Brooklands celebrates Speed Record history

| 14 Oct 2011

Brooklands Museum revived its long association with Land Speed Record attempts by fielding a display of record cars to promote a new LSR book on 13 October.The Weybridge track hosted a couple of Bluebird Electric cars and Patsy Burt’s famous McLaren ‘woosh-bonk’ M3A racer to mark the launch of C&SC's November Book of the Month The British are Coming – written by LSR aficionado Mike Varndell.Adding to the festivities were two of Brooklands’ prized exhibits, rolled out by museum staff: the ex-John Cobb Napier-Railton and Malcolm Campbell’s 15-litre 1912 Lorraine-Dietrich 'Vieux Charles III’ (below).

Built for the 1912 Dieppe Grand Prix, the Edwardian racer came to Brooklands later the same year and broke a number of records in the hands of French hotshoe Victor Hemery – who averaged 94.82mph for three hours – before becoming one of Campbell’s earliest Bluebird team cars. A rare public outing by fromer LSR and Water Speed Record-holder Donald Campbell’s Jaguar E-type fhc (below) was another highlight; the coupé was Donald’s regular transport to Coniston Water for his WSR attempts.

The LSR hero connection was further enhanced by Burt’s 4.5-litre Oldsmobile-powered McLaren (below) – the multiple 1960s and ’70s sprint record holder played with the Campbell family as a child in the 1930s.

Other highlights included a dramatic afterburner flameout demonstration by the LSR contender Split Second (below). The dragster is powered by a Rolls-Royce Viper jet engine that can take it to 300mph from rest in 6secs, which helped Colin Fallows to clinch the flying UK records for the ¼-mile at 300mph and 1km at 184.5mph at Yorkshire’s Elvington Airfield in 2000.

The celebrations extended to a display of Dutch artist Arthur Benjamins’ LSR and WSR subjects (below).

For more on Varndell’s LSR book see The British are Coming and a feature on highlights from the book in C&SC’s December issue, on sale 3 November.