A.F.P. Fane

A.F.P. Fane

11/11/1911 - 18/7/1942

Fane was a British star in two fields of motorsport endeavour, hillclimbing, where he was able to beat even the best ERA drivers who otherwise dominated such events, and sportscar racing, in which he scored many successes at home and abroad at the wheel of BMW 328s.

<font size="2" face="Tahoma">Debonair and with a striking appearance, as was common practice at the time, he was know by his initials AFP Fane however, very few spectators back in the 1930s knew that the initials stood for Alfred Fane Piers, even fewer that his surname had originally been Agabeg and only his friends knew that he used his second Christian name as his last name.

A.F.P. Fane was born in India on the day that WWI ended. His father, Major AA Agabeg, was a mining engineer there. Alfred returned to England where he was educated at Harrow and Cambridge. is academic studies suffered as a result of his ability to live life 'to the full'.

He acquired an 1100cc Salmson in 1931 and entered his first race at Brooklands, the March Mountain Speed Handicap, sporting a rather unfashionable, at the time, crash helmet. He finished a creditable second. His next outing at Brooklands saw him take the win in the Mountain Handicap.

Determined to enter the world of motor racing he ordered a Fraser Nash (2040) in 1932 and designed a two seater body which was made for him by Corsica. The car became know as the Nurburg due to his entry in the 1500 cc support race at the German Grand Prix that year.

Originally fitted with an Anzani engine, Fane swapped it for a Meadows. Now racing as A.F.P. Fane, he retired after ten laps when the chassis broke, perhaps due to an altercation with a tram in Bruxelles en route. However back home with the car sorted he scored a number of class wins in hillclimbs.

He became a shareholder in AFN in 1935 and had Frazer Nash build him a Shelsley with a TT replica body without doors and twin Centric superchargers. With it he became even more competitive and continued racing the car up until 1939. In 1937 he set a new record at Shelsley of 38.77 seconds, beating the record held by Raymond Mays in his 2-litre ERA. Fane also won eight races at Donington Park in 1936, but after that limited the car’s activities the hills.

In 1936 he had started racing BMW 328s, which were imported by Frazer Nash (then known in the UK as Frazer-Nash-BMWs). In September he was part of the Fraser Nash BMW Team at the Tourist Trophy run over the Ard's circuit in Belfast, with the cars painted British racing green for this one race. The other drivers were H. J. Aldington and Prince Bira. Fane finished 3rd overall, winning his class, Bira was seventh and Aldington ninth, good enough to win the team prize. Fane also won the Bucharest Grand Prix.

In 1937 he took on the German 328s in the Eifelrennen at the Nürburgring and beat them and raced the BMW 328 Mille Miglia ‘Büegelfalte’ at Le Mans.

The following year he raced a 328 in the Mille Miglia taking a notable victory in the 2.0-litre class and finishing in an outstanding seventh place overall. He set the fastest sportscar time on the Grossglockner hillclimb and also took a win at Crystal Palace that year.

Fane was 28 when war broke out. Considered too old to be a fighter pilot, even though he was in the RAF Volunteer Reserve, he became a pilot in the RAF Photo Reconnaissance Unit attached to Bomber Command. One of his assignments was to locate and photographing the Tirpitz, which he did on the 28th March 1942.

Then on the 18th July 1942 he took off at 12.55 from Benson in Oxfordshire on a mission over U-Boat yards at Flensburg however the mission was aborted due to bad weather. He decided to land at Coltishall but eventually decided to head back to Benson even though the cloud level was still extremely low. He crashed following the railway line at low level near Great Shelford, just south of Cambridge. He was thrown out and killed instantly. He flew a total of 25 missions, a total of 98h 50m operational time

In 1944 the Frazer Nash Owners Club erected a memorial seat in Fane's home town of Hedsor Priory. The seat was moved to the Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb in 1992 at the request of Fane's wife and can be seen today at the course's bottom 'S' bend.

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