Raymond Mays and his team already had a winning reputation whilst driving and modifying cars including Bugatti , Vauxhall and Riley having successes in Hill Climbing , Speed trials and Grand Prix racing events in the UK and around Europe.
The team behind ERA had worked together getting the very best from their modified engines, superchargers and chassis and it was after the success of Mays in his White Riley that Cook suggested that they should really set up their own team dedicated to racing. Cook being a wealthy gentleman racer was the financier , Berthon an accomplished engineer designed the running gear with input from Raymond Mays and Reid Railton who designed the chassis and Murray Jamieson who designed and worked on the engine and supercharger with Berthon.
This team were the founders of todays vast British motorsport industry of excellence that dominates worldwide racing today.
The unveiling of the first chassis R1A to the press and public took place at the Brooklands Circuit on 22 May 1934 and the company soon had a winning formula.
By the end of the year E.R.A’s had scored notable victories against many established marques and in 1935 at the prestigious Nürburgring. E.R.A’s took an incredible first, third, fourth and fifth place in their first major international event.
E.R.A’s used 1.1 litre, 1.5 litre and 2 litre supercharged engines competing in the Voiturette classes and due to their relative small size they were particularly suited to hill climbs which drew crowds at that time in the hundreds of thousands at various venues winning many honours over the years on top of their grand prix success.
They ran their own works team and with commissions from notable concerns such as White Mouse Racing , whose premier driver was Prince Bira of Siam and who’s blue and yellow “Romulus” and “Remus” cars remain two of the most iconic ERA’s made having had considerable successes.
ERA A-Type Prototype Voiturette R1A
The English Racing Automobile Story | Auto Files Team And Machines
Parts 1 and 2
Prescott Hill-climb 1946
English Racing Automobiles Ltd was founded by Humphrey Cook , Raymond Mays , and Peter Berthon at Raymond Mays premises adjacent to Eastgate House , Bourne in November 1933.
The plan was to manufacture single seater racing cars capable of upholding British prestige in Continental Europe and competing against the major international names in motorsport.This small team based in Lincolnshire and Brooklands went on to do just that achieving numerous significant race wins and speed records with many still standing today several decades later.
Mays for Star Cigarettes 1930's
E.R.A cars went through many upgrades to the chassis and various successful adaptions were developed and raced over the years. More detail on these can be found here
A separate company named Shelsley Motors Ltd was formed in 1938 to manufacture sportscars and a few prototypes were produced with three running in the 1939 RAC rally .
They were named after Raymond Mays and had a British designed and manufactured V8 engine produced by Coventry Climax for Standard cars , which along with the chassis was much modified by Peter Berthon.
They were the prototype E.R.A sportscars but with the onset of WW2 the project was short lived and shelved to be overtaken by further circumstances that followed.
After WW2 Raymond Mays continued racing chassis R4D which he had purchased from the company after the break up and with Ken Richardson and Berthon found themselves spending more and more of their time working on the B.R.M project which had been conceived in 1939, but delayed by the hostilities, as the ERA company had been sold off and Raymond Mays wanted to develop a new generation of British Grand Prix racing cars .
The first BRM was completed in 1949 and which was to open a whole new chapter – culminating in the winning of the 1962 Formula One constructors title.
The E.R.A marque continued under different ownerships post war with the wonderful streamlined E Type models which made a debut at Indianapolis .
In the mid 1950s the G Type project was driven by Sir Stirling Moss after the company had been sold to the Bristol aeroplane company and went on to have considerable successes at the Le Mans 24 hour race.
By the 1980’s the brand was primarily a engineering research company who put their name to the ERA Mini Turbo.
The remaining cars that race are invited to premier historic motor sport venues drawing crowds wherever they appear and appealing to a new generation of fans with their magical looks and sounds.
The Vintage Car Museum has published the Auto Files Team And Machines 22 min video of the history of ERA - to watch it click below:
Hawthorn, Mays & Moss, Goodwood 1956