Vic Bradfield

In 1955, Vic Bradfield was a Second Officer on an oil tanker sailing between Britain and the Persian Gulf. The pay was good and during the six-week voyages there were absolutely no opportunities to spend it. With cash in his pocket, what else could a 24 year-old do? He bought a well-used Formula III Emeryson directly from Paul Emery. Without any prior experience, he entered it in one of the premier Formula III events, the Commander Yorke Trophy race at Silverstone in September. With 72 cars entered, Vic had no chance of winning, but that wasn’t the point – he had ‘arrived’. As it happened a sprocket broke during practice and, since he was unable to obtain a replacement, it brought a premature halt to his first event.

A few weeks later, with a new sprocket, Vic appeared at Brands Hatch for the Sporting Record Trophy race. After all these years, Vic still remembers it well. “Brands Hatch was slightly better, at least I got a reasonable drive until the brake pedal fell off at the hairpin!!! But until then I was able to mix it up with a few of the backmarkers. “

“During practice, I was tearing along the straight approaching Paddock Bend, at a fair lick, I thought, when a guy, a stranger, held a board out with 32 on it. My immediate thought was ‘Hey, I’m pretty good’. I didn’t have time to wonder why someone else’s mechanic was showing me his pit board when Ivor Bueb whistled past me as if I was standing still!!!”

“It was about then that I decided I had to have a Norton and a more up-to-date car, plus the services of a good mechanic. Sadly I couldn’t afford either, so I retired from the scene. But it was great fun racing, no matter where in the field, as long as there was someone to compete with.” After the Brands Hatch meeting Vic sold the Emeryson to a motorcycle dealer.

Vic remembers an aspect of Formula III racing that has largely been forgotten in the intervening years. “The most fun was on open practice days – non race days – at Brands when a few of us, who were trying to sort the bugs out of our respective mounts, would stage our own impromptu events. If anything went wrong we would just fix it, get back on the track and continue.” Totally unofficial of course, but genuine races nonetheless.

Vic is now in his eighties and lives in Sarasota, Florida , but his brief spell in Formula  III is etched in his memory and he’s remained a fan of Formula 1 to this day.

Vic at Brands Hatch 9th October 1955 

Our thanks to Vic Bradfield and Tony Kaye for words and pictures.

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