Festival of Speed 2017 - The Pre-War View

The 2017 Festival of Speed included 5 classes featuring early race machines and with a total of 37 cars there was plenty to enjoy for those that appreiciate a great story with their classic and vintage entertainment. The first of which is the 1935 Alfa Romeo Tipo B.

By the time the Tipo B arrived Alfa was losing ground to the mighty Mercedes cars of the 1930s. The car was Tazio Nuvolari's mount for the 1935 GP of Germany at the Nurburgring. The Italian with his 3.2 litre straight eight silenced the partisan crowd by driving the race of his life and taking the chequered flag; bringing a halt albeit temporarily to the German domination of Grand Prix racing.

On the Vauxhall stand a really lovely C10 Prince Henry model and is often considered to be the world's first 'Sports Car'. A 3.0 litre four cylinder engine powered this machine which became very popular in Russia; the Tsar owned a pair.

The Bentley Pacey Hassan Special was created when Bill Pacey found his existing Bentley wasn't fast enough. He persuaded top mechanic Wally Hassan to create this supercharged 3.0 litre monster that first saw racing action at Brooklands. Winning the Easter meeting in 1936 on its first appearance. Driven by William Medcalf it managed to top Goodwood's hill at over 100mph.

AX 201 'The Silver Ghost from 1907 and without doubt the most famous of all RR's having completed the equivalent of driving from London to Glasgow 27 times without mechanical fault. Now owned by Bentley/VW group it wasn't released to the current Rolls Royce builders BMW when they took over. Suspected to be the most valuable car in the world it would break all records should it ever be put up for sale.

Mercedes W125 arrived in 1937, its aim to make up for the previous season's lack of victories and it certainly did. Taking 6 wins inside twelve races the 5.6 litre straight eight offered 650hp and 190mph performance and the only way to cease its success was to change the rules for 1938; reducing its engine capacity.

The ‘Full Steam Ahead’ feature five surprisingly attractive ‘octane free’ vehicles built by Stanley Motor Carriage Company. Covering two decades from 1903, creators Francis E and his brother Freelan O Stanley set up in 1897, their early examples utilising piano wire wrapped around the boiler unit to ensure that there were no records of catastrophic failure; a real bonus, considering the boilers were often placed under the driver’s seat.

The English Racing Automobile Company had only begun building their machines one year before this ERA A Type R3A arrived at Brooklands in 1934. The following year it set the world standing start record over a kilometre with its 2.0 litre supercharged engine.

Jean-Pierre Wimille would drive this Type 59 Bugatti without much success just prior to the war starting in 1958. Its straight eight of 3 litres was supercharged but failed in its two outings that season. The pilot would go on to become a war hero with the French Resistance and post conflict produce his own road cars.

Originally one of Count Louis Zborowski's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's this one with a 27 litre Liberty aero engine. Purchased by J G Parry-Thomas to attempt a land speed record which it achieved in 1926 at 171mph, the car now named BABS. A later attempt cost Parry-Thomas his life when he crashed on Pendine Sands the following year. The team buried BABS where it crashed and it remained unseen until retrieved in 1969. Driven by Geraint Owen whose father salvaged the wreckage from the Welsh beach before carrying out a full restoration. This magnificent machine was demonstrated by Geraint and the warm up within the paddock was worth the Festival entrance fee on its own. 

Duncan Pittaway's 'Beast of Turin' was one of a pair built, this example features the body from one and the engine from the second version. Much of it discovered in Australia the Fiat designated S76 is a credit to Pittaway and a privilege to watch; even cooling down it breathes fire. 28.5 litres was the capacity Fiat considered enough to achieve the Land Speed Record and the S76 managed 116mph from its 300bhp. A Brooklands racer that cannot be mistaken for any other the crowd just stands in awe as the Beast takes on the hill of Goodwood.

The 1920 Ballot not only competed at Indianapolis in its first year where it achieved 7th place. The following year the 3/8LC was leading the French GP prior to retiring before winning the Italian GP - The Coppa Florio. 3rd place on its return to Indianapolis in 1922 before becoming one of Malcolm Campbell's Bluebirds and a regular at Brooklands.