The Brooklands Society
know your cars and drivers section


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Bira

Prince Birabongse Bhanuban of Thailand was born in 1914 and educated at Eton and Cambridge. He was very artistic and was studying sculpture in London at the same time racing a Riley and later an M.G. Magnette with only modest success.

His cousin Prince Chula who managed his racing team, bought him the E.R.A. R2B which was later called Romulus, for his 21st birthday and on his first outing he was second at Dieppe in the 1,500 c.c. race behind Pat Fairfield.

A second E.R.A followed and then a third which were named Remus and Hanuman, but the most successful of the three was Romulus.

Bira later bought one of the Whitney Straight 8CM 2.9 litre Maseratis and a sports Delahaye which was stripped of its road gear and used for racing at Brooklands. Chula also bought the 1.5 litre Delages which were very complex and difficult cars but had no success with them.

Bira was s very fast driver who won many races under very competitive conditions, one of his most exciting victories being in the 1936 Brooklands International Trophy when after being chased for eight laps by Raymond Mays who was pushing his car to the limit and catching Bira at two seconds a lap, he was overtaken at the rim of the Banking only to dive out of Mays’ slipstream as they plunged off the Byfleet Banking on to the Finishing Straight to beat Mays over the line by one second at 91.00 m.p.h. Both were driving 1 litre E.R.A.s. Bira and Chula left the track in their car for London and 1 hours later was on the air at the B.B.C. recounting his tale.

One of Bira’s other great Brooklands achievements was to win the first race on the Malcolm Campbell circuit when it was opened on 1st May 1937, in the 2.9 litre Maserati beating Rayson in a 1,496 c.c. Maserati by 2 minutes 36.8 seconds after a 3 hour. 16 minute. 52 seconds drive. This win followed a very close duel with Earl Howe who momentarily lost concentration after overtaking Bira in his E.R.A. R.8.B. and crashed heavily breaking a wrist, shoulder and rib. The first E.R.A to finish was R.9.B. in fourth place driven by Denis Scribbans.

Bira went on to race into the fifties both at Le Mans and in Grands Prix , finally in a Maserati 250F which he eventually sold in 1955 when he retired.

He died of a sudden heart attack in the early sixties whilst standing on the platform of a London Underground tube station.

 

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| Performance Parameters | General Data |

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