Dudley Folland started racing pre-war under the alias Tim D. Davies, entering the 1935 Le Mans with a Frazer Nash. After the war he drove an Aston Martin and an MG K3 in sports car races and in 1949 he imported the first Ferrari into the UK.
Dudley Croft Folland was born in Brondeg Glanamam, Carmarthenshire. His father, Henry Folland, who rose from working as an office clerk at the Melyn Tinworks to being a director of Europe's largest Tin Plate company, died in Eygpt in 1926 when Dudley was just fourteen.
Dudley turned out to be a pretty good all round athelete. He played rugby on the wing for Swansea and London Welsh, and even tried out for the Welsh national side. He was also a Cambridge soccer blue and a good amateur golfer. He was also, for a time, a director of the Swans A.F.C. (Swansea Football Club).
He started racing before the war under the nom de vollant of Tim D. Davies. He raced an Q-type MG in 1935 but in May he had a bad crash with the car at Donnington. Having bought a Frazer Nash Shelsley special in April, he did not bother to repair it and ended up selling it to G.P. Harvery-Nobel in 1936. He entered the Frazer Nash at Le Mans, sharing the driving with A.F.P. Fane. The car was equipped with two Centric superchargers and was quick enough, however reliability proved to be a problem and retired after 96 laps with mechanical failure.
Dudley had his cars prepared for him by R.R.Jackson at the Robinery, as his establishment was known. Soon after returning from France, Dudley had the Nash converted into a single seater and painted white. He raced the car in the Empire Trophy at Brooklands on July 6th but retired with ignition problems with just seven of the 80 laps completed. He fared little better a week later in the Nuffield Trophy at Donnington, once again retiring. The car suffered from handling problems when speeds got over 100mph, so Zillwood Milledge was called in to sort the problem out. It turned out to be the geometry of the front radius arms which were duly modified. However the car was still not successfull and was sold, ending up competing in hillclimbs.
WWII intervened and Dudley served as an officer overseas. Once hostilities had ended he returned to racing with an Aston Martin and an MG K3 in sports car races. He won the Madgwick Cup at Goodwood in 1948 driving the MG K3 Magnette and drove with Ian Connell in the 2 litre Aston Martin at the Spa 24hr race. They were leading after the final round of driver changes but Connell had an off in the pouring rain and they had to retire. A few weeks later they came 3rd in the Aston at Montlhery in the Paris 12hr race.
Folland had been impressed with the Ferrari 166 Spyder Corsa, which Luigi Chinetti had driven to victory in both races. So in the early spring of 1949 Dudley aquired the first Ferrari to race in mainland Britain. John Wyer travelled to Modena to test 010I and with Folland arranged for the car’s purchase and shipping to England. This was the car that Nuvolari drove in the 1948 Mille Miglia. It had then been delivered to Gruppo Inter in March 1948 for Prince Igor Troubetzkoy. He and other drivers raced it and, at the end of the season, Troubetzloy retired and sold the car via Zehender to Folland.
However in a bid to circumvent the draconian taxes being levied by Britain’s government in an attempt to stop imports of luxury goods, the sum of four thousand British pounds was handed over in cash at a London hotel. Boschi, a Ferrari mechanic, delivered the 166 to Monaco Motor Engineering in March. Monaco Motor Engineering was run by Wyer and his business partner and fellow racing driver, George Abecassis.
Monaco Motor Engineering re-sprayed 010I British Racing Green and painted a small dragon, the emblem of Wales, on each side of the nose. The 166 was then trucked to the Goodwood circuit near Chichester where Folland drove it to a maiden British win in the Lavant Cup on April 18th.
Dudley next drove it in the Grand Prix de Pau in France in May and then a week later in the F2 British Empire Trophy on the Isle of Man, retiring when a flange gasket failed due to the wrong materials being used in it's fabrication.
On June 12th, Folland drove in the Circuit des Remparts at Angouleme, a street circuit. Folland was third in his heat but had problems in the final, placing him fifth overall. Five weeks later, again in France, he took part in the Grand Prix de Petite Cylindrees, at Rheims, an event for Formula Two cars, finishing fourth.
He returned to England and raced at Blandford Forum in Dorset on August 27th but blew a head gasket in his heat and retired. Folland raced the car twice more, in the Wakefield Trophy at the Curragh in Ireland, finishing third, and again at Goodwood in the Woodcote Cup.
Unfortunately by now HM Customs and Excise were insisting that Dudley pay the import duty. In order to avoid this, the car was sent to Cataneo’s Garage in Paris and from there it was returned to the factory at Modena to be sold on Folland’s behalf.
He raced at Le Mans again in 1949 sharing his Aston Martin Speed Model with Anthony Heal. The car had a fair number of body modifications, the most noticeable of which was a cowled radiator. They retired when a piston broke after just 26 laps.
He entered the British Grand Prix on the 14th May that year, sharing Peter Whitehead's Ferrari 125. Dudley spun at Maggotts shortly after taking over from Whitehead but managed to continue and finish in 8th place.
Dudley died in Abergavenny on 20th Jan 1979 and is buried with his parents at the family crypt in Oystermouth cemetery, Swansea.
To read about Dudley's father, click on the link below.