The Remarkable Story Of Percy Lambert
Updated: Mar 11
Love. Glory. Tragedy. And Ghosts. The remarkable story of Percy Lambert has it all.
While rummaging through Beaulieu's National Motor Museum's archive, Podium Legends founder, Nick, came across the story of Percy Lambert. A brave trailblazer who paid the ultimate price in his quest for speed.
Percy was the original record breaker, the first man to cover 100 miles in one hour. From an era where racing cars came with no protection. No helmets, no HANS device, no seatbelts. Percy was brave. A thrill seeker, a daring devil whose pursuit of pushing the boundaries ultimately led to his death. He represents an era of motorsport where man wrestled with machine without intervention. Without reservation.
He is the inspiration behind our 'Incredible Stories' NFTs.
Who Was Percy Lambert?
Percy was born in 1881 and was the first person to drive an automobile 100 miles in an hour. His journey to the record showed the true grit that all racing drivers, past and present, share. The desire to push the boundaries regardless of the obstacles placed in their way or, as was all to common in those days, the incredible danger.
He drove a streamlined Austin called 'Pearly III' and in 1911 he set his sights on new flying mile and kilometre records. Both of which he took despite having mechanical problems. His record was broken just two weeks later.
Percy, often called 'Pearly Lambert' had a short but highly successful racing career. Winning seven races and placing in six more. He was a very popular driver.
A true British racing legend, he achieved the land speed record of 103.84mph and became the first person to cover 100 miles in one hour. The record was set at Brooklands, famed for its incredibly steep banked circuit, on the 15th February 1913 in his 4.5-litre side-valve Talbot. What was even more remarkable about this, was the other vehicles attempting the feat prior to Lambert's success, had 9.1 to 15-litre engines!
The Percy Lambert NFT Story.
Our story starts in November of 1912 when Lambert drives Lord Shrewsbury's 4.5 litre Talbot to flying start 1/2 mile, Kilometre and mile records in Class F and 26hp. The pair, with a shared desire to make motorsport history, then went on with their mission to take the 100-miles in one hour record.
On the 9th of February 1913, they made their first attempt. Lambert was lapping at 100mph and all looked positive however, on the 31st lap of Brooklands circuit, Lambert's Talbot blew a tyre. The record attempt was a failure.
It was evident how proud Lord Shrewsbury was to be a part of history in the making. He commissioned some racing silks for Percy Lambert in his racing turf colours. Percy wore these on Wednesday the 15th of February when (after driving the car on the road from London to Brooklands!) he secured the record.
During the hour Lambert was only below 100mph on his starting lap. he averaged an astonishing 103.84mph for 37 laps with his fastest being 106.42 on lap 20.
He said of the Talbot "Never, in all my experience, have I driven a faster car, nor a car that holds the track so well as the Talbot today"
The record was huge publicity for Clément-Talbot, the manufacturers of Talbot cars. Just like the F1 cars of today, Percy's Talbot was the pinnacle of aerodynamics for its day. It is a remarkable feat of engineering and certainly, the Talbot paved the way for all future record breaking vehicles.
Just two months later, in April, Peugeot took the record from Lambert.
Lambert, Lord Shrewsbury and Talbot were determined to reclaim the record. There was, however, a ticking clock for Percy. Preparing to marry, he had promised his fiancé that once they had tied the knot, he would retire from the dangerous sport he loved.
On Friday, 31st October, Lambert made his final attempt for the record. Just two weeks before his wedding.
On the 21st lap, Percy lost control of the Talbot, it's believed this could have been due to a tyre failure. He crashed and was flung from the car. He died from a fractured skull. His average speed had been 110.4mph which was on track to reclaiming the record by some margin.
Percy Lambert was buried at Brampton Cemetery in a specially commissioned streamlined coffin to match his car. He, like so many others of the era, gave his life for the pursuit of speed and a sport that delivers a true pendulum of emotion between exhilarating highs and tremendous lows.
Percy's name is not forgotten, particularly amongst those at Brooklands circuit where, it is said, a ghost in full racing kit – leather coat, cap and goggles, paces the track and can be seen strolling into a large hangar – known as “The Vatican” – where Percy used to store his Talbot race car.
Before Fangio, Senna, Schumacher and Hamilton, there was the incredible 'Pearly' Lambert and we are extremely proud to be able to share his story through another exciting development in motorsport history.
In our special edition NFT you will find photos of Percy's original race silk in Lord Shrewsbury's turf racing colours, photos of his final pair of racing goggles, and his silk and cloth race 'helmet'
All of these items are housed and dutifully cared for by the wonderful curation team at the UK's National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, England.
While my favourite NFT in Collection // 1 is our Aryton Senna looking, in my daughter's words, like 'a snack' I will forever hold a place in my heart for dear Percy.
If you want to own this wonderful piece of motorsport history then you can purchase our Collector level NFT on Opensea
Have a wonderful week!