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Motor racing on Sundays - banned or just unusual in the past?

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#1 ReWind

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 17:26

The British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch in 1976 was the first one that was held on a sunday while previous events had taken place on saturdays.

Has motor racing on sundays just been unusual in the United Kingdom? Or was it in fact "verboten"?


#2 Tim Murray

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 18:31

We did touch on this briefly in an earlier thread:


where Rob29 posted:

Originally posted by Rob29 in the 'F2 F3 F3000 F Ford F 2000 etc TV history' thread
The RAC only authorised international meetings on Sundays in 1966. First was Motor Show 200 at Brands in Oct 66. First F1 was 67 Race of Champions.

Whilst not actually forbidden, sport on Sunday in the UK was frowned upon by organisations such as the Lord's Day Observance Society. Even today most top class football and rugby matches still take place on Saturdays. As you say, Brands moved their Grands Prix to Sunday in 1976, but Silverstone stuck with Saturday for several more years.

#3 byrkus

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 20:00

Motorcycling Dutch TT is still held on saturdays.

#4 AndreasF1

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 20:20

I believe, that the last Grand Prix that took place on a Saturday was Kyalami 1984. Can somebody confirm this?

#5 Manfred Cubenoggin

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 20:38

I can't speak for the UK but here in Ontario, Canada(with its strong British cultural heritage), racing on Sunday was a taboo in the 1960's when Mosport opened and I attended my first motor races. The Lord's Day Act prohibited such activities on a Sunday so the feature always ran on a Saturday. The Act was repealled/ammended in the late 60's-early 70's to allow for Sunday sporting events and other cultural fair.

(It cost my high school buddy, Nick, big time in 1967. He skipped class without permission to go to Mosport and see the Friday qualifying for the CanAm. The HS principal phoned his Mom to find out why Nick wasn't at school. When Nick got home Friday evening, his Mom grounded him for race day. OUCH!!!)

#6 Lotus23

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 00:31

Here in the States, I can't recall any universal prohibition on Sunday racing. But local exceptions still exist; Lime Rock is one which springs to mind.

Has NASCAR ever raced on Easter Sunday? or Mother's Day? Not that I can recall.

#7 Frank S

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 05:29

As late as the mid-50s in the Los Angeles area Sunday was pretty much non-commercial. Beyond drugstores, theaters, restaurants, you were hard put to find anything else open for business. It didn't seem to inhibit the scheduling of roadracing out of town on the airports and all, but even those nearby places—Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, La Jolla—were 'closed'.

I am trying to recall when it was that open-on-Sunday became ordinary. I do remember a lot of head-shaking when it started.

Frank S

#8 SEdward

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 07:36

Even minor club meetings at Brands Hatch on Sundays used to be interrupted for about an hour every morning while the Sunday service took place in Fawkham Green church.


#9 Macca

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 12:06

Thruxton circuit still has a "church break" on Sundays.


#10 Magee

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 17:43

In Canada, here on the West Coast, the Westwood circuit was opened in 1959 and immediately came up against a local bylaw banning Sunday events with paid entrance. The track officials got around the bylaw by making the admittance cost a donation instead of a fixed cost. They phrased it as a recommended donation amount. Much like that of a church service. Eventually the bylaw was revoked.

#11 Lifeline

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 17:54

IIRC Oulton Park only holds Saturday race meetings. I can remember as kid when my father used to race at Oulton on Good Friday and we would then have to drive down to Thruxton in an old AEC coach with the car in the back ready for Saturday qualifying and then have to wait until Easter Monday for the race.

#12 Ray Bell

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 00:58

Longford was never held on a Sunday... though I don't know if 'Sunday observance' was ever an issue...

The Longford meeting was, however, always held on a long weekend, with the main event on Monday after preliminaries had been held on Saturday. Sunday was spent repairing and preparing for Monday, of course.

But around Australia there were places where the issue was raised. Most notable was Lowood, in the Laidley-Gatton area west of Brisbane, where the wartime airbase was rented periodically for weekends for racing.

It didn't take long for the popular church in the area (Lutheran?) to start whinging to the air force about the tenant's activities being in breach of the sacredness of the Sunday.

But the financial issues were very real. Those days, most people worked a five and a half day week, so Saturday racing was never going to be a financial success. This led, in turn, to the hunt for an alternative venue for the Australian Grand Prix when it was Queensland's turn to stage the event.

As Strathpine was well below the required standard, Lowood was the only circuit suitable in the state, and with this group of opposers remaining persistent they simply had to go elsewhere.

So was born Leyburn, many miles further from Brisbane, but not so far that a huge crowd didn't make it to the Grand Prix.

Later the Club bought the Lowood property and no longer did they have to bow to the whims of the Air Force people and their desire to not upset the local church groups. Racing was on Sundays until the circuit closed in 1966.

Wasn't the Dutch Grand Prix (for cars...) also held on Saturdays during the sixties?

#13 xkssFrankOpalka

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 07:17

Although not as bad, when I raced at Milwaukee State Fair Pk the rule was no engines started before noon Sunday. Dont know if thats still in place.

#14 eldougo

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 08:10

Was that the reason the raced Bikes on Saturday & Cars on Monday at Bathurst at Easter time.

#15 Ray Bell

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 12:17

No, Doug... Easter is a 4-day weekend, embracing the 'holy days' of Good Friday and Easter Sunday... if there were ever days that churches might complain about racing it would be these. But practice for the bikes was always on Good Friday, and for the cars on Easter Sunday.

It was convenient because the bikes and the cars had to be separated... CAMS wouldn't let the bikes run at a car meeting... though it probably goes beyond CAMS' time anyway...

#16 macr

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 00:37

As I recall, major sporting events in Great Britain were frowned on on Sundays. While it was not illegal to hold events on a Sunday it was illegal to charge admission on Sunday. That was the real reason most major events were held on Saturdays.

#17 Vitesse2

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 11:50

Originally posted by macr
As I recall, major sporting events in Great Britain were frowned on on Sundays. While it was not illegal to hold events on a Sunday it was illegal to charge admission on Sunday. That was the real reason most major events were held on Saturdays.

It was cricket which came up with the solution to this: in the mid-60s there was a touring side called the Rothmans International Cavaliers, which played 40-over Sunday games against otherwise unemployed first class counties. The matches were televised on BBC2 and the admission charge problem was overcome by charging a much larger than normal amount for a "compulsory" scorecard/programme. County members got a free scorecard IIRC. Cavalier cricket led directly to the Sunday League, but the charging solution persisted for some time after that.

#18 WGD706

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 12:22

Originally posted by Lotus23
Here in the States, I can't recall any universal prohibition on Sunday racing. But local exceptions still exist; Lime Rock is one which springs to mind.

I've often wondered if this was because there is a church situated right across from the track; also, their noise restrictions mandate the use of mufflers on all cars.
I think Bridgehampton had some rules about not firing up motors before a certain time on Sundays.

#19 panzani

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 17:05

I've just read in the news the Pope said, last Friday, in Vatican City: "Sundays must be reserved to God, not to sport or entertainment.".
He also said: "When Sundays become 'leisure weekends', focusing on entertainment and sports, they just weakens family and faith in God.".

I just think his words could help us with the answer to this thread, if he thinks this in the beginning of the 21st century, I can just imagine what was thought in the beginning of the 20th one...

P.S. These were probably not his literal words, they were translated to Portuguese from Italian, and I have translated them to English from the Portuguese version.


#20 Rob29

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 19:16

Strange,as most catholic countries have accepted sunday sport for most of the 20th century.Protestants seem to have been the ones with problems in this area.

#21 gdecarli

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 23:32

Originally posted by AndreasF1
I believe, that the last Grand Prix that took place on a Saturday was Kyalami 1984. Can somebody confirm this?

No, I think it was South Africa 1985, on October 19th. The last British one was held at Silverstone on July 16th 1983.


#22 Jack-the-Lad

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 00:06

Just last Sunday I attended the funeral service of Beulah ("Boo") Smith. Her late husband, Reg, was the Sebring 12 Hours race secretary for decades. He was Alec Ullman's right hand from the beginning and managed the race in a very low-profile way.

Reg and Boo were already married when Ullman recruited Reg. Reg sought Boo's approval before accepting the position. Boo was a devout, practicing Christian for all of her 86 years. She gave Reg her enthusiastic support, asking only that if he could have sufficient influence, that he run the race on Saturday rather than Sunday. To this day, the Sebring 12 Hour is one of the few major races run only on Saturday every year.

The minister presiding at Boo's funeral related this story. Sensing that it could be apocryphal I asked Reg and Boo's sons, Reggie and Doug. They both maintain that the story is true. Reg and Boo were wonderful people, and both are missed by all who knew them.


#23 hinnershitz

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Posted 31 March 2004 - 20:36

Didn't they use to run the Prescott Hillclimbs on Sunday, regularly since 1938? I have a lot of dates for Prescott on a Sunday (without remembering the exact sources). I even seem to remember reading somewhere, that this was due to the fact of the whole track being located on private grounds, belonging to the BOC. Can anybody confirm this? And did they charge admission?

#24 Deputy

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Posted 31 March 2004 - 23:57

For me, the most interesting thing about the whole matter is that the sunday observance is of pagan origin and non-biblical. Bible on both OT and NT speaks about the holiness of the seventh-day Sabbath, in english called Saturday. (Math. 24:20 example)

#25 Ray Bell

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 00:39

A valid point... and, of course, Matthew 24:20 is about what Jesus said before his death...

The explanation of how his death affected this is shown in Colossians 2:16 & 17, with which you compare Galations 4:10.

And, of course, the adoption of a 'sabbath' on Sundays was in keeping with many things early 'christianity' did to popularise itself among people with various religious traditions...