After my recent recollections of interviewing motoring celebrities, a few more might be worth recalling. I lunched with George Eyston at his Winchester house. He was a thrice-LSR holder, breaker of so many other records, and with diverse interests — sculling, deep-sea fishing, a pioneer pilot (he took his seaplane licence aged 70), cox for Cambridge crews, etc. But, being modest, he spoke only of his record bids. “Come again,” he said “and talk about my racing.” Alas, George died before I could do so.
In 1980, I had an audience with the then-Minister for Transport, Hector Munro MP, who was a BDC member and raced his Bentley and Bugatti, owned a Klemm monoplane and flew Spitfires post-war. The right kind of Minister!
I’ve discussed Vauxhall history with E W ‘Bill’ Hancock and ArmstrongSiddeley’s past with Ernest Siddeley. I went to see Jim Byrom, who told in a book of racing his Amilcar Six in a Double-12 race. He and his brother had the help of the family chauffeur when racing their A7 at Southport, and I saw pictures of their Bugatti T35 being towed to events behind a big Humber and a T44 Bugatti Saloon. F A Bolton’s albums were full of enormous pre-WWI Daimlers and Afiels he had driven in speed trials. The Hon Victor Bruce recalled his AC exploits in rallies, and Ivy Cummings, married to an X-ray scientist, talked while bathing her baby of the many cars she had raced, from GN to the Bugatti ‘Black Bess’.
I went to see Jack Field to hear about his inflammable T43 Bugatti, the old 200-mile race Talbots and how he bought the 48-litre 186mph Sunbeam ‘Silver Bullet’.
Pat Driscoll, successful racing motorcyclist, raced a Hyper Lea-Francis before Lord Austin asked him to drive the works A7s. He recalled Austin sending an Ulster to Brooklands in order to discover how well he drove, — and how he proceeded to overtake it in his Vauxhall 30/98.
A session with the Hon Patrick Lindsay about his cars, aeroplanes, and private museum was fascinating. Driving down to the Mumbles in Wales, we spent a night with Lindsay
Eccles, hearing about the various Bugattis he raced, a 3.3-litre T59 included, and went to see a local club’s new speed hillclimb course.
We called on dear old 100 per cent versatile Sammy Davis in his Guildford flat, after I had told my wife not to look surprised when he and Susie lit their pipes.
Stafford-East reminisced interestingly and showed me his three GNs. Ron Godfrey, when I last saw him, had got his water-driven mill-race generator working so well that he had had the pleasure of telling the electricity company he no longer needed a mains supply. A lady racer told me she was the only woman brave enough to race on beaded-edge tyres or lap Brooklands in the rain. Nonsense, of course. And a famous ex-Weybridge character, interrupted by Jehovah Witnesses at the door, yelled: “There is no time to talk of God when the subject is Brooklands.”
A visit to R G J Nash enabled me to see his veteran Columbian electric car, the battery of which helped to power his electric loco on his garden railway. “When I go to fullnotch, my wife makes me wear my helmet!”
Apologies to anyone I left out; many famous drivers saved me a visit by contributing to our Cars I Have Ownedseries.