Before the formation of the NSRA, there was a band of people who loved to drag race, but also built and drove Street Rods. The association grew out of the National Drag Racing Club (NDRC) Roadster Register – whose members included the guys who eventually formed the club.
February 1972 saw the inaugural NSRA meeting at the Wheatsheaf Public House on the Reigate Road in Surrey. One of the stories related to me about the first meeting was that the gathered people were asked the question “how many of you own a Hot Rod”. The reply was silent and then it came to light that a few of them may have a car finished in a week or two and someone suggested that the club be called the National Garaged Rod Association.
That first year saw no Rod run at all but membership was growing and by July 1973 there were 250 members. Chris Church, owner of the T Bucket ‘ROD 5’ was member No 1 and Mickey Bray, owner of Pinball Wizard was member No 2. Other early members included Bryan Godber, VW trike and ‘Havoc Morris Minor van, Steve Elliot ‘Andromeda’, Nick Butler ‘Revenge’, Simon Lane ‘Speed Freak’, Harold Martin, Phil George NASC Founder, Ed Wimble ‘T builder extraordinaire’, Mike Key who is some photographer chap, Dick Scritchfield LA Roadster president, and Who drummer and total nutter Keith Moon.
In 1973 Simon Lane and two others (whose names are lost in the mists of time) were given the task of locating a suitable venue to hold the first Rod run. Knebworth House in Hertfordshire was one choice, which was considered too expensive by far. Then Simon Lane bought a camping guide and lo and behold in it was a camp site called Billing Aquadrome. That first Summer Fun Run (named by Grahame Kerr) in 1973 consisted of five real rods and thirty five others. “Others” was/is a euphemism for embarrassing custom cars and other stock vehicles.
Amongst the real rods, which were all T Buckets, were Nick Butlers Olds powered T and Pete Watkins mini T which won the very first Participants Choice but the famous ‘Hat Stand’ trophy which is now awarded every year became a feature later.
Another regular event and meeting place in those early years was the NSRA enclosure at Santa Pod with entry fee being waived if members turned up in their Rods. Bob Phelps, who was then the owner, even paid the NSRA for appearing at these events. Those were the days. The NDRC also gave the same concessions because of its close ties with the club. By 1975 membership was up to 500 and the NSRA had established itself in the U.K
Early photos courtesy of Nick Pettitt, Time Travel DVDs
Keeping the Dream Alive
For the NSRA’s 40th Anniversary in 2012, NSRA ‘Street Gasser’ magazine editor Nick Brooke-Langham set about the massive task of recording the history of the NSRA in book form. The resulting 360-page publication – Keeping the Dream Alive – was issued to all NSRA members free of charge to recognise the anniversary year.