About the club
The British Motor Cycle Racing Club, known as BMCRC or "Bemsee", is the World's oldest motorcycle racing club and one of the Uk’s largest. Founded in 1909, it was originally based at the classic Brooklands circuit near Weybridge in Surrey and is now run virtually by the Club's two employees, CEO Mike Dommett and Race Secretary Tracey Ringrow.
This heritage is significant as the Club enjoys a position at the heart of two and three wheeled racing in the Uk, many stars past and present owed their development years to this Club.
The depth of our marshalling and officials community is also key as many past racers, their family members, friends and colleagues maintain an active involvement in assisting the Club on racedays and beyond.
The Current Club Structure
The Club is a mutual, this means it's owned by its Members - so if you are a Racing or Associate Member, then that's you!
The Club has upto 50 "Ordinary" Members who are able to attend the Clubs AGM (usually February of each year) and can vote on issues raised at that meeting. These people are invited to become Ordinary Members. Occasionally they may also meet at other times of the year if a particular issue requires attention. They are also responsible for overseeing the decisions made by the Board of Directors and are able to comment directly on the governance of the Club at any time. In fact, any Member can seek out a member of the Board if you have a particular issue that you feel needs addressing - the Directors list is top right on this page. The Club's management and governance is improved through all this feedback as well as Class-specific comments fed back via the Class Reps. Remember, the Club states that it is "run by Members for Members, by Racers for Racers". This fundamental approach is what makes it a Member's Club where comments are listened to, rather than just purely a commercial organisation.
The Club does have to run on sound commercial lines though, it's effectively a +£1m turnover business in a highly competitive market. It's also a very easy business in which to make losses.
Beyond the "Ordinary" Members is a Board of Directors, currently numbering 8, plus a non-voting President and an invitee to the Board, the Club's Accountant. The Board oversees the business plans and strategy for the Club put forward by the Chief Executive, they discuss and amend these plans during the closed-season prior to us executing the plan for the next Championship year. Ordinary Members are also invited to join the Board from time to time, they represent all aspects of the Club's operations on a raceday, Clerks, Marshals, Technical, Riders and they also bring a wealth of experience in business management from their own professional careers.
The Club chooses to employ just two full-time members of staff. These people also run the Race Office at each meeting. The CEO, Mike Dommett and the Race Secretary, Tracey Ringrow. Both have worked together as a team on behalf of the Club's Members for 15 seasons now. All the other people involved in the Club - The Board - The "Ordinary" Members - The Marshals & Officials are all volunteers and take no remuneration from the Club. They are all involved for the love of the Sport, often for the love of this Club.
Any surplus made from racing operations is re-invested back into the running of the Club. That could be equipment like recovery vans, radios or office equipment and in recent times, the development of the very website that you are looking at. In February 2015 a transactional part of the site launched to enable our riders to enter testdays and race meetings on-line.
So there's always a way to be involved in this Club, even if you've hung up your racing leathers. You'll be following in the footsteps of many other great people and a history that stretches back further than any motorcycle racing club in the World...
The Brooklands Connection - Where it all started
From April 1909 to the outbreak of the Second World War the British Motorcycle Racing Club enjoyed almost four decades of organising motorcycle racing events at Brooklands.
The British Motorcycle Racing Club was founded in March 1909 at Carlton House, Regent Street, London, which was the headquarters of the British Automobile Racing Club who operated the Brooklands racing track at Weybridge in Surrey. Within a month Bemsee had arranged the first ever motorcycle race meeting at Brooklands on 20th April of that year. There were two main races, both handicaps, and preliminary races to decide the handicap allowances.
The first was a two-lapper with a first prize of twenty shillings and the second a hill climb using the test hill with the competitors riding in pairs. Sidecar racing was introduced in 1912. Two motorcycle events were held on the track during the First World War, both organised by the British Motorcycle Racing Club, for men serving in the Armed Forces. One of these was the so called ‘All Khaki’ Meeting held on 7th August 1915.
The classic races of the twenties and thirties were the 200 mile solo and sidecar races, and the Hutchinson Hundred handicap race first held in 1925. From this year until hostilities began the winner of the Brooklands Hutchinson 100 handicap received the magnificent Mellano Trophy. This famous priceless award was valued at 250 guineas when it was presented to the British Motorcycle Racing Club by Mr A.V. Mellano of the Hutchinson Tyre Company in 1925 and to this very day is Bemsee’s most treasured award. Nowadays, the club’s oldest challenge cup is awarded to the Club’s Rider of the Year.
The desire for young riders to race the famous Brooklands Motor Course grew rapidly and the likes of ‘The Motorcycle’ magazine were organising meetings for motorcycle clubs who would divide their interest between road and track activities. But the mainstay of the programmes throughout the years Bemsee raced at Brooklands were the short distance and lightning handicaps held over three, five or ten laps of the outer circuit. During this time Bemsee and Brooklands were advancing with great haste on and off the track. As a variant of the outer track the mountain circuit was devised and later the Campbell circuit was created.
During the forthcoming years Bemsee was widening its scope and interests for the future. But an entirely new set of circumstances had to be faced when the club was reformed in 1947. Brooklands was not restored after the war but sold off instead and as a consequence left Bemsee without a home.
Brooklands, Bemsee and Brands - 100 years of action
The first official motorcycle race at the Brooklands Motor Course took place on 20th April 1908. It was a short affair, just two laps of the Outer Circuit, put in as something of a novelty in the Easter Monday car meeting. The race lasted about 12 minutes but it attracted an entry of 22 specially invited riders who competed for a chance to win 25 guineas (£26.25), a rich prize for those days.
On 25th March 1909, the new Test Hill opened at Brooklands and the first motorcyclist to ascend the Hill was George Reynolds. Reynolds was one of the founders of the British Motorcycle Racing Club because he and several other riders did not like the idea of having to wait for the Brooklands Automobile Club grudgingly to invite them to race on the track. As a result, they formed their own club, the BMCRC and soon set about organising their own meetings.
Bemsee introduces the "Hutchinson 100" at Brooklands
After the First World War, Bemsee organised 200 mile solo races at Brooklands. These were scratch races and the professional riders dominated them, which was not very satisfying for Club riders. So in 1925, Bemsee organised a 100 mile handicap race to give the amateurs a better chance of success. Mr A V Mellano of Hutchinson Tyres donated a huge cup valued at 250 guineas. So the famous names, “Hutchinson 100” and “Mellano Trophy” entered the BMCRC history.
The first race, limited to 50 starters was oversubscribed because the prize money was so generous.
The handicap system meant that the “limit man”, first away on the smallest machine, started nearly half an hour before the “scratch man”, making for a very lonely ride at the front for about a third of the race until the rest of the field began to catch up. That system gave Eric Fernihough a win in 1934 on a 173cc Excelsior-JAP, the smallest machine ever to win the Trophy under the original rules. His average speed was over 82mph. Think about that for a moment……….100 miles at 82 mph on a 173cc bike 80+ years ago………racing was certainly “improving the breed”!!
As the handicapping became more accurate, mid-sized bikes won more races and 350cc machines won half of the races held up to 1939. Only one rider came through to win from “scratch”, Len Bicknell on a 498cc Bicknell-JAP. Les Archer achieved an outstanding win in1933 by bringing home his 350cc KTT Velocette at an average speed of over 100mph, the first time a 350 had covered one hundred miles in an hour on a British Track.
Then, in 1939, in the words of 94 year old Brooklands Gold Star holder, Denis Loveday, “Some bloke called Hitler started a war and put a stop to all the fun”.
1947, "The Hutch" changes circuits
The Brooklands track never recovered from the War. Six years of weather damage and heavy vehicles had broken much of the surface and the availability of inexpensive circuits on former airfields meant that racing would never return to the Surrey speed bowl.
In 1948 and 1949, the Hutchinson 100 was staged at Dunholme Lodge Airfield in Lincolnshire. The interest in the 1948 event was such that three separate 100 mile races were held for 250cc, 350cc and 1000cc classes. With 100 entries for the 350cc class alone, the timekeepers were faced with an almost impossible task.
In 1949 the event moved to Silverstone. In 1950 the race was run in driving rain and a strong wind. Sidecar outfits competed directly against solos and Cyril Smith on his Norton outfit won the Trophy. The following year, the weather was perfect but the result was similar, Eric Oliver (Norton/Watsonian) took the honours with a sidecar.
1952 - A change of handicap
The Handicap system was altered in 1952. The Mellano Trophy would go to the rider whose average race speed exceeded the lap record for his class by the greatest margin (or came closest to the class lap record). The first winner under that system was Cecil Sandford on a 125cc MV. Cecil repeated the win on an FB Mondial in 1956 and 1957.
1957 - "The Hutch" goes international
Riders from France, Germany, Switzerland and Sweden entered the first “Hutch” run under an international permit. Enthusiasts anticipated eagerly the first English contest between Geoff Duke’s Gilera and John Surtees’ MV Agusta. Gilera said, “No” and the fans were denied the excitement. In 1961, another sidecar outfit took the honours when Florian Camathias (492cc BMW) became the first foreign rider to claim the Trophy.
In 1965, Toshio Fujii on a 50cc Suzuki surprised everyone by winning the Trophy with a race speed faster than the 50cc lap record.
And so to Brands, now our "Home" track.....
Brands Hatch History and the Bemsee connection
Before Brands Hatch became a road race circuit in 1950 motorcyclists were using the venue as a scramble track, and crowds of 30,000 would come to see grasstrack racing on the three-quarter-mile circuit, laid out in the area known as the Little Valley.
The venue remained in operation throughout the 1930s but suffered from World War Two bombing raids when it was used as a military vehicle park. After WW2 a new organisation was needed to make the repairs that were required. That came with the formation of Brands Hatch Stadium Ltd in 1947 and later that year the new organisation convinced the BBC to film motorcycle races and transmit them on the television network.
Although it wasn’t Bemsee who organised the very first road race, confined to southeast competitors, at the Kentish circuit in 1950 many of the riders racing in that famous 29-race programme were Bemsee members, or who became BMCRC riders during the fifties. After organising meetings at Oulton Park, Mallory Park and Crystal Palace, Bemsee added Brands Hatch to its portfolio of circuits before the end of the fifties.
In 1953 the Universal Motor Racing Club was established at Brands Hatch and a racing school was set up at the circuit. The following year the track was lengthened to 1.24 miles by the addition of the hairpin at Druids Bend. At the same time it was widened and the racing changed direction; the track having previously been anti-clockwise. A grandstand acquired from Northolt trotting track was added in 1955. In August, 1960, Kent County Council agreed to a new 2.65-mile extension through the woods, on which Mike Hailwood won the very first race.
Between 1964 and 1986 the Brands facility was unrivalled in the UK and had hosted a dozen F1 car races and gave Nigel Mansel his first F1 victory. For the British Motorcycle Racing Club though the period between 1966 and 1976 was an illustrious one, with the club organising the famous International Hutchinson 100 races in the reverse direction on both the full GP circuit and the shorter Club circuit.
After that final 1976 Hutch there were more circuit alterations when the long circuit was reduced to 2.6136 miles and the short circuit to 1.2036 miles. 1988 saw further changes to the circuit with a chicane added at Dingle Dell Corner, while Westfield Bend and Graham Hill Bend were tightened. A new pits and corporate entertainment facility were added in the late nineties.
Following an association spanning 50 years the British Motorcycle Racing Club’s relations with Brands Hatch owners Motor Sport Vision, MSV, is as strong as ever. Since the turn of the century Bemsee have arranged up to four meetings each season at Brands Hatch, and as the circuit has done for the past 58 years, continues to attract vast numbers to this the most popular and famous motorcycle racing venue in the world.
Here, there and everywhere
Bemsee were without a base when the club was reformed in 1947. But there were countless airfields no longer required by the military and offered clubs plenty of scope to convert them into motorcycle racing circuits, and this is the route Bemsee travelled.
They settled for an airfield called Haddenham, in Buckinghamshire and organised eight meetings there over two years. It wasn’t an immediate success but it at least gave the club a base from which to build on, and from 1949 until 1966 Bemsee became the main organisers of motor cycle racing at Silverstone. During this time the club organised meetings at Mallory Park, Oulton Park, Crystal Palace, Shelsey Walsh hill climb, and Brighton speed trials and later in this period Brands Hatch.
Now with the offices located at Paradise Road, Richmond, the club found no trouble obtaining top class venues and spent the time from 1967 to 1989 running meetings almost exclusively on Motor Circuit Developments (MCD), circuits including Snetterton, Mallory Park, Cadwell Park, Oulton Park and Brands Hatch. During this time the club offices were moved to Dartnell Road in Croydon, which was ideally situated for running meetings at Brands Hatch; in fact from 1977 to 1989 Bemsee ran meetings exclusively at Brands Hatch and Snetterton.
In 1990 the club moved its offices to Brands Hatch itself and continued to race at Brands, Snetterton and Pembrey. Bemsee further expanded and took on a meeting at Lydden Hill in 1991, which turned out to be a turning point for the club. Upheaval followed in 1992 when the club left Brands Hatch and moved its offices to Maidstone. It was a worrying time now and meetings at Lydden, Pembrey and Three Sisters was the basis of the club’s calendar, which left a dwindling membership bewildered. At this time the club signed a lease for the Lydden Hill Circuit which was their home until 2006. From 1996 meetings were organised at most of the country’s circuits accommodating riders from all corners who were swelling the club’s membership. At the time of introducing the Motorcycle Racing Organisation, MRO, to the club’s portfolio the membership had moved on to almost 3000 and the good times were back for Bemsee.
History of the Hutchinson & Mellano Trophy
The BMCRC Hutchinson 100 - Golden Jubilee Meeting 1975
Over Forty years ago on Sunday, 3rd August, 1975, the British Motorcycle Racing Club, in association with the Evening News, organised the Hutchinson 100 Golden Jubilee meeting over the Brands Hatch full Grand Prix circuit.
1975 was a momentous year in the illustrious history of the BMCRC for it was the 50th Anniversary of the presentation of the world famous Mellano Trophy to the BMCRC by Mr AV Mellano of the Hutchinson Tyre Company in 1925. Ask any follower of bike sport during the period to name the most well-known and important motorcycle race to be held in England, they would certainly reply, the ‘Hutch’, an abbreviation of a very famous Bemsee event.
The Hutchinson 100 takes its name from the club’s oldest challenge trophy and apart from the war years, had been an annual event from 1925 to 1976. Due to the fullness of the International calendar in 1977 the Hutchinson 100 was cancelled. Initially the Hutch was a hundred-mile track event run at Brooklands on a handicap basis and open to all who cared to enter. Highlights through the period up to World War II were numerous.
54 years on since Frank Longman received the giant Mellano Trophy after winning the first race on a 986 Harley-Davidson, riders of world renown converged onto Brands Hatch for this special Golden Jubilee event. One of the unique features of the meetings held at Brands was, for the years prior to the Golden Jubilee meeting, the racing was run in the reverse direction over the Club circuit, which today we know as the Indy circuit. But for the Golden Jubilee meeting the BMCRC reverted to racing the event in the reverse direction of the then full 2.65-mile Grand Prix circuit. The Mellano Trophy would be presented to the rider whose average race speed exceeded the existing class lap record by the greatest margin.
In 1975 the meeting billed as the ‘back to front’ event, had just about everybody as favourite for the title. But there would only be one winner of the Mellano Trophy. A good supporting programme included a championship race for 250s; this was dealt with by Tony Rutter on his 250 Yamaha. A fastest lap time of 1:45.2; 90.48 mph was recorded by Venezuelan Jose Cecotto.
The Senior 500cc Championship race, for the Evening News Trophy, brought together some of the top British and European riders. Three factory works riders of the period made it to the podium. Barry Sheene, Suzuki, first, Phil Read, MV, second and Barry Ditchburn, Kawasaki, third. A fastest lap time of 1:38.2; 97.15 mph was set by Barry Sheene.
The MCN Superbike Championship was a big crowd pleaser and all the country’s top 750 pilots attended. Local ace Barry Ditchburn had already put the Boyer Team Kawasaki at the head of the race stakes; therefore it was no surprise to see the Northfleet rider on the podium. Sheene had just dealt a blow to Ago by taking the Dutch TT, so a win for the charismatic Sheene at Brands was never in doubt. Sheene’s GB Suzuki team-mate Stan Woods came second in the previous year’s race but the still injured Eltom rider struggled this time. Mick Grant grabbed third for the Kawasaki team.
The Hutch 100 Kilometre Solo Championship race brought about a maximum grid plus eight reserves. As well as a fantastic British line-up, riders from around the world came for a crack at the Hutch. Philippe Coulon, Switzerland, Alan North, South Africa, Frenchman Jean-Francois Balde, Wil Hartog, Holland, Les Kenny, Australia, Gerhard Vogt, Germany, and South African GP ace Korkie Ballington, to name but a few.
But guess what. Yes, it was the irrepressible Barry Sheene who did the business on his 750 Suzuki GB entry. This was the then Wisbech based rider’s second Hutch and the double World Champion went on to grab his hat trick of wins the following season, this time on board his World Championship winning 500 Suzuki.
1976 The End for the "Hutch" - Unbelievable
At such a brilliant occasion in 1976 no one could possibly foresee that this was to be the last running of the ‘Hutch’, the most famous of the UK’s short circuit Internationals.
On 8th August 1976 Bemsee staged the 44th International Hutchinson 100 on the reverse direction of the full 2.6136-mile GP circuit. But what made this ‘Hutch’ even more special than the previous year’s Golden Jubilee meeting was the appearance of Barry Sheene just one week after clinching the World 500cc Championship in Sweden.
In Sir Ben Ball’s welcome to the meeting he referred to the World Champ as ‘our ebullient and so likeable Barry Sheene’, who in turn recorded that the Hutch was his favourite meeting and would be determined to retain the giant Mellano Trophy, which he did.
For 1976 it was a 100 km race in the reverse direction of the full GP circuit, and would net the winner £300 and the Mellano Trophy, which is now a priceless possession of the British Motorcycle Racing Club. For it to be a truly exceptional entry seemed to be taken for granted in this period. In what other sport could you expect riders from 14 different countries, of which eight French and one German rider were reserves, and come to Britain for a one-day event. Unbelievable!
Six rows, seven riders per row was the grid for the ’76 Hutch. For example, row five read like this, Marco Lucchinelli, Italy; Jean-Francois Balde, France; Erik Andersson, Denmark; Stuart Avant, New Zealand; Vic Sousson, Australia; Patrick Fernandez, France and Steve Parrish, England.
In his retention of the Mellano Trophy Barry Sheene would overcome the challenge from Kawasaki duo Mick Grant and Barry Ditchburn, the then seven times World Champion Phil Read, Belgian GP hero that year John Williams, TT winner Chas Mortimer, Japanese TT star Takazumi Katayama, Finnish GP ace Teuvo Lansivuori plus French rider Patrick Pons.
Despite this mega entry of GP and TT legends a massive patriotic crowd were there primarily to cheer on one of this country’s most charming, loveable and sadly missed motorcycle racers, Barry Sheene. Not only did he defend his Hutch title, he came to Brands and defended his lead in the MCN Superbike series and the Shell Sport 500 Championship as well.
It was also a triumph for the BMCRC. Not only did the officials of the day administer what must have been the ultimate International entry for Sunday’s races, they also ran a 14-race Clubman meeting on Saturday. Unbelievable!
The British Motorcycle Racing Club’s Hutchinson 100 meetings were staged at Brands Hatch from 1966 until 1976 and attracted riders from around the world not seen at other UK Internationals. This meeting however, faced huge losses and the club dropped it after the 1976 meeting and replaced it with the two-day Sir Ben Ball Clubman races, still on the reverse direction of the GP circuit.
Throughout its illustrious existence the British Motorcycle Racing Club has provided the racer, the fan and all associated with the sport, some of the finest and most memorable events to be staged anywhere in the country. Whether it was 30 years ago or beyond or today, the aim of the club is to provide the best facilities possible for all concerned. Yes, in the 1976 Hutch, the club, through its voluntary efforts, attracted a global entry to a UK circuit that arguably hasn’t been bettered since.
The BMCRC Mellano (Hutchinson) Trophy - A History
Since the first time the Mellano Trophy was presented in 1925 an unbelievable directory of marques and a fabulous record of riders are presented. Since 1993 the priceless trophy has been awarded each season to the overall Bemsee Champion of Champions. It comes out of its home, on display at the Brooklands Museum to be presented at the Club's annual Awards Dinner - then goes straight back to Brooklands after the weekend!
Prior to 1967 this cup was presented to the rider whose average race speed exceeded the existing class lap record by the greatest margin during the famous Brands Hatch Hutchinson 100 meeting. If no competitor exceeded the class lap record the rider whose average speed was nearest to the class lap record won the prize.
Initially the ‘Hutch’ was a 100-mile track event run at Brooklands on a handicap basis and open to all who cared to enter, but reports suggested the weather played a major role in the early years. Although the years between 1925 and 1931 produced decent racing conditions, the 1932 event at Brooklands took place in the worst possible conditions; only seven of the 29 starters finished. Following this rain-wrecked ‘Hutch’ the 1933 race was won for the first time at 100mph. More remarkable was that the winner, Les Archer, accomplished this on a 348cc KTT Velocette and was the first time on which a 350 had covered 100 miles in one hour on a British track.
After the Second World War the Hutchinson 100 meeting carried on at Dunholme, in Lincolnshire, in 1947 and took place at Silverstone in 1949. In 1950 and ’51 it was won by Cyril Smith and Eric Oliver respectively, both riding 596cc Watsonian Nortons. In 1953 Cecil Sandford clinched the trophy riding a 125cc MV and he repeated this feat on board a 124cc Mondial in 1956 and ‘57. Bob McIntyre successfully preceded Mike Hailwood’s back-to-back wins on board Ducatis in 1959 and ‘60. Jim Redman also took back-to-back wins on factory 250 Hondas in 1962 and ’63, then to emphasise the fact that any machine could have transported a rider to victory Japanese rider T. Fuji powered a 49cc Suzuki to victory in the last ‘Hutch’ to be staged at Silverstone.
For the next 11 years the Hutchinson 100 took place at Brands Hatch. Here over a single race day that saw riders contesting ten classes, categories including 125cc, 250cc, 350cc, 500cc, 251cc-750cc, 1000cc, Production Sports, 1000cc Scratch, 750cc Three-wheelers, 1300cc Three-wheelers, and of course the Hutchinson 100 itself.
The Mellano Trophy, valued at 250 guineas when it was presented to the British Motorcycle Racing club in 1925 by Mr AV Mellano of the Hutchinson Tyre Company, is to this day Bemsee’s most treasured award. The BMCRC ran their Hutchinson 100 meetings at Brands Hatch from 1966 until it was dropped by the club from the International calendar in 1977, and replaced it with the two-day Sir Ben Ball Clubman races, still on the reverse direction of the Brands Hatch GP circuit. During the 11 years the Mellano Trophy was presented at Brands Hatch it was twice won by German sidecar crews in 1969 and ‘70. Prior to this it was Kiwi Hugh Anderson, John Hartle and Phil Read. Then from 1971 Pete Williams twice, Dave Potter once and Barry Sheene completed a hattrick of wins in 1976, bringing the curtain down on a remarkable episode at Bands Hatch.
Hutchinson 100 winners for the Mellano Trophy from 1966 - 1976
|500 BMW Sidecar
|500 BMW Sidecar
|810 Kuhn Norton