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Return to Brooklands

This weekend saw a welcome return to Brooklands, the world’s first purpose-built motor racing track, the location of so many attempts on the land-speed record and used by the pioneers of aviation. It is also one of the settings of my novel, I Stopped Time. Those Magnificant Men in their Flying Machines? Based on events at Brooklands. Minnie Driver’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? The scene with the Wellington bomber was filmed in the aircraft hanger. The Downton Abbey bus? Its permanent home is Brooklands. In fact, whether you want to read an eyewitness account of how Amy Johnson met her end, take a seat in one of the last remaining Concordes or if your obsession is Formula 1, there will be something to fire your imagination. I was particularly happy to see my old friend, the Brough Superior.

P1040750As our feet crunched on the gravel drive, he clicked his tongue as if approaching a horse. “Like her?” he nudged me. Parked diagonally in front of the main entrance and attracting looks of longing from a small gathering of Seniors was his latest acquisition: a Brough Superior, sleek in black and chrome with a sidecar shaped and suspended like a boat, coated with a healthy splattering of narrow country lanes.

“Out the way, chaps!” My father aimed his arms at the stragglers as though parting the Red Sea. He threw the skirt of his coat aside and straddled the bike. “In you hop. Gloves and goggles on the seat. No time to lose. British Empire Trophy at Brooklands, one o’clock. The clever money’s on Eyston.”