Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,402 pages of information and 233,863 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
The fourth Brooklands race meeting was held the 14th September 1907.
The following entries have been received for the meeting to be held at the Brooklands motor track to-day, Saturday, September 14th:
THE FIRST 90 H.P. RACE OF 150 SOVS. (The entrant of the winner to receive 100 sovs., the entrant of the second 40 sovs., and the entrant of the third 10 sovs.) For motor cars propelled by means of internal combustion engines only, of a cylinder dimension of 225.1 or under. Weight, 3,000 lbs. distance about 5 miles. –
THE FIRST 60 H.P. RACE OF 150 SOVS. (The entrant of the winner to receive 100 sovs., the entrant of the second 40 sovs., and the entrant of the third 10 sovs.) For motor cars propelled by means of internal combustion engines only, of a cylinder dimension of 150.1 or under. Weight, 2,700 lbs. Distance about 3.25 miles.—
THE FIRST 40 H.P. RACE FOR 150 SOVS. (The entrant of the winner to receive 100 sovs., the entrant of the second 40 sovs., and the entrant of the third 10 sovs.) For motor cars propelled by means of internal combustion engines only of a cylinder dimension of 100 or under Weight, 2,500 lbs. Distance, about 2.125 miles.—
THE FIRST 26 H.P. RACE OF 150 SOVS. (The entrant of the winner of receive 100 sovs., the entrant of the second 40 sovs., and the entrant of the third 10 sovs.) For motor cars propelled by means of internal combustion engines only, of a cylinder capacity of 64 or under. Weight, 2,000 lbs. Distance, about 2.5 miles.—
THE MERCEDES HANDICAP SWEEPSTAKES OF 20 SOVS., for Acceptors. (The entrant of the second to receive one-quarter of the stakes.) For motor cars propelled by means of internal-combustion engines only, of a cylinder dimension of 175 or over. Weight, 2,700 lbs. Distance about 3.25 miles.
THE FIVE-MILE HANDICAP SWEEPSTAKES OF 10 SOVS., for Acceptors. (The entrant of the second to receive one-quarter of the stakes.) For motor cars propelled by means of internal-combustion engines only, of a cylinder dimension of 125 or under. Weight, 2,700 lbs. Distance about five miles.
A MATCH (distance about five miles) has been arranged between Sir Ralph St. G. Gore, on a 120 h.p. Mercedes, and Mr. Guy Lewin, on a 130 h.p. Hotchkiss.
The Brooklands Automobile Racing Club, the promoters of the fourth open meeting, which was held at Brooklands on Saturday last, were again favoured with excellent weather. There were probably about 5,000 spectators present at the commencement of the first race. Seven events, all short races, provided a good afternoon's sport, and the interest of the spectators was kept up throughout. Full advantage was taken of the enclosures for the cars, there probably being at least fifty cars in line by the course.
Several improvements were effected in the conduct of the meeting, and not the least of these was the fixing of the discs showing the numbers of the cars competing in the races. This was an idea which we first suggested in The Autocar, but it is still capable of improvement. The discs should be carried higher than they were on Saturday, the centre of the disc should lie about the height of the top of the driver's head, and they might be made about 2 feet 6 inches in diameter. They could be supplied by the Racing Club, so as to ensure being all of standard size, and it should be ruled that a special fitting be attached to all competing cars, so that it would only be necessary to drop the ready numbered plate into the fitting, and no painting of the numbers need be done on the course.
The handicap races were a new and good thing, but owing to the unknown qualities of some of the cars the handicappers were not quite successful in bringing them together on the finishing line, as was hoped would be the case. More experience at future events will however, level this up.
The meeting was marred by a bad accident which happened in the sixth race. One of the Kaiser Prize Minerva cars, driven by Mr. V. Herman, failed to pull up after passing the winning line. It came out on to the circuit much too fast, and, going straight up the bank, the right-hand rear wheel of the car actually went over the top of the banking, and then the car was brought on to the track again almost broadside on, with the result that it toppled over and over, throwing out driver and mechanic. Mr. Herman died from his injuries some hours later, and the mechanic was much hurt. The car was wrecked, both back wheels smashed, and the frame and axles bent.
2.30. The FIRST 26 H.P. RACE of 120 sovs. The entrant of the winner to receive 80 sovs., the entrant of the second 32 sovs., and the entrant of the third 8 sovs. For motor cars propelled by means of internal combustion engines only, of cylinder dimensions of 64 or under. Weight, 2,000 lbs. Entrance, 7.5 sovs. Distance, about, 2.5 miles.
The winner's average speed was 53.5 m.p.h.
After a false start by the number, the Metallurgique got away quickest, leading by almost thirty yards at the junction of the straight with the main track. On coming up into the finishing straight it was seen that the Metallurgique had lost its early advantage, and that the Germain, with the smallest engine in the race, was well ahead of the others. It ultimately passed the winning post, leading by almost a hundred yards from the Arrol-Johnston, the third being about the same distance behind the second. A race for the third position took place between Tuck and Thornycroft, the former getting position by little over a car length. So close was Thornycroft in the wake of the Humber that on crossing the line an accident was narrowly averted.
2.50. The FIRST 40 H.P. RACE of 97.5 sovs. The entrant of the winner to receive 65 sovs., the entrant of the second 26 sovs., and the entrant of the third 6 sovs. For motor cars propelled by means of internal combustion engines only, of a cylinder dimension of 100 or under. Weight, 2,500 lbs. Entrance, 7.5 sovs. Distance, about 2.125 miles.
At the start the Iris, Austin, and Napier were quickest away, but the Iris and Napier drew away from the field, and the victory rested with the Napier after a good tussle with the Iris.
The winner's average speed was about 68.25 m.p.h.
The Napier's win over the Iris was about one hundred yards, but at the speed the cars were travelling this only represents about 3s.
3.15. The FIRST 90 H.P. RACE of 82.5 sovs. The entrant of the winner to receive 55 sovs., the entrant of the second 22 sovs., the entrant of the third 5.5 sovs. For motor cars propelled by means of internal combustion engines only, of a cylinder dimension of 225.1 or under. Weight, 3,000 lbs. Entrance, 7.5 sovs. Distance, about 5 miles.
The winner's average speed was 92 m.p.h.
There were only four entries for this race, viz., three Mercedes and a Darracq, but the Darracq did not start, and only at the last moment was it possible to run Mr. Hutton's Mercedes owing to a fracture of the petrol pipe. He, however, brought his car up to scratch, but neglected to weigh in prior to the race. Mr. Hutton led for nearly a lap, when Drabble's car passed him and won by about thirty yards, Mr. Hutton beating D. Resta for second place by about four yards. Owing to not weighing in prior to the race, Mr. Hutton withdrew, and the second prize went to D. Resta. This race provided the fine spectacle of three equal powered cars of the same make racing together at nearly 100 miles per hour, as depicted on the next page.
3.45. The FIVE MILES HANDICAP SWEEPSTAKES of 10 sovs., for acceptors. The entrant of the second to receive one-quarter of the stakes. For motor cars propelled by internal combustion engines only, of a cylinder dimension of 125 or under. Weight, 2,700 lbs. Entrance, 10 sovs. Distance, about 5 miles.
The winner's average speed was 83.5 miles per hour.
The speed was originally put up at sixty-five and a half miles per hour, but altered to the higher figure later. Mr. Hutton's Berliet got away with the lead, but the scratch Napier car was moving in an extraordinary manner as compared with most of the other competitors. It was quickly seen that barring accidents Newton had the race at his mercy, and he eventually won with a lot to spare.
The most exciting part of the race was the tussle between the 40 h.p. Iris and the 48.3 h.p. Metallurgique for fourth place. This was the first race run on the course under handicap conditions, and its popularity was evidenced by the record entry of nineteen cars.
4.10. A MATCH for a 50-guinea cup between Sir Ralph Gore's Mercedes and Mr. G. F. Lewin's Hotchkiss. No entrance. Weight, 2,700 lbs. Distance, about 5.25 miles.
The winner's average speed was ninety miles per hour.
In this race the Mercedes got well away, and as the Hotchkiss never really got quite into its running, the result was an easy win for the Mercedes, which practically lapped the Hotchkiss. The winner finished with the left-hand rear tyre missing,
4.30. The FIRST 60 H.P. RACE of 120 sovs. 'the entrant of the winner to receive 80 sovs., the entrant of the second 32 sovs., and the entrant of the third 8 sovs. For motor cars propelled by means of internal combustion engines only of a cylinder dimension of 150.1 or under. Weight, 2,700 lbs. Entrance, 7.5 sovs. Distance, about 3.25 miles.
The winner's average speed was 76.5 miles per hour.
This race was well contested by the Napier driven by Smith and Mr. Cupper's Metallurgique car, the former coming with a rattle and gaining the verdict at the finish, whilst the Napier driven by F. Newton took second place. This race provided a fine spectacle, because not above eighty yards separated the first four cars. The remaining five cars were tailed off.
At the finish of this race a serious accident happened. The Napier driven by Smith completed over two miles with the left-hand front tyre missing. Several spokes in the Rudge-Whitworth wire wheels were broken, although the wheel did not ran greatly out of truth or collapse. Just after leaving the straight the Napier was pulled up in about the middle of the track. The Minerva driven by V. Herman in the place of Moore Brabazon ran very fast after passing the finishing line, and the driver apparently failed to see the Napier on the track and swung out too wide, this running high up on the banked turn. The result was that the right-hand rear wheel actually got right over the upper edge of the track, and in endeavouring to right the car it was turned broadside on and finally toppled down the track, the driver and mechanic being thrown upon the cement surface. At the time it was feared that both were killed, but eventually they were brought in on the ambulance. The mechanic was reported not seriously hurt, but Mr. Herman, we regret to say, succumbed to shock a few hours after the race.
5.0. The MERCEDES HANICAP SWEEPSTAKES of 20 sovs., for acceptors. The entrants of the second to receive one-quarter of the stakes. For motor cars propelled by means of internal combustion engines only, of a cylinder dimension of 175 or over. Weight, 2,700 lbs. Entrance, 20 sovs. Distance, about 3.25 miles.
The time for this race was not telegraphed. The first and second Mercedes cars ran very well indeed, and the Napier only once during the whole run looked like challenging for a place.
In the horse-powers given for the different cars running, it should be understood that these are not the power under which the cars are generally sold from the makers' catalogues, but are the horse-powers calculated from the R.A.C. formula of D2N/2.5
There have been some extraordinary statements with regard to the fatal accident which marred the afternoon's racing. From the position in which we were at the time we saw exactly what happened, as we were standing in the members' enclosure not far from the bridge.
The Napier which finished first came out of the straight and turned into the main track. It had almost stopped, and it came to a standstill on the main track, but partly across the mouth of the straight. The second, third, and fourth cars passed inside it, all of them going slowly compared with the fifth man.
Mr. Herman came up the straight at least double as fast as anyone else, and swung out to avoid the Napier. He did this quite easily, but continued his course diagonally up the banking till his right hand rear wheel passed from the nearly vertical face of the banking on to the flat rim or path about two feet wide. The front wheels never got off the track at all, but directly the one back wheel went over the rim, the car seemed to loose all sense of direction. In the twinkling of an eye the smart yellow car, after a momentary falter on the rim of the track apparently, as though it hung there for a fraction of an instant while the wheel broke, plunged in again. It turned completely over sideways twice, and finally came to rest bottom upward near the inside of the track.
Mr. Herman and his mechanic, Mr. Slade, were thrown clear for the moment, but one of them — which we could not say — was unquestionably struck by the car as it rolled over and over. In fact, there is very little doubt that one of them was under the car. The thing happened so quickly that it was not possible to follow every movement with the eye.
For instance, the inside driving wheel did not break at the moment the car went off the track, but there was nothing left except the rim and the hub and some splinters. Considering the speed of the car and the suddenness with which its direction was changed, it is really remarkable that it was not more completely wrecked. Of course, the frame and axles were bent, the steering standard broken in, and so on, but beyond the back wheels there were very few parts which appeared to be actually broken.
Mr. M. F. Mieville writes: "May I, through the medium of your columns, offer a humble suggestion to the B.A.R.C. which may possibly have the effect of preventing further accidents in the future? My suggestion is that all competitors, and more especially those strange to the course, should be allowed to practise a finish as well as being allowed to practise the circuit. I was a competitor at Brooklands for the first time on Saturday, and took the precaution of spending a couple of days on the track so as to get used to the turns and banking. I was surprised to find how very easy and very safe the track was and after a couple of circuits I felt perfectly at home on the course, and no one could possibly hesitate to drive on it at the very highest speeds possible.
When, however, in the race it came to pulling up after the finish, a difficulty presented itself, which in the excitement of the moment as nearly as possible became my undoing, and I do not doubt for a moment was the cause of poor Mr. Herman's accident. The winning post is naturally passed at the very highest speed possible, and before one has time to realise the race is over there is a very sharp left-handed turn and the steep banking to be faced, and in my own case I own that I was not quick enough in commencing to pull up, and dared not attempt the turn at the speed I was travelling; consequently I got right up the banking and was within a few inches of the edge before I realised my danger. I quite realised that had I pulled up then the car was at such an angle that it must have toppled over.
If I drove the course again - which I very much hope I shall — I shall know better, and then there is absolutely no danger; but for a perfect stranger I do consider the finish highly dangerous, and therefore this humble suggestion that in addition to practise on the circuit being allowed, at least three or four finishes should not only he allowed, but made compulsory for fresh drivers."
It is gratifying to find that the Brooklands executive are profiting by the friendly criticism of The Autocar and other papers. On Saturday last, the gate, small though it was, were freer in every way from that all round dragooned feeling which gave rise to so much resentment at the first two or three meetings. The admittance of cars to the rails is clearly a movement in the right direction, and one of which the public freely availed themselves last week.
The enclosure attendants have evidently been schooled as to their bearing towards track patrons, for directions, instructions, and replies proceed in manner and tone widely different from those which previously obtained. The improvements in the methods of running off the races were also welcome, except that the waits between the events still smack slavishly of Hurst Park and Sandown.
In the matter of the distances over which the various races are contested, it is regrettable that these are still fragmentary, and not a whole number of full miles. The suggestion that the starts should he made from points as near to the large body of the spectators as possible has not yet borne fruit, and if the management will credit us they are largely discounting the attraction of motor racing by sending the competitors on their way from points half a mile or more removed from the public view. The start of a scratch race of big cars is an extremely interesting and exciting phase of motor racing, and to waste such an attractive feature on the far distant side of the mighty motordrome strikes us as callous waste of a great asset.
In the matter of the Brooklands meetings of the past, we have, we believe, been held somewhat hypercritical, but our long and varied personal experience of the conduct of huge cycle race meetings, to which motor racing far more nearly corresponds than to hippie competition, has prompted whatever criticism we have offered. None are more single-hearted in a keen, desire for the abounding success and popularity of motor racing and the Brooklands Track, but from our point of view that success and popularity were not to be advanced by withholding suggestions where we were of opinion they would be of value.
We are more than delighted at the excellent promise of last Saturday's meeting; there were signs of keen public interest on all hands, and those who then came, saw, and enjoyed are certain to return again with others in their train to future meetings. The general effect will go far to wipe out the undesirable impression made by official blundering upon the opening day.
We think the executive are to be heartily congratulated upon the character of last week's programme, the introduction of the first h.p. races, and the start by distance handicaps, which proved extremely interesting, picturesque and exciting. The manner in which these handicaps were handled — a very big job — reflected great credit on all concerned. Given fine weather, we fully expect to see a much increased attendance at the meeting on October 5th.
A very promising life was brought to a sad and sudden close by the lamentable accident at Brooklands on Saturday last. The unfortunate victim. Mr. Herman, was only 24 years old, and had just returned to this country after a period of travel, preparatory to settling down in business as a director of Messrs. Warwick Wright, Ltd. Negotiations for the assumption of a seat on the board of that company were nearly completed; indeed, Mr. Herman had mentioned the matter to Mr. Warwick Wright on the very morning of his death. He is the third son of Mr. Herman, of Wargrave, Cheshire, and all his family were out of town at the time of his death. General sympathy will be felt for them in their sudden bereavement, the more as none were aware of Mr. Herman's intention to drive at Brooklands. Indeed, it was only decided late on Friday that he should take the wheel in place of the driver whom Mr. Moore-Brabazon had nominated.
The car which came to such terrible grief was the victorious vehicle of the (Kaiserpreis) Circuit des Ardennes - the identical 145 by 120 mm. Minerva so skilfully and successfully driven by Mr. Moore Brabazon in that race. Mr. Wright tells us that Mr. Herman was conscious very shortly after being picked up, and being able to steak, his first question was whether Slade (the mechanic) was hurt, whether the car was badly damaged, and who had won.
Subsequently he asked several times how the accident happened. Curiously enough, "Is my driver killed?" were the first words that Slade, the mechancian, uttered when he was lifted front the track. Upon examination, both foot and side brakes of the car were found in perfect order, but, apart from the evidence of the tyres, it could not be said whether the brakes had been applied or not, as the side brake lever does not lock on. These brakes come off directly the lever is let go. It would seem, indeed, that Mr. Herman found himself coming up to the mark at much too high a speed towards the four cars in front of him, which were, of course, slowing down, and that this was so is shown by the fact palpable to all who stood by the post that he was within an ace of cannoning into the rear of No. 7. Mr. Huntley Walker's Darracq though why he did not slow after he wrenched himself clear of that car will never be known. In all probability he thrust down the accelerator pedal in lieu of the foot brake and forgot his side brakes altogether - a very likely thing for a man to do who has not thoroughly accustomed himself to take automatically to his side brake lever in any emergency. Whether he tried to turn the car down the track again or not after his off side steering wheel went over the edge is very difficult to say, but if he had the power of selection at the time he would have done better to have gone right over the flat at the top of the banking, and taken a tumble in the soft sand — if indeed, the car would have tumbled at all.
Mr. Gordon Watney writes: "I am writing to you to offer my suggestions, trusting that those who read them will accept them as offered in the most humble manner from what I have gathered by most careful attention to the races held at the Brooklands Racing Club.
I am a member of this club, and have watched, with that enthusiasm which only those who love a good race can enjoy, every race which has been run on the Brooklands racing track. I have also on many occasions watched the training and practice work of the drivers and cars. I regret to say that the painfully sad accident which occurred on Saturday last, terminating in the death of Mr. Vincent Herman, was only what I had expected, and occurred in the only place I expected an accident might occur.
Not for one moment will I allow that the accident was caused by any fault in the design of the track whatever; it was caused, in my opinion, solely from the want of experience of the poor fellow who drove the Minerva car. Now, what I wish to point out and impress on those who are willing to listen to the humble advice of one who has only the best interests of the sport at heart, and also speaks as a keen motorist, is, when the cars are practising on the track too much attention is paid to driving at a terrific pace round and round the outer circle. This, to a certain extent, is no doubt a necessity, but if there is one portion of the track which has any danger connected with it is not, strictly speaking, the outer circle, but that portion between the winning post and where the straight joins the outer circle, at which point this sad accident occurred.
I maintain that those of our drivers, both amateur and professional, who have not had the vast experience of the great drivers should put in more time on the finishing straight and practise the finish until they can tell exactly when it is necessary to apply their brakes so as to avoid having to take the curve on the outer circle at too great a speed when pulling up. Here, in my opinion, lies the whole secret of making the Brooklands racing track free from any recurrence of fatal accidents caused by anything other than collisions or faulty steering gear.
A member came up to me after the accident and said, 'It was disgraceful that the first cars had stopped where they did; they should have gone right round the bend, and left the course quite clear for the remaining cars to pull up.' I maintain that this had nothing whatever to do with the accident, but that it was caused entirely by the brakes of the Minerva car not being put on before they were. Had the brakes been out on at the same place and time as those of the three leading cars there would have been no reason for the Minerva car to have run to the top of the banking and upset. I watched most carefully, and feel confident that this is correct.
I don't mean to say for one moment that it would not be a great deal better if the first cars past the post continued to drive until they had gone 300 or 400 yards round the bend — I think it would — but the fact remains that in the last race much larger racing cars, which must have been travelling considerably faster than the Minerva in the previous race, had no difficulty in pulling up. Also there is no object in cars which are not in the first three not starting to ease up even before reaching the winning post.
Perhaps some people will say it's easy to look on and tell other people how to drive. I do not write this letter to tell anyone how to drive, but only to suggest a few ideas formed from most careful observation. No one can wish more than I do to see the Brooklands Racing Club a great success, but nothing can do it more harm than a recurrence of such a sad accident as that of Saturday last.
In conclusion, may I offer my deepest sympathy with the family of Mr. Herman in their great sorrow."
A fine demonstration of the strength of the Rudge Whitworth wire wheels was unwittingly given, as in the 60 h.p. race the left-hand front tyre came off Smith's 6o h.p. Napier nearly two miles from the finish. Despite this, he won handsomely, racing on the bare rim. The rim was smashed right across in one place, and at the finish only eight spokes were left on the outside of the wheel. Those inside remained in position. The spokes, which appeared to be torn from the rim, were actually not torn from it in the ordinary sense of the word. Owing to the stagger of the wheel — that is, the inclination inward which is given to all front wheels — and to the tyre being missing, the heads of the outside spokes were necessarily in contact with the track, and the result of the tremendous vibration was to unscrew the nuts, the possibility of which in future will he obviated by riveting over the heads of the spokes. It was certainly a wonderful testimony to the strength of the wheel that it should have stood two miles at a speed of something between eighty and ninety miles an hour, as the average speed of the race from a standing start was over seventy-six miles an hour, the total distance was only three and a quarter miles.
We were told that when Sir Ralph Gore's back tyre came off some four hundred yards from the finish it ran away from the car, which overtook it in a moment or two, and directly afterwards the tyre began to wobble, and soon fell.
One of the fittest races of the day was the First 90 h.p. Race of about five miles, the struggle between the three Mercedes of the same rating being magnificent.
The Autocar Magazine of 14th and 21st September 1907