Motor meeting at Brooklands, Weybridge, Surrey. Competitor Ivy Cummings and her mother in their racing car. April 1920.
Motor meeting at Brooklands, Weybridge, Surrey. Competitor Ivy Cummings and her mother in their racing car. April 1920.Topical Press Agency—Getty Images
Motor meeting at Brooklands, Weybridge, Surrey. Competitor Ivy Cummings and her mother in their racing car. April 1920.
Motor race, Brooklands, Surrey, 1920s.
Brooklands racetrack, England 1920s
Singer 10 at Brooklands, Surrey, circa 1921.
A racing commentator broadcasting over a public address system at Brooklands Race Track. August 1922.
Filling up a Spyker car during a record breaking run by Selwyn F Edge on the Brooklands circuit. Edge averaged 74.27 mph in his Maybach engined Spyker to beat his own previous 24 hour record set up in 1907. July 1922.
Scouts tearing the sheets of 'laps to go' off the scoreboard for the Junior Car 250 Mile Race at Brooklands. August 1922.
Spectators at Brooklands motor-racing track, Surrey, relaxing in the sunshine. June 1922.
Louis Zborowski at the wheel of Chitty Bang Bang I, Brooklands,1922.
Cars lined up at the starting line for the 3-lap 100 mph Long Handicap race at the Brooklands Whitsun meeting.
Women's fashions at a Brooklands Race meeting. January 1923.
Junior Car TrialsMiss Nicoll doing a brake test at Brooklands, Surrey, England. March 1923.
Members of the London Ladies Motor Club, including Sir Malcolm Campbell's wife (fifth from left), at Brooklands race track where they are competing in the first ever British motor cycling race for women. January 1925.
J G Parry Thomas in his Thomas Special winner of the Brooklands Presidents Gold Plate. August 1925.
58 light cars starting the 100 miles high speed reliability trials at Brooklands, Weybridge, Surrey, England. May 1925.
J G Parry Thomas testing his racing car 'Babs' at Brooklands. April 1926.
British Grand Prix Auto Race
Starting Line
A Bentley Speed Six takes part in the Double Twelve race at Brooklands, circa 1929.
The British racing driver Violette Cordery on the Brooklands race track. August 1929.
Motor meeting at Brooklands, Weybridge, Surrey. Competitor Ivy Cummings and her mother in their racing car. April 1920.
Topical Press Agency—Getty Images
1 of 20

See Amazing Photos of Real Downton-Era Auto Racing

On Sunday night's episode of Downton Abbey, former chauffeur Tom Branson revealed that one of the few groups of people of whom he's jealous are those Royal Automobile Club drivers who got to race at Brooklands. And, looking at these photos of real 1920s Brooklands racers, it's not hard to see why.

newsletter
History NewsletterStay on top of the history behind today’s news. View Sample

"In no other country are motorists so admirably self-disciplined," TIME declared in 1934. "Over 5,000 neatly uniformed service men of the Automobile Association and Royal Automobile Club ceaselessly patrol the Kingdom’s roads. They informally direct traffic when necessary, supply information, carry first aid kits and minor spare parts, change tires and make small repairs for members of the A.A. or R.A.C. and salute smartly whenever a member’s car flashes by."

But not everything was law and order at the R.A.C.: as one reader pointed out in a follow-up letter, that "smart salute" was not mere courtesy, but rather a pre-radar way to warn drivers about approaching speed traps.

TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.