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Hard at work in the Paddock (Brooklands Museum).


‘The races are conducted on the lines of the best horse race meetings and it is the aim of the executive to follow old-established customs as far as possible. Cars, before a race, are paraded in the Paddock, the runners and numbers of the winners are displayed on a frame... in fact, with the assistance of the race cards which can always be purchased on the ground, any visitor may follow the whole of the events of the meeting with perfect ease.’


BARC Year Book 1914


One of the obvious things that the race courses had in common was the presence of bookmakers on race days. Gambling on your favourite horse was one of the traditions of horse racing and from the earliest days it also appealed to Brooklands spectators. The BARC soon made its official position clear: ‘The Stewards take no cognisance of any disputes or claims with respect to betting, but they may give effect to any official report of default made to them by the Clerk of the Course.’ Racing Rules of the BARC 1908


A journalist for The Automotor Journal of 1907 writing about the BARC 20th July meeting, described the problems that both the bookies and the gamblers had in these early days: ‘There were any number of bookmakers at the


Brooklands Racecourse last Saturday, but some of them apparently found the science of their calling unequal to the vagaries of motor cars, for two at least turned ‘welsher’ during the afternoon... it was very obvious that the bookies knew nothing whatever about the cars, but then, singular as it


35


may seem, the motorists themselves apparently knew even less, for of all those whom we met who had ‘put anything on’ not one had been able to make a penny during the whole afternoon. If the bookies give evidence of having a fancy themselves, it is always the driver’s name which attracts them, and we feel sure that had Mr Chas Jarrott, in particular, turned up for the Weybridge Stakes on a little Sizaire-Naudin, it would have been exceedingly difficult to get anything better than even money on his chances of a victory! As an indication of the present state of betting on motor racing, it may be mentioned that two bookies adjacent to each other were almost simultaneously offering five-to-one and 10-to-one respectfully against Mr Hutton winning the Weybridge Stakes.’ Percy Bradley (Clerk of the Course from 1929


onwards) also made a comment on that 1907 meeting in his book Wheels take Wings: ‘A tame afternoon, alas, it was. Brooklands, like so many ventures destined to the widest popularity, gave its promoters the anguish of a thoroughly bad start. The mistakes in catering and accommodation, excusable on the grounds of inexperience, could be corrected, but there had been something absent from the racing itself... In general, the failure to thrill, even to attract... can be traced to a quantity of faults... There was little betting, since the bookmakers were quite at sea, laid entirely arbitrary odds and confused, for instance, the driver Huntley Walker with the actor Huntley Wright, probably without the crowd being any the wiser... most spectators at great


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