York to become drag racing capital of the North as historic track reopens

7 Aug 2020 @ 4.14 pm
| Entertainment

For decades York Raceway was a hub for motorsports enthusiasts from up and down the country.

But the last public race took place there in 2017, and it began to fall into disrepair.

This weekend, though, the Seaton Ross venue will roar back to life after new organisers and a fundraising campaign put it on the fast track to new glories.

Renamed the Melbourne Raceway, it will be home to all things fast and furious again this Saturday and Sunday (8 and 9 August).

Straightliners have organised the event. It features attractions including ‘the world’s fastest shed’, a vehicle that set the world record at Elvington Airfield in 2017, reaching 80.6 mph. 

You can also expect the infamous ‘Force of Nature’ steam-powered rocket motorbike, alongside a plethora of other quickbikes, followed by an assortment of big American cars on display for spectators. 

It is pre-book only, from the website.

Revving up nicely

It might be a bit loud… Photograph: AdImages.co.uk

The biggest draw will be the drag racing – over the newly installed one-eighth of a mile strip.

It means Melbourne becomes the only track outside of Santa Pod in Wellingborough which can stage these sorts of races.

Drag racing is traditionally over a quarter mile from a standing start. Eventually Straightliners want to extend the Melbourne track to that length.

Photograph: AdImages.co.uk

But, with a ten-year lease secured, and daily cars, bikes, hot rods, drag cars, jet and rockets bikes all lining up on the Tarmac this weekend, things are revving up nicely.

The renovation was organised by Straightliners and the UK Timing Association’s fundraising campaign, which sought to restore Melbourne Raceway into the north’s premier fully functioning drag racing venue – successfully raising £114,000 by March 2020. 

Members of Straightliners then donated £11,000, making a total that would cover the cost of resurfacing two one-eighth mile strips. 

The process was not without its challenges however. Straightliners director Trevor Duckworth said: “While we were pouring the bonding Tarmac in, a quarter of the way down the track had sunk, and we had to pull out what we’d done as the concrete was shallow at that point.”

Tracking down the years

Photograph: AdImages.co.uk

Created from a Second World War airfield, the raceway at Seaton Ross became a hub for motorsport events and drag racing enthusiasts around the country in the 1970s.

The Murty family presided over 40 years of notable drag racing events and various national championships. 

After ceasing all events in 2017, the site began to see maintenance issues, losing the entire right hand lane to a facility owned and operated by TMD Friction, a brake manufacturer for the autocar and industrial industries. 

Straightliners had already hosted a number of successful events at Elvington. And at Seaton Ross, Trevor saw an opportunity to bring drag racing and motorsport events back into the north of England in a big way, recapturing a glimmer of the Seventies fame and national prominence it once had. 

In 2019 a successful revival event was held at Melbourne, in which a private group held various one-eighth mile test races.

With a ten year lease in place, Trevor said they envisage having six or seven events a year, spread from March to October – and sees an opportunity to have such an iconic heritage site remain active for years to come.