and her late husband had had at motor races and said how glad she was that ” Romulus ” would now go on giving pleasure to the public, for Chula used to remark that if racing the car had cost him some £10,000 he thought it had given enjoyment to a great many people.
The famous E.R.A. was then unveiled in its corner of nostalgia in the Museum building, where it stands in front of an artist’s impression of the pits on the Brooklands Campbell circuit, urrounded by personal items from the Chula/Bira White Mouse racing stable, such as the Siamese “ Bira’s ” umbrella, the trophies, etc.
Then ” Romulus ” was brought out and displayed on the lawn in front of Palace House, in company with R14B, R5B, R1B, R4A, R7B, R3A (which had only recently returned from a long sojourn in S. Africa), R8B and R9B. Then engines were started up and a splendid ” Palace House G.P.” took place round the grounds, Lindsay and Leslie Brooke driving Gahagan’s car, the daffodils being in jeopardy, especially when Brooke found his throttle foot! The scene and sounds were splendid and will be remembered long after ” Romulus ” retires to rest in the Museum.
Amongst those present were Humphrey Cook and Mts. Cook, Bob and Joan Gerard, P. Fotheringham-Parker, Douglas Hull, Barry Eastick, the E.R.A.’s owners, and some of their past-owners, a number of ex-E.R.A. mechanics, such as ” Lofty” England, Tony Budd, Wilky Wilkinson and others of the boys from Bourne. It was a most joyous as well as a solemn occasion which the E.R.A. Club and many others will long remember.—W. B.
N.B.—The E.R.A. ” Romulus,” R2B, is a 1935 1½-litre car, driven solely by ” B. Bira.” It ran in 30 long-distance races gaining to firsts, 8 seconds, 5 thirds, a fourth and a filth place and retiring, as Her Royal Highness said, honourably, on only live occasions.