Thursday, February 07, 2008

DAVID VINCENT



It was my great pleasure to have met David Vincent at Brooklands in 2005; he was one of two men of the 'old school' being honored that day, who had won 'Gold Stars' at the track before WW2. A Gold Star (see pic 2) was won during any race meeting, if one managed to lap the course at over 100mph. David earned his medal ("Gold Star, pah! It's brass!" was his quote on the thing itself) during his second year of competition at Brooklands (1936), riding a '33 mkIV Velocette KTT, which ran on methanol.
He was inspired to begin racing (living in nearby Weybridge) after his friends grew tired of being blown off by his fast riding, and suggested he try his hand at the track instead. He rode his mkI KSS in the first-ever Clubman's race in 1934, and finished rather farther down the field than he thought himself capable. Thus he sought out a proper racing machine, and purchased the ex-HC Lamacraft (well known Brooklands habitue) mkIV, which presumably was sold to buy a newer model [mk6? - Lamacraft rode a long string of Velos . As an aside, I note that Lamacraft's mkI KTT was sold to AC Perryman, who wrote about it in ' A Clubman at Brooklands' (Haynes, 1979)].

The Lamacraft bike which David purchased was two years old, but within a few races he had gained his coveted Gold Star, quite an achievement on a 350cc - only 29 racers were so honored, compared to 100 on 500cc machines, 25 on 1000cc, three on sidecars, and only ONE on a 250cc machine - MB Saunders in 1933. Two people won 'double Gold Stars' for lapping at 120mph; Noel Pope and Eric Fernihough, both on Brough Superiors. Only one 350cc machine earned a Gold Star using petrol - KTT813 in 1939, ridden by Vic Willoughby (noted moto-journalist and author), the remains of which sit about 6 feet from me....(I'm working on it - slowly).

Third pic of of the two Gold Star racers (Dennis Loveday being the other), plus John Bottomley of the Brooklands Museum, and myself. Next pic shows David in conversation with Ken Boulter (note Dai's sprinter in background). Pic 5 shows Dai, David, and myself standing in front of the sprinter, and a Harrier jet, which David had a hand in developing (how apropos - see below).

Here is an extract from the Feb 2008 VMCC Newsletter:
"David Vincent died on 7th December, aged 91. He was a regular competitor at Brooklands in the 1930's. His claim to fame was a lap at over 100mph on his privately entered 350cc KTT Velocette, a rare achievement on such a small machine.
In 2005, David visited the Brooklands Museum stand at the Southern Classic Bike Show at Kempton Park. When invited to be photographed with a Gold Star winning Grindlay-Peerless JAP, his idea of a 'photographed with' was to climb aboard the machine and get down to a racing crouch. [see pic]
David revisited Brooklands twice that year, as a special guest at motorcycle events at the Museum. While being interviewed astride the Grindlay, he recalled how much of his award-winning lap was ridden standing on the footrests to absorb the worst of the bumps.
After the Second World War, David was involved in research and development with Hawker Aircraft, working on the Hunter at Dunsfold Aerodrome near his home in Cranliegh. As Hawker began to experiment with VTOL aircraft, he worked on the P1127 and the development of the Harrier.
He did not forget his love of speed. One of his friends recalled, 'He was a devil in a car. He got pulled up by the police in Norfolk for doing 120mph....and that was before the days of motorways!'
Davids' death breaks on more connection with the brave and modest young men who achieved amazing results on the Brooklands track. He leaves a daughter, Pamela, and a son, Ian. - Michael Sands "

Godspeed, David.

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