Before the formation of the National Street Rod Association in 1972 there was a band of people who loved to drag race, but also built and drove street rods. The association grew out of the National Drag Racing Club [NDRC] Roadster Register thanks to NDRC chairman and BDRHoF member Alan Wigmore who, way back in 1971, invited brothers Chris & Pat Church to form the Register. Previously, the brothers had drag briefly raced a Ford Popular called ‘Gold Rush’ at Santa Pod.
Seeing the need for a more specific club for hot rodders, rather than being a part of a Drag Racing club, the Roadster Register gave way in late 1971 by the formation of the National Street Rod Association in February 1972 after its inaugural meeting at the Wheatsheaf Pub, Surrey.
By then Chris Church (who had been given the distinction of being member No.1 status) had already built a Chevrolet powered Jago Model T bucket ‘ROD 5’ and Mickey Bray, creator of the legendary ‘Pinball Wizard’ Ford Pop was member No.2. Although the first proper rod run organised by the Southern Roadsters and the NSRA (a run from Oxford to Beaulieu Abbey) was in 1972, the association’s first national event was their inaugural ‘Fun Run’ in 1973 to Northants Billing Aquadrome. By 1975, and with a rising membership of some 500 members, the NSRA had well and truly established itself in the UK.
With the association’s link to Drag Racing lying dormant for years, four self-conscious Midlands based enthusiasts; Mark Fullard, Martyn Payne, Steve Tristrim and Alan Martin, had the bright idea for a Rod Run to be held at a drag strip. Not just any drag strip though, it had to be their local drag strip. In part, due to an introduction by BDRHoF member John Wright, a meeting was arranged with Anthony Hodges, owner of the then Long Marston drag strip. Thankfully, he liked the idea.
Keen to hit the ground running, in 1988, the four approached the current committee of the NSRA to ask if the club would like to be associated with the proposed event. By a strange twist of fate, one of the committee that attended that first meeting at Santa Pod in 1966 happened to be Malcolm Beakhurst, one of the original partners in the ill-fated Jaguar powered Fordson race van ‘Alleycat’ in the early seventies.
So, it was, that in 1989, the now renamed ‘Avon Park Raceway’ was host to the first annual original Hot Rod Drags, the NSRA returning to its drag racing roots after seventeen years, along with gaining a second national event to add to its calendar. Five years later, and due to its popularity and support by hot rodders and racers alike, the NSRA added the Nostalgia Nationals to its growing list of associated events. Although the original track, once again renamed as Shakespeare County Raceway, sadly no longer exists, both events found a new home at Santa Pod Raceway, with the NSRA still taking an active role as well as playing their part in certain elements of Dragstalgia.
After fifty years and coming full circle, the NSRA are honoured by being inducted into The British Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
Profile By Alan Martin