Photos by Dennis Perkins, courtesy of John Perkins. | Intro by Brian Rogers
The story of British Racing Motors (BRM) is well known and is the subject of many books over the years but we have a slightly different take on the subject here with some unique photos taken by one of their mechanics.
Dennis ‘Sheriff’ Perkins worked at BRM from 1956 to 1969 and took many photos with his everyday basic camera as he travelled the world. His son, John is a friend of mine and has kindly given us access to his late father’s albums. There are obviously racing photos taken at the various circuits but, more importantly, there are a number of interesting behind the scenes shots which show the life of a travelling GP mechanic during the late 50s & early 60s.
In 1948 Dennis was doing his National Service in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers at Bovington Camp in Dorset and a bus trip was laid on to the first GP at Silverstone. He was immediately hooked and, after completing his term of duty and an engineering apprenticeship at GKN, he began to look for jobs in the fledgling British motorsport industry.
He managed to obtain a position at BRM, initially as a toolmaker in the Bourne workshops but soon progressed to the race team where he became their gearbox specialist. He was Graham Hill’s gearbox mechanic in the 1962 championship winning season and also drove the firm’s Leyland transporter (in his slippers). His contribution to BRM’s success was recognised when he was later elected to membership of the BRDC, being proposed by Graham Hill and seconded by Jackie Stewart.
Apart from the various Grand Prix he also had an involvement with the Rover BRM turbine car at Le Mans and a few Can-Am races in the USA. In 1969, after working at more than 160 races, he finally called time on his career there as the travelling was becoming too much with a young family to raise and he took up a less glamorous engineering position in King’s Lynn.
Most of the photos in the accompanying feature are from Dennis’ private collection, they are obviously showing their age but are a fascinating record of a previous era of GP racing before sponsorship money changed it forever.