Saturday, June 17, 2006

Right Stuff?

I guess everyone knows that Max Mosley, president of FIA, is the son of Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of the pre-war British Union of Fascists and National Socialists, that's National Socialists as in Nazis by the way. This isn't the only link between the party and the world of motor sport.

The BUF had a number of prominent motor racers in its ranks. It's said - on what evidence I know not - that the Brooklands car park was packed with vehicles bearing the flash and circle symbol of the party (see picture). Certainly Sir Malcolm Campbell, best known for his land speed record breaking, is still celebrated on Mosleyite web sites as being a prominent member of the BUF and again with the claim that the flash and circle adorned his famous Bluebird cars.

At least four individuals with motor racing connections were amongst the thousand or so British fascists imprisoned under regulation 18b. Welshman Captain Douglas Marendaz was a leading Brooklands racer and constructor of the Marendaz Specials, cars which were driven amongst others by Stirling Moss's father Alfred. The Irishwoman Fay Taylour was amongst the most famous of the pre-war lady drivers, originally a speedway rider she turned to motor racing when the speedway authorities banned women riders for safety reasons, in reality because Fabulous Fay was winning too often. An out and out fascist, Fay's wartime file has recently been released by MI5. Here is an extract from the autobiography of Mosley's secretary Hamm which confirms Miss Taylour's continued allegiance to the cause, he is describing the old fascist leader's 80th birthday party in 1976:

“I had placed Lady Mosley on his right, and beside her two 'old girls' of her Holloway Prison days, class of 1940. One was my old friend Fay Taylour, former star of speedway and motor racing. (In the early, pre-war days of speedway women had been allowed to compete, and Fay had beaten all the leading male riders, breaking a number of track records). When I last saw her she was still a very attractive woman. She told me that a journalist once asked why such a beautiful girl had never married, but had taken up such a rough sport as speedway. She replied: "I was engaged once, but he broke off the engagement and asked me if I wanted to buy his motorbike!"

During 'The Battle of Ridley Road' Fay used to drive me home after the meetings in a rather magnificent Jaguar car.“I never experienced the slightest fear at these meetings, however many bricks were flying, but I used to be terrified by Fay's driving, and would clutch the seat with both hands, as she took every corner on two wheels. Years later (when she had returned from selling sports cars to film stars in Hollywood) I was talking to her about this magnificent car, and I was surprised to learn that it had not been hers. She told me that in Holloway she had met among the prisoners a rather high-class call-girl, and when they were released she had given her friend driving lessons in return for the occasional use of her Jaguar. “The Special Branch must have been quietly amused when they first noted its number and checked on its owner”.

Incidently the "Battle of Ridley Road" were a series of fascist street fights in 1946 and 1947. It's remarkable how quickly the fascists reorganized in England so soon after the war.

The last two detainees were W. G. Barlow, who raced Bentleys in the 1920s, and Dorothea Duff of whom I know nothing.

1 comment:

kjj said...

Check out the December 2006 archive for more info on Dorothea Duff