Member:  John Bennett

Inducted:  2009

We are very sad to announce the passing of British Drag Racing pioneer and Santa Pod Raceway founder  John Bennett  at the age of 92. John had been in hospital for about a month, suffering from pancreatic cancer but too weak for an operation to alleviate some of the symptoms. He was visited by, including others, his son John Jr and Maurice Takoor, but sadly passed away peacefully on 18th January.

John Bennett joined the first committee of the British Hot Rod Association in 1962 and as Chairman organised the first British Custom Car show at his Spa Engineering workshops in South Norwood in Easter 1963. He was involved in early drag races in the UK with his Pontiac Chieftan usually raced by his soon-to-be wife Ann Palmer. At the 1965 BHRA AGM he made the historic announcement that five members including himself had been able to obtain a ninety-acre site in Bedfordshire suitable for a permanent drag strip.

John had formed a company known as National Dragways to develop the site which in 1966 was to become Santa Pod Raceway. Also, in 1966 he took over Drag Racing Magazine, incorporated the BHRA club magazine Kool Kams into it and renamed it Drag Racing and Hot Rod Magazine. In 1969 after seven years as Chairman, John decided it was time to step down from the renamed British Drag Racing & Hot Rod Association committee.

In 2020 published an interview with John which you can see at “ We send our deepest condolences to his wife Amy, son John and daughter Suzanne, John’s other family and friends.

Courtesy Simon Groves for