Raymond Mays  Great Britain

  • Full name Thomas Raymond Mays
  • Birth date August 1, 1899
  • Birthplace Bourne, Lincolnshire, Great Britain
  • Date of death January 6, 1980 (80 years 158 days)
  • Place of death Bourne, Lincolnshire, Great Britain

Raymond Mays raced cars for three decades but it was as a leading light behind the pre-war English Racing Automobiles (ERA) and post-war British Racing Motors (BRM) that he really made his mark.

Educated at Oundle and Cambridge, Mays raced in various vehicles and disciplines and enjoyed a fair degree of success. Before the war he was known as the 'king of the hillclimbs' and he continued to be a force afterwards, winning the British Hill Climb Championship in its first two years, 1947 and 1948, and also the Brighton Speed Trials in 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1950, the last victory in his final season behind the wheel. He also raced in grand prix.

But in an era of continental domination, Mays was desperate for British success but too often suffered from a lack of funding.

Before the war he spearheaded ERA, whose cars were first raced as a works team and then sold to customers to race on as privateers. The BRM project, started in 1945, became a national preoccupation, but sadly it lurched from crisis to crisis. In 1950 the car finally appeared at the British Grand Prix, albeit very briefly before breaking down. All summer the hype grew but on its second outing in August it managed to move a foot before stopping. An angry crowd pelted it with coins. Despite a few appearances in 1951, Mays was replaced the following year.

In the 1950s and 1960s Mays produced and marketed tuning equipment for British Ford four and six-cylinder engines.

He was a colourful character. The press at the time often referred to him being "immaculately dressed" and "elegant". The reality was he liked to wear eye-liner while driving, and it was widely rumoured Peter Berthon was more than just his his business partner.
Martin Williamson

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