Monday 19th May 1902
British Motor Racing was born, in Bexhill-on-sea, when the 8th Earl De La Warr encouraged the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland to organise the ‘Great Whitsuntide Motor Races’. Having business interests in the tyre-making firm Dunlop had led the Earl to create a Bicycle Boulevard on the seafront in 1896, which stretched from the Sackville Hotel in the west to Galley Hill in the east. He turned this bicycle track into a one-kilometre motor racing course in 1902 as, being his own private land, it was exempt from the national speed limit of 12 miles per hour. The races helped bolster his attempts to put Bexhill on the same level as Monte Carlo as a seaside resort for the jet set, and was the first motor racing seen in this country. The 1902 races were won by French driver Leon Serpollent in his steam car Easter Egg, which reached a speed of 55 miles an hour (a replica can be seen at Bexhill Museum). The motoring events lasted until 1907, when the Brooklands motor racing circuit was opened in Surrey, coinciding with Bexhill residents finally getting fed up with the noise of the infernal contraption engine!