Billed as the motor racing equivalent of an Ascot horse race, the first meeting at the then-new Brooklands circuit in Surrey took place on 6 July 1907.
It wasn’t the first action to which Hugh Locke King’s new track had played host. A week before that first race, Selwyn Edge had used the circuit to set a new 24-hour distance record of 1581 miles and 1310 yards. That took place in front of few onlookers, but for the first full meeting a crowd of about 13,500 gathered.
“The quietude of the fir-clad slopes at Weybridge was disturbed on Saturday by the roar and rattle of open exhausts,” wrote Autocar’s sister publication, The Motor. “Great cars, belching forth clouds of smoke and handled by greasy drivers, lined up for inspection and were surrounded by fashionably attired ladies and gentlemen.”
Six races of between 3.2 and 30.4 miles were run but “no times were recorded, and thus, in our opinion, the racing was robbed of much of its interest”.
The prestigious Montagu Cup event was won by JE Hutton’s Mercedes, but the fourth race, for the Byfleet Plate, was “the most exciting race of the day”, according to The Motor’s scribe.
“C Jarrott’s Lorraine-Dietrich went off in the lead and held it for the first round,” he wrote. “During the second circuit the Napier of F Newton got on terms, and the two cars ran bonnet to bonnet for some time.
“Then the Dietrich gained again and the two cars entered the last round locked together, the Dietrich seeming to be slightly ahead. Thus they entered the finish straight and the rare sight of a magnificent tussle right to the tape was witnessed, the Napier sprinting up level and the two cars going over the line together, the verdict being a dead heat.”