Herridge and Beadle Motovation

I am extremely proud and excited to exclusively announce the existance of one of the holy-grail cars in UK drag Racing history, the Herridge and Beadle Motovation Jnr fuel car from 1968.

 This feature is about the most complete British built dragster to be still be in existance today, some 54 years after it was originally built.

I have known about this car for over 20 years and I have somewhat helped along the way with it’s history, but it’s only now, with special thanks to Harry Joseph, that the full story can be told.

The car will be up for sale here https://www.ukdrn.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=4953

Harry has provided an incredible in-depth account on how this has all happened. With a mixture of old and current images of the car, I present the story below.

Images UKDRN and Harry Joseph


Sell it, break it up, scrap it or leave it to rot away in the woods? 
Many old British dragsters were broken up and sold for their individual parts 
because they commanded more ready cash than the vehicle could muster as 
a going concern. Luckily today the current whereabouts of several old and 
near complete, or restored, U.K. drag cars are known. Some are still in the 
throes of restoration, or at least claiming to being restored and not broken 

But what of Motovations fate?  
Motovation wasn’t dismantled, stolen, re-purposed or secreted into 
some petrol heads man-cave. It was cherished and cosseted for over the 
half century since 1971.  

Today, 2023, Motovation has at last been preserved. It is not a dusty and 
pigeon dropping spattered barn-find and it isn’t meeting the light of day after 
decades under infested tarpaulins. Nor is it a shining, back-to-its-original- 
state, ground-up restoration that has been lovingly and meticulously carried 
out as on the famous, and similarly iconic, Allard dragster. The current owner 
of Motovation wanted it to look just as it was when it retired at the end of the 
1970 season – to preserve it not to restore it to an as-new condition. That 
approach has not duplicated the car as it was built in 1967. The years of 
competition saw many configurations of the car as Allan and the Beadle 
brothers changed many of its mechanical parts – its injection system, its third 
member, installed new Fuelie heads, swopped its steel con rods for ally and 
generally evolved the rail until it went faster and quicker.
Motovation today  
Seeing the preserved Motovation today is a time warp moment. One of those
wished for glimpses of just one particular moment in 1970 when it reached
the end of its racing career. It’s the step back in time wish that Mick Gleadow
mentioned in his Eurodragster thirtieth anniversary tribute to Allan Herridge.
Mick suggested that it would be a great moment should one of Allan’s
creations could come alive again. The pandemic interfered with our efforts at
a speedy preservation and it has taken much longer than expected to return
the car to its 1970 condition. We have made it at last and now you can see
the fruits of our labour. I hope this will give Mick, and many other admirers of
Allan Herridge and the Beadle Brothers, an occasion for their wishes to
come true and that they’ll not be disappointed by the results we have
achieved in the last few years.
Age took its toll
Motovation showed the effects of time but it had remained intact as every
step had been taken to safeguard the car – there was always oil in the motor,
the clutch can was securely bolted tight, the wheels and tyres were stacked
flat. The magneto, parachute, harness and injection system were always
stored indoors and when space was available so were the fuel and overflow
tanks. Therefore the same 1970’s Goodyear 7.50” x 15” pie cut slicks and
bicycle type Avon 2.25” x 17” tyres, on those expensive Borrani rims, are still
intact and usable to statically display the car.
The assessment of the engine, prior to work commencing, was that it was of
sound mechanical condition capable of being restarted if such items as fuel
lines were renewed, if clearances were re-set and if all gaskets were
renewed etc, etc. The engine had never been dismantled although new
shells had been fitted to the ally rods in the 1980’s. Could it or should it be
restarted? The answer was no, but to prep it for such an event, we decided
to do as much of the necessary work – get the brakes to work again, remove
any rust, paint the block, heads and rocker covers in the exact same colour
as Allan had and install all new gaskets etc. It required a lot of research time
to find the correct parts, the colours, the routing of such items as the fuel
shutoff, the correct routing of cables etc. We kept the three original corroded
parts where the new exact duplicate was fitted. Equally the spares that came
with the car in 1971 have also been lovingly preserved. There are new racing
clutch plates, tins of injection pills (jets), etc., etc. Some items are still in their
1970’s cardboard packaging.

Preservation not restoration 
Every item on the original car survived but not all of it was in good usable
condition. The items kept indoors were a joy to see. Spinning the Vertex
magneto, which was always kept in the airing cupboard, still gave unwary
fingers a fierce jolt. The Enderele 8 port was undamaged and the original
puke tank, apparently stolen from ‘Little White Terror’, a U.S. junior fueler,
needed only TLC and a polish. The master cylinder’s aluminium was
corroded and its piston was seized in the bore. The Oldsmobile brakes
shoes and wheel cylinders were locked and needed releasing. The one inch
aluminium wheel spacers were stuck to the steel drums as dissimilar metals
that corrode together often are. One wheel stud was sheared, the paint on
the chassis was showing signs of age and the paintwork on the cowl and
side panels needed attention. In 1971 the cowl had had new names added in
sign written enamel paint on a new black oblong panel overpainted on the
striped metalflake paint – thankfully without removing either lacqueur or
metalflake! Some decals had come adrift, one was missing, and knowing
what was lost forever, or still hidden under the paintwork, called for patient
detective work using old photographs. The list of jobs was endless but the
enjoyable task of undertaking the work never faded.
The cowl and Allen’s metalflake paint job 
The floorpan had many lumps and bumps which were the expected signs of 
an active racing career. On the cowl there were dents, surface scratches and 
some large bumps – from Allen’s knees, from the clutch pedal, from Allan’s 
left foot and we guess from spanners and tools. Our assessment was that 
not all the damage could be removed without the risk of cracking the 
metalflake. Many marks were gently coaxed out but some have had to 
remain. Luckily for us the lacquer was still intact and, with exacting dexterity 
(breathing slowly and hoping) we were able to remove the black oblong and 
the names without disturbing the lacquer or the metalflake stripes. Where 
paint had chipped on the cowl, and we felt it could be stabilised, we confined 
our efforts only to the hand painted lettering. Luckily we found that Humbrol 
still made the exact same enamel colours  – you know in those teeny tiny 
pots. It wasn’t a big expense to buy enough pots in order to find an exact (I 
kid you not) match. A fine brush, a steady hand and a gentle retouch was all 
that was needed to make the lettering safe again for another 50 years. Look 
very carefully and its possible to see the difference between the newly re- 
touched small areas and the original aged and preserved paint. 

The sump  
The sump had many battle scars. It sealed against the block but its base had 
been split open in the past. The marks indicated it had been beaten with a 
ball pein hammer to bring it close to its originally manufactured shape 
andthenwelded shut. We read a report in ‘The Acceleration Archives’ that 
when the oil in Motovation had long passed its use-by-date the pan had 
given up the ghost on a run against Geronimo at the Pod. Allan had 
obviously coaxed the sump back into some acceptable shape, welded the 
split in the bottom half of the pan, filled it up with fresh oil and went racing 
again. The question was should we repair it and panel beat it back into the 
correct shape or leave it? We de-gunked it, kept the shape, wire brushed it 
back to bare metal then repainted it in the exact same red it started life in.
Ye olde’, vintage, Lucas master cylinder 
Where do you buy a still working second hand, or new, 1950’s or possibly 
1960’s, exact duplicate, Lucas master cylinder found on a scratch built 
dragster from 1968? Ebay of course! We took the model number from the 
original cylinder and began to search over several evenings. Some new but 
modern replacements and some replicas manufactured for vintage car 
restorations were found. Luckily there was an advert for a cylinder whose 
advertised serial number (and original cardboard box) did NOT match the 
stamped number on the cylinder in the photo. Bingo! An enthusiastic vendor 
in the South East had cleared out a local car buffs garage. The box was 
mint, its sides clearly identifying its supposed contents. Regardless the 
cylinder was brand new, and, its serial number matched Allan’s original 
cylinder exactly – fifty years on! Luckily the Ebay photos were crisp and of 
high resolution which, with a confirmatory email to the vendor, guaranteed us 
our gold dust. I spoke to the vendor and he could not believe how we had 
somehow found a cylinder by a serial number he had NOT advertised. He’d 
used the number on the box but we were desperate and questioned every 
small lead and every detail!  

The new cylinder bolted up perfectly. After the lines were purged of fifty year 
old oil, refilled with new and once we realised the wheel cylinders were freed 
we had juice brakes and breathed a sigh of relief! Our biggest worry had 
been those wheel cylinders. The drums indicated a manufacture circa. 1959, 
probably Oldsmobile according to an earlier magazine article we read on 
Motovation. We just hoped that we wouldn’t need to locate exact 
replacements from the U.S.A. The drums were de-scaled, cleaned of all 
grease and painted as per the original silver. The aluminium spacers were 
another matter.  
Five hole aluminium spacer plates 
Every which way the now clean five holes were placed on the studs they
jammed against the stud threads. After the multiple times they must have
been removed and replaced over their racing career the plates, in our
opinion, had either upset the stud positions and galled against the holes in
the ally making the plates a poor fit. We welded the broken stud and drilled
the spacer plate holes slightly larger to get an acceptable fit.

Parachute and harness 
Nick Pettit’s videos gave us our first clue as to the possible origins of both
the chute and the four-point harness on Motovation. We listened to his
commentary of an identical parachute in a still photo of Jack Stilwell’s
Phaeton 1 rail. In it Nick claimed the chute was an Irvin drag chute imported
from the U.S. by Jack and sold at Jack’s Stripside Shop at the Pod.

We were unable to find any mention of the Irving or Irvin (same company)
Chute Company ever making a drag chute or a cruciform chute for a drag
car. Instead the opposite was discovered that although the chute on
Motovation is cruciform in shape it appears from that Irvin (Irvine is the same
company) didn’t see the point of a braking chute on a drag car. When their
employee, Jim Deist, asked if they could make the very first one for his friend
Abe Carson’s dragster in 1956 they refused. Jim wanted to address the
braking issues being caused by increasingly faster trap speeds. Speeds that,
for various reasons, had killed many racers in the previous years. Irvin did
however give Jim permission to make one in his own time. History was made
and it’s a toss up whether you believe Jim Deist or Bill Simpson invented the
drag car chute first. Either way drag racing benefited immensely and many
racers lives have been saved because of their lifetime’s dedication to safety
in our sport.

Irvin were the worlds biggest manufacturer of parachutes and therefore they
sold the most widely for use by both the U.S. and the U.K. for pilots before,
during and after the twentieth century wars. Motovation’s chute corresponds
to an Irvin pilots seat pack chute. The sort you might see hanging from the
bum of a pilot as they walk to their planes. The chute is held to their body by
a four point harness and ensures the pilot always had the chute ready
regardless of the emergency. We are therefore guessing that Allan used an
RAF, or U.S. seat pack chute and that he used the four point harness as his
dragster seat harness. It matches every photo we have seen of these chutes
down to the same release wires and lines. Motovations ‘D’ ring chute pull we
think looks similar to the ones we saw on RAF chest pack chutes. We are
also not sure of the chute/harness/’D’ ring manufacture but at a guess, if they
are U.K. or U.S. surplus stock, e.g. from the then popular Army & Navy
stores and perhaps dated as late as 1945. We could be wrong on all three
items as only the harness has the word Irvin on it and the same, or similar,
Irvin chutes were used in the Vietnam war. Anyone with deeper knowledge
than us may be able to provide the accurate facts.

Would you trust a possibly WW2, Korean or Vietnam war pilots seat pack
chute and harness to save you in a 145 mph dragster crash?


‘T’ pull fuel cutoff 
Allan’s innovative approach is all over Motovation. Take the fuel cutoff on the
butterfly. It’s home made using thin brass tubes brazed together to make a
‘T’ pull. A single Bowden wire is then crimped into the flattened brass tube
end where it enters a nylon sleeve similar to the ones used on wire fed MIG
welding kits. I read in a much earlier article (Drag Racing & Hot Rod) that the
fuel cut off was from a Lambretta scooter. Perhaps they were referring to the
Bowden cable and the nylon sleeve and they did come from the scooter.
Either way we shouldn’t be surprised at his neatly concepted, and light
weight, brazed solution.

What of that 1970 shiny chrome!
The chrome was in very good condition, sometimes a little duller than in
1970 but the tarnish was easily removed. The rear five spoke and iconic
American Magnesium wheels were in need of some TLC – both the rims and
the spokes. To get a shine on the Magnesium rims would have meant
modern (CAD) machining – removing metal. Instead much of the surface
oxidation was removed by gentle blasting then each wheel was cleaned and
polished by hand assisted by a home made rotating plate. The centres were
finished in the same silk black car paint as the factory had used in the
1960’s. After 50+ years the surface of the Magnesium rims were oxidised
and we felt that an uneccessary amount of metal would have to be removed
to achieve a factory lustre finish. Modern CAD techniques for alloy wheel
renovation often remove 1-2mm of metal which would have destroyed the
wheels classic contours. Additionally we were not convinced that an as-new
finish was desirable. Age and severe racing vibrations make for uneasy
bedfellows so we gladly erred on the side of caution and did as much hand
finishing as possible.
Light weight, precise, fit-for-purpose, fabrication 
By today’s standards the brackets on Motovation are tiny and most bodywork 
retainers are 3/16” Allen head bolts threaded into 10mm wide, 1/8” thick 
plates without lock nuts. The front motor mounts are thin ally with the centres 
removed for even more lightness. When we pulled and then re-fitted the 
block they flexed easily. The body panels are Magnesium not Aluminium and 
the overall effect of the rails construction is one of pared-to-the-bone fitness- 
for-purpose and not an ounce more. Drag racing history tells us that Allan’s 
construction worked perfectly for Motovation’s 900lb weight. The car remains 
a work of automotive art that perfectly reflects the very best of British drag 
racing engineering of its time.
ll never do that again, ever! Really! 
One mistake we did make, and bitterly regretted, was to separate the drive 
shaft from the clutch and the clutch from the block. Our pressing need was 
only to paint the block and the two fuelie heads. All well and good until it was 
time to bolt it all back together again. We tried a modern clutch alignment 
tool. We borrowed a vintage 1950’s tin containing around fifteen clutch 
alignment tools but none would fit. Allan used a 40 pound flywheel, double 
floating clutch plates and a Weber long style pressure plate and cover. 
Overall the depth of his assembly was too great for any standard road car 
tool. Additionally all the diameters were Imperial – the bronze block insert, 
the clutch plates centres etc. Solution – machine a bespoke item! An old 
splined shaft would have been perfect and, if the shaft and coupler 
combination on the car could have been separated from the can, then that 
would have also been a solution.  

After we removed the clutch can we had a chance to inspect the coupler. It’s 
a combination of an ultra shortened prop shaft, a cannibalised Land Rover 
U.J. and a home-made, multi-bolt circular joining plate. The two-piece 
aluminium coupler drive cover is a purpose built TIG welded item as is the 
clutch can. Like the rest of the car it perfectly fits its purpose with the lightest 
weight combined with only a ‘modicum of a margin of safety”. By today’s 
standards it would attract several expletives and a ‘you must be joking’ 
outburst from any vigilant scrutineer – followed swiftly by an adamant refusal 
to race.  
Motovation, Allan Herridge, Don and Tony Beadle  
Motovation, like Herridge and the Beadle Brothers, is important in British
drag racing circles and one racer that we spoke to even referred to
Motovation as ‘a holy-grail car’. We share that view but we must also never
forget the three men who created it. We therefore think that, like Sydney
Allard’s dragster, we must also acknowledge that there are so many other
dragsters, funny cars, altered’s and doorslammer’s, their drivers, crews and
owners that should also have their significant milestone contributions marked
in some permanent and public way. The whereabouts of Sydney Allard’s
dragster was, I think, always known and he and it are significant in our sports
history. His dragster’s restoration and public display is a credit to those who
restored it and to those who kept it safe over the long years after its drag
racing retirement.
The history of our U.K. arm of the sport has so far not been collated and 
enshrined into a building, a museum or an interactive public display such as 
those we might visit in the U.S.A. – Garlits collection in Ocala, NHRA 
Motorsports Museum in Pomona, Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation 
in Los Angeles. Maybe it’s time our U.K. history had its story told through its 
machines, its racers, its photos, their memorabilia and the anecdotes and 
events that mark our sport that dates back to the 1950’s and 60’s. We have 
the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame. Perhaps we need our own ‘Hall of 
Machines’ – with our once fire breathing, ground pounding iconic monsters 
up close and tamed. 

 Copyright 2023, Harry Joseph