We are deeply saddened by the passing of Alan Hess, that knowledgeable allround motor-racing personality and Brooklands Society Vice-President, who has died at the age of 87.
His first experience of Brooklands was being driven round it in 1907 in a Daimler which just about reached 60 mph. That started Hess on a life closely associated with Brooklands and motor-racing. He developed this interest as a journalist, became Secretary of the then-young MGCC, survived overturning a borrowed Brescia Bugatti at a Dancer’s End hill-climb, and ran a team of L-type MG Magnas at the Track; they won the 1933 LC Relay Race at 88.62 mph, one also finishing second in that year’s BRDC 500-Mile Race. Hess also drove a Dixon Riley in the 1935.
His close association with Brooklands led to him commentating on races there, including the exciting Broadcast Trophy Race, and in 1937 he covered 104.4 miles in an hour, under RAC observation, in one of Arthur Fox’s 41/4-litre TT Lagondas. Some years before WW2 Hess had started Speed, a monthly magazine devoted not only to speed on land, sea, and in the air (as was Motor Sport) but also to speed on rails and in the oceans. Shortly before war broke out it was taken over by Motor Sport.
After the war Hess became Publicity Manager for the Austin Motor Company. Though his idea of a VCC rally to Europe almost before the aftermath of battle had been cleared up stemmed more from his intense enthusiasm than practicality, he was soon to organise those very effective record-bids at Indianapolis and elsewhere, the tough European runs and a fantastic Round-the-World journey with production Austins, as recorded in fascinating detail in his several books.
He had married the attractive girl who had so ably dealt with the complicated paperwork the Austin record bids entailed, and they were a very devoted couple. Mrs Hess, to whom we address our heartfelt commiseration, was a great help to her husband when his sight began to fail; though this did not prevent him painting, writing, and attending events at the Track almost to the end. WB