Town centre grand prix plan

Joseph Bulmer

Ambitious plans underway for day of racing on Barnstaple streets

PLANS are well underway to hold grand prix race in the centre of Barnstaple this summer.

The town’s streets are to be transformed into a race circuit on Sunday, August 14, complete with starting grid, pits lane and home straight.

Subject to the ambitious proposals being given the green light by highways and police authorities, competitors would race along Taw Vale, around the Square, part of the Long Bridge and along the Strand. Taw Vale would also be used as a pit stop area.

But while powerful V8 engines usually fuel city centre races in places like Monaco, the action in Barnstaple will be a little more modest, with pedal power providing the thrust and the thrills.

North Devon may lack the glitz and glamour of Monte Carlo but organisers say the Barnstaple Pedal Car Grand Prix is open to everybody – and they hope it will be every bit as exciting.

Race director Louise Laing, from the Innovation Development Team at Petroc, said: “We really hope this event captures people’s imagination in a way that similar events have done throughout the generations.

“Many people remember building pedal cars with their parents and grandparents and the idea is to encourage families and friends to get together and have some great fun designing and building their own cars to race on the day.

“The event is also designed to get people into Barnstaple town centre and to raise the profile of businesses in the town, as well as money for charity.”

The event is being hosted in partnership with BID Barnstaple, and will be held to raise money for Children’s Hospice South West.

There will be two classes of racing, one for juniors (16 and under) and another for seniors, with the winners being the two teams that clock up the most laps within the time limit.

Prizes will be given to the top three finishes in each category, with other awards given for endeavour and best looking car.

Details for a petrol-powered lawn mower race on the same circuit are also expected to be finalised during the next couple of weeks.

As well as the racing, organisers are planning live music on the Square, as well as fair ground rides, food vendors and street performers.

“We are now appealing to the community to get in touch if they can offer technical expertise to teams building pedal cars; materials; tools; workshop or storage space,” added Louise.

“A pedal car is fundamentally built from bicycle parts and we’re also looking for donations of old bikes, or offers from bike shops willing to sell on parts from part exchange bikes at a preferential cost.

“Building a pedal car is a fun and interesting way of putting learning into practice; we hope younger people taking part will be able to acquire real practical experience and learn a new skill while working as a team and seeing a real tangible result in terms of building something and then racing it.

“We have some funding from the Aim Higher project to help as many youth groups as possible and earlier this month we held meetings with local groups including North Devon Youth Work Network; WINGS South West; Devon Youth Service; Young Devon; and the Pupil Referral Unit. They were all extremely enthusiastic, as were North Devon Homes.

“I’d also really like to hear from businesses, individuals and schools thinking about entering a team. There are still grid spaces available in both the senior and junior categories.”

For a competitor pack outlining the sport, pedal car specifications, and guidance notes on car construction, or to offer to help teams, telephone (01271) 338181 or email