Hawk­stone leg­ends

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.

Classic Dirtbike - - Contents -

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.

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