Kids put their pedals to the metal in Goodwood’s Settrington Cup race

We think little Leo Evans spilled the beans at the Goodwood Revival, which somehow seems appropriate considering how much the Brits love their beans (they even serve them at breakfast). Besides, what do you expect from an impressionable kid? He was simply answering an announcer’s question as truthfully as possible, much to the chagrin of his father.

No matter. All’s well that ends well in the annual Settrington Cup pedal car race.

Some 74 entrants, ages 11 and under, competed in the 238-yard race on the front straight at the famed Goodwood Motor Circuit near Chichester, England. Mimicking the actual circuit that the grownups race on, the kids’ course included a chicane for the young drivers to maneuver through. Even better, the race—the first of two during the weekend—began with a Le Mans-style start in which the drivers sprint across the track and pedal away as quickly as possible.

Goodwood Settrington Pedal Car Race
Mike Shaffer

Prior to that mad and entertaining dash, however, the large crowd gathered at Goodwood erupted in laughter when a brave commentator approached pint-sized Leo in car #14 and asked a seemingly innocent question, “How old are you?”

“I’m three,” Leo answered, “but Daddy says I’m four.”

“I’m sure Daddy was encouraging Leo to say four,” the announcer explained, “because four is the minimum age to compete.”

The fans and announcers got a good chuckle, and the race began moments later. As we were delighted to learn last year, the trackside commentators played it straight and described the action as if the cars were motor-powered instead of pedal-powered.

“Now a huge amount of tension… We’re waiting for the starter now. As they run over and leap in, it will be game on. And away they go! Get in the car… Make sure the pedals are in the right place! That’s a big fiddle to get in there… and away we go!

“We’ve already got an early leader! A blue car heading away! Two blue cars heading away… frantically pedaling… Joe Stanley going hard. The #1 car… Joe Stanley it is. This is a terrific run into the flag. Joe Stanley gets the checkered flag. Victory there for Joe Stanley!”

Samuel Lewis placed second, and Alex Gadjos was third.

All fun and games, you say? Not when you consider that every entrant drove an Austin J40 pedal car, which were built beginning in 1949 for well-to-do children. The announcer said as much in the pre-race analysis, explaining that a J40 cost about £27 in 1950, which is equal to about $1145 today. “If you had one of these as a child,” he said, “you were a very privileged child indeed.”

Finding one today will cost an astounding $5000–$7000. And what does the winner get? A chocolate bar—and, of course, bragging rights as the fastest little legs in the world.

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