as Old as the Industry, as modern as the Hour

From their first entry into the world of Motorsport, Riley built up a formidable reputation across both Britain and Europe. The range of events that Riley entered was vast, but below are a few explanations of them:

Hill Climbs

The earliest events Rileys are recorded as entering are Hill Climbs. In the early days of motoring, getting a car to ascend a steep hill was surprisingly difficult, and to do it at speed even more so. Riley, however, managed to excel at such events as Dashwood, Kettleby and Shelsey Walsh, with frequent class wins, if not outright wins and sometimes even record times. Even today there are many Rileys used at these events.

Reliability Trials

Reliability Trials may seem today to be nonsense, but even in the 1920s, getting your new car further than the end of the street required many skills that we no longer need with todays computer controlled cars. Therefore, driving a car from London to Edinburgh (along the old Great North Road) for example was a huge adventure, which Rileys managed to acheive on most occasions at such events. Not only did the Rileys entered reach their destination within the allotted time, they often won medals, if not their classes for fewest breakdowns, fastest time or economy.

Monte Carlo Rally

The 'Monte' is perhaps the most famous and glamorous event in motor racing, but over the years it has changed and evolved a lot too. In the 1920s and 30s there were a variety of starting points on offer, and the rules and classifications could take a whole book to explain. Suffice to say that no matter where Rileys started, they could record class wins and medals for reliability, etc. Unfortunately, full details of all of the Riley entries for this event are not known.

Tourist Trophy

The Tourist Trophy, or TT is perhaps most famously associated with the Isle of Man, but the events for cars were generally held in Northern Ireladn during the 1920s and 30s. Many Rileys were entered, as evidenced by the 12/6 TT Racer and later TT Sprite factory racing cars. Again, Rileys acheived many high placings, including some wins under the handicap system. The trophy is still awarded today, but is no longer an event in its own right.


As the UKs premier racing circuit between the wars, a huge variety of races, trials and so on were held at the circuit. It could also be hired out for performance runs, whereby the car(s) would circulate continuously for as long as possible (allowing for changes of driver / fuel filling) to set average speed records for anything from 100 to 5000 km, and also 2 - 48 hours. Similar feats could be acheived at other circuits in Europe, and when Riley cars attempted such records, they often surpassed the previous benchmark.

Le Mans

Riley cars were entered at Le Mans from 1932-36, acheiving some impressive results. Then, as now, there were various classes at Le Mans, but unlike today, the cars in the 30s had to be essentially road going models as available to the public. There only needed to be 2 drivers per car, but otherwise the rules were generally similar to those still in force today, with the car completing the furthest distance, and still running after 24 hours declared the winner.

Grand Prix

Grand Prix in the 1920s and 30s are barely comparable with the modern Formula 1 series that has been running since 1950. Up until the mid 1930s, the variety of Grand Prix events each year, in addition to the main championship races, meant that Rileys could be competitive in a number of events, whether sports car Grand Prix with different classes for entries, or 'voiturette' Grand Prix for light sports cars as opposed to the much larger racing cars.