The Huxley Family

Lest anyone doubt that Drag Racing is a family sport, the example of the Huxley family is a clear riposte to such a thought. Father of the clan Brian Huxley has enthused over all things American automotive from an early age and his continuing thirst for speed has spilled over to his three sons. Lee, Darren and Marc compete in three motorsport disciplines: drag racing, drifting and gymkhana.

Brian was a car enthusiast from an early age. Inspired by the ‘pin-ups’ he had seen in Hot Rod magazine while working as a paperboy, he converted his first car, a 1948 Austin 16, into a hot rod. There followed a pair of big ‘Yanks’, a 1937 Buick Straight-8 and a 1939 Oldsmobile, as well as several British classics.With the infancy of UK hot rodding in mind, Brian’s first foray into competitive motorsport was Jalopy Racing (Grass Track Racing) as it was known in the swinging ‘70s. Racing in home-built cars (bangers) with scaffold poles for roll cages, Brian built more than one race-winning Jalopy around the favoured Ford 100E saloon and van.

He also put together a Mini and had a few outings in what were classed as single-seater, rear-engine specials.

After 10 years successfully competing on grass, in 1979 Brian moved into the sophisticated world of drag racing at the wheel of a self-prepared, Street-driven ’69 Ford Mustang Fastback called CanDo. At a cost of just £300, Brian successfully removed all ripples and dents as, earlier in its life, the vehicle had been backed into a 12-foot-long RSJ and forwards into several parked cars.

The Mustang received various upgrades as well as a pair of slicks, and ran flawlessly for several seasons at Long Marston, carrying Brian to the 1982 NDRC Street Car Championship.

Next up from this 14-second Street class winner was a 1974 SR Toyota Corolla Coupe powered by a 289ci Ford. While bracket-racing Fords and other brands, Brian eventually chased his way into the low 12s. In the mid-1980s, the Corolla was given an uprated 302ci Ford with several hefty punches of nitrous for multi-class racing which led to high 10s appearing on its timing tickets. 1988 was the best year by far for this car, winning 12 races, the annual Street Racer Championship at York and yet another overall NDRC Street Car Championship. 

Brian even managed to go three rounds at Santa Pod’s original Doorslammers race where the Toyota ran its best-ever numbers, 10.55sec/128mph.

Around the same time, Brian imported from Floridian John Mustakas a Mitsubishi Colt Sapporo [1984 Dodge Challenger] for 9.90 Super Gas racing with a nitrous big-block 460ci Ford for company.

When Brian bought the car, he agreed with John that he would race it for a year in John’s colours before the familiar Japanese CanDocolours reappeared in 1990/91, along with a best of 9.81sec at 136mph. 

As a matter of interest, the CanDo name originates from a USAF project in 1965 to set a record for the fastest Atlantic Ocean crossing between the USA and England by four jet fighters.

Although the Colt was good, Brian had convinced eldest son Lee to race his part-finished, street ‘n’ strip 1932 Model B Roadster in a shared father-son partnership rotating between 10.90 Super Street and Pro ET classes. Top Banana – The Roadster carried Brian and Lee to the top of the Sportsman tree in 1999 by taking the triple crown of British drag racing, the prestigious National Championship and both Santa Pod and Avon Park track championships.  

By 2003 Marc had begun racing a MK1 Escort Mexico in Sportsman ET, followed by a Toyota Celica gt4. Then the sideways, smoky world of drifting came calling, with Darren, the fourth member of the Huxley dynasty, competing in the Drift Cup and Gymkhana Grid series in a modified Nissan 180sx. With a shelf full of eliminator trophies to its credit, the Roadster was sold in 2009 to make way for the ex-Tim Hines Pro Mod Ford Sierra, renamed Top Banana Too.Around the same time, Lee and Brian (with help from Marc and his Huxley Motorsports business) began building the family’s most successful car to date, an all-glass-fibre, tube-chassised ’68 Ford Mustang Fastback. 

Known countrywide as Dark Horse, the Mustang has carried Brian and Lee to countless SPRC and APIRA multi-class wins and championships. In that period Brian also became a prime mover in the successful running of Shakespeare County’s ET Bracket Gamblers series and the yearly Super Gamblers race. With a thriving chassis and fabrication business earning the Huxleys further exposure in today’s drag racing, drifting and general motorsports community, they followed up with a fitting tribute to their past endeavours, the construction of CanDo II Reborn, a modern version of Brian’s original Toyota Corolla.

Completed by son Marc in 2021, the car made its public video and photographic debut at the place where it had all begun some 40 years earlier, Long Marston aka Shakespeare County Raceway. Armed with a full race-spec Ford 347, the Corolla has been the car to beat in Pro ET and at the prestigious Doorslammers event at Santa Pod. Brian remains very active racing in the SPRC Sportsman division with a V8 Ford Focus powered by what else but a 302ci Ford while son Darren competes in the same class with his Nissan 180ZX.  The Ford marque has played a leading role in all the family’s drag racing exploits and Brian’s hero in life was the late, great NHRA Pro Stock Ford legend Bob Glidden, with whom Brian was privileged to discuss all manner of things Ford-related during his many visits to the Gatornationals.

2024 Huxley Motorsport

It is for their innovative engineering and unwavering dedication to success in the sport over so many years that the Huxley Family – Brian, Lee, Darren and Marc – are inducted into Membership of the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame.

Profile By Jerry Cookson