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First Singapore Grand Prix is held at Thomson Road circuit Sep 1961

The first Singapore Grand Prix at the Thomson Road circuit was held from 16 to 17 September 1961. It was part of a series of sporting events organised in support of the government-sponsored “Visit Singapore – The Orient Year” 1961 tourism campaign.[1] Organised by the Singapore Motor Club with sponsorship from the then Ministry of Culture (MOC), the event was held at Old Upper Thomson Road leading into New Upper Thomson Road.[2] The 3-mile long (about 4.8 km) circuit’s most distinctive stretch was a series of four bends called Snakes and a rounded V-bend called Devil’s. This bend was also the most dangerous turn of the circuit.[3]

The two-day event saw a total of nine races for cars and motorcycles. On the first day, seven races were held: three for motorcycles, two for cars of different engine capacities, one for vintage and post-vintage cars, and one for saloons and tourers. The main motorcycle and car races were held on the second day.[4] “Prof” Chris Proffitt-White, a Singapore Royal Air Force technician, won the motorcycle race riding a Honda, while Ian Barnwell, a rubber planter from Pahang, won the car race in his Aston Martin DB3S.[5]

After the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix in 1961, subsequent editions from 1962 to 1965 were renamed Malaysia Grand Prix.[6] It was once again called the Singapore Grand Prix from 1966, following Singapore’s independence from Malaysia.[7] After 13 editions, the annual racing event was discontinued in 1974, with safety concerns cited as the official reason.[8]

Singapore’s motor racing tradition was revived in September 2008 when it hosted the inaugural Formula One night race at the Marina Bay street circuit – The SingTel Singapore Grand Prix .[9]

1. Biggest-ever grand prix. (1961, August 10). The Straits Times, p. 15; James, J. (1960, November 23). Sport will draw the tourists here. The Singapore Free Press, p. 14; Now 1961 proclaimed as ‘Visit Singapore’ year. (1960, May 9). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; De Cotta, I. (2008). The Singapore Grand Prix: 50 years in the making (p. 11). Singapore: MediaCorp. Call no.: RSING 796.72095957 DEC.
2. Solomon, E. (2008). Snakes & devils: A history of the Singapore Grand Prix (pp. 14–17). Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions. Call no.: RSING  796.72095957 SOL; Subhas, G. (1961, September 15). At last: A grand prix that’s all our own. The Singapore Free Press, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Solomon, 2008, pp. 14–17; The Singapore Free Press, 15 Sep 1961, p. 7.
4. Solomon, 2008, pp. 14–15.
5. Mok, S. P. (1961, September 8). Grand Prix triumph for planter lan Barnwell. The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Solomon, 2008, pp. 21–23.
6. Solomon, 2008, p. 35; De Cotta, I, 2008, pp. 33–34.
7. Solomon, 2008, p. 99; $166,000 for S’pore Grandest Prix. (1966, January 20). The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. GP shock: 1974 meet is off. (1973, October 12). The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Thomas, L. (2008, September 28). As good as it gets. Today, p. 1; F1 circuit on track to being completed. (2008, July 28). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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