Eventually, I scraped together enough money to buy my first racecar, which I drove to Goodwood. Unfortunately, I was rejected by the scrutineer, because I did not have a reverse gear.
Looking and feeling pretty unhappy, I bumped into our chief timekeeper, Mr. Ebblewhite, whose father was the chief handicapper and timekeeper at Brooklands, who asked me why I was looking so glum.
I explained that I had been rejected from my very first race, and he told me that I needed to talk to Mr. Mathews. It turned out that Mr. Mathews was previously the chief scrutineer at Brooklands.
Looking over at my 1926 chain-driven Frazer Nash “Union Special”, Mr. Mathews asked whether I had any spare chains, which I kept in an old green galvanized bucket.
Immaculate in his pressed grey flannel trousers, polished shoes, white shirt, Brooklands tie, and blazer I was horrified when he took out an oily length and instructed me to pull the back seat out of the “Frash.”
He then wrestled around with the chain, installing it between the bevel gear drive and the back axle. Walking several yards away he fished out of his top pocket a white handkerchief and told me that when he lowered it, I should simultaneously release the clutch.
Mr. Mathews dropped the hanky, I dropped the clutch, there was a loud bang, and a snake of broken chain slithered out behind me, whilst my car rolled back a couple of inches. “Young man, you have got a reverse gear, and you can race.”
Understand I was not vintage/pre-war racing …. I simply had an old car, because it was all I could afford.
I was competing against Jaguar E-Types, Austin Healeys, TR Triumphs, TVRs, ACs and the like, and everyone was looking down their noses at me.
It would be wonderful to say that I won my very first race, but if memory serves me correctly, I did make it to the podium with a third place.
Thus, from early on, I learned that a confidently driven pre-war car could be competitive against the cars of the day.