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100 Years At 100 MPH

This weekend marked the centenary of the first-ever 100mph, when on February 15th 1913 Briton Percy Lambert covered 38 laps of the Brooklands Outer Circuit at an average speed of 103mph in his 4.5-litre sidevalve 'Invincible' Talbot 25, writes Mark Cole.

His achievement paved the way for ever-increasing speeds, and while 100mph is now not even halfway to the 250mph of Le Mans prototypes, it was a motoring milestone before World War 1.
Starting late at the age of 29, Lambert was a successful racer and, before his world record-breaking feat, competed in Austins, Singers and Vauxhalls. He had been racing for only three years when he broke the 100mph barrier, but it was soon bettered by others.  He was due to marry in 1913 and had promised his fiancée that he would retire after one more attempt to regain his title on October 21st. A rear tyre burst, and Lambert was thrown out as the car rolled down the banking; he died on the way to hospital. He was buried in Brompton Cemetery in a streamlined coffin under an impressive racing headstone, but his ghost is now said to haunt the Brooklands Museum.

Last Saturday, a group of historic Talbots gathered on the Brooklands Railway Straight in commemoration, before recreating the run on the Mercedes-Benz World circuit. You can see Lambert's 1913 record run on the Lambert family website – here.