|Arguably the oldest motoring competition in the UK, the
Brighton Speed Trials are a feast for the eyes of any petrolhead. Cars and bikes of all
shapes and sizes attend, from the oldest veterans to the newest of the Max Power Mob.
all began back in 1905 when Brighton Motor Week took place. The local authority had just
resurfaced Madeira Drive with the newly invented Tarmac on which the first runs were made.
Due to disputes with the residents over the cost of the resurfacing, the next event didn't
occur until after the First World War.
It was 1923 when the Brighton and Hove Motor Cycle and Light Car Club got things going
again with what was intended to be an annual series of races with riders competing against
each other along the sea front.
Two such events were held before a ban on motor racing on the public highways came into
force, scuppering future competitions. In 1932 the newly formed Brighton and Hove Motor
Club dug deeper into the legalities of the situation and discovered that Madeira Drive was
in fact owned by the Brighton Corporation and therefore could not be considered a public
road. From that year hence - except during the Second World War - the speed trials have
taken place annually.
The length of the course used has varied over the years. In 1905 courses of various
lengths were used, whilst in 1923 and 1924 a half mile stretch was used. This was extended
by 200 yards to bring it up to the half kilometre. With speeds increasing, safety concerns
became more of an issue culminating in 1969 when a review of safety prevented the event
taking place completely. 1970 saw the quarter mile reinstated with the kilometre restored
in 1971. The twelve years from 1980 once again enjoyed the full half mile before safety
concerns once again curtailed it to the quarter mile that we see today.
With safety obviously an issue with such a wealth of horsepower on offer, the events
are now run under the regulations of the RAC Motor Sport Association to ensure the
necessary precautions are taken.
A whole range of awards given out during the competition for everything for the best
overall time, the best time by a lady driver, the best motorcycle time to individual
awards for best in a particular type of vehicle, be it Lotus, MG, or pushrod V8.
All in all it's a real spectacle and a rare chance to see such a diverse range of
machinery competing together.