When WB did a racing lap of Wolverhampton

Some recent correspondence has reminded me of how we ran the famous 1924 Grand Prix Sunbeam on the public road. The STD Register had been having its annual rally at Wolverhampton, where these cars had been made, and in 1965 I thought it time that a racing car took part.

Rootes then owned the Sunbeam ‘The Cub’ which had been well known at Brooklands and elsewhere. John Rowe, Rootes’ PR man, agreed and brought the car on a trailer. We had a police escort through the town to the park where the rally Sunbeams, Talbots and perhaps a Darracq, all vintage, assembled. While the police were waiting for the rally cavalcade to form up they said to Rowe, “Aren’t you going to drive the racing car? We want to hear the noise.” So a surprised John took The Cub off the trailer, got it running and set off, the police car following.

It nearly didn’t happen, because the police remembered about insurance. “I have a pair of Rootes trade plates in the tow car,” Rowe told them. “Fine,” they said. We had a good run to the park and made a lap of it, the police car following. This resulted in a rather humorous happening. Employees who had worked on Sunbeams, many of whom lived in side roads leading down to the park and were on their way to enjoy the rally, saw a police car following a stripped racing car and hurried their pace in order to see the anticipated arrest…