The field of 43 cars assembled close to the famous Brooklands Banking under a hot Surrey sun to scrutineer their cars before ten days of rallying across five countries starts on Thursday 21st April.
A superb array of cars, from a massive 1917 LaFrance Roadster of Catherine and John Harrison to the tiny 1965 Mini Cooper S of Dick and Harry Baines, were queued with the others, almost back to the steep banking behind them as they waited, some anxiously, for their cars to go through the technical checks.
Many were aware of the historic significance of Brooklands and once their machines had received the green light they were able to visit the museums, aircraft hangars and the famous Brooklands Clubhouse to soak up the history. Apart from the ever impressive sight of Concorde, there was the Halifax bomber rescued from its watery grave in Loch Ness from 1940 and rebuilt at Brooklands, then there was the Ladies Reading Room in the Clubhouse with some fascinating pictures on the wall of the top lady racers of the era.
The Ladies Reading Room at Brooklyn’s within sight of the incredible banking that the lady racers of the 30’s conquered, will be the same historic pieces of concrete and tarmac that will see the first action on Thursday to start the 2022 London Lisbon. Looking at some of the incredible characters and their pictures that grace the walls, there is legend Kay Petra, she punched well above her tiny weight and was brilliant around the banking, Dame Barbara Cartland the novelist featured heavily on the history boards as she often socialised at Brooklands meetings and indeed sometimes gathered material for her romantic novels, the races were hugely exciting but were also very great social affairs. There is a picture of a very elegant looking Elsie Wisdom another great driver of the period. There is also a very poignant picture of two of the top lady racers of the day together. Works MG drivers Doreen Evans pictured with Kay Petra. So much history at Brooklands from aviation to motor racing, but many expressed their gratitude that such an historic location has been preserved and nurtured.
Roy Stephenson, 1971 Datsun 240Z
“I am really looking forward to the event, it’s a lovely day and my first time at Brooklands which is incredible. We are just about to go through scrutineering so hopefully we’ll pass with flying colours. Tomorrow we start here before going off to France, but what a privilege to be at such an historic motor racing setting!
“The travel aspect thrills me as much as the rallying you know, I love being competitive and I love cars, but you know, just mixing with all the people and the travel makes it a fantastic combination, I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.
“The Datsun has in fact been locked away in a garage for the last three years. We got it out, cleaned it off, there were a few things wrong but we managed to fix them.
“We are now looking forward to the banking tomorrow and running on a bit of history.”
Gary and Sue Johnson, 1963 MGB
Gary; “We did the last London to Lisbon and so we have been before but it doesn’t matter, each time you come there is more history to learn and I’m a fan of motorsport.
“We love it, there is a fantastic museum here with the famous hill behind you going up there so it’s great, really enjoyable,
“We have our own bit of history as we have got one of those Abingdon built machines a beautiful 1963 MGB. We’ve got two of those and did the Marathon in this one.”
Sue; “The Classic Marathons are hard, I won’t deny that and there can be some very long days. And I’ll probably live to regret this, but this event is slightly easier. Don’t bring that up next Saturday week, but the London Lisbon really does tend to be slightly easier. The Marathon takes an awful lot of stamina to keep going.”
Gary; “This is a nice combination of great roads and competition. Yeah, so it’s a fantastic event, but it’s also slightly like a holiday as well. We stay in some great hotels, and then we are staying on afterwards. Competition wise though, it’s really good.”
Martyn Reeves and John Parrott, 1965 Austin Healey 3000
John; “We’re about to start this big adventure. What better place to start out than Brooklands?
“The sun shining, it’s fantastic and we managed to find it okay. The car is fairly new to us. We were looking for one for some time and then we found this Healey in Australia last year. They were all locked down in Melbourne, nothing was happening, no cars were selling and we managed to do quite a deal on it and imported it in July last year. And we have been delighted with it, it seems very good.
“It’s all aluminium so it’s a really it was a good buy, really, I mean it was a bit of a gamble. We got it originally ready for the Winter Challenge to Monte Carlo Rally. All the prep that went in and the winter tyres then of course of French wouldn’t allow us in. So instead we’ve gone from the prospect of snow and ice to beautiful sunshine!”
Martyn; “We are really looking forward to this trip. Oh the route, the roads, that gastronomic tour of the Picos, that’s going to be a highlight for me.
“Also meeting some great people, we already know we’ve got three other friends in other cars so that’s quite good. It’s the camaraderie, we’ve already made friends with the guy who got lost on the measured mile in the Mercedes! Yeah, so he’s very friendly, but he had to follow us here, maybe he will follow us all the way around!”