Bexhill-on-Sea became known as the “Birthplace of British Motor Racing” because of an event that took place in May, 1902.
It was an idea of the 8th Earl that was to secure the town’s place in history – the idea being to bring together, in Bexhill-on-Sea, as many of the latest designs of automobiles manufactured in Europe and, by pitting them against each other in a series of speed trials, to give motor designers and manufacturers the opportunity to learn and improve their future designs.
Bexhill-on-Sea, by hosting this event, something no one had done before, gained immensely in its efforts to promote the town as a fashionable new resort; it, also, gained financially because of the number of visitors who turned up to watch – hotels and boarding houses were full for days, before and after.
Details of the course were given – a specially prepared track extending from Galley Hill to the Kursaal Gates.
In order to allow the vehicles to reach a good speed, before entering the last “flying kilometre”, it was found necessary that the cars should start some distance back, on the public road. This, however, would have raised many objections from all sources so it was decided that the cycle track should be extended to the top of Galley Hill and the start should be from there. This, by running down the hill, would allow the cars to get up to a reasonable speed before entering onto the final, flat kilometre.
A great deal of interest was concentrated on the French driver, Monsieur Serpollet and his car (known as “The Easter Egg” because of its shape)– he promised to do his best to bring over, for the meeting, the steam car on which he covered the kilometre at Nice at the rate of 75 mph.
In fact, he won the race and beat his own previous speed record.