For one gloriously sunny day in October, a small market town on the edge of the Lincolnshire Fens was transformed into a mini Monaco. The roar of Formula One cars from a bygone age echoed between the buildings fronting the main streets and the smell of Castrol R, redolent of an earlier glorious age, wafted amongst the crowd.
The event was planned not only to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the BRM Team, whose home base was in the town, winning the World Formula One Championship with the late Graham Hill winning the driver’s championship, but also as a day where the community could come together and renew its pride in its heritage – and oh boy, did that happen! The town was packed with a crowd estimated at over 25,000, intent on enjoying an unrivalled spectacle of motor racing history and also numerous organisations and volunteers intent on making our visitors welcome.
The event started, following the BBC Home Service News for the 7th October 1962, with a recreation of a 1962 street scene that was once familiar to the residents of Bourne. Austin A 30’s and racy Sunbeam Rapier’s being baulked down North Street by an International Tractor and Trailer as it carried its load to the local seed merchants. Coming the opposite way from Spalding Road, the London Brick lorry lumbered on its way to deliver a load of bricks to one of the new housing developments on the edge of the town where semi-detached three bedroomed houses were on sale at the staggering price of £1,800.00. How would people ever afford them?
This scene setting parade was followed by a procession of open topped tourers from an earlier age conveying the relatives of personalities who had contributed to the BRM together with some of the drivers who had contributed to the team that had once made Bourne a world centre of motor racing excellence. Damon Hill, himself a world champion and the son of the late Graham, his mother Bette, widow of Graham, Sir Jackie Stewart, resplendent in his signature tartan cap, David Owen, the son of Sir Alfred Owen, the man who provided the drive and finance to ensure success. They were all greeted with the acclaim that was due to them. Following them, the BRM Leyland Tiger team transporter, resplendent in its highly polished British Racing Green finish with the BRM logo proudly affixed, signified the return of the team to its home town from another successful Grand Prix event. A momentary pause ensued whilst Damon was presented with an engraved glass vase commemorating the only father & son duo to win the world championship. There were few people without slight semblances of tears in their eyes as he accepted his gift from the people of Bourne.
And then the fun continued. It is not every day that a V16 BRM can be seen (and heard!) passing by Barclay’s Bank or the Chinese takeaway in Abbey Road, a spectacle which was followed by a succession of BRM cars demonstrating the evolution of design through to its sad demise. Those type of BRM vehicles could also be seen in the museum standing high on the two post car lifts surrounded by people who are admiring them.
During the lunch break the crowd were able to sample the exhibitions on the Abbey Lawn, the Darby & Joan Hall and Baldock’s Mill with its stunning collection of trophies won by the team. Whilst the crowds were thus distracted a replica grid of 1962 cars was magically assembled in front of the grandstands in Abbey Road. Damon participated in the run through the town streets to tumultuous applause as he drove his late father’s car once more back to its former base which is now the Delaine Bus Garage and Richardson’s Auction Room. Most of the drivers managed to leave a little rubber on the streets as mementos of their visit during their drives!
The afternoon session continued to demonstrate the history of BRM and the development of Formula One with Jackie so ably demonstrating why he too was a world champion driver. The finale was again the sight and sound of two V16’s demonstrating, why they hold such a special place in the history of Motor Racing. The conclusion of the day was marked by a special hour long peal of the bells of Bourne Abbey Church sounding – did you catch it? – BRM!!!
What a wonderful end to a special day, two days later the streets of Bourne had returned to normality with the disappearance of the grandstands, banners and crowds and nobody passing through would be the wiser that a very special day had occurred, but those who were there on the day know differently and the memories will abide for a very long time.
The Committee have been delighted with the success of the event and our very grateful thanks go to everybody who has contributed in whatever way – Without all of you, it just wouldn’t have been possible.
Will we do it ever again? – That is the $64,000 question…….!!!!