Monday, 25 September 2017

Patricia McOstrich

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Patricia, left

Patricia McOstrich was a regular at Brooklands between 1930 and 1939. She was an all-rounder who drove in trials, rallies and races.

She was born Gladys Patricia McOstrich in 1898. Her family was based in Surrey, quite close to Brooklands. It was probably during WW1 that she learned to drive; she described herself as a servicewoman who drove ambulances. After the Armistice, she worked as a chauffeur for a Liberal politician and advertised her services in the papers. This was sometimes done under the banner of female emancipation. Throughout her life, she attempted to encourage other women into the automotive world.

Her first major competitive outing was the JCC’s Half Day Trial in 1930. The trial was held at Brooklands. Patricia drove an Alvis and won a first-class award. In 1932, she entered the JCC’s Open trial in an MG Midget and received a second-class award for her performance in the under-1100cc class.

It was this year that she started racing on the Brooklands circuit itself. The MG had been exchanged for a Talbot, which she seems to have owned jointly with a Miss Hedges. This woman, who raced herself at Brooklands, was probably Grace Hedges. The two were pointedly described by the press of the time as “good friends” and may have been in a romantic relationship.

Patricia raced the Talbot between 1932 and 1934. It was not the most competitive of her cars, but she did manage a second place in the Second Walton Scratch Sprint at the 1934 March BARC meeting.

In keeping with her feminist ideals, she was a member of the Women’s Automobile and Sports Association. She took part in their one-lap handicap race at the 1932 Brooklands Guys Gala. The following year, she was part of their official team for the Stanley Cup, alongside Lotte “Irene” Schwedler and Margaret Allan.

Of all of the racing cars she drove, she got the best results out of a Frazer Nash. Her first event in it seems to have been the March meeting at Brooklands. In May, she was third in a ladies’ race at Donington Park with it.

By 1937, she had really got to grips with the Frazer Nash. she started the year by winning a Ladies award in the Brooklands Rally. Then, she won the Second Easter Long Handicap, as well as finishing second in a Sports Handicap at Crystal Palace.

In 1937, she was also part of a Frazer Nash team for the JCC Relay. They finished in seventh place. Kay Petre was part of the winning Austin team.

After that, she carried on racing until 1939, but was not quite as successful. She competed in several trials and won some awards, but there were no more race wins. After the war, she did not return to the circuits or the rally stages.

Patricia ran her own garage business, Speedy Transport and Garages, away from the track, and contributed the motoring section to the book “Careers and Vocational Training: a guide to the professions and occupations of educated women and girls”. In it, she discussed the merits of working as a “chauffeuse”, which she warned was often combined with more domestic work or a companion role, and advised on how to start a garage. She gave rough budgets for a filling station or a repair garage. “Motor racing as a career cannot be recommended except for those with plenty of money and where earning a living is not the object” was what she had to say on professional motorsport.

She died in London in 1958, aged sixty.

1 comment:

  1. In the Barbara Cartland Room at Brooklands there is a drawn tribute to "The Fastest Women on Earth" and included on it is a drawing of Patricia and her Frazer Nash.
    The Talbot featured in the above photograph still survives.
    Also surviving is Patricia's Frazer Nash which went out to Australia in 1956. The Frazer Nash is still in Australia and, still in the form which Patricia would have known it, the 'Nash is used to this day in motor sport in the "Oz" VSCC. At the last transfer of ownership of the 'Nash (down-under) a toast was proposed to Patricia......the Aussies still talk about her!