Last month, under the heading of “The Girls”, I recalled some of the Brooklands’ lady drivers of vintage times—one of the younger members of the editorial staff, who does not profess any great interest in the old days, was seen to be reading this item, the title having caught his roving eye. It occurred to me that to those who did not know Brooklands, the impression may have been that the fair-sex could only drive round the outer-circuit, being no great shakes at cornering.
This was far from being the case. Indeed, by 1934 the girls were given their very own mountain race, round that 1.17-mile circuit incorporating the climbing turn from the finishing straight onto the steep Members’ banking and the hairpin bend at the Fork, approached fast after the downhill swoop off the banking. Raymond Mays (ERA) holds the all-time lap record for this course, at 84.13 m.p.h.; the outer-circuit lap record stands at 143.44 m.p.h. to the everlasting credit of John Cobb and the enormous Napier-Railton—so clearly the so-called Mountain (because it encircled the hill or “mountain” within the grounds, to the confusion of unknowledgeable journalists!) was a tough proposition.
The race in question took place, “‘The Women’s ‘Mountain’ Handicap”, at the 1934 BARC Autumn Meeting, over five-laps. Fay Taylour in Penn-Hughes’ s/c 2.6 Alfa Romeo gave Mrs. Oxenden’s 1,074 c.c. s/c Alta a start of 50 sec. Slim Doreen Evans, driving Kenneth Evans’ s/c MG Midget, won by 4/5 sec. from Fay, with Mrs. Wisdom third in a Talbot. Kay Petre non-started, but the field was made up of Rita Don in Fairfields Riley 9, Eileen Ellison’s white GP Bugatti and Mrs. Houldsworth’s Bugatti. Doreen lapped at 69.97 m.p.h., Fay at 76.86 m.p.h.
So if the VSCC ever has a Ladies’ Race over, say, the Silverstone Club circuit, tradition will be served! [N.B. When it was moved at a 1934 BARC AGM that Mountain races for lady drivers were unwise, the Committee had no hesitation in saying it did not share this view.]