The recent correspondence about R11B, Peter Bell, the Queensferry sprint and the like has prompted me to pen some of my reminiscences of this fabulous machine. Weguelin’s wonderful book The History of English Racing Automobiles Limited merely makes a one line entry alongside R11B stating “1956: bought by J W Broad (Sept ’56)”. Behind that little one-liner lies a whole saga of motor racing memories of the bygone age!
I went with my dad in that September of long ago to George Boyle’s racing shop to collect what was then the second fastest ERA of them all behind the legendary R4D; strings of successes had been notched up in her by both Ken Wharton and Mike Christie. We travelled from Birmingham to Chester in father’s old Bedford Duple converted into a racing-car transporter to be greeted with not only an ERA but enough spares to keep the car going for probably another ten years! There was so much stuff we had to make a return journey to collect it all. I have a feeling the asking price was 1000 with perhaps another few hundred pounds for the spares.
Father’s big idea was that as he felt he could extract no more power, wins or trophies out of R5B (“Remus”) which was only a 1 1/2-litre ERA, the logical progression was a 2-litre, and as R4D was not for sale, R11B was the next best choice. Sadly due to an horrific accident at Shelsley in R5B in June of that year (1956) he was left with terrible spine and vertebrae injuries. He made one gallant attempt to drive R11B at a Hagley and District LCC Sprint at Staveston, having to be lowered into the car like an olde worlde Knight being cranked onto his trusty steed. It was all too painful and he sportingly handed his entry to Hill Climb Champion Tony Marsh. So ended the single seater racing career of John Broad. He did carry on in sports and Grand Tourers and still today takes a keen interest in his grandson’s racing in a 3.8-litre E-type.