Selwyn Francis Edge, invariably known simply as ‘SF’, was a highly significant pioneer of motoring in Britain. When, in 1902, he drove a Napier to victory in the Gordon Bennett Cup, a mighty event on public roads between Paris in France and Innsbruck in Austria, he initiated serious British endeavour in motor racing.
He was deeply involved in the birth of Brooklands, setting a 24-hour solo driving record there when the circuit opened in 1907. As a towering industry figure most closely associated with Napier and AC Cars, he played an important role in the growth of car manufacture in Britain. In the words of ‘Bentley Boy’ S.C.H. ‘Sammy’ Davis, ‘His keen grey eyes, the bushy eyebrows and the hawk-like face… made him a notable figure in any assembly.’
- Dedicated cyclist: SF’s early interest in cycles led to racing achievement on two wheels and three, including setting records for round trips between London and Brighton, and taking
- Introducing the motor car to Britain: from his first driving experience, in 1897 with a De Dion-Bouton, SF quickly became an influential advocate of all things automotive in a country that initially lagged far behind France.
- Motor racing pioneer: after early competitions on motor tricycles, SF became a regular competitor in the heroic long-distance races of mainland Europe, famously winning the 1902 Gordon Bennett Cup in a Napier and becoming a national celebrity.
- Growth of Napier: with SF as a guiding force, this long-established engineering company evolved into the manufacturer of some of the finest cars of the Edwardian era.
- Brooklands: upon the circuit’s opening in 1907, SF drove a Napier solo for 24 hours at an average speed of just over 65mph, establishing a record that stood for 18 years.
- AC Cars: after the First World War, SF helped to develop AC Cars into an important manufacturer of sporting cars, with more attempts at speed records along the way.
This biography uncovers the life of an extraordinary man whose achievements deserve to be far more widely recognised.