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Whickham and District Motor Club Limited

Down Under - with Murray Walker

By the time the Grand Prix scene finally arrived down under, the Australians were more than ready for us. The whole experience was superb from start to finish - and nowhere more so than on the circuit. We had a marvellous air-conditioned box and all the monitors and technical gear we could wish for. Ther was only one thing we found a little strange.

While we were gazing round the spacious commentary area for the first time, I said to one of our hosts how nice it was to have such a lot of room around us.

"Oh," he said, "there won't be much room on race day. All this bit is for spotters."

"Spotters?" I asked. "What are they?"

"Doncher know about spotters? Oh, well, er, it's a system we have here, Murray, which we use for our saloon car endurance races. In the box on race day there will be twenty-six guys, one for each car in the race. Each one has a number on his back, and in the box he starts by standing in the grid position of his car. Every time there's a change in the race order, the guys move around.

Cheers Touring Cars

This way, during the race, the commentators only have to look at these guys to see that number 4 is in the lead, followed by No. 27 and No. 6."

I said, "I would have thought that was a rather complicated procedure, having all these chaps simulating cars and doing a kind of ballet in the commentary area."

He said, "You may think so Murray, but it works extremely well in the Touring Car races".

I said, "Well, I'm just a visitor, so I'll have to take your word for it"

They tried it out on one of the practice days. On race day there were no spotters in the box. I'm not knocking the Aussies, because I'm sure it works perfectly well in the kind of races it was designed for, where positions change very little. But in a Formula One race, the spotters would be doomed to suffer some fairly nasty pile-ups. Most undignified, and not very informative.

Cribbed from "Bedside Wheels"


Brooklands - A short résumé

Cheers Brooklands

Brooklands Track was built in 1906-07 by Hugh Fortescue Locke-King on his Brooklands estate at Weybridge in Surrey at a cost of £150,000 in the money of the day. It was the builder's intention that the Motor Course would give British motor-manufacturers a place where their products could be tested, with immunity from the 20mph speed limit. Work was started in the winter of 1906 and the new track was opened on the 17th June 1907. The completion had been delayed because the cement surface would have been affected by late winter frosts.

To construct the track, 30 acres of woodland were felled, the River Wey was diverted in two places, and 350,000 cubic yards of earth were shifted. The track surface took 200,000 tons of concrete, and 200 carpenters were engaged on making fences, stands, etc

The Brooklands Banking

The steeper banking was carried over the River Wey on a ferro-concrete structure, an early form of this type of concrete construction.. The Motor Course had a lap distance of 2 miles and 1,350 yards, measured on the 50-foot line, and a finishing straight of 991 yards, making the total length 3¼ miles, of which 2 miles were level; the track was 100 ft wide.

Of the two bankings the steeper, called the "Home" or "Members'" banking, was at a radius of 1000 feet and it was 28ft 8 inches high. The other banking, the Byfleet banking, was struck at a radius of 1550 ft and was 21 feet 10 inches high.

Hugh Fortescue Locke-King

Mr Locke-King died in 1926 without any recognition having been given to him for his generosity in building the world's first closed motor track. He and his wife, Dame Ethel, were avid motorists, using big Itala motor cars, but Mr. Locke-King did not himself drive. They took frequent continental tours, and it was from watching the superiority of Italian cars at foreign race-meetings that he decided to build a British test course.

Mr Locke-King was a master of the jigsaw puzzle, and Dame Ethel was a considerable traveller, and a fast driver who used a Ford V-eight in later years. She died, in her ninetieth year, in 1956.

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