Pre-1960

Contributors names in brackets after the entries where applicable. All other material researched by myself - Chris.
1899
June. The first ever sprint meeting to be held in Britain was on a public road near Colchester. Obviously it was illegal as, even back then, a public road couldn't be closed off. The local bobby would probably been bribed to make sure it went ahead. It would take another 2 or 3 years before people realised that there were alternatives for sprints such as local council owned seaside promenades and long drives leading to stately homes. (Clive Rooms)

1905
In 1905, the Brighton Motor Week took place on the just resurfaced Madeira Drive with the newly invented Tarmac. It was held over a 4 day period from the 19th-22nd July. Courses of various lengths were used. The fastest cars ran over a flying kilometre course, whilst the slower cars competed over a standing mile. The Fastest Time of the Day over the flying kilometre was 23 seconds recorded by Clifford Earp in his 90hp Napier. Because of a dispute with residents over the cost of the resurfacing, which was £4000, the next event didn't occur until after World War I. (Clive Rooms)

1923
July 14th. The Brighton & Hove Motor Cycle and Light Car Club revived the event with the intention of making it an annual series with riders competing against each other along the sea front. Competitors matched against one another in a series of untimed knockout races over a standing half mile course. (Clive Rooms)

1924
The knockout system that had been introduced the previous year was abandoned due to its unpopularity. Competitors were run in pairs and individually timed over the half mile. Only two such events were held before a ban on motor racing on public roads came into force. (Clive Rooms)

1931
The Sunbeam MCC organised and ran the Gatwick Speed Trials, first held in 1931, over a course measuring 440 yards. It was held on a private road, just off the A23, then the main London to Brighton road, which is now part of Gatwick Airport. (Tony Hodgson, NSA)

1932
The Brighton and Hove club re-introduced, following a break of several years, the Brighton Speed Trials, over a course measuring 1/2 mile. Side by side racing was a feature of the Brighton Speed Trials, (I have a photo in a book showing two riders on the start line in 1936). So beating the Yanks by a good few years! A feature of those early Brighton Sprints was a match race between the fastest bike and the fastest car - Drag Racing in the 1930's? (Tony Hodgson, NSA)

1936
According to the Santa Pod Guide to Drag Racing by Graham Whitehead and Stuart Veitch,  ( Published by Working Books Ltd. ISBN 0 9524346 2 8. ), cars used to race over a standing start quarter mile along the pleasure beach in Blackpool but there is apparently no available evidence to back this up. Can anyone out there find any information to confirm this?

1943
The 92nd Bombardment Group of the US Airforce began flying the first of their missions from Podington Airfield. They flew 274 missions from the site until the end of the war in 1945. Twenty one years later the airfield became Europes first permanent dragstrip, Santa Pod Raceway. To see an aerial photo of the airfield as it looked in 1945 click here. (Bob Jarrett)

1950
Alf Hagon attended his first sprint meeting, at Trent Park, North London, on a 350cc Rudge. (Alf Hagon)

1958
February 18th 1958 The National Sprint Association was formed at the Red Lion pub, Bowling Back Lane, London, after a meeting of straight line enthusiasts. The aim of the club was to further the sport of straight line sprinting and record breaking. Sprinting, over a measured distance, had been around since the early days of motorcycle sport. The traditional Sprints, such as those held at Brighton, Ramsgate, and other seaside venues, were organised by various clubs up and down the country. It was at that momentous meeting at the Red Lion, that some of those club members met and founded the NSA. (Tony Hodgson, NSA)

1959
The Highwaymen Hot Rod and Custom Club was formed by teenagers in the Hayes area of Middlesex. Amoung them was a young Allan Herridge. Allans dream was to build a Hot Rod and, inspired by his collection of American Hot Rod magazines and the TV show 77 Sunset Strip, they built a Model T rod. Their first project, and possibly Britains first serious attempt at Hot Rodding, appeared this year at the Hayes Carnival although it never actually ran.

(Home) (Whats New) (History Index) (Landmarks) (Hall Of Fame) (Photo Archive) (Video) (Vehicle Files) (Help Us find...) (Annecdotes) (Snippets) (Draglinks) (Special Features) (BHRA Pioneers) (Pre 1960) (1960-1964) (1965-1969) (1970-1974) (1975-1979) (1980-1984) (1985-1989) (1990-1994) (1995-1999) (2000 and beyond)

www.trakbytes.co.uk