“Curly” Dryden

Ron "Curly" Dryden

Curly Dryden in Cooper Mk II.jpeg (7401 bytes)Ronald Maura Dryden was born in, Kibblesworth, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He was a farm machinery engineer, installing milking machines for Alfa Laval and married a farmer’s daughter, Maura Jones. When the war came Ron joined the Royal Air Force as a pilot, he was shot down over the North Sea and awarded the Air Force Cross. After the war he became the landlord of The George in Dorchester on Thames, in Oxfordshire. It was at this point he took up racing and acquired his ironic nick-name "Curly " as he was quite bald after the shock of an accident years before the war. He was renowned for a series of interesting hats!

After a few outings an a Jaguar SS and MG Q Type, at Prescott during 1946 and '47, "Curly" was one of the first to place an order for the new production Cooper, the Mk II, which he raced with some success, through 1948 including second to Moss at Brough in July, third at Prescott, second in the Brighton Speed Trials and third at Goodwood to Moss and Brandon. Like many, he failed to finish at the Grand Prix meeting in October, but gained a second at Dunholme Lodge a week later to finish the season.

Curly battles with "Big" Bill Whitehouse, both in Cooper Mk IIs, in spite of the obvious bodywork differences. We're struggling to place where though?

1949 started with second at the Goodwood Easter meeting, still in his Cooper Mk II, then a second to Moss at Silverstone in May 1949, at the Grand Prix meeting, two wins at Silverstone on the 9th of July and another brace at Brough in the same month. In August he finished third in the 50 Mile Race at Silverstone and won his heat and the final at Blandford. In 1949, "Curly" also raced at the first post war Le Mans 24 hours in an MG TC.

Culy Dryden Interview.jpg (160731 bytes)

1950 started well with a win at the Goodwood Easter meeting and another win at Goodwood in May, ahead of Peter Collins. September brought second at the Brighton Speed Trials and a third Goodwood victory, ahead of Moss and Eric Brandon. Ron won his heat and finished second to Peter in the final at Castle Combe in October.

For the 1951 season, he switched to racing the new J.B.S. At the Earl of March Trophy in March, Ron was beaten by the car's creator, Alf Bottoms in a JBS one-two, effectively giving notice of intent to Cooper. Tragically, Alf was killed in May at the Grand Prix de Luxembourg, and the project lost much of its momentum. Curly achieved a number of good placings through the season but few outright wins except for at Brands in June. Sadly, at Castle Combe on the 6th October, Ron Dryden crashed and was killed. Curly's JBS was acquired by Ron Frost and exported to New Zealand.

"Curly" in the Cooper Mk II in the wet.

Curly Dryden in MkII.jpg (243186 bytes)