On 30th June 1937, Walter Handley lapped the famous Brooklands Outer Circuit at over 100mph on a BSA “Empire Star” motorcycle, and was awarded a Brooklands Gold Star for his effort. The BSA company promptly renamed the bike “Gold Star”, thus starting an illustrious line which would dominate its competition class for years to come. On 30th June this year, 75 years to the day from Handley’s feat, the Gold Star Owners Club will be celebrating that anniversary with a special day of action at Brooklands Museum – and the Club and the Museum are hoping to assemble the biggest collection of these famous bikes ever seen together in one place.
Handley’s 1937 feat was established in an “All-Comers Handicap” race: his fastest lap was at a speed of 107.57mph, and his average over the three laps was 102.77mph. This was achieved in the days of small drum brakes, girder forks and no rear suspension, on a concrete track that was notorious for its unforgiving, bumpy surface. The name “Gold Star” (affectionately shortened to “Goldie”) has been synonymous with motorcycle sporting excellence from that day on.
In the 1950s and ‘60s the single-cylinder “Goldie”, in all its guises, dominated Trials (including the International Six Days Trial), Clubmans Road Racing and Scrambles (Moto X). Who could forget Lampkin, Smith, Rickman and Nicholson flying at Hawkstone Park or on the trials circuits? They attracted a huge following on television, even on small black and white screens.
The inaugural Clubmans TT race was run on the Isle of Man in 1947, and in 1949 Harold Clark, on a Gold Star, won the 350cc race at over 75mph. The next few years, until the demise of the Clubmans TT in 1956, were a Gold Star feast, with BSAs dominating both 350cc and 500cc classes. In 1956 Bernard Codd scored “the double” by winning both classes. Early successes were mostly with ZB, BB, and CB models and BSA built on those achievements, eventually developing the iconic DBD “big fin” engine. This is the iconic machine all motorcycle enthusiasts recognise and many aspire to possess.
The event at Brooklands Museum on 30th June will celebrate the award-winning race of 75 years ago and a festival of all things “Goldie”, including the later twin-cylinder Rocket Gold Stars. Throughout the day, visitors will see “Goldies”, ranging from the earliest Gold Star in existence right through to the latest “New Builds”, climbing the famous Test Hill. A selection of the Museum’s pre-war race-bikes will also be in action. In addition to the Gold Star Owners Club, the BSA Club, Norton Owners Club and Vintage Motor Cycle Club have all confirmed their support and will be bringing club stands with memorabilia to add to the nostalgia.
There will be photo opportunities for “Goldie” owners, under Concorde and on the Members’ Banking – the steepest part of the Race Track – with the rest of the day to look round the wonderful Museum of bikes, cars and historic aircraft, including the opportunity to take the half-hour Concorde Experience on board the beautifully presented Concorde “Delta Golf” – the first aircraft ever to carry 100 people at Mach 2. Entry to the London Bus Museum, now open on the site, is included in the admission price.
The aim of the day is simple: “The most Goldies in one place at one time….EVER!”
Gold Star Day runs from 10am to 5pm on 30th June. Members of the Gold Star Owners Club can purchase concessionary tickets via the Club. All other riders of ANY make of machine will pay £10 for rider and bike, or £15 for rider, bike and pillion passenger, with tickets available at the gate. All bikes will enter the Museum site through the Campbell Gate entrance off Brooklands Road (B374), with car-borne spectators using the Museum’s public car parks off Wellington Way. There is a supplement of £4 for the Concorde Experience.
Clubs can pre-book group-visit tickets or Club stand space by contacting Michael Sands at [email protected] or by writing to him at Brooklands Museum, Brooklands Road, Weybridge, KT13 0QN.