Preston Park

Photo:Famous cyclists: click on image to open a large image in a new window

Famous cyclists: click on image to open a large image in a new window

From the private collection of Mick Deacon

Cycle racing in the 1960s

By Philip Burnard

Enthusiastic spectators

On summer nights in the 1960s, there were race meetings at the Preston Park cycle track; they attracted quite a crowd. Lots of local cycling clubs and also some from outside of Brighton were involved. It was a cheap night out for the enthusiastic spectators. Some years before, the race meetings had attracted the racing star and world champion, Reg Harris. 

A race to remember

One evening, quite a lot of us were taking part in a junior race. All was going well until we reached the final, 'banked' corner, sprinting towards the finishing line. Suddenly, the two boys in front of me touched wheels and I went into the back of them. It all made for an awful crash. One boy had his front teeth knocked out and the other two of us had dreadful skin damage and later, heavy bruising. I can remember sliding along the track, tearing skin and my yellow, Brighton Velo jersey. I remember being very upset about the top. 

Wounds treated in hospital

The three of us were taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital and had grit taken out of our wounds. Those wounds were then dressed, I still have the scars. A nurse said to me, 'so you were in a race on a dirt track?'  I said, 'no, it is a proper racing track.'  I suspect my pedantry was lost on her but it was important to me. I was off school for a bit as my dressings had to be changed regularly and I found moving around difficult and painful. 

No more Preston Park racing

Once most of the damage was healed, I went back to the track and climbed on my bike. I started to shake and was unable to ride. Fortunately, I had no problems with road riding and racing. But I never went back to Preston Park track

 

 

This page was added on 07/06/2017.
Comments about this page

I also raced on Preston Park track, it was in the mid 50s, I was a Brighton Excelsior member. I fell down on the back straight after touching a back wheel as the bunch started to speed up, I was boxed in on all sides. I was the only one to go down, suffering from graded skin on my arms only. I was back on my bike the following race night. I was led to believe in those days that Reg Harris did race once at Preston Park, the first cycle track in the country, but never again apparently, he didn't like it at all.

By Vic Bath (14/07/2017)

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