British Racing Motors (BRM) was founded after the Second World War by the race car driver Raymond Mays who started his careers building road racing and hill climb racing cars for English Racing Automobiles (ERA).
Mays successes in early years inspired him to build an all British Grand Prix Car as a national prestige, with financial and industrial backing from the British motor industry. The workshops of each team were established behind his house in Bourne. His life-long ambition was to see his country succeed at the top level of international motor sport.
Mays were renowned for competing at Shelsley Walsh, racing in the early 1920s with two Brescia Bugattis, known as ‘Cordon Bleu’ and ‘Cordon Rouge’. He develop his cars with superchargers through Amherst Villiers and this association continued from A.C. to the Vauxhall-Villiers and then the famous White Riley, that eventually became the starting point for ERA.
In 1929 Raymond Mays entered the Vauxhall-Villiers at Shelsley Walsh fitted with twin rear wheels; according to Mays it was “the first time that any car had competed at any hill climb so equipped.” He broke the hill record and this innovation was widely copied in the years to come.
Mays made his mark on the track in such events as the 1935 German Grand Prix (scene of a famous victory of Tazio Nuvolari – Alfa Romeo beating the Mercedes and Auto Union), sharing his ERA with Ernst von Delius. The ribbon which came with the wreath which was part of the prize for this event is to be seen at the Raymond Mays room in Bourne Heritage Centre, Lincolnshire.
He was one of ERA’s most notable drivers, winning the British Hill Climb Championship in its first two year, 1947 and 1948 and also the Brighton Speed Trial in 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1950 in his black ERA R4D. He stopped driving racing cars at the end of the 1950 season.
He started the BRM in 1949 and after some failures the team won the 1962 Formula One World Champion that year with Graham Hill. In 1978 he was awarded the Order of the British Empire CBE for services to motor racing.