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Brighton Speed Trials, a Century-Old Racing Tradition, Comes to an End

Brighton and Hove Motor Club, organisers of the esteemed Brighton Speed Trials, have announced the discontinuation of the historic event. Citing the escalating costs of safety measures and consequent financial losses, the club has made the difficult decision to end an event that has been a staple of British motor racing since 1905.

The Brighton National Speed Trials, revered as the oldest running motor race, began on 19–22 July 1905. It was initiated by Sir Harry Preston, who persuaded Brighton town council to tarmac the road beside the beach between the Palace Pier and Black Rock. This stretch, renamed Madeira Drive in 1909, has been the event’s home, traditionally held on the second Saturday of September each year. In 1936, Motor Sport magazine lauded it as “undoubtedly the most important speed-trials on the British Calendar.”

The event has faced significant challenges in recent years, including the loss of Madeira Terrace as a viewing platform in 2016 and the discontinuation of motorbike trials in 2021. These challenges, coupled with the increasing costs of safety requirements, have led to the club’s decision, which was announced this afternoon.

In a heartfelt statement, the Brighton and Hove Motor Club reflected on the event’s storied history and its significance to motor sports enthusiasts. The Speed Trial, they noted, has been a beloved annual fixture, attracting both casual participants entering their cherished road cars and serious racers with high-powered vehicles. The event’s unique charm lay in its intimacy, allowing spectators to interact closely with the drivers and the vehicles.

Despite efforts and support from the Brighton & Hove Council, the evolving road layouts, closure of viewing terraces, and rising costs of ensuring safety and security have rendered the event financially unsustainable. The 2023 Speed Trials marked the last of these historic races.

Looking ahead, the Brighton and Hove Motor Club will remain active in the motor sports community, focusing on other events like sprints at Goodwood and a potential hill climb. However, the Speed Trials, a symbol of Brighton’s racing heritage, will not be part of their future endeavors.

In their closing remarks, the club expressed profound gratitude to all participants, Brighton & Hove Council, Motorsport UK, the marshals, volunteers, and everyone who contributed over the years. The statement ended with a note of thanks for the memorable experiences the Speed Trials provided, marking the end of an era in British motor racing history.

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