Object of the Month – Six Brooklands Aces

The Brooklands Restaurant at the Pall Mall clubhouse has recently undergone a fantastic refurbishment and will be open to Members from 4 April 2019. The restaurant is named after the Brooklands motor racing circuit where the Royal Automobile Club organised the first British Grand Prix in 1926. This month’s Object of the Month is ‘Six Brooklands Aces’ by R. S. Davies, which hangs in the lower ground floor of the Pall Mall clubhouse. This charcoal and pastel on paper drawing depicts famous Brooklands racing drivers. These caricatures are (from top left, clockwise) Prince Bira (Prince Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh, 1914 -1985), Raymond Mays (1899-1980), Richard ‘Dick’ Seaman (1913-1939), Capt. George E. T. Eyston (1897-1979), John Cobb (1899-1952), and Lord Howe (the Rt Hon The Earl Francis Howe, 1884-1964).

In 1932, John Cobb won the BRDC British Empire Trophy Race with an average speed of 126.363 mph in a Delage. Cobb narrowly beat the three-time land speed record breaker, Capt. George Eyston, who was driving an 8-litre Panhard-Levassor by 1/5th of a second. Eyston used his engineering skills and inventive mind to set high speed endurance records at Brooklands by fitting a diesel engine from an AEC bus into a car built on a Chrysler chassis, attaining 100.75 mph in 1933 and 106 mph in 1936.

In 1935 Prince Bira was invited by his cousin, Prince Chula, to race his Riley Imp at Brooklands, where Bira began his racing career. Prince Bira was the only Southeast Asian driver to compete in Formula One until Malaysia’s Alex Yoong joined Minardi in 2001. In 1937, Lord Howe (co-founder the British Racing Drivers’ Club) who was driving an ERA R8B competed for the lead against Prince Bira in the Campbell Trophy at Brooklands but Prince Bira, who was driving a Maserati 8CM, won this particular race.

Richard Seaman, who famously drove for the Mecedes-Benz team during 1937-1939, won the German Grand Prix in 1938, and Raymond Mays won the first in the International Trophy race at Brooklands and twice won the Brooklands’ Mountain Championship race (amongst many other races). Mays also kept the lap records for the Brooklands Mountain Circuit in 1936 (with a 1 1/2-litre ERA at 84.31 mph) and the Campbell Circuit in 1939 (in the 2-litre ERA at 77.79 mph).

The Brooklands circuit first opened in June 1907 and in 1939 the BARC (Brooklands Automobile Racing Club) held its last ever meeting on 7 August. During the Second World War the site was used to build Wellington bombers and was still deemed too sensitive to re-open for racing. Part of the original banked circuit still exists and is preserved by the Brooklands Museum.

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