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How It All Started

Some years before the Second World War (1939-45), Jack Claxton (Hon Secretary of the Scarborough and District Motor Club) had put forward the proposal to the Scarborough Corporation for a ten-mile racing circuit wide enough for cars as well as motor cycles, based on the famous German Nurburgring. If this scheme had come off it would have resulted in the finest road racing track in the country, but was rejected when it was found that it would cost about £100,000 to carry the plan through.

The return of peace in 1945 brought no instant economic recovery to Britain, amid drab austerity rationing of commodities including petrol continued. Though motor sport was discouraged, racing motorcycles returned to the Isle of Man in 1946 for the Manx Grand Prix, the first races to be held since the Senior TT of 1939. The Manx Grand Prix of that fateful year had been cancelled with the outbreak of the Second World War and the ACU had not had time to set up the organisation for a 1946 TT.

However the Manx authorities had guaranteed a source of petrol for 1946, albeit unbranded ‘Pool’ fuel of about 70 octane which was more akin to top grade heating oil than racing fuel and drastically reduced compression ratios from pre-war levels, when 85 octane petrol-benzole fuel was available. Pool petrol was also obligatory at the TT, from the first post-war races in 1947 until 1949. New machines were scarce as gold as the factories strove to switch from the production of military equipment to peace-time goods and the demand for any sort of transport was so great that few had time even to think about racing, let alone design and produce new bikes.

To mark the return of peace Scarborough Corporation planned a ‘Welcome Home’ week providing a full programme of various entertaining events to extend the hand of welcome and thanks to returning servicemen. The Yorkshire Centre of the A.C.U. and Scarborough and District Motor Club were also contacted to see if they could play host to a motor sport event. The Scarborough Corporation was prepared to make definite moves and agreed to surface the tracks on Oliver’s Mount which where necessary links in the existing road network, provided that the organizing experience of the Yorkshire Centre of the ACU could be enlisted and so the Oliver’s Mount races were born.

Only a little over a month prior to the race meeting, the long fast bottom straight was nothing more than a grass road giving access to a farm, while Quarry Hill had the loose stony surface of a moor land secondary road. In less than six weeks the entire 2 ½ mile circuit was tar macadam, into which a splendid non-skid gravel top dressing had been rolled. Two footbridges were built of steel scaffolding so that spectators could circulate to various parts of the course and about five miles of telephone and loud speaker wiring was laid, the entire circuit being constructed at a cost of less than one thousand pounds !

When officials of the Yorkshire Auto Cycle Union inspected the track on Friday, 2nd August 1946, they were agreeably surprised with the progress that had been made and expressed the view that the track would probably be faster than first expected. The party consisted of Mr E. Flintoft, president of the Yorkshire A.C.U., Mr J.E. Whittaker, secretary; Mr Allan Jefferies, a well-known motor cycle rider (father of future Gold Cup winners Tony and Nick) and Mr Eric Langton a TT-rider. They were accompanied round the track by Mr Jack Claxton, secretary of the Scarborough Motor Club who was looking after the local arrangements and Mr H.V. Overfield, the Borough Engineer.

Allan Jefferies had a 350cc motor cycle with him and he carried out his own test by riding at speed over some of the trickier parts of the course. Though this machine was an ordinary touring model fully equipped, he reached a speed of 75mph. Jefferies said: “He would not be surprised if some of the ‘trombone boys’ (as the riders of the most powerful machines were known) would reach speeds of 100mph on some stretches.” He estimated that the winners would average 60mph over the complete course.

Jefferies, who would be competing at the very first meeting also commented: “That much of the track was perfect,” as most of the resurfacing work on the circuit had been completed, although a good deal of work would have to be done right up to the day when the racing commenced. Roadmen would need to go right over the course with brushes to sweep off any loose pebbles - “goggle smashers” as the racers called them.

The opening of the Oliver’s Mount circuit generated a great deal of enthusiasm in motor cycling circles, where the lack of a really attractive road track had been causing some concern. The only other attractive track in use in England at that time was Louth (better known today as Cadwell Park), which was much shorter than the 2.5 mile circuit on Oliver’s Mount, with its three hairpin bends and the famous Donington circuit remaining in War Office hands for the foreseeable future.

After the first meeting prizes were distributed by the Mayor of Scar­borough at the town’s Olympia Ballroom. The Mayor said he was glad to help in such a fine sport and was glad that Scarborough had been able to provide the opportunity. Winning riders Denis Parkinson and Syd Barnett ex­pressed appreciation of the efforts of the Yorkshire Centre organization, of Scar­borough's welcome and of the work put in on the roads. Over twelve thousand spectators attended that very first meeting and quoted in ‘The Motor Cycle’ magazine was the phrase: “It could well be said that Scarborough has started something" – sixty years and over 150 meetings later, little did they know how right they were!

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