...a local club for local enthusiasts, since 1946

1940s The Phoenix Gathering
1940s Chapman Prototype
1954 Great Auclum
1954 Great Auclum
1953 Route Planning
1962 Mobil Economy Run

Renowned Events...

It’s true to say that the Hants & Berks Motor Club has always been at the forefront of new events, including The Eight Clubs consortium for running races at Silverstone, Night Navigation Trials, the Pairs Point-to-Point team treasure hunt, 2CV Cross rough road racing for Citroën’s utility cars, and many others.
Some events have been short-lived and some still flourish today. With far too many to comment on we’ll look at two of the most successful events that the club organised:

When ambitions turned to speed events Harry Hopkinson’s wide circle of contacts was invaluable, first enabling the use of the drive of West Court, Eversley as a sprint course and, when that was lost at the end of 1946, a unique private drive at Great Auclum, Burghfield Common. This was owned by Neil Gardiner, a Director of Huntley and Palmer and pre-war Brooklands competitor, sympathetic to the cause.

The quarter-mile drive had a downhill start followed by a twisting climb, with a steep banking at the lowest point, ideal for a challenging hill climb course and set to become part of the National Championship from 1959 to 1973. In that time it saw many famous names including Ken Wharton, Stirling Moss, Renato Martini, Roy Salvadori, Eric Brandon, Roy Lane, Colin Chapman and Tony Marsh taking part alongside local competitors.

However, what may be considered the most ambitious events that the club organised were the economy runs, tests of driving skill balancing speed with fuel economy over a substantial distance.

It was actually down to sheer good luck that the Hants & Berks Motor Club got involved. In the early 1950s Joe Lowrey, having competed in economy runs organised by a rival motor club, was seeking sponsorship for H&BMC to run a similar event. At the same time the Vacuum Oil Company, who were responsible for the Mobilgas economy runs in America, were looking for a way to publicise Mobilgas petrol newly introduced to the UK market. Joe provided them with the perfect opportunity when he asked for help in sponsoring a UK based economy run.

This partnership led to the first Mobilgas sponsored Hants & Berks Motor Club Economy Run taking place on the 18th/19th June 1955. The route was a 600-mile round trip from Reading into Wales then down to Bournemouth before finishing back in Reading. The route length subsequently increased to 1000 miles

When Mobil dropped out in 1973 various sponsors were found enabling the club to continue running economy runs until 1988, but with aging equipment, rising costs and the eventual disappearance of sponsorship the committee reluctantly agreed to close the book on a great period in the Club’s calendar.

1965 Mobil Economy Run
1977 2CV Cross at Blackbushe
1998 Eight Clubs

Club Expansion...

In the early 1990s the Club realised it was becoming increasingly difficult to attract a reasonable entry for its more traditional motor sport events. With membership static and little chance of surviving under current conditions the club needed a quick answer.

Our solution was to put the Club’s long and extensive experience to work by organising local events aimed at the classic car owner, it seemed a natural step forward with many of our own members in possession of classic cars and, with a lack of events regionally, many owners outside the Club were also finding it difficult to use their cars other than for the usual static shows.

The concept was simple: using an easy road book entrants had to follow a pre-set route across the English countryside using mainly minor roads, finishing at a place of interest for all to enjoy.
The first Hants & Berks classic car event was the Early Bird Classic Car Tour held in May 1995. This was soon followed by an annual classic car show in Woodley near Reading, the Autumn Classic Car Tour and the Garden Tour in the summer.

This complete change of direction proved a great success resulting in a much needed life-line and boost to the Club’s resources and membership subscriptions for the future.
Although the Club took the leap into classic car events, the Hants & Berks Motor Club still continues its proud motor sport heritage by helping to support local and national stage rallies, organising navigational rallies and holding motor sport natters and film shows.

Summary...

No one in those early days could have foreseen how the creation of such a small motor sport club by a group of post-war motoring enthusiasts could have risen to what it has become today, a club with an important and fascinating history, a club at the forefront of new events, a club with great skill for organisation and a club that could successfully adapt to the ever changing environment of motor sport.

1981 Club Office RAC Rally
1996 Early Bird
1999 AXA Classic Run Basildon Park
2016 70th Anniversary

If you wish to learn more about our history then you may be interested in purchasing our dedicated book, ‘Hants & Berks the story of a motor club; the first sixty years 1946-2006’.

This 108-page A4 paperback book contains rarely seen photographs from the Club’s archives, provides a much more detailed look into our long history and explores all the various events and social gatherings organised by the Club past and present.

Purchasing details can be found under our Shop page, please note that this book is only printed in limited batches and for selected periods may not be readily available.

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