A flavour of old Brooklands — At BARC Thruxton on May 2nd

Liking the sound of “Brooklands Raceday” which the BARC was holding on Bank Holiday, we pointed the Alfa 6 in that direction. Having been reading the Earl of Cardigan’s “The Wardens of Savernake Forest” (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1949) in which the author refers to his landing strip at Postern Hill (from which he used to fly his Avro 504, see Motor Sport, November 1982, p.1494) we diverted on the way to Tottenham House, now a school, to see if anyone could point out the site of this one-time private hangar and aerodrome, but had no luck. 

At Thruxton we found a new Press box, confined to Track-pass holders to prevent overcrowding, in front of which an over-exuberant Lotus Elan driver got sideways-on over the chicane-kerb and rolled — which I mention only to praise the quick work of the rescue-squad, which had the driver out and walking to the ambulance very promptly. . . .

The race we had come to see was the six-lap Brooklands Society Memorial Trophy Handicap Race (curious that it is still called a memorial trophy, in view of the good news that soon Brooklands should not require a memorial; nor should it be confused with Motor Sport‘s far-older Brooklands Memorial Trophy). There should have been 18 runners but Wills’ Brooklands Riley 9 had run a big-end and the ERA R7B (undated, with the driver anonymous) was absent. No handicaps were divulged, and coming after the 20-lap F3 race (which da Silva’s Ralt RT3 had won, processionally and predictably, from Brundle and Jones in these Ralts, the first two Toyota-powered, the third home VW propelled), the old cars looked very sedate. This Brooklands race badly needs some ERAs, Bugattis, Alfa Romeos and Maseratis, to show the Thruxton onlookers more what Brooklands was like . . . As it turned out, with Willoughby’s AC looking like a Track car (on lap one he grated his gears changing down for the chicane, presumably unused to a corner sharp enough to call for a cog shift) only Dunham’s Alvin really appearing and sounding fast, and Threlfall’s McDowell looking more dirt than cement — and what was a Treen Riley doing in a Brooklands race? — Bugler’s 1937 Lagonda LG45 had no problems disposing of Di Threlfall’s Lancia after three laps, but was second on handicap to K. Fantom’s Humber 14/40, with Willoughby in third place.

Before that we had watched J. Foulston’s McLaren M3D beat Wheatley’s BRM P145 and Thwaites’ Lola T212 to win the 10-lap Atlantic Computer Historic GT Championship by 11.48 sec. at 105.64 m.p.h. Atkins’ AC Cobra chalked-up another victory for these cars in the 10-lap HSCC Post Historic Road Sports Championship which it took from Connel’s TVR Griffith by 19.29 sec. at 85.14 m.p.h., with Gray’s well-driven Triumph TR5 third, and an exciting battle ensued in the AMOC Thoroughbred Sports Championship 10-lapper, between winner, by 0.86 sec., Mike Salmon in Viscount Downe’s DB4, and Woodcock’s Triumph TR3. Behind, Duret retook Haynes on the last lap, to get third place by 0.89 sec. Mike Pendlebury then won another close race for the HSCC Classic Sportscar Championship, from Brindley, both in Lotus 23Bs, with Bell’s ex-McLaren lightweight Jaguar E-type way back in third place. Brian Cocks’ Lotus 30 was no better than 13th. Final note — in deference to the Brooklands’ atmosphere the programme was priced at 13/- as well as at 65p. — W.B.