Bourne was the lifelong home of Raymond Mays, who founded BRM in 1945. The team remained there until it folded in 1977, yet the town remains immensely proud of its motor sport connections. So, with this year marking the half century of BRM scooping the F1 Manufacturers’ title and its charismatic driver Graham Hill taking the Drivers’ laurels, it seemed like a good excuse to recollect the glory days.
And Bourne remembered in remarkable style, with the street party to end all street parties. The entire centre of the town was closed off so that Formula 1 cars could be run – often spiritedly – through it, before a crowd of thousands. Damon Hill, his mother Bette, and his sisters were warmly welcomed as special guests for a tribute to Graham Hill that included his son, 1996’s F1 champion, driving ‘Old Faithful’, the very BRM 578 with which Graham clinched the 1962 season.
BRM drivers Sir Jackie Stewart and Richard Attwood also attended, both thrilling the crowds with their frolics in the sort of cars not usually seen shrieking past Barclays Bank or using the local bus depot as a handy turning bay. There were some extraordinary sights and sounds to be experienced, perhaps most notably two of the awe-inspiring BRM V16s from the 1950s chasing each other through town with the sort of primeval, window-shaking noise that made you realise quite why so many places were selling ear plugs.
The antics of the F1 cars were complimented in a slightly more sedate way by a cavalcade of pre-1963 classic road cars, to set the scene for Bourne as it would have been when BRM was on top. There was also a parade of historic race transporters, those remarkable coach-built creations that are usually just as fascinating as the precious cargos they used to carry.
The organisers – all volunteers – hailed the day a great success, with profits going to local charities. And hopefully those organisers are now scouring the history books for something else to celebrate, because days this enjoyable and spectacular shouldn’t only happen once in a blue moon.