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MARCH 15, 2003

The British Racing Drivers' Club is 75

This week marks the 75th anniversary of the first meeting of the BRDC, which took place in London in 1928.Originally conceived as an informal dining club for racing drivers, the BRD C was the brainchild of Bentley Le Mans racer Dr Jack Benjafield with membership restricted to gentlemen racing drivers of proven success and experience. The aim of the club was to promote the interests of motorsport in Britain, to extend hospitality to drivers visiting from abroad and to further the efforts of British drivers when they competed abroad. The BRDC quickly went into race organisation with the first BRDC event being at Brooklands in 1929. The BRDC organised races throughout the 1930s and was revived after the war. In 1951 the BRDC was offered the lease of Silverstone aerodrome by the Royal Automobile Club and, under the presidency of Earl Howe, the BRDC began to develop Silverstone into a major motor racing centre with circuit manager Jimmy Brown playing an important role. Earl Howe was succeeded as BRDC president in 1964 by The Hon Gerard Lascelles, who ran the club from 1964 until 1991. The organisation was revamped in 1966 with Silverstone Circuits Ltd created to develop the commercial activities of the club and all profits made were reinvested in the sport. In 1971 the BRDC bought the entire 720-acre estate and was thus free to develop the industrial park beside the track, the national circuit and other facilities.

In recent years the BRDC has undergone various upheavals in the face of increasing commercialisation but under the guidance of president Sir Jackie Stewart and chairman Martin Brundle the club was restructured again to allow Silverstone to be run more efficiently although there are currently problems as Octagon Motorsports, which leases the circuit from the BRDC has announced its desire to get out of motor racing and is looking for someone to take over the lease.