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Homepage. This page: Competing in the Bleriot Memorial Race, driving an Edwardian Humber.

Bleriot Memorial Race.

In 2015, David emailed over a number of b/w photographs from 1957, featuring his well-travelled BSA three-wheeler. A couple of years after those pictures were taken, in July 1959, he and a pal took part in the Bleriot Memorial Road Race, as organised by the Daily Mail. Not having a suitable car of his own to drive, he managed to borrow a 1909 Humber from Lord Montagu, of Beaulieu, as he now recalls:
"Attached are pics of the July 1959 Daily Mail Bleriot Memorial Race. You may like to run this as a tribute to Lord Montagu, who recently died. In essence my connection was that, when I heard of the race, I felt the urge to participate (having plenty of free time as then a student at Cambridge!). With no helicopter or jet fighter available, I considered the next best option to be in a car of the period. So I wrote to Lord Montagu, asking to borrow anything he had of 1909. He immediately offered the Humber, recently bought as a present for his wife.
1909 Humber used in the Bleriot Memorial Race
"He saw the idea as good publicity for his museum at Beaulieu, then in its early days. However, he became keen to participate himself and - quite naturally - take the lead. So the deal was that I and fellow student Malcolm Forbes would drive the car out to Paris, and Lord and Lady Montagu would come on board for the return (and be photographed driving it across the finishing line in Hyde Park)."
"The fun bit is that, on the outward journey from Beaulieu to Paris, we missed the Silver City air-ferry from Eastleigh (Southampton) to Le Touquet, and instead opted for the next flight that was to Cherbourg that we had not appreciated was an extra 150 miles from Paris ..... and solid tyres on pave ..... and with no support vehicle....."
Silver City air ferry, 1959
"The actual race time (Arc de Triomphe to Marble Arch) was 4 hours 52 minutes and 6 seconds, just 2 hours longer than Stirling Moss racing in the opposite direction in a Renault Dauphine. The race was won by the RAF in 54 minutes!"
Lord Montagu drives the Humber
"Lord Montagu was enthusiastic throughout and, with Lady Montagu, entertained us handsomely in Paris during the weekend before the race. A fond memory indeed, and one rounded off by his invitation to me and my wife to lunch at Beaulieu in July 2009, to celebrate the centenary of Bleriot's crossing and the 50 years since our own escapade. It was with great sadness that we heard of his death at the end of August."
Thanks for the story David, and the great photographs. More images of similar aircraft, with their loads, may be found on the OCC Silver City air ferry photo page.
More tales of car ownership in years gone by can be found in the motoring memories section.

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