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Raymond Mays

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1941. From The Autocar of 13th June. Alec Francis Rivers Fletcher at the wheel
1941. From The Autocar of 13th June.

(Thomas) Raymond Mays CBE (1 August 1899 – 6 January 1980) was a racing driver from Bourne, Lincolnshire.

1899 Born in Bourne, Lincs, son of Thomas William Mayes, wool merchant and chemical manure manufacturer, and his wife Annie Beatrice Mays[1]

He attended Oundle School, where he met Charles Amherst Villiers, leaving at the end of 1917.

After army service in the Grenadier Guards in France, he attended Christ's College, Cambridge.

Mays was one of the principal people behind the development of the motor racing stables of English Racing Automobiles (ERA) and British Racing Motors (BRM). The workshops of each firm in turn were established behind his house in Bourne. His life-long ambition was to see his country succeed at the top level of international motor sport. This ambition was not always matched by his technical or financial resources and culminated in the failure of the BRM V16 project.

Mays raced for some thirty years, competing in a Speed-model 1½ litre Hillman, two 1½ litre Bugattis, an unsuccessful supercharged A.C., the Vauxhall-Villiers, Mercedes, Invicta, Riley and E.R.A.

Mays was renowned for competing at Shelsley Walsh, racing there in the early 1920s with a pair of Brescia Bugattis, known as 'Cordon Bleu' and 'Cordon Rouge'. A famous picture was taken of 'Cordon Bleu' at the Caerphilly Mountain hill-climb in 1924. He developed his cars with superchargers through Amherst Villiers and this association continued from A.C. to the Vauxhall-Villiers and then the famous 'White Riley', that eventually became the starting point for E.R.A.s.

In 1929 Raymond Mays entered the Vauxhall-Villiers at Shelsley Walsh fitted with twin rear wheels; according to Mays: "the first time that any car had competed at any hill climb so equipped." He broke the hill record and this innovation was widely copied in the years to come.

1934 Formed English Racing Automobiles (ERA) with Humphrey Cook and Peter Berthon

Mays made his mark on the track in such events as the 1935 German Grand Prix (the legendary victory of Tazio Nuvolari), sharing his ERA with Ernst von Delius. The ribbon which came with the wreath which was part of the prize for this event is to be seen at the Raymond Mays room in Bourne Heritage Centre.

1945 Started British Racing Motors (BRM).

Mays was one of ERA's most notable drivers, winning the British Hill Climb Championship in its first two years, 1947 and 1948 and also the Brighton Speed Trials in 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1950 in his black ERA R4D. He stopped driving racing cars at the end of the 1950 season.

In the fifties and sixties Mays produced and marketed tuning equipment for British Ford four and six-cylinder engines, including an alloy-cylinder head designed by Peter Berthon. These parts were fitted to Ford, A.C., and Reliant cars.

1980 At the time of his death he was director of racing for Owen Racing Organisation, chairman and MD of Raymond Mays and Partners, MD of T. W. Mays and Sons Ltd., chairman of Mays Chemical Manure Co Ltd.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1911 census