Brooklands Giants: Men
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Updated: 14-December-2018 09:58

Brooklands Giants: Men & machines 1907-1939

Brooklands Giants: original photos and old films on the history of Brooklands race course and a presentation on the Brooklands Museum. The photo reportage presents a chronological account of the high-lights which occurred on the worlds first purpose build race track from 1907 until 1939. You get acquainted with all the giants: the men and their machines! The original photographs have been generously supplied by the Brooklands Museum. Today you can re-live these golden days in the Brooklands Museum which is located in the clubhouse and hangars at the remains of the old circuit; a fabulous step back in time! In the museum you can sample the atmosphere and see a beautiful collection of old racíng cars. This including John Cobbs legendary Napier Railton which was designed by Reid Railton and built by Thomson & Taylor at Brooklands. Since last year the Brooklands museum has a unique new attraction: The Napier Railton 4D experience. Now you can ‘take the cement’ and sample a high speed lap in the Napier Railton! We did and we were impressed! See the video farther below!

Brooklands Films

Below the photo descriptions you will find short original Pathe films of the Junior Car Club (JCC) 200 Miles race of 1923, the JCC Double Twelve race of 1930 and a film featuring the winning Napier Railton and John Cobb in the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club (BARC) 500 Miles race of 1935.

Photo descriptions

  • 1 Portraits of Hugh and Ethel Locke King the founders of Brooklands motor Course

  • 2 John Cobb in the 24 Litre Napier Railton. Brooklands lap record holder at 143,44 mph

  • 3 Aerial photo of Brooklands in the late 1930ies incorporating the 'mountain circuit' and the 'Campbell circuit'

  • 4-6 Construction of Brooklands in 1906-1907. 1500 man carried out the work in just nine months. Total investment made by the Locke Kings estimated at 150.000 Pounds

  • 7-8 Opening of the track with speech by Hugh Locke King, opening parade and luncheon 17 June 1907. During the parade a few participants raced each other on the fresh concrete

  • 9-11 S.F. Edge 24 hour record run on 60 HP Napier 28 June 1907. Average speed 65.09 mph, a world record!

  • 12 E.M.C. Instone in Daimler by the clubhouse 6 July 1907

  • 13 Marcel Renault Memorial Race 6 July 1907. Huntley Walker in Darracq leading Grove who is piloting a Renault

  • 14 Bullough in a Junior during the July Trophy Race in 1908

  • 15 Sir George Abercrombie in Fiat. July Meeting 1908

  • 16 A.J. Hancock in Prince Henry Vauxhall KNZ. Record run 30 August 1913

  • 17 Fernand Charron and Malcolm Campbell in Campbell's 'Blue Bird' 2, BARC meeting 27 June 1914

  • 18 Malcolm Campbell in Peugeot at Brooklands, 1914

  • 19 Sunbeam 350 HP record car. Designer Coatalen with hat and Sammy Davis behind the wheel. In May 1922 Kenelm Lee Guinnes set three records driving the 350 HP Sunbeam. The Brooklands lap record at 123.30 mph (198.43 km/h), then the world land speed record over a mile at 129.17 mph (207.88 km/h) and over a kilometre at 133.75 mph (215.25 km/h) – this was the last land speed record to be set on the Brooklands track.

  • 20 Sunbeam 350 HP at Fanoe Island (Denmark) 1923. Now in the hands of speed ace Malcolm Campbell. Shortly after the car was painted blue and christened 'Blue Bird', the fourth in succession

  • 21 Enter Chitty Bang Bang! The biggest and the smallest cars on the Brooklands track in 1921. A. Frazer-Nash in Mowgli (left) and Louis Zborowski in his home build special Chitty Bang Bang. Extended 1914 Mercedes chassis with 300 bhp. 24 Litre Maybach engine as used in the WW1 German Gotha bombers. Chitty still with 'hush hush' four seater body by Bligh Brothers of Canterbury to deceive the Brooklands handicappers.

  • 22 Brooklands Giant Chitty 1 with Zborowski at the wheel in front of the clubhouse.

  • 23-25 Aston Martin world records at Brooklands 1922. Actually Bamford & Martin at that date. The car is the first Aston, A.M. 1. Lionel Martin in white shirt and black tie

  • 26 Aston Martin 'Razor Blade' in the paddock at Brooklands

  • 27 6 cylinder 4 Litre Sunbeam with Campbell in front of the Vickers aircraft factory flanking the 'fork' of Brooklands track

  • 28 Indianapolis Sunbeam emerging from under the 'members bridge'. Malcolm Campbell and mechanic Leo Villa in the car

  • 29 The first Junior Car Club (JCC) 200 miles race for 'voiturettes' (racing cars up to 1500 cc). View of the start-line 22 October 1921

  • 30 The start of the 1921 JCC 200 miles race. The race was won by H.O.D. 'Henry' Segrave in a Talbot-Darracq

  • 31 AC record bids in 1921. Drivers Noble and Brownsort (Sammy Davis album)

  • 32 AC during the 1922 JCC Double 12 races. Bamford & Martin (Aston) van in the background (Sammy Davis album)

  • 33 Malcolm Campbell in 2 Litre Itala at Brooklands, 15 September 1923

  • 34 A happy Malcolm Campbell after winning the 1922 JCC 200 Miles race, 13 October 1923

  • 35 Brooklands habitués Count Zborowski (2nd from left) and his technician Clive Gallop (far right) on the steamer Majestic heading for America.
    Louis Zborowski was one of the Bugatti team driving at Indianapolis in 1923

  • 36 Speed Duel in 1925! Ernest Eldridge on his mighty Fiat Mephistopheles leads J.G. Parry Thomas on his Leyland Thomas Special No1. Both cars shed tyre treads at over 120 mph. Thomas overhauled Eldridge on the final lap

  • 37 Malcolm Campbell after winning the 75 mph Long Handicap race on 13 September 1924. Car: Chrysler 'Blue Bird'

  • 38 Malcolm Campbell in Bugatti Type 35 after winning 50 Mile race on 24 April 1926

  • 39 George Miller with the ultra-low Thomas Special No2 'Flat iron' in front of the public bar next to the Campbell shed

  • 40 Parry Thomas crossing the line during his Land Speed Record bid with BABS at Pendine Sands April 1926. World's absolute speed record 171.02 mph. (273.6 km/h.)

  • 41 J.G. Parry Thomas the brilliant engineer with three of his cars. Left to right: BABS his 1926 Land Speed Record car based on Zborowski’s 27 Litre Liberty engined Higham Special, Leyland Thomas Special No1 record and race car and at the right Thomas Special No2 'flat Iron'

  • 42-49 First British Grand Prix. Brooklands, 7 August 1926. Senechal in Delage (car 14) is the victor!

  • 46 H.O.D. 'Henry' Segrave on Talbot leading Robert Benoist in Delage during the Grand Prix race

  • 47 Start of the 1929 JCC Double 12 race

  • 48 1929 JCC Double 12 race. Mr. and Mrs. W.B. Scott in Bentley 3-Litre

  • 49 1930 Bentley and 'Bentley Boys' line-up: Frank Clement, J. Dudley 'Benjy' Benjafield, S.C.H. 'Sammy' Davis, W.O. Bentley, Woolf 'Babe' Barnato, Henry 'Tim' Birkin

  • 50 Tim Birkin standing up in his Bentley Blower special at 80 mph. The car is on fire in the foot well... 30 September 1931

  • 51 Tim Birkin flying his characteristic polka dot scarf in his Bentley Blower special at Brooklands 1931

  • 52 Allan M. Marker in het Bentley Special on the Brooklands home banking

  • 53 Allen M. Marker Bentley Special at speed!

  • 54 Jackson Bentley Special in front of the Jackson shed at Brooklands

  • 55. Programme (race card) for the JCC Double 12 Hour race 1930

  • 56 W.O. Bentley inspecting his cars before the 1930 12 Hour race

  • 57-58 Le Mans start of the 1930 Double 12 hour race

  • 59 Refuelling Woolf Barnato's Bentley during the 1930 Double 12 race

  • 60 Building John Cobbs Napier Railton record car at Thomson & Taylor Brooklands 1932. Ken Taylor, Reid Railton and John Cobb are in the picture

  • 61 John Cobb on his first outing with the 24 Litre Napier Railton in 1933

  • 62 John Cobb posing with his car in the Brooklands paddock during a race weekend in 1933

  • 63 Record breaking at Montlhery in 1933 with the Napier Railton. Brackenbury, Dixon, Cobb and Rose-Richards are in the picture

  • 64 Second Montlhery record outing with the Napier Railton in 1934. Changing the big wheels

  • 65 The 1934 24 hour record went bad in the night due to slippery track conditions. Freddie Dixon almost flew over the banking but he ended up safe and sound in the ditch below and inside the banking

  • 66 The big Napier Railton was stuck in the mud and only a military tank was able to free the big car. The tank came from Paris and during the first pulling effort one of the tracks broke. A fortnight later the car won the Brooklands 500 Miles race!

  • 67 Programme (race card) of the 1935 BARC 500 Miles race. The race was won by John Cobb and Rose Richards in the big Napier Railton. (See also the video of this race)

  • 68 Pit-stop of the Napier Railton during the 1935 500 Miles race at Brooklands

  • 69 Napier Railton with crew on the 'Bonneville' salt flats of Utah 1935. They successfully set dozens of mile and kilometre records including the coveted 24 hour world record!

  • 70 Constructing the 'Blue Bird' record car for Malcolm Campbell at the workshop of Thomson and Taylor, Brooklands 1934. The car was designed by Reid Railton. Campbell's mechanic Leo Villa is pictured in the car

  • 71 Malcolm Campbell in blue Bird after his successful record bid of over 301 mph. (481,8 km/h.) 3 September 1935 at Daytona Beach, Florida, USA

  • 72 John Cobb broke the Brooklands lap record twice, in 1934 and in 1935. The lap record of 143,4 mph (229,44 km/h.) still stood as the circuit closed in 1939. John Cobb and the Napier Railton are therefore the perpetual lap speed holders of the Brooklands track

  • 73 Freddy Dixon the 'Riley tuning wizard' and very successful racing driver pictured with his Riley Brooklands just before the 1937 BARC 500 KM race at Brooklands

  • 74 Malcolm Campbell is waving the starting flag in the 1937 500 KM race

  • 75 Freddie Dixon's victory with his Riley in the British Empire Trophy

  • 76 One of the most successful woman racing drivers at Brooklands! Kay Petre waving cheerfully from the cockpit of her Brooklands Riley. 26 April 1938

  • 77 Building John Cobb's Land Speed Record breaker, the very innovative twin engine Railton-Special at Thomson & Taylor Brooklands, 1937. John Cobb discusses matters with Ken Taylor

  • 78 John Cobb and the car's genial designer Reid Railton pictured in the Thomson & Taylor workshops with the Railton-Special, 1937

  • 79 The impressive Railton Special on show at the Brooklands finishing straight early 1938. The car is almost finished, the stream-lined fairings over the wheels are still missing

  • 80-81 Railton-Special in August 1938 at the 'Bonneville' salt flats in Utah. Cobb and his friend George Eyston were both competing for the absolute land speed record. The Railton-Special and Eyston's Thunderbolt both won the record... Eyston made another bid within 24 hours and set the LSR as high as 345.50 mph (556.03 km/h) on 27 August 1938. Cobb returned to the salt flats a year later and improved the LSR, on 23 August 1939, to a mark of 367.91 mph. (588,6 km/h.). John Cobb and Reid Railton pose with the car after the successful record bid.

  • 82 Construction of the famous ERA racing cars (English Racing Automobiles) at Thomson & Taylor, Brooklands. Reid Railton engineered the chassis and some other details. Group photo in front of the workshop

  • 83 Racing Driver and British Racing Drivers Club president Earl Howe finishes third in his ERA. JCC 200 Miles Race August 1938.

  • 84 Prince 'BIRA' (full: H.R.H. Prince Birabongse Bhanutej Bhanubandh of Thailand). BIra was one of the most successful private racing drivers of the 1930ies. Here seen in his ERA christened 'Romulus', 29 June 1939

  • 85 Humphrey Cook posing with his ERA at Brooklands. Cook was one of the ERA founders together with Raymond Mays and Peter Berthon

  • 86 Entry ticket for the Ford Gymkhana at Broolands June 1939. This was the best visited event in the history of Brooklands!

  • 87 Brooklands track overview during the Ford day in June 1939. Ford presented all their new cars at the track with stunts and other dare devil driving!

  • 88 MG EX-135 record car, 1939. Another brilliant design by Reid Railton. 750 cc and after a re-bore 1087 cc to take class G records. The little MG engine produced 195 hhp. (!). In the hands of Goldie Gardner the car set many class records just before World War 2 on the German Autobahn near Dessau

  • 89 The Railton-Special (now Railton Mobil Special) and the MG EX-135 outside the workshops of Thomson & Taylor just after World War 2

  • 90 A great shot of the Railton Mobil Special showing John Cobb in charge, the big Napier Lion aero engines (driving all four wheels). About 6-8 men were needed to put the bodywork in place. Weight about 200 kg.

  • 91 After the Second World War, in 1947, John Cobb took the Railton Mobil Special to Bonneville. Now sponsored by the Mobil oil firm. He set a new LSR for wheel driven vehicles of 394.19 MPH (643.39 km/h). This speed is the average of two runs over the measured mile. The second run was clocked at a speed of 403.1 mph (695 km/h.) making John Cobb the first to break the 400 mph mark! This 1947 absolute Land Speed Record for wheel driven vehicles stood for seventeen years as it was broken by Donald Campbell the son of Malcolm Campbell the most notable regular at Brooklands track

  • 92 Brooklands today!

  • 93-100 Photos taken at the Brooklands Museum site. The old clubhouse and the 'members banking' with the 'members bridge' as most famous Brooklands landmark. These photos were taken during the Brooklands Members Reunion on Sunday 13 Juli 2014

  • 101 ClassicarGarage Rover P6B V8 driving on the 'members banking' of Brooklands

  • 102-104 Some sneak views inside the Museum

  • 105-108 Brooklands is also the 'cradle of British aviation'. At the south-west side of the tracks big inner field the 'flying village' was located and the air-field. In the flying village hangars and sheds of companies like AVRO, Sopwith and de Havilland were located. As was the firm of Thomson and Taylor! On the east side of the track Vickers erected a big aeroplane factory during WW1 next to the circuit on the east side.

For more information on Brooklands visit the Brooklands Museum website: www.brooklandsmuseum.com

Interesting literature and books about Brooklands:

  • Brooklands Cradle of British Motor Racing and Aviation by Nicholas H. Lancaster (64 pages available in the Museum shop)

  • The History of Brooklands Motor Course by William Boddy. 1957 edition 362 pages.

  • Brooklands a picorial history by G.N. Georgano. 1978 edition 112 pages ISBN 0901564 15X

  • Brooklands by P.J. Wallace. 1971 Ballantine Books 160 pages.

Marc Vorgers
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Marc Vorgers
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