John Price first commentated at Santa Pod from 1981 to 1987. He then worked at York Raceway for five or six years but also resumed commentating at Santa Pod in 1990, continuing there, except for a year at Avon Park’s Super Series events in 1997-8, until his retirement from Drag Racing in 2008.
John began DJ’ing aged 21, and it was his musical activities which would bring him to Drag Racing’s attention. He worked for Roger Squires, a mobile disco pioneer in the late 1960s/early ‘70s, presenting many gigs in his native London area, and then for a music management company whose clients included Alvin Stardust and the Rubettes.
At one of his gigs, John met Nick Shanley, then chairman of the National Association of Street Clubs. As a result, John was engaged to DJ at NASC Nationals events such as Knebworth and Bruntingthorpe, and at Gary’s Picnic when it took place at Santa Pod Raceway. During one of these events he was introduced to Ron Clarke, promoter of custom car shows around the country.
At one of Ron’s shows in Leeds (which was badly weather affected – perhaps an omen of things to come) John encountered a group from Santa Pod Raceway. Dave Prior, who organised Santa Pod’s displays, asked John to host a Santa Pod show at Milton Keynes shopping centre. Santa Pod’s owner, Roy Phelps, then interviewed him for the position of track commentator, recently vacated by Brian Taylor, and John started the job in March 1981.
Many followers of the sport at that time will recall John masquerading as Captain Chaos – on roller skates! – to promote Santa Pod’s association with the film The Cannonball Run, the launchpad for the venue’s famous series of ‘Cannonball’ race meetings.
John’s car show engagements continued. In 1982 he served as Show Host of the London Custom Car Show at Olympia, which entailed him working on the Radio One Roadshow stand. As a freelancer not employed by Radio One, he could not resist wearing a t-shirt inscribed with the motto ‘I’m not famous’, much to the Radio One producer’s annoyance.
John’s only venture on to the track was to drive a Radio Luxembourg-emblazoned Mustang in a grudge match against Radio One’s Simon Bates – after which he promptly retired from racing.
He presented ITV Anglia’s Drag Racing coverage in the late 1980s, along with European races for Sky. Thus, by the 1990s he had become the face, and voice, of Drag Racing on TV. His Sky commentaries included many other motorsport disciplines too. Since retiring from the Drag Racing scene John has continued to inform and entertain the crowds at car shows just as he did from the commentary box at the Dragstrip.
It is for the quality and enthusiasm of his commentary contributions to UK Drag Racing, at the track and via television, media and car shows, that John Price is hereby inducted into membership of the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
Profile By Simon Groves