Dick Caesar

Dick Caesar

Richard Dynely Caesar was born in Kent in 1906 and graduated from Cambridge University, at this time he owned a Morgan 3-wheeler and became closely associated with RR ‘Robin’ Jackson. Settled in Bristol, Caesar’s enthusiasm for motor racing for fun but at little cost, surfaced with the creation of CAPA, a private racing organisation. Caesar and friends began racing stripped down Austin 7-based specials, initially using a track around the woods at his 12-acre home at Clapton-in-Gordano in northern Somerset, but in the later 1930s CAPA moved to a better grass track on Joe Fry’s estate nearby at Lulsgate.

Classic CAPA action

Dick and the Fry's built the original Freikaiserwagen with Hugh Dunsterville, the name deriving from an amalgamation of Fry and Caesar with a Germanic twist. Very much in classic pre-war special mould, the Freik used a GN chassis and Anzani twin, mounted amidships in its first incarnation, very much a proto500.

A prominent member of the Bristol MC& LCC, he was also heavily involved in the organisation of local hillclimbs and speed trials, and also invented a new event, the Mendip Grand Prix de Tourisme, intended to mimic the Le Mans 24 hour race, using a 5-mile course on public roads on top of the Mendip Hills.

During the war he worked in the Service Department of the Bristol Aeroplane Company at Filton, using his own cine-camera for making instructional films. At war’s end, as a member of the Bristol Aeroplane Company Motor Sports Club, his enthusiasm for affordable motor racing came to the fore once more, and he was the driving force behind the creation of the new 500 Club, serving on the committee in the early years.. Also in 1945, Caesar’s desire to create a high-performance sporting road car had emerged with his design for the Gordano. Using a relatively conventional chassis, the Gordano was originally intended to be fitted with a new air-cooled rotary-valve engine. They produced a pair of prototypes, but this project also folded, in 1950.

Dick appreciated that words alone were not enough so in 1946, to encourage the construction of racing cars to the new formula, he drew up a simple kit based around a ladder chassis to which budding constructors could add suspension and mechanicals of their choice. In 1947, a batch of 12 Iota chassis were laid down. In terms of outright results, none of these cars weren't especially successful, at least not in standard form, but they gave the movement a critical boost by ensuring that a stream of new cars appeared through '47 and '48 adding momentum. Later in 1949, a full production Iota 500 was offered as a complete car by Iota Racing Cars operating out of premises in Alma Vale Road in Clifton, Bristol.

Dick sets out his stall in Iota May 1948

PR duties for Dick

In 1951 Caesar then produced a novel design for a small sports car for the road, using a 350cc Douglas engine in a lightweight monocoque chassis. Although prototypes were completed, this car never reached production.

Through the 1950s, and until retirement around 1964, Caesar worked in the Press Office of Bristol Aero Engines Ltd. In 1969 with William Mayne he wrote a motoring novel for children “The Gobbling Billy”. Set in Ireland, his engineering and motor sporting knowledge clearly showed throughout this story about the restoration and racing of an old racing car, a “1908 16-litre 6-cylinder Gobelin-Billet.

Dick Caesar died suddenly on 2nd December 1974, aged 68.

Our thanks to Peter Stowe for this article. If you would like to know more about Dick Caesar or motorsport in the Bristol area, visit Peter's website at here