A BRIEF HISTORY
The WMRAC was founded in the “swinging sixties”, a golden era for Grand Prix motor racing when drivers and team owners could indulge in the sport of motor racing. Circuit facilities were sadly lacking, at best Spartan; the pits comprised the bare essentials, often leaving drivers and mechanics exposed to the uncompromising elements that besiege the British Isles. Their wives, often with families in tow, willingly performed such vital roles as team manager, timekeeper, and cordon-bleu cook, all in the most primitive conditions. A cushion for the pit wall was often their only luxury – if they remembered to take one!
Not surprisingly therefore, one of the first items agreed at the inaugural meeting, was to purchase a ‘bus’ and to convert it into a mobile HQ, complete with the British life-saver, a tea dispenser. It was also agreed that a caravan would be used at various meeting in the UK thus providing a safe haven for young families.
Eventually the Club had a suite at Silverstone where the members and their families and guests could meet with food, drink etc., supplied on a ’bring and share’ basis. There were two doors to the original suite which were signed by many racing drivers, these being highly prized and admired by many guests. Unfortunately when the pit lane etc. was modified the Club relinquished the suite and we have been ‘homeless’ ever since.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
The WMRAC Benevolent Fund was established ‘to help wives and girlfriends repair their shattered lives, in the event of a tragedy, through financial and moral support: to help anyone connected to motor racing, whose circumstances had altered through accident or illness’ The committee also proposed to support at least two worthwhile charitable causes. The Benevolent fund no longer exists and fundraising has become the main objective.
FUND RAISING ACTIVITIES
As charity balls such as the Berkeley Square Ball became all the rage, a Doghouse Owner’s Ball was an obvious choice and the first one, held at the Savoy, Mayfair in 1963 was a sell-out. Sensation of the evening was the introduction of the Doghouse Cabaret, performed by a number of driver’s wives, who staged hilarious routines whilst innocently singing libellous lyrics about their respective spouses. The Doghouse Cabaret was an unqualified success and a vast amount of money was raised for charity at this Grand Prix Drivers’ end of term ‘Bash’. A precedent was born and the bi-annual Doghouse Owners’ Ball held at the London Hilton on Park Lane became a success story and was unquestionably the event on the motor racing social calendar. These fantastic events continued for many years.
Fundraising has continued and it is estimated that funds raised over the years must total about two million pounds for various charities including: Birmingham Accident Hospital (Mike Hailwood); Burns Unit at Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, (Peter Procter); British Marshals’ Fund; British Motor Sport Relief Fund; Francois Dufor Fund; Frank Williams Micro-Electronic Unit for Stoke Mandeville; Graham Hill Rehabilitation Unit, Stanmore; Grand Prix Medical Unit; Gunnar Nilsson Cancer Campaign; Headway; International Spinal Injuries Research Trust; Jim Clark Memorial Fund; Motor Trade Benevolent Fund (BEN); The Princess Royal Trust for Carers; Oxford Craniofacial Unit at the Radcliffe Infirmary; Roehampton Rehabilitation Centre; Queen Mary’s University Hospital; Roger Williamson Fund; Royal Free Hospital, Colposcopy Unit; Springfield Boys Club and WOMAC.
More recently funds have been raised for a variety of good causes including: donations to Great Ormond Street Hospital; Motor Sport Foundation – £800; BMMC – £2,500; Warwickshire Air Ambulance – £3,000 and £1,000; Silverstone Marshalls – £3,000; Headway £100; and £200 to Sally Hingston’s chosen charities. In 2008 £10,000 was donated to Silverstone Circuit towards providing all weather shelters for the marshals. The club celebrated its’ 50th Anniversary in 2012 with a bumper fundraising year. Proceeds from the Ladies Lunch at the Ivy on the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of the Doghouse and the “Bling in the Wing” celebration dinner in October raised a monumental £20,000 which was shared 4 ways between Action Medical Research, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Headway and Northamptonshire and Warwickshire Air Ambulance. In 2014 an amazing £17,500 was raised by participants in the Beaujolais Run for the Henry Surtees Foundation. In addition the club raised £2,000 each for Hope for Tomorrow, The Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance and the Henry Surtees Foundation.
Charities chosen for 2015/16 are Mission Motorsport, Aspire and the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance.