1960 - 1964

Contributors names in brackets after the entries where applicable. All other material researched by myself - Chris. Click on pictures to see a larger view. Text links will open in a new window, close it when you're done.

1960
Sydney Allard imported a GMC 6-71 blower, complete with Hillborn fuel injection, from the Moon Equipment Company of Los Angeles California. He also began to prepare a Chrysler Hemi motor.
The September edition of 'Car Mechanics' carried a small item of news in Tony Bostocks regular tuning and modification section 'Hot Rod'. Maurice Davidson had written to the magazine to announce the formation of a club called 'The Sprinters'. Maurice, from Uxbridge, Middlesex, explained that the club was formed to promote the American sport of Hot Rodding in the UK and to build "Dragsters". Rallies, rodeos, sprints and social events were planned and it was also planned that Sprint events would be held on properly organised quarter-mile drag strips.
September 1st 1960 The British Hot Rod Association (BHRA) was formed by the amalgamation of clubs like the Highwaymen with the intent of unifying Sprint Clubs and holding organised Drag Races at disused airfields like Duxford and Graveley. Brian Coole was chairman.

 

1961
January Sydney Allard began to build his first dragster with the parts he had imported the previous year. The work took place at Adlards Garage site in Clapham, London. (The name "Adlard" came from a roofing company, Robert Adlard, which Sydneys father, Arthur Allard, had purchased in the early 1930's. Sydney was struck by the name and used it despite the inevitable confusion this caused).
June Sydney Allard completed the building of his first dragster. Powered by a 354ci Chrysler with a GMC 6-71 blower and Hillborn Fuel Injection it produced around 750BHP on straight methanol. The chassis was based on a picture Sydney had seen of Chris Karamesines' 1960 "Chizler" dragster. Allards idea was to use the car to help establish the sport of Drag Racing in the UK and thus generate a market for competition and hot rod equipment.
July Sydney Allards dragster made its first appearance with a static showing and fire-up at a Shorrock Blower demonstration at Brands Hatch.
July 24th Sydney Allards dragster made its first demonstration runs on the club circuit straight at Silverstone. The car was run without its bodywork but gearbox failure ended the demo prematurely. An unofficial time of 9.5seconds with a speed of 160mph was recorded after a rolling start that was required as the car had a temporary Ford clutch. This had been fitted after the original clutch had been damaged at a private test.
September 2nd Sydney Allards dragster was entered at the Brighton Speed trials. Excitement was high amongst all present with the expectation of a new record over the kilometre from the car. In the first attempt a fuel line ruptured, resulting in a disappointing time of 37.91 seconds on four cylinders. The second attempt was also plagued by a misfire after which Motor Sport magazine's editor, Bill Boddy, called the whole affair " a fiasco". The Autocar magazine was a little kinder, labelling the Allard Dragster as a gallant failure.
October 14th Wellesbourne. NSA Records Day. Sydney Allards dragster was invited to put in some standing quarter mile runs. Journalist and racer Dennis Jenkinson, who did a lot to promote Drag Racing in the pages of "Motor Sport" wrote;

"Sydney Allard pointed the sleek blue dragster down the quarter-mile, let in the clutch, opened up and with a sound like a large bomber going down the runway disappeared through the timing traps. Time : 10.841 sec., which made the motorcycle riders whistle a bit. There were no arguments about the dragster's performance this time and "sack-cloth and ashes" were handed out to all dis-believers and certain Editors!" (Motor Sport Magazine, November 1961, page 948)

This last comment was directed at Motor Sports editor Bill Boddy who replied with "Congratulations, Sydney Allard- but a kilometre is a long quarter-mile and I still maintain that the dragster didn't live up to Allard high pressure pre-Brighton publicity."

 

1962
March Sydney Allards dragster was featured in the March edition of the U.S. magazine Hot Rod.
April 15th A National Speed Trial was held at RAF Debden in Essex, and entered in Class 16, Dragsters-Any Capacity, was Sydney Allard in the Allard Dragster. There were eight entries in Class 16, but the Allard was actually the only dragster with the other seven cars being specials of one sort or another. The meeting was organised by the West Essex Car Club, and the programme states that this was the first time the meeting had been held at Debden as the former venue, North Weald, was no longer available. (Clive Rooms) Sydney Allard recorded a best ever time of 10.48, the fastest quarter mile time recorded in the UK.
June 24th Long Marston. Evesham AC. Sydney Allard (Allard Dragster) and Brian Witty (Chrysler Dragster - 5500cc) were listed in the event programme in 'Class 7 - Exceeding 1500 cc over 440 yards'. The programme owner has written a time of 11.00 sec against the first run for the Allard entry but sadly there is nothing else written against the second run or either run for the Witty entry. (Richard Coe) In Brian Taylors book `Crazy Horses` it is reported that despite the best efforts of all involved, including Allan Herridge, Brian Sparrow and Allard's crew, Witty's dragster would not run.
July 14th Goodwood Festival Of Motoring. Sydney Allards dragster made some demonstration runs.
September 15th Sydney Allard entered the Brighton Speed Trials in the Allard Dragster. (Clive Rooms). He recorded two times for the kilometre of 22.30 and 22.04 seconds and, although these were much improved over previous performances, failed to set any new records. It was reported that the pipe that connected the blower and the intake manifold had burst causing a lack of power.
September 23rd Church Fenton. BARC Drag Sprint. Sydney Allard set the fastest standing start kilometre time achived by a four-wheeled vehicle in the UK, 20.86 seconds. He also posted a standing start quarter mile time of 11.54 seconds at 147.77mph. By the end of 1962 Sydney had become the Autosport National Sprint Champion.
Allan Herridge and John Harrison formed their own company called Dragster Developments and  began to build their first dragster together. The car had street tyres, an open back end and, at the insistance of the RAC, front disc brakes. It was powered by a 322ci straight 8 cylinder Buick motor with 4 SU carbs, these were later replaced by 2 carbs with a front-mounted blower.

 

1963
March 31st Allan Herridge  ran his straight eight Buick powered dragster at the West Essex Car Club Sprint at RAF Debden. He put in three passes with times of 18.18, 16.68 and 17.19 seconds. (Clive Rooms)
April 14th The BHRA  held their first British Custom Car and Hot Rod show at the premises of Spa Engineering in South Norwood, near Croydon. Club member John Bennett organised the show.  Admission was free. Allan Herridge had his Buick Dragster on display. Among the other exhibits were Brian Coole's '34 Ford, Alan Doyle's '32 Coupe, Len Pond's Victor, Vic Outen's '54 Zodiac, Ken Cooper's '37 Ford Coupe, Dave Moses' '53 Consul and the Plymouth Pick Up of Bob and Roy Phelps.
June 23rd Long Marston. Evesham Auto Club Sprint Meeting. Allan Herridge made four passes. The first pass was over the half mile course and resulted in a time of 26.9. He then put in three runs over the quarter, 17.52, 14.58 and finally, a best ever of 14.23.  Sydney Allard  was running in the 12 second bracket in the Allard Dragster. (Clive Rooms)
July  Sydney Allard  received a phone call from Las Vegas drag racer Dante Van Dusen (Duce) challenging him to a race. Duce had read about Allards car in a British magazine he had purchased in Los Angeles.
 July 14th Church Fenton. BARC Drag Sprint. Tony Densham was present.
August 4th Church Lawford. Sprint Meeting. Several drag racers were running their machines. Allan Herridge, in the Dragster Developments Buick 8 dragster, ran 14.83, 14.63 and 14.42 suffering traction problems off the start line. Sydney Allard ran Fastest Time of Day in the Allard dragster with 10.91. Clive Lingard shoed his Model Y hotrod to a 20.98 and Pete Bartlett put down a 19.12 in his TR2. (Clive Rooms)
August 25th Church Lawford. The BHRA attempted to hold the UK's first Drag Race meeting but it was cancelled due to lack of entries.
September The first American dragster and crew arrived in the UK. Dante Duce had challenged Sydney Allard to a transatlantic match race. Financial assistance came from Mobil Oils and Revell Model Kits. Duce had approached Dean Moon, who was also with the team,  with a proposal to borrow and drive the Mooneyes Dragster, which was owned by Revell and used as a promotional vehicle. The car ran a blown 375ci Chevrolet engine, with a front mounted Potvin blower and Hilborn fuel injectors making around 600BHP. It had run in the high eights in the US.
Tuesday September 10th

Silverstone. Dante Duce and Sydney Allard were invited to the track to demonstrate to the press what Drag Racing was all about on the circuits Club Straight. They were joined by, Allan Herridge with his Buick dragster, Tony Densham with his 1500 Ford dragster 'The Worden' and George Brown with his supercharged 1000cc Vincent motorcycle 'Super Nero' which was, at that time, the fastest accelorating motorcycle in the world. Allard also brought along two of his 'Allardette' blown Ford Anglias. Bob and Roy Phelps of Fibreglass Repairs were brought in, with their customised Plymouth pickup, to push start the dragsters. So began their long involvement with British drag racing. Norman 'Nobby' Hills, who would become familiar with British Drag Racing fans, was further inspired to build his own car after witnessing this event. The first run of the meeting saw Allard and Duce each take the wheel of an Allardette, with Duce taking the first win with a 17.47/81 run. Tony Densham then put in a 14.66/88.2 in The Worden followed by a 14.41//97.3 from Herridges Buick rail. George Brown then put in an 11.14/139.5 before Allard brought the Dragster out for it's first run, a 13.81/129.5. Duce then fired up Mooneyes and after a promising tyre smoking launch started to lose the sliding rear end, resullting in a 14.69 ET. Herridge and Densham then ran together with The Worden crossing the line first with a 14.33/92.3. Brown then ran an improved 10.86/136, carrying the front wheel for the first sixty yards. The first run between the two big cars resulted in a disappointing performance with a 17/81 ET, whereupon Moon decided to change the cars gearing from a 4.40 to a 4.11 ratio. This produced another impressive launch on the next run, but the car once again became loose at half track. The press were then invited to relocate to the finish line to witness the deployment of the chutes at the end of the run. Duce provided a dramatic example of this, with the front wheels lifting as the chute blossomed. Allards however failed to deploy until the car had stopped, when it then fell out uncerimoniously onto the ground. Roy Phelps was then despatched with the dragsters slicks to find a local garage with a compressor to raise the tyre pressures. Apparently Silverstone did not have the facility to do this! Having found somewhere Roy was told not to bother as the tyres were clearly worn out. Racing slicks were not a common sight in those days. Herridge and Densham had another match up, this time the win went to Herridge with a 14.40/97 as Densham lost his blower belt on the start line. The final run of the day gave the press what they had come to see as Duce smoked the tyres for the full length of the track to record a 9.48/167, the quickest quarter mile pass the UK had ever seen.

Saturday September 14th The Brighton Speed Trials. Sydney Allard and Dante Duce were  joined by Americas Mickey Thompson who brought over his Ford Powered Harvey Aluminuim Special fueller. The RAC officials decreed that for safety reasons only 'mild' demonstration runs would be permitted. Thompson and Duce paid little regard to this and put in some wild passes, the headers on Thompsons car setting light to the hay bale barriers at one point.
Saturday September 21st Church Lawford. Sprint meeting attended by Sydney Allard, Dante Duce & Mickey Thompson.
Sunday September 22nd RAF Debden. Essex. In the final round of the transatlantic challenge 5000 spectators lined the strip even though the event was officially closed to the public! Duce ran a best time of 9.99 while Allard had problems with a sheared blower drive and could only manage a 12.85. Mickey Thompson beat Duce in a match race challenge and Tony Densham in his Worden dragster challenged Allard to a match race but was easily beaten. Thompson went on to set a new European record on his final solo run. He recorded an 8.84 at 178mph and collected the SEMA Trophy. To see all the best times of the day click here.
Sunday September 28th Weston Super mare Speed Trials. Tony Densham attended with The Worden
Sydney Allard formed the British Drag Racing Association (BDRA) along with son Alan, Len Cole, Tony Bayley and Gery Belton with a view to organising another visit from the Americans the following year.
Allan Herridge and John Harrisons Dragster Developments firm built the first all British dragster, powered by an Austin Atlantic engine.

 

1964
April 8th Sydney and Alan Allard unveiled their latest dragster to the motoring press at Silverstone. The slingshot design had a 1500cc Cortina motor and a Shorrock supercharger and was called the Dragon. The plan was to make the car available to the public in kit form to help people get started in Drag Racing. The price for the full kit was 600 pounds. At this launch driver and designer John Hume clocked a best of 12.47/105. Electronic equipment mounted on the car recorded a 0-100mph time of 11.1 seconds.
Easter The BHRA held its second Rod & Custom Show, this time in the underground car park at Hyde Park. The 'Harvey Aluminum Special' of Mickey Thompson was on display along with Allan Herridge's Buick dragster, John Harrison's Austin Atlantic rail, and an Allard Dragon. Among the rods on show were Geoff Jago's 1953 Thames  pick up, his first hot-rod, Brian Coole's '34 Sedan, which won the trophy for best Hot Rod,  Ken Cooper's '33 Cabriolet, Mick Butler's Y-Type Ford, the Consul of Dave Moses and two cars from the Wright Brothers of Lincolnshire, one with Cadillac power and a second with a Jaguar engine.
May 17th Duxford Airfield, Cambridgeshire.  The first "Big Go". The BHRA held the UKs first Drag Race meeting in conjunction with the National Sprint Association & the Allard Owners Club. A 'knockout' race format was employed for the first time, rather than time trials, demonstrations or match races. This meeting also saw the UK's first electric christmas tree complete with a two and a half second countdown. John Hume debuted his Shorrock blown, Cortina engined Allard Dragon. He ran the low E.T.s of the day with 11.92 & 11.99 seconds. Allan Herridge ran a best of 13.82 in his Buick while Tony Densham recorded a 15.76 in his Ford powered rail "The WorDen". John Wright was present with his Altered featuring a fiat body, John harrison ran his Austin Atlantic/A90 rail, and Clive Lingard took his Y-Type Ford.
June 7th BDRA meeting at Graveley. This was the inaugural BDRA practice meeting.
June 21st The Evesham Auto Club ran their Third National British Drag-Sprint at Long Marston. Some classes ran over a quarter mile course, while others ran over a half mile course. (Clive Rooms)
June Chelveston, Northamptonshire. Alan Allard took the Allard Dragon to a new international Class F Standing Start Kilo record of 104.04mph, beating the previous record of 91.36mph held by Mickey Thompson. He also established the National standing start quarter mile record at 11.54 seconds.
July Having been appointed official NHRA co-ordinator for the upcoming Dragfests, Dante Duce arrived in London for a press conference at the Kensington Palace Hotel. Motoring journalists were briefed on the aims of the festival and Duce was shown some of the venues that were to be used. Later he discussed final arrangements with BDRA officials before flying back to the States.
August 9th

Graveley. Thames Estuary AC Sprint. The growing interest in Drag Racing as a seperate sport was evident here as the runway was laid out with two strips, a twin lane half mile course and a twin lane quarter mile alongside. Competitors were allowed to choose which course they ran on, with a limit of three runs on either, or both strips. Of the 87 entrants 44 used the quarter. The BDRA used their latest timing gear for the quarter mile times (A Hird Brown Mk VII electronic timer) but this was not yet set up to record terminal speeds. Many of the die-hard sprint competitiors refused to acknowledge the flag start procedure of the BDRA, preferring to wait until their engines were at optimum revs before leaving the line, much to the frustration of John Bennett who was weilding the flags. The Dragster Developments team of Allan Herridge and John Harrison brought two dragsters. Herridge's Buick, now with a narrowed back axle, won the Top Dragster class with a best of 13.62, a new personal best. Harrison's A90 rail clocked a best of 15.75. The 'Works' Allard Dragon won the Small Dragster class with a 16.42 and designer John Hume recorded fastest time of the day on the quarter mile with an 11.42. A. Glueck took his stock Chevrolet Stingray to a 14.18 to win his class. The four wheel drive 5.4litre Chevy powered Chaparral Cannonball of H. Parkin won it's class with a 12.03. The Cadillac powered Farrallac, driven by Mrs Farrel took the fastest time of the day on the half mile, 20.90 seconds, and she also took the Fastest Lady award.

September 1st Southampton. The SS United States arrived with a cargo that included Dean Moons 'Moonbeam' and Tony Nancys '22 Junior'. These two cars, along with the Allard Dragon and George Browns 'Super Nero' motorcycle, were then transported to Italy to take part in a demonstration of Drag Racing at the Monza circuit at the request of the Italian Grand Prix organisers. The trip was organised by the BDRA with help from the publicity department of the Ford Motor Company who supplied two Zodiacs to tow the Americans trailers.
September 12th Dante Duce returned for the Brighton Speed Trials held just before the 1st Dragfest. He drove two cars. The first was Dean Moon’s 4.7 litre Moonbeam car entered in the Racing Cars category. The second car was a 4.7 litre Shelby Cobra in the Sports Cars class. (Clive Rooms)
September 15th Southampton. The SS United States returned with the rest of the Dragfest party and their machinery, a cargo that would change the face of British Drag Racing forever.
19th September Blackbushe Drag Fest, Hampshire. First visit of the U.S. team to the UK for a series of six meetings. Organised by BDRA Chairman Sidney Allard and the legendary Wally Parks of the NHRA, the American drivers and the best of the Brits battled it out in front of a 20,000+ crowd. The American line up consisted of the AA fuelers of Don Garlits and 'TV' Tommy Ivo, the blown gas dragsters of Bob Keith (Dos Palmos) and Tony Nancy with the revolutionary rear engined 8 litre Plymouth rail 'The Wedge' as well as his '22 Junior' Chevy rail, the two monstrous Willys coupes of K. S. Pittman (7.5 litre blown Chrysler) and 'Ohio' George Montgomery (6 litre blown Chevy), two forerunners of the funny cars in the factory experimental cars of Ronnie Sox (Mercury Comet) and Dave Strickler (Dodge), the rear engined Porsche rail of Doug Church, the AA/Modified Moonbeam sports car driven by Dante Duce and finally the motorcycles of Bill Woods (Harley Davidson) and Don Hyland (Triumph).Ivo set the pace for the day, smoking the full quarter with an  8.40/184. Garlits replied with an 8.28/188.  In the final race Garlits defeated Tommy Ivo with a 8.28/191 to Ivo's 8.58/184. It was at this meeting that Nobby Hills made his debut with his "Houndog" dragster, the first in a long line of Hills cars. Nobbys entry no. was 72 and he ran 19:47/64 mph, 17:67/77mph, and 16:27/84mph. George Montgomerys best performance in the Willys was 10.65/144, Tony Nancy managed a best E.T. of 9.41 and speed of 159 while Bob Keith ran 9.37 and 161mph. Alan Allard ran 11.42/125 in his Dragon but only managed 17.46 in his Chrysler slingshot, Allan Herridge managed a best of 13.49/98 and Dennis Jenkinson ran 12.41 in his Allard Dragon.  
20th September RAF Chelveston. Northamptonshire. Dragfest meeting. Dante Duce took a drive in Tony Nancy's '22 Junior' rail and totalled it. Garlits defeated Ivo with a 8.74 to Ivo's 8.98. Low E.T. for the Brits went to reigning Hill Climb Champion Peter Westbury with an 11.02 from his experimental Ferguson Climax P99 four wheel drive racer. Alan Allard beat Doug Church with 11.26 to the Porsche rails 11.35.
26th September RAF Woodvale. Dragfest. The track was deemed to be "too dicey" because of a bump near the timing lights and the big fuelers made solo runs. Don Garlits ran the best time yet with a wild out of shape  8.09/195. Tony Nancy took the Wedge dragster to a best of 9.08/171 and K. S. Pittman broke the axle of his Willys on the start line. Peter Westbury ran 11.01/127, Alan Allard ran 11.11/127 to win the 'up to 3000cc' class in the Dragon and managed to squeeze an 11.25/141 out of his Chrysler rail to take the  'over 3000cc' class.
27th September RAF Church Fenton Dragfest. Tony Nancy put a rod through the side of the block in 'The Wedge'. Tommy Ivo took the win with an 8.65/192 against Garlits 8.88/149. Earlier Garlits had managed an 8.37/195.
3rd October RAF Kemble Dragfest. Despite wet conditions K.S. Pittman put in back to back terminal speeds of 145 (10.57), 146 & 148 in his Willys  while George Montgomery managed a quicker 10.37/139. Tony Nancy took the Wedge to its best time of the Festival with an 8.98/176. During the motorcycle time trials the UKs Neville Higgins ran a personal best of 10.57/140. Alf Hagon only managed a 10.70/120 but went on to win the 751-1500cc Class Elimination. The Allard Dragon of Dennis Jenkinson shut down Tony Densham in 'The Worden' who ran his series best time of 11.32 at this meeting. Garlits was back on form and ran 8.46/184 followed by 8.82/195 and another victory over Ivo in 8.34.
4th October Blackbushe Dragfest.  A crowd of 30,000 were in attendance to see Doug Church beat Alan Allards Dragon in an 11 second match race. Alan took the Chrysler rail to a strong 10.28 win over Dante Duce in the Moonbeam Chevy sportscar. Alf Hagon and George Brown were both soundly beaten by the American motorcycles in under 11 seconds. There were 55 UK competitors. British dragsters present included Dave Metcalfe (TR3 power) L. Moss (Riley) Tony Densham (The Worden) Dennis Jenkinson (Allard Dragon) Nobby Hills (Jaguar) Allan Herridge (Buick) and 'Hard Luck' John Harrison (Austin A90) who lived up to his nickname and was plagued with trouble. Tommy Ivo defeated Don Garlits with a holeshot 8.27/194 to Garlits's 8.19/197. Peter Westbury recorded an 11.42 in his P99, while another four wheel drive vehicle, the Deep Sanderson, a twin mini engined single seater, ran its best ever quarter mile time of 12.62/111.
For a detailed list of all the major award winners from the 1964 Drag Festival click here
October Allan Herridge began work on a new 120" wheelbase slingshot, Pulsation, which he designed himself. The car took a total of 1700 man hours to build and cost £413. (Jon Spoard) It would make it's debut eight months later.

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