Special tribute paid to motorbike racing greats at Fife memorial event

A special tribute was paid to motorbike racing greats and stars of the sport through the decades at a ceremony in a Fife park at the weekend.

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 3:09 pm

The Jock Taylor monument was erected in Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy in memory of the Kirkcaldy and District Motor Club member from Pencaitland in East Lothian, who became a famous world sidecar champion.

The tribute piece also features the names of the sporting stars who ran events which made the club one of the country’s most popular.

On Sunday, a new memorial plaque was unveiled and it includes the names of those who died while competing in the sport they loved.

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The wooden sculpture commemorating the 40 years of road racing around the park. Pic: Kirkcaldy & District Motor Club.

They include Jimmy Blair, who was the first rider who died in an incident in Beveridge Park in 1953, Matt Redmond, Angus Callum, Davy Drummond and Brian McAnelly.

Jake Drummond, secretary of Kirkcaldy & District Motor Club, said: “The last fatal accident was in 1973. Improvements in motorcycle handling, tyres and machine inspection added to stricter safety requirements and this was responsible for keeping competitors and spectators safe - the last 15 years of racing were probably the safest.”

A new memorial plaque was unveiled and it includes the names of those who died while competing in the sport they loved.

Family members of the racers were among those who joined the weekend commemoration.

Jake said: “Jimmy Blair's nephew Bill and Matthew Redmond's brother Irvin were there with their wives and they were pleased to see that their loved ones were remembered in this way.”

For 40 years, the country’s greatest talents competed against each other around the park, with racing continuing at the town beauty spot right into the late 1980s.

Kirkcaldy and District Motor Club organised races from the 1930s with successful Scottish championship sand racing events.

A memorial event was held on Sunday in Beveridge Park. Pic: Kirkcaldy and District Motor Club.

These were a spectacular sight in their heyday with over 10,000 people flocking to the town prom to watch the racing stars of the day which included regular competitor Jimmie Guthrie and JK Swanston, Jack Blyth and Tommy McEwan from Kirkcaldy.

Scotland’s first road race for motorcycles was held in Beveridge Park in 1948 and it was called the Kirkcaldy Grand Prix.

Initially it had been intended to be a one-off event, but after realising the benefits the races brought to the town, the club was given permission to keep the races going every year.

Competitors from far and wide raced around the park’s 1.375 mile circuit.

Jake Drummond pictured with other members of Kirkcaldy and District Motor Club in 2016 with their archive publications at the memorial in Beveridge Park Kirkcaldy.

Jake said it is important the efforts of those club members should be remembered and that future generations should know why their names feature on the memorial.

He said: “Those named were competitors and working members of our club who helped run events, from our early 1930's races on the Promenade sands, trials and scrambles, road racing at the Park up until 1988 and at Knockhill until 2010.

"The memorial itself was erected in 1984 at the Railway Dip in the park, in memory of Jock Taylor, but a recent addition is a wooden sculpture commemorating the 40 years of road racing around the park.”

He added that the club had hoped to wait until its centenary year in 2022 before holding the memorial event. But after a few of the older members passed away recently and with Covid restrictions easing, club members felt now was the right time to host the special tribute.

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Bill and Irene Blair at the sculpture. Pic: Kirkcaldy and District Motor Club