George Duller

George Duller

26/1/1891 - 6/6/1962

Duller was Champion Jockey in 1918 before turning to racing cars in the 1920s. He became one of the sport's first professional drivers.

George Duller was an outstanding and well known jockey over the hurdles, winning the Champion Jockey Title in 1918. He turned to motor racing in the early 1920s and became one of the first professional drivers. He regularly raced at Brooklands up until just before WWII.

A friend of Parry Thomas, he drove many cars including the big four cylinder engined Marlborough Thomas, Captain Macklin's Silver Hawk with which he won the 1921 Booklands Light Handicap averaging 72.18 mph, Ansaldo, a pre-1914 Sunbeam and an Indianapolis Bugatti which was notorious for being very heavy on it's rear tyres.

Duller was a member of the Darracq team driving the 1.5 liter cars at Brooklands in 1924 and finished second behind Zborowski's Mercedes in that year's JCC 200 Mile Race driving his Indianapolis Bugatti.

About the same time he was associated with Parry Thomas' successful record attempts in the big single seater Lanchester. These records also served to establish the soundness of the Rapson tyre which was heavily publicised at the time for its high speed suitability.

He took records with a Riley and was part of the winning Talbot-Darracq team at the Grand Prix at Montlhery in 1925. He finished second in the Short 100 at Brooklands in the Bugatti and won the 50 mile Outer Circuit Handicap in Captain Authur Waite's Austin Seven.

In 1926 he raced with Henry Segrave at Le Mans in the OHC 2-liter Sunbeam Sport. Segrave was the sixth car away but stunned the crowd ten minutes later when he screamed past the line in first place. At just past six o’clock, Ken Moir in a Bentley got past Segrave but could not shake him off. Segrave re-took the lead when Moir had to pit. Duller then took over sadly only to retire with clutch problems after 32 laps.

That year he won the 90mph Short Handicap easily having taken over Woolfe Barnato's Bugatti without the officials anouncing the change in driver and thus catching the bookies unaware. He also finished second in the Bugatti Handicap, also held at Brooklands, from Staniland's similar 1926 straight eight GP car. He also participated in one of the strangest handicap races ever held at the Surrey track between Parry Thomas's Leyland Thomas, Duller's supercharged Austin, Paul Dutoit's Avis and RM Hanlon driving a Greenbat electric truck! Hanlon was given a 1 hour 25 minute and 38.4 second start and was expected to lap at around 5 mph, Duller had 1 minute 24 seconds and Dutoit a 59 second advantage over Parry who was on scratch. Duller and Thomas retired after one lap and Hanlon who actually speeded up on each lap won from Dutoit by 32.4 seconds.

One of his biggest successes was at the Essex Club’s six hour race at Brooklands in 1927 driving one of the twin cam three liter Sunbeams. He led almost the whole race to finish about 15 miles ahead of SCH Davis in second. He also partnered Frank Clement that year in a 4½ liter Bentley to win the Montlhery 24 hour sports car race.

One of the original Bentley Boys, he raced the marque at Le Mans a number of times. In 1926 he drove with Frank Clément but retired with a broken valve after 72 laps. He partnered Baron Andre d'Erlanger in a 3 Liter Super Sport Bentley in the infamous 1927 race. As night fell, Callingham in the 4½ Liter Bentley, was on the run from Arnage to Maison Blanche when he saw the Theo Schneider 25SP sideways in the road. Unable to avoid it he crashed and was throw out. Shaken he started to walk back toward Arnage to warn the oncoming cars when Duller arrived at speed in the 3 Liter Super Sport and also crashed, pushing the Callingham Bentley back into the road.

Sammy Davis in the other 3 Liter Super Sport was approaching White House at over 80mph when, sensing something was wrong, he braked hard. Unable to clear the mass of wreckage he clipped Duller’s car which then fell on him.

In a matter of seconds the entire three-car Bentley team was wrecked or crippled at White House. However Davis was convinced that his car could be saved and set about getting the crippled car back to the pits for repair. The car, known as 'Old No. 7', was eventually able to continue and, in the final hour of the race, caught and passed the leading car to win at an average speed of 61.35mph.

In 1928 he took the the Class G 5 and 10 mile and 5 and 10 kilometer records in the original Riley Nine at 97.85 and 97.06 mph respectively.

He partnered Tim Birkin in the Brooklands 500 mile race in 1930 driving the famous "blower" single-seater but the car did not run well, apparently sounding more like a motorcycle. Duller raced in the event again in 1935 in Gwenda Stewart's front wheel drive Derby Maserati.

He then acquired the ex-Whitney Straight 4,376 c.c. twin-ohc Straight Eight Duesenberg which he modified by widening the rear suspension in an attempt to improve stability and traction on the Brooklands bumps. He drove it in collaboration with Elsie Wisdom and though he never got the car to go quite as fast as Straight, he was nevertheless fairly quick in it.

In 1933 he drove a works Austin with Charles Goodacre in the BRDC 500 at Brooklands but, after having engine problems and pushing the car well over a mile back to the pits, the car was retired before Goodacre got a chance to drive.

After racing he returned to horses and trained hurdlers. George Duller was maried to Violette Cordery's sister, who in turn was married to John Hindmarsh, and also raced. George died while attending the Epson horse race meeting on August Bank Holiday Monday 1962.

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