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“Charles the Brack” may have been a Brooklands regular but he was no gentleman driver. He ran a garage near the Surrey track of which Charlie Martin was a Director and proved a popular professional “second driver” at the time – hired by wealthy amateurs for long distance races.
Charles Brackenbury was an incorrigible practical joker and even attached a firework to Alfred Neubauer’s car during one of the Donington Grand Prix meetings. The Mercedes Team Manager was said not to be amused!
Early career and success at Le Mans
Brackenbury first appeared at Brooklands during the 1920s when Chris Staniland’s mechanic. He first raced himself in 1929 with a BNC before acquiring a Bugatti T37 and then MG Magnette. He drove a Lagonda on the Monte Carlo Rally before making his debut at Le Mans in 1935. That was sharing Charlie Martin’s Aston Martin Ulster and they won the 1500cc class and Coupe Biennale by finishing third overall.
An ex-“Hellé-Nice” Bugatti T35C was the normal mount from 1935 but it was in Martin’s Alfa Romeo Tipo-B that he finished fifth in the 1937 Campbell Trophy at Brooklands. He was a works driver again for the 1939 Le Mans 24 Hours, sharing a Lagonda V12 with Arthur Dobson and again finishing third.
Post-World War II career
Brackenbury resumed his racing career after World War II on hillclimbs and he was an Aston Martin driver at Le Mans in 1949 and 1950. Sixth in what was his final start in the race that latter year, he finally retired from racing in 1953. A strong and physical athlete, Brackenbury’s earlier wild lifestyle eventually caught up with him and he died aged just 52.