British Racing Drivers' Club

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The British Racing Drivers' Club (or BRDC) is a membership body which represents the interests of professional[citation needed] racing drivers from the United Kingdom.

Early days[edit]

The club was founded in April 1928 by Dr. J. Dudley Benjafield, one of an informal group of British racing drivers known as the "Bentley Boys". The BRDC began primarily as a socialising club for Benjafield and his fellow drivers,[1] but by the time of its inauguration, its 25 members had devised a set of objectives for the club:

  • To promote the interests of motor sport generally.
  • To celebrate any specific achievement in motor sport.
  • To extend hospitality to racing drivers from overseas.
  • To further the interests of British drivers competing abroad.

In 1929, the BRDC became involved in the promotion and organisation of racing events. Its first event was the BRDC 500-Mile Race at Brooklands on October 12 of that year, a race won by a Bentley 4½ Litre, unsupercharged, owned and driven by Bentley-dealer Jack Barclay and Le Mans-winner F.C. Clement.[2] The event was such a success that the 1930 event, scheduled for October 4, was accorded International status.[3] The Earl of March and S.C.H. Davis won the event outright in an Austin Seven.[4]

World War II and aftermath[edit]

Members who died or were killed during World War Two included:[5] Cecil Kimber (a vice-president), The Earl of Cottenham, A.V. Ebblewhite,[6] Hugh P. McConnell,[7] T.E. Rose Richards,[8] J.P. Wakefield,[9] E.K. Rayson,[10] G.L. Baker,[11] John Carr, Percy Maclure,[12] A.F.P. Fane,[13] B.P.W. Twist,[14] R.O. Shuttleworth, C.S. Staniland,[15] N.G. Wilson,[9] H.E. Symons,[16] R.P. Hichens, J.A. Driskell,[17] and Lionel Martin.

After the war the club opened a "Le Mans Fund," for the benefit of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, raising a grand total of £358 and 11 shillings, to assist with the rehabilitation of the facilities at the Le Mans circuit. "It will be remembered that these installations were almost completely destroyed during the war, mainly by Allied bombing." [18]

Membership status[edit]

The BRDC's membership was initially restricted to experienced and successful male drivers, and was by invitation only. When Le Mans-winner John Duff joined the club in 1935 he was proposed and seconded by existing members.[19] However James Robertson Justice was a member of the club,[20] with a limited track record.

In 1946 eligibility was described thus: "It is pointed out that, normally, membership is confined to gentlemen who have competed in an open motor road-racing event or taken a first, second or third place award in a Brooklands Automobile Racing Club's Meeting. Every candidate must be proposed by one and seconded by another member of the club, to both of whom he is personally known." [21]

In the modern era full membership status is offered only to those who are judged to have been successful at an international level for a number of seasons. Full membership has been awarded to every British or Commonwealth Formula One World Champion. Associate status is awarded to those who have made a significant contribution to motorsport. Honorary membership may be awarded in special cases, such as a notable World Champion who may not otherwise qualify.

Women were not allowed to join the BRDC until 1992. As a consequence, the British Women Racing Drivers Club was founded in 1962 by Mary Wheeler.[22]

Race promotion and circuit ownership[edit]

In the post-war era, the BRDC expanded its activities, taking over the lease of Silverstone from the RAC in 1952. In 1966, the club formed a subsidiary company, Silverstone Circuits Limited, responsible for the development of the British Grand Prix and – after its purchase in 1971 – the circuit itself. Aside from the GP, other notable BRDC-organised events at Silverstone included the BRDC International Trophy.

In recent years, Silverstone and the British GP have become an ongoing contentious issue between the BRDC board and Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management, with differences of opinion over the costs involved and the state of the circuit's infrastructure.[23]

Also within the remit of the club are:

  • The BRDC Marshals' Club.
  • BRDC Club Races.
  • BRDC 500 Summer Races.
  • The BRDC Walter Hayes Trophy.

Young driver support[edit]

The support and development of young British drivers has become an important part of the BRDC's existence, not least with its involvement in the annual McLaren Autosport BRDC Award to honour and promote a young driver from a British championship who, in the eyes of the judges, shows the most talent and potential. Among the BRDC's promotional and developmental schemes is the Stars of Tomorrow karting championship. The BRDC also provides financial backing to selected young British drivers competing in junior formulae.

In 2008, the BRDC announced the creation of its SuperStars program, designed to advise and financially support Britain's most promising young drivers. 1992 BTCC champion Tim Harvey was appointed Director of the program.

Significant people[edit]

In 2006, former World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart stepped down from his role as the club's president and his successor, Damon Hill, was elected by the board on 28 April. The position of club chairman was held until June 2007 by former touring car driver Stuart Rolt, a BRDC member since 1979. The new Chairman is Robert Brooks, who is also the Chairman of Bonhams auctioneers.[24]

Presidents of the BRDC[edit]

Years Incumbent
2011– England Derek Warwick
2006–2011 England Damon Hill
2000–2006 Scotland Jackie Stewart
2000 England Ken Tyrrell
1993–2000 England Alexander Hesketh
1992–1993 Scotland Innes Ireland
1964–1991 England Gerald Lascelles
1929–1964 England Earl Howe
1928–1929 England Dudley Benjafield

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ BRDC History
  2. ^ Motor Sport, November 1929, Page 28, see also photographs in centre spread, advertisement Page 6.
  3. ^ Motor Sport, January 1930, Page 23.
  4. ^ Motor Sport, November 1930, Pages 4, 6–7.
  5. ^ Motor Sport, December 1945, Page 247.
  6. ^ Motor Sport, January 1940, Page 14: Obituary.
  7. ^ Motor Sport, March 1943, Page 58: Obituary.
  8. ^ Motor Sport, November 1940, Page 214: Obituary.
  9. ^ a b Motor Sport, June 1942, Page 125: Obituary.
  10. ^ Motor Sport, December 1939, Page 315: Obituary.
  11. ^ Motor Sport, September 1942, Page 193: "It is sad to learn that G. L. Baker, who competed very frequently at Brooklands in outer circuit events with a sports Minerva, and also a Graham Paige, passed away recently." For a photograph of the Minerva see: Michael Sedgwick, Early Cars, Pleasures and Treasures, Page 93, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, Reprinted 1967. Geoffrey L. Baker also competed at the Lewes Speed Trials. See: Jeremy Wood, Speed on the Downs: Lewes Speed Trials 1924–39, Pages 27–31, 36, 43; JWFA Books, 2005, ISBN 0-9522766-1-5.
  12. ^ Motor Sport, February 1945, Page 35: Obituary.
  13. ^ Motor Sport, September 1942, Pages 189–190: Obituary. See also: Great Auclum National Speed Hill Climb.
  14. ^ Motor Sport, January 1942, Page 16: Obituary.
  15. ^ Motor Sport, August 1942, Page 166-177: Obituary. See also: List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (1940–1944).
  16. ^ Motor Sport, July 1940, Page iii: Obituary.
  17. ^ Motor Sport, September 1937, Page 382: "J.A. Driskell, who started his motoring career very early in New Zealand, and who, apart from his better known activities with Ford V8, "Dynacharged" Ford Eight, B.N.C. and Rally cars, won one of the first races ever in New Zealand, built a Driskell-Special for trials work in this country and drove a D.F.P. in the 1923 "200."
  18. ^ Motor Sport, June 1946, Page 121; See also: Motor Sport, July 1946, Page 147; Motor Sport, September 1946, Page 201.
  19. ^ Noted in the Club’s general Committee Meeting held on January 28, 1935. He was proposed by L. G. Callingham and seconded by H. D. Parker.
  20. ^ Autosport, March 29, 1957.
  21. ^ Motor Sport, December 1946, Page 288.
  22. ^ "Female racers aiming for the top". The Daily Telegraph. 19 April 2012. 
  23. ^ Sportsbusiness.com
  24. ^ BRDC Bio

See also[edit]

External links[edit]