Priddles Brighton Brush With the Law

I am very grateful to Chris Dawson for supplying the following tale. Chris kindly scanned a number of programme covers for the site and sent me copies of many elimination ladders he made in the course of his work at Santa Pod.

Found your excellent site while surfing general Drag Racing stuff. I may be able to fill in a few details.

By way of a bit of background I'll let you know how I got hooked on the sport. Maybe this snippet would be of interest to your readers.

Originally being from Brighton, I always used to attend the annual Speed Trials along the sea front. I think these were run over a half mile. The event held on Saturday 8th September 1973 featured 3 dragsters, which I had never seen before. The Stripteaser mini van was one and there was also a Funny Car which, as I remember, did a spectacular burnout but failed to run (Anybody remember who it was?) Dennis Priddle was also there and he put in a full pass on the specially adapted quarter mile course. All I remember was this totally awe inspiring noise unlike anything I'd heard before. The impression was that it was just for a couple of seconds, followed by silence. In fact it was a full quarter mile pass with an ET of 7.69s ! From that moment I was hooked.

I remember speaking to Dennis Priddle about it some years later and he said that the local police chief came up to him afterwards and said "that was the most amazing thing I've ever seen and there's absolutely no way I'm going to let you do it again". You have to sympathise as this was on a public road, closed for the event, with the only concession to safety being straw bales propped up against the victorian cast iron lighting columns!.

I have been a regular visitor to Santa Pod every year since then and also got into photography. I have had 100 or so pictures published in Street Machine, Motorcycle News, Drag Racing News and local papers, where I used to do race reports covering local racers. The BDRA also published made a poster of my photo of Lee Anders Hasselstrom's Funny Car engine explosion.

Chris Dawson