A day at the wacky races in Blackpool

It was like a real-life version of the cartoon show Wacky Races.

Thursday, 9th August 2018, 3:38 pm
Updated Monday, 13th August 2018, 11:33 am
These holidaymakers dont see to have noticed Mike Hamilton, of Park Avenue, Ansdell, as he races along the sands to clock in at the Blackpool Tower, after crossing from the Isle of Man in a yacht in the Tower-Snaefell race. He was placed third in his class

For several years running in the early 70s, The Blackpool Tower to summit of Snaefell (Isle of Man) race, saw hundreds of enthusiastic contestants compete in numerous classes to try to beat the clock and be the first to arrive – using all manner of weird and wonderful means to get there.

The races in 1970, 1971 and 1972 attracted a huge amount of interest and enjoyed sponsorship from both Heineken and Whitbread.

A Viking longship entry was entered by Leyland Air Training Corps in Lancashire, who also entered a Meteor jet aircraft that could apparently fly from Squires Gate Airport, Blackpool, to Ronaldsway, in under seven minutes. Another team attempted to tread-roll across on a large beer barrel and some snorkelled their way over in skindivers suits.

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No hand signals from Nicholas Lancaster, of Pilling, as he arrives at the checkpoint at Blackpool Tower, on a penny farthing bicycle, in June 1973. Nicholas was representing Fleetwood and District Motorcycle Club in the race

A Fleetwood taxi firm tried out using one of its fleet and Nicholas Lancaster, of Pilling, opted for a Penny Farthing.

Helicopters were also used and there was a yachts class as well. The BBC took great interest in the event and the prizes were presented at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens by Frank Bough, of Grandstand.

There’s no doubt today’s health and safety rules would make it difficult to run such an event now, but our archive photographs show it looked like tremendous fun.

Today’s Memory Lane front cover shows holidaymakers not seeming to notice Mike Hamilton, of Park Avenue, Ansdell, as he raced along the sands to clock in at the Blackpool Tower, in 1970, after crossing from the Isle of Man in a yacht in the Tower-Snaefell race. He was placed third in his class.

Layton Girls Venture Corps made an all-female entry in the Blackpool Tower Snaefell race, in June 1972  the competitor for the Venture Corps was 16-year-old Anita Smith, of Dinmore Avenue, Grange Park, who travelled by car from the Tower to Blackpool Airport and then by a Jodell Ambassador Aircraft to Ronaldsway, the aircraft was piloted by Miss Jane Murdoch. Pictures taken at her arrival at Blackpool Airport, cheered by her fellow members
Bob Paddy of the Black Knights sky-diving team, dead on course for the target on Blackpool sands opposite the Tower, during a display by the team to mark the start of the Tower to Snaefell race 1973
Judy Dalton gets a starting push in the Blackpool to Isle of Man race in a 200-year-old bathchair, 1973. From left: Pauline and Mike Simmons and Don Willcocks
Left, shades of the Beverley Hill Billies for members of the Blackpool Boys Club, in the Tower Top/Snaefell Race, 1971
Jeff Orchard repacks his parachute, watched by organisers and children, after he parachuted from a light aircraft, at the Blackpool to IoM race, in June 1973
Bob Paddy touching down on the sands, after his jump to start the Blackpool to Isle of Man race, 1973
Judy Dalton gets a starting push in the Blackpool-Isle of Man race in a 200 year old bathchair, in 1973 . From left: Pauline and Mike Simmons and Don Willcocks
Seventeen-year-old Malcolm Bell, a member of the Lymm Air Training Corps, who won the 1972 Blackpool Tower Top-to Snaefell (Isle of Man) race
A Bell Jet Ranger helicopter, taking off from the Blackpool Central Beach during the Blackpool Tower to Snaefell race, in May 1970
Thick fog shrouding the Isle of Man delayed the start of the Blackpool Tower to Snaefell, IoM, race, in June 1972
Miss Judith Sykes boards an articulated transporter on Blackpool Promenade for the Blackpool Tower to Snaefell, IoM race, May 1971
Comedian George Roper and Frank Carson flag away the competitors from Lymm Air Training Corps to start the Blackpool Tower to Snaefell (Isle of Man) race 1972. The Lymm ATC team were the previous years winners, and were again using the Bell Jet Ranger Helicopter from Blackpool beach to the summit of Snaefell.