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A celebration of scrambling’s genesis

It was in late March 1924 that members of the Camberley Motorcycle Club organised a race for road-going motorcycles over two 25-mile laps of army-owned Surrey heathland. There was no name for this type of event, so, in deference to Yorkshire’s already well-established Scott Trial, it was entitled The Southern Scott … and described by the organisers as a “…right old scramble”. Just over 80 riders competed, including Rex Judd and Gus Kuhn, although it was local lad Arthur Sparks, appropriately mounted on a Scott, who emerged as the winner after more than two hectic hours. The new sport of scrambling enjoyed enormous growth over the next quarter century, especially in Europe, where it was universally known as “Moto Cross”.

Move on nearly a century, and it was in 2021 that the Witley Motorcycle Club (established circa 1921, effectively serving riders in the Guildford area and always active with off-road competition events) was inspired to recognise scrambling’s 100th birthday. They began seeking permission from the Ministry of Defence – a complicated process – to re-enact a tribute event on the land upon which the original Southern Scott had been held. And, quite remarkably, they were allowed to plot a five-mile lap in precisely the same location; a difficult task, given the terrain is now extensively forested.

Approx 150 riders with a wide variety of machines duly pitched up for Scramble 100 on 24 March. Competitors, perhaps more accurately described as participants, were split into specific categories…whereupon a superb day’s relatively gentle riding unfolded for the benefit of a large crowd of classic enthusiasts scattered across Camberley Heath’s historic landscape. In addition to the bonus of an unusually sunny day, some members of the Sparks family were also in attendance. Whilst Olde England may have created both cricket and football for the globe’s 205 nations to enjoy, let’s not forget to add motocross to the UK’s generous list of bequests!

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