Our record run might have been interesting, but to me, the real adventures of this drive between London and Cape Town are those that took place long before the current team were even born. Between 1938 and 1963, 5 teams established new records and countless others probably tried and failed, never to get into the history books.
Unfortunately though, the reality is that there has never been a book written on this subject and to allow the stories of these great motoring adventurers to be lost forever would be a crying shame. I've therefore taken it upon myself to try and piece together this small chapter in motoring history, and in doing so have uncovered some real gems.
Eric Jackson, although well into his 80's is still fighting fit and living in the stunning Yorkshire countryside north of Sheffield. I've been to see him and chat about his action packed (and somewhat frightening) drive to Cape Town back in 1963. Diverted away from Morocco due to unrest and ambushed in Ethiopia are just some of the things he and Ken Chambers had to deal with. I was the on the phone to him again this morning and more tales of daring-do were recounted - I was on the edge of my seat. Fascinating stuff.
Slowly people are hearing about my quest to put this story together and they are contacting me with more pieces of the jigsaw. Just before we left for Cape Town, a guy in Zimbabwe called me, his Aunt having recently passed away leaving him with her estate to sort out. Having been something of a wild child back in 1920's England, she had been packed off to South Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) by her parents to save the family any further embarrassment. There she met and mixed with some interesting people, one of whom was Bertie Browning, the co-driver on the first high-speed run to Cape Town in the Wolsely 18/85. When searching through her belongings, they found a 600 page hand written manuscript by Bertie, recounting in great detail the story of that first record drive.
Today, was another good day in slowly putting together the history of these records. Arthur Longman was one of the co-drivers of the 1952 Humber Super Snipe run led by George Hinchliffe. His son, Mark Longman called me today to tell me all about his father's involvement in the project. Hopefully I'll get to learn more about that team and see pictures of the guys with their sturdy 4 litre saloon car.
Most of the record drives are now covered to a greater or lesser degree, but the one drive we don't really have any information on is the 1949 run in the Austin A70 by Ralph Sleigh and Peter Jopling. If anyone has any more information about this team and their adventure, I would be extremely keen to hear from you.
Another person I would also love to speak to is Timothy Robin Nicholson, a motoring author who has written countless books on the subject of transcontinental motoring adventures dating back to day one. He would probably be 80 now, so hopefully still alive, and his last known address is in Wimbledon, London. If anyone knows of T R Nicholson, I would really like to speak to him.
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