Everyone is familiar with the Le Mans 24 hour race, first run in 1923. Less well-known is the British equivalent, the Brooklands Double Twelve race. Vintage Alfa Romeo fans may recall the event, however, as the first running of the Double Twelve was in 1929, the winner being Giulio Ramponi driving a 1500cc Alfa Romeo at an average speed of 76 mph.
So why was it called the Double Twelve, rather than the Brooklands 24 hour race? In an effort to appease the local residents of nearby Weybridge, nighttime racing was banned at Brooklands, so the race was run in two 12 hour heats on consecutive days.
The race had a short history of only three years. The winners of the Double Twelve in 1930 were Woolf Barnato and Frank Clement driving a 6.5 litre Bentley with Sammy Davis (the late OSCA pilot Colin Davis’s father) and Jack Dunfee finishing second, also driving a 6.5 litre Bentley. The winners of the final race in 1931 were The Earl of March and Mr. CS Staniland driving an MG Midget, their winning average being 65.62 MPH.
The story of the Double Twelve then jumps to 2007, Brooklands’ centenary year. The Brooklands museum organized a large event in celebration; in fact it was the largest motoring event to take place at the circuit since its demise in 1939. The weekend of events that year were run along the lines of the various forms of competition that took place in period including a concours and some very fiendish driving tests using what remains of the banked track and the test hill. Motor racing had at last returned to Brooklands, the birthplace of British motor sport.