Happy New Year welcome to the first GALPOT blog 2014, this year we hit the track running as Brighton and Hove Motor Club is urgently in need of our help, in the form of a couple of minuets of your time to keep alive one of Britain’s oldest speed events namely the Brighton Speed Trial.
The Brighton Speed Trial was inaugurated in 1905 after Brightonian Sir Harry Preston managed to persuade Brighton Town Council to lay a track made of the recently invented “Tarmac” between the Palace Pier and Black Rock, now known as Madeira Drive. The first event was organised by the Council and Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland, which was later to become the Royal Automobile Club (RAC).
The July 1905 event was part of a speed week known as Brighton Motor Week which ran over 4 days during which Dorothy Levitt seen above at the wheel of her 80hp Napier became the fastest woman on earth achieving an average speed over a flying kilometer of 79.75 miles per hour. The first event was won out right by Clifford Earp in a 90 hp Napier.
The opposition of rates payers to the cost of the event meant it was not run again until 1923 before being subject to an erroneous police ban on speed events held on public roads interjected in 1925. In 1932 Brighton and Hove Motor Club discovered that Madeira Drive was actually not a public highway at all, but the property of Brighton Corporation and so the police ban did not apply and the event became annual until the outbreak of the 1939-45 war. Above Chris Summers fearsome Chevrolet Lotus 24 chassis #942 won the now standing kilometer event in 1965 and 1966. In the back ground a Farina designed Mk 1 Austin A40 Countryman sits on a trailer behind a large Mercedes Benz tow car.
By 2012 the last time the event was run all manor of vehicles had run at the Brighton Speed Trials including a twin Rolls Royce engined device in the 1950’s in the 60’s dragsters and funny cars became popular with the cars still running side by side and as can be seen below David Render managed to acquire the loan of a works Lotus Cosworth 76 for his sprinting in 1976 winning the Brighton Speed Trial with the car in the same year with the car to the nose of which David had added a large lump of lead to help keep the front wheels on the ground. Motorcycles and side car outfits have also been catered for since 1905 Above Leonard Shepard blasts of the line in his Lotus Europa.
By 2012 the Brighton Speed Trial run by Brigthon and Hove Motor Club and Brighton and Hove City Council with an army of volunteers was being run over a quarter mile with vehicles running individually rather than in pairs. Unfortunately during the last running of the event the front wheels of a side car combination crewed by Roger Hollingshead and Charlotte Tagg lifted after hitting a dip in the track which launched the occupants into a collision with a concrete bollard which severely injured Roger and killed the unfortunate mother of three Charlotte. The 2013 event was cancelled pending an inquest into Charlotte’s death.
Late last year the inquest concluded that the death was accidental. After the inquest Charlotte’s brother Simon was quoted by The Argus as saying “We don’t blame anyone, but would like to see the council treat the road before the next event.” Charlottes 18 year old daughter added “We just want them to smooth it out.”
In anticipation of a decision on the future of the event to be made by the council’s Economic Development and Culture Committee at a meeting on 23 January Ruth Reynolds of the Brighton and Hove Motor Club has set up a petition on the Brighton & Hove City Council website requesting acceptance of the application by the Brighton and Hove Motor Club to run the 2014 Brighton Speed Trials on Madeira Drive.
I would strongly urge anyone who has ever enjoyed any kind of motorsports event as a competitor, organiser, volunteer, concession trader or spectator to spend a couple of minutes registering onto the Brighton and Hove City Council website linked here and supporting Brighton and Hove Motor Club in their efforts to revive the Brighton Speed Trials and encourage Brighton and Hove City Council to attend to the road surface. There is NO requirement for signatories to be resident in Brighton or even the United Kingdom, thank you.
My thanks to Simon Lewis of Simon Lewis Transport Books for permission to his photographs and Vitesse2 at The Nostalgia Forum for alerting me to the existence of the e-petition.
Wishing all GALPOT readers and contributors a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Thanks for joining me on this “Please Sign e-petition To Save” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be starting a new short series on North American Law Enforcement vehicles. Don’t forget to come back now !