Harry was responsible for the very first Brighton Speed Trials which took place along Madeira Drive during ‘Motor Week’ from 19 to 22 July, 1905, now the oldest event in the racing calendar.
Harry had been approached by the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland (later to become the RAC) and asked to arrange a motor race at Brighton. The club insisted though that it must take place on the newly invented road surfacing material ‘Tarmacadam’ (or Tarmac). Initially, the Brighton Council were against the idea and turned him down flat. But Harry persisted and eventually, they agreed to lay a road using the newly invented tarmac on the 2km stretch between the Palace Pier and Black Rock (later to become Madeira Drive).
The highest speed recorded during the trials was 90.2mph by the famous racing driver of the day, S F Edge, driving a Napier. The world land speed record at this time was only some 15mph faster.
Below, ‘How British Motorsport was Born‘ is a great video from CNET Carfection, with a mention of the Brighton Speed Trials and Sir Harry Preston shortly after 02:24
See also: www.brightonspeedtrials.co.uk/about