Yet another link with the old Brooklands’ days has been severed by the death of Major Oliver Bertram. He was a regular competitor at the Track, in a variety of cars, but will be remembered best for his great drives at the wheel of the venerable 10 1/2-litre V12 Delage and the 8-litre Bentley-based Barnato Hassan in its two stages of development. With the old Delage Bertram got his 130-m.p.h. badge in 1933 and in 1935 he raised the lap-record to 142.60 m.p.h. in the Barnato-Hassan, a speed bettered only by Cobb’s Napier-Railton, and which stands for all time as the Class B Brooklands’ lap-record, Bertram having first set this to 137.73 m.p.h. with the same car. His brave runs in the Delage at Inter-‘varsity speed trials will also be well remembered.
A barrister by profession, Bertram joined the Army when war broke out and rose to the rank of Deputy Advocate-General. After the war he lived in the West Country but was at Brooklands for the 1967 Re-union and he had been a Vice-President of the Bentley DC from 1936 to 1956. His racing of big motor-cars on the outer-circuit showed great talent. In 1937 he shared the 24-litre Napier-Railton with its owner, John Cobb, when they won the BRDC 500-Mile Race at over 127 m.p.h. and in 1938 he lapped at 143.11 m.p.h. in a race in the Bamato Hassan, which could not count as a lap-record but was within 0.33 m.p.h. of Cobb’s outright record, in a car of 16-litres greater engine capacity. Bertram retired from racing in 1938, after twice winning the BRDC Gold Star for Track racing.
Some time ago he visited the Motor Sport offices and said he intended to write a book about his motor racing days, in which we encouraged him. Later we heard that he was devoting his retirement to hunting, but grieving over the loss of a favourite mare. We never saw him again. But his brilliant motor racing performances, which he obviously so greatly enjoyed, a blond, tough but not very tall driver of the bigger cars, an amateur racing driver apt to be surrounded by groups of attractive, admiring girls, were part of pre-war Brooklands, and will never be erased. – W.B.