Hawkstone Park, it’s as synonymous with the 500cc British MX GP as The Mountain is to the TT and the Scottish Highlands with the SSDT.
Is there a more legendary place for MX than Hawkstone Park in Shropshire? We say no there’s not... and John Mccrink went along to Hawkstone Legends for us.
Never the easiest circuit to get to, the narrow roads allied to huge crowds attracted to Hawkstone Park MX events in the 1950s often made for a frustrating journey to the Shropshire circuit. But once there... oh was it worth the trek! Even these days it can be a long haul to the beautiful grounds near Market Drayton, which is why many tend to camp at the circuit. The British MX GP had been based at the easily accessible Brands Hatch circuit in Kent, with its proximity to London and potentially bigger crowds. Eyebrows were raised when governing body the Auto-cycle Union settled on Hawkstone as the venue for 1954’s GP. The doomsayers claimed hardly anyone would go, adding that if anyone did they’d have a nightmare journey and so they predicted a return to Brands Hatch… But ticket sales rocketed. The print run of 33,000 was reached and still more wanted to attend, so many that in the end it was reckoned more than 35,000 people travelled to the circuit. All records broken! They went expecting to be entertained and so they were, as the best riders at that time battled their way around the mile-anda-half track with its power sapping sand and Hawkstone Hill. On that fateful day in 1954 it was England’s Phil Nex who would turn out the winner after a close race with FN mounted August Mingels of Belgium, AJS man Geoff Ward and BSA’S Brian Stonebridge who all hit troubles. This set the seal for 10 years of top MX racing at the circuit until the mid 1960s when the GP moved on for a few years until Hawkstone once again hosted the elite of MX.
The circuit hasn’t just been for the fast lads though, as the British Experts trial was held there in 1981 and crowds saw the cream of the feet-up brigade tackle the terrain.
By the 1980s there was much less crossover between disciplines, unlike the early days when the works team men would complete in all aspects of off-road sport.
So... sit back, sip your coffee and enjoy our dip in the Hawkstone archive, then on the following pages read all about last year’s Hawkstone Legends event. You may even be inspired to atend the 2018 version.
Gordon Blakeway at speed on his factory 500 Triumph. A talented all rounder, he was quite capable of winning a trial, a scramble or an ISDT Gold Medal.
Almost the end of an era – Bill Nilsson in action on his ESO, but the lightweights were taking over.
Matchless man Dave Curtis in action in the 1959 MX GP.
Vic Eastwood went lightweight, forsaking his mighty Matchless for a Beezer.