The Gatwick Speed Trials 1931 – 1939

6th March 2019

The author of this book, Bill Haylor, who worked at Gatwick during WWII has carefully recorded the history of the motorcycle speed trials held over the timed quarter mile at The Gatwick Horse Racing Course on land owned by John de Gatwick before WWII changed the nature of the site for ever.

Bill considered the history and success of these popular competitions organised by the Sunbeam MCC should be recorded lest they be lost or forgotten.

The twice yearly speed trials (sprints) over the 1931 – 39 period attracted large entries including Brooklands’ habitués Eric and Noel Pope, Eric Fernihough, Francis Beart, Basil Keys, Jack Surtees, Ben Bickell ………… etc riding their famous dope fuelled track bikes, often with superchargers.

After WWII Gatwick was no longer available and the SMCC moved their sprinting activities to Ramsgate and later other venues.

This book is for all those interested in the nostalgic history of motorcycle sport, the famous riders of long ago and their huge efforts to shave vital fractions of a second off their best time. Period photos along with extracts from The Motor Cycle and Motor Cycling build an atmosphere of the times, rivalries and fun enjoyed by riders, pits crews, officials and spectators.

Copies of The Gatwick Speed Trials 1931 – 1939 are available from: Baz Staple, 18 Chieveley Drive, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 5HQ, 01892 535671, <> at £19 – 40 plus p & p (£4 UK, £8 – 50 EU. Please make cheques payable to The Sunbeam MCC Ltd. This is a limited edition book with just 30 copies left.

The Gatwick Speed Trials 1931 – 39