Monday, April 23, 2007

Rex King-Clark

Robert "Rex" King-Clark is not a name that will ring many bells to followers of motor sport, indeed he is not even discussed on "The Nostalgia Forum" where even the most obscure racing topic gets an airing. A Scot, although born within a mile of the Brooklands track, he was educated, like his namesake Jim Clark, at Scotland's premier public school, Loretto.

A long and distinguished military career saw King-Clark winning an MC in pre-war Palestine where he commanded one of Orde Wingate's Special Night Squads and later commanding both the Manchester Regiment's 2nd Battalion and later the Army Air Corps. His motor racing career on the other hand was much shorter lasting only from the Brooklands Easter meeting in 1936 to that year's Autumn meeting. Driving a super-charged 747cc J4 MG the 22 year-old King-Clark managed a dead-heat with Welshman Roy Eccles at the 1936 Brooklands August meeting, a performance that earned him the coveted membership of the British Racing Drivers Club.

King-Clark's brief motor racing career soon took second place to more daring exploits, such as flying his Miles Whitney Straight monoplane to various postings in the Middle and Far East, flights that coincidently saw him taking aerial photographs of Italian military facilities in North Africa. I presume that King-Clark is still alive and if so he must be one of the BRDC's oldest members. You can read about his motoring exploits in his excellent book Free For a Blast.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Monaco 1960

Footage of one of Innes Ireland's madder moments can be seen here. Innes finally made it to the top of Beau Rivage and back to the finish - of course that meant he had to push the car through the tunnel! The Scotsman was classified as finishing either seventh or ninth depending on which source you consult.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Brands Hatch, 1951

With women racing on equal terms with many of the men at pre-war Brooklands, it's a surprise that the ladies failed to make much of impression when motor sport resumed after 1945. The influential 500cc Formula Junior class would seem to have been tailor-made for women, it being a class where a light body weight was a great advantage. For whatever reason it was not to be and this newsreel of a ladies race in 1951 gives a good impression of the chauvinism of the times.

By the way the race was won by Elisabeth Store in Alf Bottoms' JPS although the moral victor was the motorcyclist Olga Kevelos - winner of two gold stars in the International Six Days Trial - driving a works Kieft. Olga was winning the race so easily that she was asked to slow down only for Store to surprise her at the finishing line. Joan Gerard, wife of Grand Prix driver Bob, was third in a Cooper.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


The blue and white car is John Surtees' Ferrari heading to a World Championship clinching victory at the 1964 Mexican Grand Prix. Enzo Ferrari was having one of his occasional fits of pique against what he perceived as a lack of support from his Italian compatriots. The car was entered under the banner of Chinetti's North American Racing Team, hence the American racing colours.

Llanbadarn Fawr

Pictured is a detail of the tympanum at Llanbadarn Fawr church in Radnorshire. For an English expert "a weak copy of the West Herefordshire school" or for an expert of more Welsh sympathy "the closest in character to the illuminations of the older manuscript tradition."

The tree growing out of a cat's head? The nine-pointed star? Mysteries which no-one has explained. How strange that we search the world for mysteries yet so often ignore those on our own doorsteps.

Brooklands 130-MPH Badge

Collectors of Brooklands memorabilia are getting excited about a forthcoming sale which will feature Kit Baker-Carr's 130-mph badge. Just 16 of these badges were awarded to drivers who lapped the Outer Track at over 130 miles per hour. The 16 were Kaye Don, John Cobb. George Eyston, Oliver Bertram, Dudley Froy, Whitney Straight, Charles Brackenbury, Chris Staniland, Freddy Dixon, Richard Marker, Lord Howe, Kit Baker-Carr, Jack Duller, George Harvey Noble, and two lady racers Kay Petre and Gwenda Hawkes.

Nowadays when a woman circulating mid-field in some obscure racing series is cited as evidence of feminist progress, it's interesting to note that more than 70 years ago their sisters were mixing it with the very fastest of the men.

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 33

This is an elegy composed by Lewis Glyn Cothi to Rhys and Owain ap Philip of Cenarth in the parish of St Harmon. They were the grandsons of Owain Glyndwr.

189, Elegy for the two sons of Philip ap Rhys

Rhys and Owain were mighty of face like the ash,
The hand and arm of St Harmon;
From Gwerthrynion they went
To heaven, to see Non.

Oh Non and Caron! Oh Iorys!
His choir needed the deer of Philip ap Rhys.
Oh my Jesus! Oh Mauricius!
Now their shirts linger beneath the stones.

Two shirts without sleeves for gentle folk,
Long is the yearning and grief;
Two coats made from the ribs of the oak,
Two gowns from heaven and earth.

Earth is the end,
The proud ignominy of the grave,
A strange revenge, to steal Rhys!

Owain was the youngest,
He and his oldest brother
Were the most generous, the tallest like pine trees.

Cenarth is cheerless
Without the falcons of Deheubarth,
So too the courtyard of Sycharth in the two lands of Powys.

There is no land without drink,
No township without custom,
A hand is not useful without finger or thumb.

Their generous father’s land
Is left without benefit, without their fair brows
Without their grip, without their two fingers.

A husband and wife
Are left weak by the loss of two chieftains,
And from placing two stones over their two shrouds.

They were the thumbs of Bedwyr
They were the marshals of the host,
They were two eagles, like ancient Cyrys.

Two hands their two shores
Two waters, two shields,
Two places, two vineyards, from the same fair court.

These two were,
Over seas, over lands,
For thousands they were Lludd and Llefelys.

Brothers who loved poetry,
They gave to the bards,
After the manner of the Wales of Uthr and Emrys.

I cry out to God in heaven,
I do so in anger,
A cry again and again after that.

The lions of Gwenllian
Swim in the heavens,
They went from the court to the churchyard.

Two men who had land,
Two saints of a prince,
Two privileged goshawks of the land’s parishes.

Two lands with two shores,
Secure their inheritance,
Heaven at last is their share, Owain and Rhys.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Although 5BPH is perhaps the better known of Innes Ireland's Lotus Elevens, his second car 100RMI certainly brought the Scotsman more major successes. A 2nd in class in the 1958 Rouen 3 Hour event was followed by a class win (see picture with co-driver Peter Lovely) in the Reims 12 hour race. Innes then took the car to an overall victory over the Ferraris in the Trophee d'Auvergne on the new Clermont Ferrand circuit. A class win at the Ollon-Villars hillclimb completed a successful Continental season.

The car although sometimes entered under the Team Lotus banner was infact owned and prepared by Innes. The number plate of course stands for Robert McGregor Innes and it was an Irish registered car - a Wexford plate.