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Bristol 50

Chris Davies on 4th February 2022

This year marks the Fiftieth Anniversary of the first ever Bristol Powerboat race held in the docks. The course had been likened to the Monaco Grand Prix for its tight twisting turns which produced a lot of drama and excitement during the eighteen years that the race took place there the last of which was won by the local hero Mike Zamperelli back in 1990.

The Bristol Grand Prix was the brain wave of Charley Sheppard who had a vision of powerboat racing in the disused dock. That was back in 1972, an era when race boats were very primitive in construction but that didn’t put off that brave enough to take on Bristol. Multiple World Champion Renato Molinari once looked at the course and spoke.

I see where the boats go but where do the boats come back?

When he was informed that you go up the righthand side of the course and return down the left Molinari was stunned.

There have been many winners of the Bristol Grand Prix in various classes but the name everyone remembers is Bill Seebold. The hugely likeable American won many times but was probably best remembered for taking on the V8 guys with his smaller Mercury powered unit back in 1982.

The Monohull and T850 classes were well-supported ones and provided a spectacular display of grass roots racing over the years in front of the 250000 crowd that lined the dock side year after year.

To mark the anniversary Roy Cooper from the charity Fast on Water has once again organised an event to celebrate the occasion. He has always had a passion for racing at the docks and set up the charity to preserve the history of powerboat racing ever since the demise of the Motorboat Museum in Essex some ten years ago.

The Bristol 50 event will see on and off water activities including the opening of the temporary museum in Bristol of which the former F1 driver Dene Stallard has played a big part in getting it off the ground.

Also, there will be a trip up the old racecourse with the odd surprise along the way. Who can forget the last time this trip was taken as part of the Bristol 25 event when the lap record holder of the racecourse Steve Kerton overtook us in a beautifully restored Burgess raceboat.

Jason Mantripp a current hydroplane racer in the UK and a commentator for the sport for twenty-nine years said.

You could be forgiven if you can still hear the echoes of Race Commentator Robin Hursts voice bouncing off the dockside walls. Luckily for us he will be there at the reunion and I’m sure his microphone won’t be far away.

In fact, Robin will be the Host at the Bristol 50 event and will provide a familiar voice for those who were around at the time. In the evening we will be paying a special tribute to the legendary British racer Andrew Elliot who had powerboat racing running through his veins. He was a sad loss to the sport and even though he had retired from racing he was often seen at events lending a hand and always keen to offer advice. posted an story on Andy 26th of August HERE


”  Back in 1992 when I arrived in Chalon-sur-Soane at the UIM F1 Grand Prix of France, it suddenly dawned on me that making friends with as many drivers as quickly as possible would be the key to my success plus longevity as their official photographer.

So, when I was greeted with ‘awright Chrissy boy, how are you getting on’ my tough task began to feel achievable”.

A personal tribute to my very good friend Andy Elliott who passed away peacefully this morning.


Tickets for this event being held at Bristol Docks followed by an evening Gala Dinner at The Bristol Hotel formerly known as the Unicorn Hotel are available but selling out fast. Please go to for more information.

Phil55UK has uploaded a lot ot great action videos from Bristol to Youtube

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