MALLORY PARK

The Racing Circuit and how it began

The "Mallory Park Circuit" is sited in the grounds of a 200 acre ancient estate once owned by the Noel family .

The track itself, lies within a natural basin making it an ideal viewing venue .Construction work first began in the late 1940`s under the auspices of the "Pony Turf Club.

The "Kirkby Mallory Racing Association" as it was then known, encompassed two other racing circuits being, the Shirley Race Course near Solihull Birmingham, now the site of the Golf Club and Colwall Park race course in Worcestershire.

 

           The aim at Kirkby was to create a "Pony Trotting" track. The engineering required was quite substantial with woodland to clear and a large area of marsh land to drain and level. Eventually a 1660 yd oval grass track was constructed. The Judges Box had been erected and the starting gates put in position, but all was not well. In 1939 Shirley Race Course closed due to lack of funds. I remember Dad being sent ( he was working at Mallory Park at the time) to Shirley to bring back a Fordson Tractor. Money being tight meant that a "low loader" was not an option. He had to catch an early train to get there, then drive the tractor back to Kirkby Mallory.

        However the problem of finance remained and within months with no prior warning the parent company, the "Kirkby Mallory Racing Association"along other associated companies ceased trading. So it was, after several years of hard work that the project to stage Pony Trotting events at Kirkby Mallory had to be abandoned.

       During the winding up process children in the village were given a series of badges as mementos, as shown below. They came in small cardboard boxes labelled "Gentlemen's badges, Not transferable" and all dated 1949

    

 SHIRLEY PARK RACE CLUB

 MALLORY PARK RACE CLUB

 SHIRLEY PARK MALLORY PARK

 COLWALL PARK MALLORY PARK SHIRLEY PARK

Many thanks to Mr. Derrick Perridge for the above contribution

          However the story does not end there, The Leicester Query Club then entered into negotiation with the Liquidators with the object of staging motorcycle scrambling events . This proved quite successful and continued for several years, the highlights of which were the holding of the National Grass Track Racing Championships, the first being held September 1951.
        
         In 1955 the estate came into the possession of Mr. Clive Wormleighton, a prosperous local builder . Work began at once to completely redesign the circuit. The first major project was to construct a hard road racing surface in place of the existing turf. The second, was to extend the track by adding an hair pin bend at the Northerly end of the circuit . The track now measured 1.35 miles and was ready for opening on the 25th of April 1956, a lap of honour being performed by the motor racing ace Bob Gerrard . The official opening before a crowd of 20,000 was a month later on the 13th of May, when 248 riders put on a display of motor cycle racing with George Salt setting up the highest lapping speed of 84.08 mph on a Norton. From then on Mallory Park was to stage a mix of car and motorcycle racing events . Memorable meetings to follow were, Bob McIntyre`s win in the first "Race of the Year"competition in 1959 and in the following year Mike Hailwood, setting up a new lap record of 89 mph to win the second prestigious "Race of the Year "event .
      
      Further facilities were to follow, a new clubhouse was built on the site of the old hall . The brook that meandered inside the oval track was dammed with a sluice gate at its exit point on the South side which was then used to control the level of the newly formed lakes . Unfortunately all these projects were not achieved without an environmental price being paid. Ancient Wooded areas, tracts of rhododendrons and formal gardens were all to be cleared to make way for this expansion.
            In 1962 Clive Wormleighton sold Mallory Park to Grovewood Securities, a leisure company which already owned Olton Park, Snetterton and the Brans Hatch racing circuits. Under their expertise Mallory Park Circuit Ltd. continued to prosper attracting crowds of up to 50,000 for the more popular events like the post TT International Motor Cycle meetings, when in 1962 Mike Hailwood clocked up the winning speed of 91.70 mph . In1964 the Daily Mail sponsored both the "Race of the Year "and the "Sidecar Race of the Year" racing spectaculars . Mallory Park was now firmly established as the leading motor cycle circuit of the midlands.
            Other attractions were to be introduced, the Derby Speedboat club held regular events on the large lake, the British Racing Sports Car Club regularly organized race meetings, and for diversity there were the"Radio 1 Fun Days". In 1970 the Mallory Park circuit was incorporated into the World Cycling Championship route, which formed part of a round trip that took in several local villages . The main indoor events being held at the Saffron Lane Sports Stadium in Leicester.
                But being limited to only 30 meetings a year and with attendance now steadily falling, Mallory Park , on the 31st. of October 1982 gave notice that it was due to close.The prospect for any future racing looked bleak . Then in February 1983, Titan Properties Ltd. a Leeds based company agreed to buy the estate from Grovewood Securities, so ensuring the continuation of motor sport at Kirkby Mallory.

 

 Programms of a bygone era

 

  MALLORY   PARK     Looking south with "Kirkby Straight " in the foreground, clearly showing the newly formed lake in the centre of the circuit . Picture taken 1966.

 

Sources for this page- Mallory Park Souvenir Book of Motor Cycle Racing
By Peter Arnold.

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