On days like these

Long before high-profile sponsorship, mass media coverage and superstar status there were people who were stars nevertheless. One such is Marcus Chambers, under whose aegis as Competitions Manager BMC and Rootes had many successes in rallying and racing.

Born in 1910, the son of Rear Admiral Bertram Chambers, Marcus was seven when he survived the world’s biggest-ever man-made non-nuclear detonation. In 1917, a ship carrying over 2000 tons of high explosive blew up after colliding with another ship at Halifax, Nova Scotia. His father (then Convoy Officer to the port) and the rest of the Chambers family were lucky. Others were not, and thousands died. Such was the devastation that, years later, scientists studied the results to calculate the effects of the atom bomb on a heavily populated town.

Marcus raced twice at Le Mans in HRGs, finishing tenth in 1938 and 14th in 1939, both with Peter Clark. Thereafter, he served in the Coastal Forces, RNVR from 1939 to 1946 before spending time in Tanganyika and British Honduras until 1954. Then came his stint as Competitions Manager of BMC before joining the Appleyard Group in ’61. Three years later he was back in competition management for Rootes and then became involved with the sport’s administration at national and international level. After five years of also managing rally driver John Sprinzel’s garage businesses, Chambers retired in 1975.

During his times as a Competitions Manager he took these wonderfully evocative shots on his 1950 Zeiss Contessa 35mm camera. They capture perfectly the apparently carefree and cavalier life that belied the intense competition and back-breaking work. Marcus’ competition autobiography Works Wonders is recommended reading.