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Percy Lambert (1880-1913)

The first person to drive 100 miles in an hour.

Despite setting a remarkable driving world record, Percy Lambert was a modest and popular man. It’s said that he didn’t try to break records to make a living, but simply for the pleasure of driving fast cars.

Percy Lambert Percy driving in the 1912 French Grand Prix at Dieppe. (Credit: Biblioteque Nationale de France / Wikimedia Commons)

Percy, who followed his brother into the motor trade, became a motor racing enthusiast. He drove at Brooklands racing circuit in Surrey for the first time in 1910, aged 30. By the following year he was clocked driving at 91 miles per hour, and had won a host of prizes for his skilful driving. He believed in clean living and keeping fit, and training hard for racing.

Brooklands in 1907 Brooklands, which opened in 1907, was the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit. (Credit: DaimlerChrysler AG / Wikimedia Commons CC-SA)

In February 1913, on his second attempt, Percy successfully drove 103 miles in an hour in his 4.5 litre Talbot, making him the first person ever to do so. But he only held his record until April, and the new record was broken again in October. Percy was determined to regain his title.

On 31st October, having apparently told his fiancée this would be his last race, Percy took to the Brooklands track again. After 28 minutes, he was on course to smash the record when a rear tyre burst and the car turned over. Percy was thrown out and fatally injured. He is buried in Brompton beneath a broken column, which starkly indicates his life was cut short. It’s said that his ghost still haunts the Brooklands race track.

Details on Percy Lambert's gravestone Percy’s memorial includes a symbolic tyre. Circles are a common symbol in the cemetery, and their endless shape represents eternal life. (Credit: Greywolf)

Further information

Percy’s memorial

(Credit: Greywolf)

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