Curly Dryden

29/3/1909 - 6/10/1951

Curly Dryden
Curly was an enthusiastic 500cc F3 driver who also raced at Le Mans. Renowned for his interesting hats, he was killed in an F3 race at Castle Coombe. Curly Dryden died 70 years ago, he was 42


Ronald Maura Dryden was born in Kibblesworth, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Married to a farmer's daughter, Maura Jones, Curley was an agrical engineer installing milking machines.

On the outbreak of WWII, he joined the Royal Air Force as a pilot and was shot down over the North Sea which gained him the Air Force Cross.

After the war he became the landlord of The George in Dorchester near Henley on Thames, in Oxfordshire (Later to be presided over by equally legenday, Gerry Stonhill). 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!

Curly was one of the first customers of the latest Cooper F3 car, the MkII, which he raced with some success, including finishing second to Moss at Silverstone in May 1949 and taking a win at Goodwood.

Curly also raced an MG at Le Mans. It was the first post war running of the race and Curly teamed up with George Phillips however they were disqualified for receiving outside assistance, the guilty mechanic even being driven back to the pits in the car before it re-joined the race, with reports suggesting he was even waving to the crowd.

In 1948 he had a lucky escape while practicing for the races on the Isle on May in early May, when he failed to negotiate a corner on the Douglas-Onchan course and summersaulted twice over a hedge, ending up trapped beneath the Cooper Special in a field. He only suffered cut and bruises though the Cooper was too badly damaged to race the following day.

Sadly, while racing a JBS in a 500cc F3 at Caste Combe in the last meeting of 1951, Curly overturned and sustained severe head injuries from which he died.

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