Member Inducted 2012
Dave Lee Travis (DLT)
Dave Lee Travis spent most of the 1970s driving a Chevrolet
powered Escort called Tender Trap that ran 10s and a Top Fuel
Dragster called The Needle that got down to mid six second runs at
over 220 mph. As a Radio and TV presenter he was able to give drag
racing a huge media profile; a major factor in broadening the
sport's appeal. He was a great ambassador for the sport and it is
for this constant and never matched high level promotion of the
sport that he has been inducted into the British Drag Racing Hall
In the late 1960s Dave Lee Travis was broadcasting on the pirate
radio station Caroline North that was moored just off the
Lancashire coast and the car cruises and shows held in his home
town of Manchester during that time fired his initial interest in
American cars. He did a spell as tour manager for Herman's Hermits
when the group played USA venues and he saw the occasional hot rod
around the beach area whilst hanging out with Bobby Vee and Freddie
Cannon who were on the same tour (how's that for name dropping?).
This increased his interest.
On returning to the UK his first drag race meeting was at
Blackbushe in 1970. By this time he was broadcasting on Radio One.
He had started to read Custom Car Magazine and others of
the same ilk, being drawn by the customising aspect rather than any
racing activity. He loved the radical nature of those involved and
slowly became drawn into the scene. He was asked to open the
Crystal Palace Custom Car Show in 1972 (he had walked the
show in the previous year) and then started attending Santa Pod on
a regular basis. He just loved the whole atmosphere. He felt as if
he was with like-minded people who loved all these mad cars. He
recalls it being great fun with the music, the racing and the
He obtained a monkey bike to run around the pits. He always
remembers the reaction from the crowd when he tried to do a burnout
holding the bike against the gantry post as most of the competition
bike riders did at that time to warm up their rear slicks. When he
opened up the throttle all that happened was the rear wheel
bouncing up and down - an early example of tyre shake you might
say. The crowd roared and he knew he could add a different
dimension to the drag racing show - 'messing about' DLT style.
Hence, pogo stick racing, bar stool racing and so on. The flame
burnout on roller skates is one episode he can never forget. The
most worrying thing was that the man with the cigarette lighter in
his hand and squirting the lighter fuel over his feet was Ronnie
Picardo. Now that was scary.
His first experience of driving a drag racing car was in John
Ledster's Mustang. It was a great thrill and John, along with
Dennis Mutton who let him drive his Torino, was directly
responsible for what followed. He just wanted to go faster and new
he had to drive in competition.
He loved being a member of The Stones Racing Team and driving
the Chevy powered Tender Trap. They were such a great bunch and
when it came to preparing the car there was nobody better. Backed
by Santa Pod Raceway he then moved on to The Needle Top Fuel
dragster. He recalls taking the car to Brands Hatch to do burnout
demonstration at a Radio One Road Show event. The car was
surrounded by lots of knowledgeable circuit racing folks - drivers,
pit crew, posers - all looking at the car with knowing smiles as if
to say it can't be much if it's being driven by a DJ. Before they
fired it up Dave warned,
"I wouldn't stand too close when we fire it up because
it's a bit noisy".
They didn't move much and indicated that they knew what to
expect. They fired up the car. Did they run for cover? He loved
By that time the DLT Road Show was the regular entertainment at
the BDR&HRA Annual Champions Trophy Night. He also took the
Radio One Road Show to broadcast live from Santa Pod with the stage
just behind the start area in front of the barn. Wrong!!! It caused
great problems for the producers back in London because the cars
were also running and there was no way they could deal with the
sound levels or vibrations. Listeners were phoning up complaining
about the sound quality. Oops!!
By this time Peter Crane was heading his pit crew. Dave recalls
what an honour it was that the driver who had put down the first 5
second run in Europe was now helping him. The 6.6 second run in The
Needle was a highlight. It felt like a good run and he knew when
the team came down to pick him up that it was. They were going mad.
He was really pleased because he felt he gained a bit of extra
respect from the other racers after that performance - something
that was important to him. At the time, not many people in the UK
had run as quick or as fast.
But after the 6.6 he thought the time had come for a return to
the spectator banks. The only place to go as a racer was to be as
good as the likes of Dennis Priddle, Allan Herridge, Owen Hayward,
etc, and he knew he could never give the time to get to that level.
In later years drag racing was featured on his 'This is Your Life'
tribute with the Stones Racing Team on stage.
Click here to listen to DLT at the Radio 1 Roadshow from Santa