When John said we were going to the races I pictured a Maserati Granturismo (in my favourite British Racing Green) streaking past me like a blur, or that amazing car built with an aircraft turbine engine that I watched charging up the track at Goodwood Race Course last summer. What I got instead was a horde of madly dressed and slightly eccentric people pushing perambulators and varieties thereof through the streets of Pagham to raise money for charity and generally entertain the 3,000 people and 4 cats that were there to experience the fun. Who needs the thrill of Italian sports cars when you can watch the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and 2 grown men in Harry Enfield scouser wigs and leopard print onesies strolling up the road in 2°c. The other cats were Jess (Postman’s Pat’s black and white cat) and 2 cheeky white cats from the Cat. Rabbit and Guinea Pig Rescue!
Apparently, on Boxing Day every year whatever the weather, as many as 60 entrants complete the 3 mile course in fantastically designed floats accompanied by weird and wonderful fancy dress costumes. The tradition goes back 60 years and participants come from across the world to take part in the wacky event which involves no running and the consumption of 3 pints of beer along the way. That’s my kind of race! Well it would be if you changed the pram for a bed and the beer for cat-milk and the cold air for a warm fire! One person who needed a warm fire far more than I did was the rather brave young gentleman in a bobble-hat and elephant style underpants being pushed by his mate with a bare bottom! This race is not for the faint-hearted, for a multitude of reasons!
Despite my joking earlier about the difference between Pagham Pram Race and the Goodwood Festival of Speed, there is a connection with one of the world’s prestigious automobile races, Le Mans (an endurance racing event held at a circuit in France). This connection comes in the form of Pagham Pram Race President Derek Bell, a sports car driver who won Le Mans five times in the 80’s and who attended the Festival of Speed in 2014 to be awarded a plaque in recognition of his 50 years in motorsport. He probably wouldn’t have received this accolade if he had been driving the pram version of the General Lee (the car driven by Bo and Luke Duke from the Dukes of Hazzard)!