A DAY OUT AT BROOKLANDS 2017
The last event in the Classic 300 calendar was to be a daytrip to the
Brooklands complex, somewhere Sally and I had not been to for a long
time. In fact, it was for our friend’s wedding breakfast some twenty odd
years ago. With this in mind we entered for the event which was limited in
the number of cars that could go. Luckily we were one of the cars that were
accepted but unluckily, we would not be able to travel up the day before
and stay in a nearby hotel. It would mean an early start to the Sunday
morning and a drive home at the end of the event, making for a long day.
The plan was to meet up at a nearby hotel. That way those who wished to
could have a bite to eat or a comfort break and then we could all travel in
convoy to arrive as a group at the track. The ‘300’ organisers had been
allocated an area for our entrants, which was adjacent to a large contingent
of the Morgan Owners Club, 98% of whom had their tops up. Modern
Morgan owners must be softer these days!
One consolation of our proximity to the Morgan’s was that they had
arranged for their people to have a run up the member’s test hill after
lunch. Could we all have a go as well? The man from Brooklands said yes,
as long as we all signed an indemnity form. You haven’t seen so many
biros appear so quickly in your life with forms coming at him from all
angles. There was no chance of him changing his mind now. This meant
that we had time for a good look around at all the exhibits in the various
buildings, as well as the numerous aircraft out in the open before the run.
Brooklands was originally a 2.75-mile motor racing circuit and an
aerodrome built near Weybridge in Surrey. It opened in 1907 and was the
world's first purpose-built motor racing circuit as well as one of Britain's
first airfields, which also became Britain's largest aircraft manufacturing
centres by 1918, producing military aircraft such as the Wellington and
civil airliners like the VC-10. The circuit hosted its last race in 1939 and
today part of it forms the Brooklands Museum, a major aviation and
motoring museum, as well as a venue for vintage car, motorcycle and other
transport-related events, throughout the year. As paying visitors, the only
restriction we really had was that we were not allowed into the actual
clubhouse, although we were allowed into the café and to use the facilities
that were a part of the clubhouse building. They did however have a
saxophone player playing live on the veranda all the time we were there. It
must have been a marathon for him because we didn’t hear him stop at all.
|A sax player played live on the veranda.||The old units have been spruced up a bit.|
|1921 Wolseley Moth, reconstruction.||My first racing car! Made in Wales.|
|‘Bira’s’ OSCA, built by the Maserati brothers||The start of the test hill.|
The weather wasn’t that
brilliant but it did not stop us having a good look
around the site. There have been a lot of layout changes since we were
there last. The shop has been moved out of the clubhouse and one or two of
the other buildings had been refurbished as display areas that had
previously been left empty. The Wellington hanger has been tidied up but
access is now restricted and there is a new display unit for a replica of the
Vickers Vimy that flew across the Atlantic. I will have a go at most things,
but when you look at the Vimy and see how crude it really was, no radio or
electronic navigation aids. No heater!!! Open cockpit. They must have
been let out of the asylum just before they took off!
The Vimy as flown across the Atlantic!!
The proper way to cross the Atlantic.
Morris Series E heading for the test hill.
1935 Singer special – ‘The Bantam’
The Bantam, which started
life as a 1935 Singer Nine was transformed into
a compact single-seater racer by the remarkable Bob Spikins. A silversmith
by profession and owner of three London jewellery shops, Spikins was an
avid motorsport enthusiast who excelled in motorcycle and car competition
and did some sailing, too. He also set up the famous Laystall Engineering
company and still found the time to build a series of racing specials. And
run a Singer and Hudson sales outlet. The Bantam, the first of his specials,
used a supercharged 972cc four-cylinder engine which drove the rear
wheels through a close-ratio pre-selector gearbox. It had an ingenious
underslung chassis, a short wheelbase and wide track, which made it ideal
for hillclimbs, and an aluminium body to keep the weight down.
Reading about cars and the famous members test hill. I couldn’t wait to
have a go and see it for myself. It was built 100 years ago and at the time it
must have seemed like mountaineering and driving at the same time. It
would have been a mammoth challenge to a lot of the cars of the day. It
starts off as a 1 in six, changing after a short distance to a 1 in 5 before
finishing as a steep 1 in four incline. The good bit was that the return road,
rough lane really, to the paddock drops you out onto the banking to drive
back and under the bridge. Just enough to give you a taste of what it was
like, and let your imagination pretend that you are in your 4½ litre Bentley
fending off those pesky Alfa’s. A real treat to end the day with.
One small sting in the tail, there is always one. We both decided that we
like a coffee before heading off for home and promptly set off for the café.
There are times when friendly staff eager to help and cater for late coming
oldies, would be better off telling you that they are really closed and you’re
too late mate. Needless to say they did not and we sat down with our hot
drinks and a biscuit to discuss our day out.
We finished our break and as we got up to leave, the relieved staff set to, to
close up for the night and go home. This should have been a clue. We got
back to the paddock area where our car was waiting, only to find we were
the last car there. Charming!
Never mind, we knew the way out. However, as we approached the gates,
we notice that they were closed. We will have to use the gate we came in
by. Driving across the complex we came to another locked gate. Were we
locked in? As we looked around for someone who might help us, we saw a
chap who had watched us turn around at the main gate, and asked him how
we could get out. ‘The main gate is automatic, it will open when you get to
it’ he informed us. Why the hell didn’t he tell us as we were turning around
at the main gate in the first place???
The weather held for us on the way home but the motorways, especially
the M25 were more like carparks. It had been a great but long day out but
worth every minute. A coach next time I wonder?