Crystal Palace claims first car race
A claim that Britain’s very first motor race was held in Glasgow in September 1901, which I quoted as a possibility in Motor Sport in the February issue, has been demolished by Malcolm Jeal. I respect him as a very accurate researcher and historian in automotive matters, and he is also a painstaking member of the VVC Ltd Dating Committee.
Jeal overrides the Glasgow claim, which he tells me is published on a website, whatever that is. He tells me of a number of earlier races for motorcycles and tri-cars, the first being held in 1897 after the Motor Car Club’s celebration of the Emancipation Run from London to Brighton the previous year. This, of course, has been relived since 1927 as the famous London to Brighton Run for pre-1905 cars.
The 1897 event was a journey from London to Sheen House in Richmond and back. At Sheen House motorcycle races were held on the cycle track. There was also a motor-tricycle race, won by FT Bidlake. He helped his mount’s engine with furious pedalling, enough to pass Charles Jarrott and win by about 50 yards, covering the one-mile final in 3min 6.8sec. However, this was scarcely a motor car race. Similar races took place on various other cycle tracks, such as those at the Crystal Palace and Catford, etc.
Jeal admits that tricycles are not cars but challenges Glasgow’s claim to holding the first car races by quoting the English MC’s event at the Crystal Palace on April 8, 1901, when Jarrott’s 8hp Panhard won a mile handicap race from] Lawson’s 5hp Panhard, with F Wellington’s 8hp Mors third. That was six months before the Scottish meeting and two years before Bexhill. The winner’s time was 2min 16.6sec, and some 20,000 people attended this Bank Holiday event.
Having had the concept of a website explained to me, l am reminded that with the advent of radio and then TV, Professor A M Low, a motor writer and Brooklands official, etc, predicted that the human race would eventually lose its legs through remaining indoors all the time listening to these attractions. He further envisaged food being taken in tablet form to avoid the distraction of cooking. Be warned!