Did you know that Britain has amassed nearly three times more Formula One silverware than its nearest continental rival? No, I was surprised too; 10 British F1 Drivers have taken 15 (soon to be 16, surely) world championships, 8 of the 12 most successful constructors of all time have hailed from the UK (including Tyrell, BRM, Brabham and their ilk) and, as you’ll probably already know, Motorsport Valley in central England is F1’s technological hub and home to 7 of the 10 current F1 teams. Today, it’s fair say, that Britain is a motorsport superpower … but it wasn’t always this way!

This is a brief synopsis of the XCAR feature I did earlier this month; and for the first time I was sans sidekick on this shoot, as Rich had to go to Russia, or somewhere, and flog fridge magnets, or something; I really must find out what he mainly does for a living, sometime. The basic story centred on the very first races (the 1902 Bexhill Races and the inaugural 1905 Brighton Speed Trial) that kickstarted Blighty’s motorsport at a time when there was a blanket ban on road racing in the UK and the national speed limit was set to a rigid 14mph (the equivalent speed of a “horse being ridden furiously”, apparently). At the same time our cheese-loving rivals across the Channel were going mad for motorsport – despite the deaths, maimings and carnage that usually ensued – and were leaps ahead of us in terms of car manufacturing, innovation and speed records. Où tout cela vous tromper Peugeot?* But all this was soon to change thanks to what took place in the swanky seaside resorts of South England. First up: Bexhill on Sea, the official Birthplace of British Motor Racing.


The plucky Morgan Three Wheeler was the obvious choice for the Brighton Speed Trails for several reasons. Firstly, the Morgan Motor Company is the World’s oldest privately owned Motor car manufacturer, its founder HFS Morgan actually opened his first garage in the same year as the first Brighton Speed Trial. The very first M3W was also the first car to proved that agility and lightness trumped raw power … a sort of three-wheeled forerunner to the Lotus 7 if you like, and dozens of fledgling pre-war racers honed their skills at the helm of these humble little cyclecars …

But main reason we chose the new reinvented Three Wheeler was because in 1924 Morgan held the record for the fastest standing quarter. The British racing driver G.N Norris did a 16.40 second run which is a respectable time by today’s standards … so that was my target; a record set 90 years ago and I now had an Aero Racing M3W packing a 2.1-litre and race-fettled chassis. How hard could it be?

Since I had only entered in the Handicap Class (open to novices with basic National B race licences) I only had to two stabs at the hallowed ‘quarter’ along Brighton’s Maderia Drive. My first practice run was in the morning, just after a little downpour. With only 50% of the traction of my four-wheeled rivals it was not a textbook drag racing start. Adjectives like ‘skiddy’, ‘sidewaysy’ and ‘fishtaily’ were used by MotorPunk’s IT guru Si. Nevertheless, by the time I had established some grip 100 metres down the track it felt pretty quick; the Aero Racing pack certainly gave the trike a lot more torque. I knew it was pretty greasy, and I was quite gentle with the clutch, but still, my practice time of a sluggish 16.64 was a little gutting, being 0.24 seconds slower than Mr Norris’ efforts nearly a century earlier.

There’s a fair bit of time to kill between each sprint, but it really didn’t matter. It was great to do something where you feel like a ‘real’ race driver and have chance to oggle the cars on show and have a bit of banter with the Trial’s seasoned veterans, including Jim in his 7.5-litre Allard and Bob in his gleaming F40 plus ‘back-up’ E Type lightweight. Other chaps were in far humbler motors, including a few race-weathered Midgets … one of which was given free to the TART Motorsport charity and was driven by one Freddie Hunt, son of the legendary James no less! Think of the Brighton Speed Trials as a mini-Goodwood Revival with out the music, faux furs and fancy-dress Brigadiers and you actually wouldn’t be far off the mark. A fabulous event.

Anyhow, back at the start line, in true Top Gear-esque style, it all came down to the one final run. Could I beat a 90 year old record? Would I hit the perfect gear changes, would I avoid spinning up that one fat car tyre at the back. Well, check out the timeboard pic below.


A huge thank you to the good folks at Brighton & Hove Motor Club for allowing us to have one of the highly sought after guest spots. It was an absolutely brilliant day’s motorsport for the price of a trackday on some desolate aerodrome with the Max Power oiks. So MotorPunks why don’t you just do it; it’s one for every true petrolhead’s bucket list.


*Where did it all go wrong

#Plymouth #burnout #brightonspeedtrials #Brighton

A video posted by MotorPunk.co.uk (@motorpunk) on

A video posted by MotorPunk.co.uk (@motorpunk) on

About The Author

Darryl can usually be found up to his elbows in some unloved piece of BL detritus when he isn’t snapping and scribbling for various print magazines or producing the book on road tripping or tally-ho adventurers. As an occasional presenter on CBS's Carfection YouTube channel, his other hobbies include vintage Scalextrics, ‘60s Bang & Olufsen and dabbling in grassroots motorsport.

2 Responses

    • Dr.Octane

      Hi Ian. Yes, just. The full Carfection film is on here if you look in the videos section.


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