FOUNDING CHAIRMAN - STUART BRADBURY 1945-2020

Brian Taylor: An Obituary

We were saddened to hear of the passing of former Santa Pod Raceway announcer, writer, and British Drag Racing Hall of Fame director Brian Taylor on Sunday.

To fans in the 1970s, Brian was the Voice of Santa Pod. Brian’s career started in aviation technology until he switched to automotive marketing, working at John Woolfe Racing. He then expanded into journalism, writing and editing for automotive aftermarket trade journals. Jane Culley provided much of the research for these automotive products and marketed the published reports. He spoke at automotive conferences throughout Europe and in the USA.

Brian’s involvement in drag racing started as commentating at Santa Pod Raceway in the 1970s. He was a natural and expanded to hosting Custom Car Shows in the 1970s and carried out much TV and radio work on the sport, some of which you can see in one memorable This is Your Life programme, with Dave Lee Travis as the subject. He also made great strides in marketing of the UK sport, creating its first contingency scheme using the NHRA as a model.

Brian’s best-known written work is ‘Crazy Horses – the History of British Drag Racing’, published by Haynes Publishing, a comprehensively researched and authoritative account of the sport in this country. Brian became CEO of the Brithish Drag Racing Hall of Fame and helped develop this institution and its Annual Gala Awards event.

In his later years Brian led a group of enthusiasts that restored the Allard Chrysler, Europe’s first dragster as raced by Sydney Allard from 1961; and in typical fashion, Brian made a thorough job of it and the car became owned by, and on permanent display at, the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu. Brian wrote detailed blogs for Acceleration Archive and Eurodragster.com blog on the restoration, and was preparing a book on it, titled The Machine that Changed British Motorsport, which is with the publisher as we write. Although a novel co-written with Jane Culley, Fourteen Days in August, was published in 2022.

His Norwegian wife, Ragnhild, sadly passed away last November. They lived in Sidmouth, where Brian’s celebration of life will be held.

Courtesy Simon Groves for eurodragster.com

Fellow commentator & author Keith Lee also writes: Rest in Peace, Brian Taylor.

We had some fun times at the drags, commentating together in the 70s and early 80s.

You were never short of ideas – which you would always single-mindedly pursue to their conclusion. Somehow, you always managed to twist arms to garner support for your projects, which was impressive to watch.

On a personal level, you did nudge me towards Motor Cycle Weekly, and I enjoyed covering drag racing for them over many years. The contingency scheme was down to Brian’s efforts and was appreciated by the racers.

Never one to think small, he made his mark on drag racing in no small way, latterly with his book Crazy Horses, and the Allard restoration project.

Sleep well, as you are now back with Rani after a short break.