Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ethel and Hugh Locke King leading the opening parade in their Itala, 17th June 1907.

Dame Ethel Locke King, DBE (1864–1956) was a British motor-racing promoter and hospital patron.

Her wealthy husband, Hugh Fortescue Locke King, created and solely financed Brooklands House, Weybridge, Surrey.

(Possibly the first permanent race track in the world. Depends on what you define race track, and permanent. A topic for another post)

She took over the supervisory role of the tracks development after the stress of building it made her husband too ill to continue in the role. On 16 June 1907, she led the inaugural procession of cars on to the track in her open Itala minutes after the track had been opened by her husband.


  1. Only one problem.....Brooklands was not the first purpose built race track in the world.

    A 'gentleman' who rode with an infamous Bushranger called Captain Moonlight in the 1870's and quoted as saying "someone has to hold the horses while the Captain robs the bank". Ended up building a horse racing track in 1884 called 'Aspendale'.

    James Crooke was a founding member of the ACV (Automobile Club of Victoria), and host to Australia's first organised motor race and at the horse racing track 'Aspendale Park', Victoria on 12 March, 1904. He believed his 1902 Locomobile was the fastest thing in town and wanted opportunity to prove it. The Australian Motorist Magazine wrote " Crooke tied down the pressure valves on his steam car ...and achieved speeds of nearly 30 MPH!" .
    Winning this race, he went and started work on something better suited, and in 1905 the infield had a new track and was acknowledged as being the first commercial race track in Australia. Local newspapers reported " the steamrollers were hard at work preparing the track .......and the motorists should be able to enjoy some fast times " The Moorabbin News, 28 October 1905.

    A printed invitation for the event reads, " The committee and members of the Automobile club of Victoria desire the pleasure of your company at the opening sports meeting to be held on the special motor racing track
    at Aspendale Park on Monday, January 29th 1906 A.N.A Day."
    The program is also Titled "Aspendale Motor Race Meet....Jan 29, '06 ".

    That would be nearly a year and a half before Brooklands....woops.

    1. Well dog gone it... I had some mental reservations about including that claim... see, I was thinking about the Roman Coliseum. It was a purpose built race track for chariots. So... it predates all others by a long shot. And then, somewhere in history, there was the Greek races for the Olympics, for running. Are those race tracks? Maybe, were they earlier than the Roman chariot races? Shoot, I ain't got time to learn about all that right now.
      Then, we can also wonder about if other race tracks were ever made by the ancient Chinese, who have 5000 years of civilized history, and the Aztec ruins, or the Cambodian ruins, or goodness knows what other prehistoric races any one may have had with horses.
      It's a hard thing to be accurate about history, as no one knows very much of it.
      And it's a caution to state with any certainty that any one thing is the whatever, of it's kind, as that's the same as saying never... and we almost never get it right.

    2. all right, lets see, Brooklands was claimed to be the first permanent race track... what might it mean to be "permanent", still in operation? Made of concrete? Paved? Darn it... it's too late tonight to get into this, but you sure did spot an easy mistake in the post... thanks!

    3. Aspendale is on Wikipedia... "although only one meeting was ever held and the circuit fell into disuse." from the 1906 race.