Motorcycle club set to celebrate 75 years of first Kirkcaldy Grand Prix
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Kirkcaldy and District Motor Club will mark the anniversary of the Kirkcaldy Grand Prix on August 13 when enthusiasts from across the country will come together at the park, where the original race took place.
The 1948 Kirkcaldy Grand Prix was not just a first for the town, but also for Scotland. The event was the first road race for motorcycles in the country – the park went on to host many thrilling events across several decades..
Jake Drummond is one of the event’s organisers. He said the event was well-regarded from the off and drew in competitors from the peak of motorsport.
He explained: “The event was supported by quite a lot of famous riders of their day. Jack Blyth, whose family had a mill in Kirkcaldy, actually raced at it. He had been a pre-war Manx Grand Prix competitor and our team won the Manx Grand Prix team award twice in the 1930s”.
Riders and spectators came from all over the country to attend the races, and in the 1960s many made it a two day race weekend by visiting 'The Park' on Saturday and racing at Gask in Perthshire on the Sunday.
And not all the famous faces were on the track. The event was prestigious enough for the BBC to send one of its top commentators to report back on it.
Jake added: “The commentator at the event was Graham Walker, father of Murray Walker the Formula 1 commentator. He commentated on the event for BBC radio”.
The club also held car races at Beveridge Park in the early 1950s with a few drivers who made careers in international Formula One racing. Karts also raced around the park, and again some of the names in the programme went on to find success in the top ranks of Motorsport.
The Grand Prix did much to attract the interest of locals during a time when money was often tight in the post-war years. An estimated 7000 people attended the inaugural race, in comparison to the 1000 or so that regularly attended football matches.
Later events would be filmed, however the majority of his footage has now been lost. Luckily, the club archives contain moving images from the early events, captured on 9.5mm film by the Kirkcaldy Photographic Society and Dr. JL Swanston.
In recent weeks, the club held its annual exhibition. A significant piece from the 1948 Grand Prix returned to the town for the event.
Jake said: “We actually had a trophy from a lad called Charlie Wright who won the very first race and got the very first trophy for the very first race at the very first location in Scotland. It was unique to get that trophy. It was brought down by his nephew, who had two bikes in the show and walked away with two prizes”.
The event ran for 40 years before ending in 1988 following safety concerns. However, the event did much to put Kirkcaldy on the motorsport map in the post-war years.
Kirkcaldy and District Motor Club will celebrate the event at Beveridge Park on 13 August at 12.00pm