Bexhill's extravaganza

Doing anything on May Bank Holiday? Fancy a day out at an undersung motoring event that attracted a crowd of around 25,000 last year?

What is it? Another truck racing Somethingorother Prix? Anything to do with Nigel Mansell?

Actually, no, it’s the third annual running of a commemorative event at Britain’s first international motor sporting venue . . . Bexhill-on-Sea. The Bexhill 100, to give it its full title, was inaugurated in 1990, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Sackville Hotel. The local establishment catered for the motoring set around the turn of the century, when the 8th Earl de la Warr initiated the Bexhill Speed Trials, which took place on a straight, quartermile course along the sea front.

The Bexhill Speed Trials ran from 1902-1906, at which point the event was deemed to have become too popular and the local authorities withdrew permission for the roads to be closed for competitive purposes. Attention swiftly transferred to the nascent Brooklands facility, and Bexhill’s place in British motorsporting history went largely ignored.

On May 3/4, the Bexhill sea front will once again be closed to normal traffic so that competition can resume on the original course between Galley Hill and de la Warr Parade. This year marks the 90th anniversary of the first event, and the organisers are hoping to attract a wide and varied entry. Cars of any age and any type are eligible; last year, there were 200 competing vehicles. This year, around 400 entry forms have gone out to interested parties.

It is more than a simple celebration of the motor car, however. The overall theme of the pageant is transport through the ages, hence there will be a wide selection of motorcycles, pushbikes, army vehicles and so on.

In addition to the active element, there will be myriad static displays of historic vehicles, models and motor racing art, a kart track and other periphery.

Admission will be free, though the organisers hope to recover their costs through the sale of specially struck brass plaques, available at £5 to entrants in the Speed Trials and £8.50 to the general public. Motor Sport will be present on both days, and will have an interesting selection of ephemera on display, scheduled to include the EX 135 and EX 181 MG record breakers from the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, land speed record models from experts Fred Harris and Rod Holland, prints and paintings by renowned artist Arthur Benjamins and the steam rocket-powered Rickman Metisse with which Malcolm Pittwood hopes to break the quarter mile acceleration record.

Mrs Goldie Gardner, widow of the famous MG record breaker and racer, is due to open this historic event, and parties interested in participating can contact the Bexhill 100 organisers on 0424-730564. Why not come along and see us?