The Eye of Klemantaski


Norman, Wilson, ERA, Brooklands

In the late 1930s Louis Klemantaski often went to race meetings at Brooklands which was initially the only racing circuit in England, joined later by the road circuit at Donington. Brooklands, which opened in 1907 as a motor racing and vehicle test center, combined with an airfield, offered alternative layouts from its high speed, steeply-banked and somewhat pear-shaped “oval” to tight layouts run through the infield, including the “Mountain Circuit” which involved a quick change of altitude.

The sharp infield corners at Brooklands offered Klemantaski the opportunity for unusual close-up photos of drivers in action with the cars passing only a foot or two away from his Leica. This is one such very iconic image, showing the ERA driver Norman Wilson at a Junior Car Club Meeting on May 6, 1939 really concentrating on the work at hand, even if such items as a helmet, much less any other form of head covering, were still to come many years later.

Wilson was born in 1911 in South Africa and drove an 1100cc ERA, chassis R4A, the first “customer” ERA originally owned by Pat Fairfield. In this race where he finished eighth. Wilson ran this ERA in 1938 and 1939 with modest success. R4A went on to well-known postwar drivers Reg Parnell and Bob Gerard and still exists today.

Wilson was part of the Royal Air Force Reserve and was killed during a test flight in a Lancaster bomber in April 1942.

Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection





  1. Brooklands.,
    “..the Right Crowd and No Crowding ”
    …Gentlemen racers playing in England


  2. […] I see images like his shot of Norman Wilson piloting a ERA R4A at Brooklands in 1939 (page 54), it’s easy to see why it has been called the best racing […]


    1. That book about Klemantaski’s racing photographs is well worth the price.


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