Peter Bartlett’s part in British Drag Racing History goes back to the very beginings when he was a member of the “Highwaymen Hot Rod Club” along with Allan Herridge and joined the British Hot Rod Association when it was formed in 1960. At the BHRA’s first get together in 1962 he turned up in his customised ’47 Plymouth coupe complete with pin stripped dash and record player. The BHRA formed it’s first Committee at the end of 1962 which included Peter Bartlett as Treasurer.
1963 saw Peter helping out Allan Herridge and his Buick Dragster at sprint meetings and he enter his TR2 at the Church Lawford Quarter Mile Drag Sprint and ran several 19 second ETs. The following year he got himself every hot rodders dream machine a ’57 Chevy and entered it at the first British Drag Race on 17th May 1964 the BHRA Big Go at Duxford but he still couldn’t run quicker than 19 seconds. Later that year he mounted a huge piece of wood on the front of his Chevy as it was used to push start the American Dragsters at the International Drag Festivals and it was christened the “Shovin’ Chevy”. Peter soon learnt to wind up the windows and close the air vents after nearly passing out on Nitro fumes when the first AA/Fuel Dragster fired up in front of him. Once the Dragsters had left the line he had to carefully pick his way through the dense white tyre smoke using the two lines of rubber to guide him up the strip and then push them back to the pits.
Peter’s wizardry with electric circuits was put to good use when he designed and built the timing equipment and scaled-down christmas tree for the BHRA Model Section’s extremely popular Slot Car Drags held at the Sports and Social Club hall of Philips Croydon.
Peter remained Treasurer of the BHRA and when it became the British Drag Racing & Hot Rod Association in 1967 he continued as Treasurer and was joined by his wife Erica in 1970 when the BDR&HRA lost it’s office in Whitehorse Lane and Erica volunteered to deal with enrolment of members and renewals, distribution of the club magazine and all general enquiries from their house in Stoke Poges. Erica remained as General Secretary and Peter as Treasurer until their retirement at the end of the 1980 season and they were both deservedly presented with awards including a tray and hostess trolly for their service to the club at the BDR&HRA’s annual Champion’s Trophy Night.
Regrettably Erica passed away from cancer in May 2014, less than a year later Peter also succumbed to illness in April 2015. Drag Racing has lost two of its greatest unsung heroes.