Fife motorsport fans hope to solve an 84-year mystery with links to Hitler and the death of a Scottish champion.
Members of Kirkcaldy and District Motor Club will display a priceless trophy, awarded to 1930s motorcycling star Jimmie Guthrie, during their centenary celebrations next year.
But as they prepare for an exhibition at Kirkcaldy Museum, they are appealing for more information about the trophy.
The 40-year-old was killed in a crash during the 1937 German Grand Prix.
Mystery surrounds the cause of the high-speed smash, with some saying it was an accident and others claiming sabotage.
However, the bronze and marble prize, originally destined for the fastest German rider, was instead given to Guthrie’s family and eventually made its way to the Kirkcaldy club.
And it was presented to the winner of the senior race in an annual event held at the town’s Beveridge Park until 1988.
Club secretary Jake Drummond said: “We want to let everybody know the history of the trophy and also find out who received it in the years prior to Guthrie’s death.”
Guthrie’s body guarded by Nazi soldiers
Guthrie, from Hawick, was the Valentino Rossi of his day, with 32 major titles under his belt and admirers across the world.
Among them was Adolf Hitler, who presented him with the winner’s trophy at the 1935 and 1936 German Grand Prix.
But a year later as Guthrie led the field in the same competition, he came off his bike during the last lap and was thrown into trees.
A picture later emerged of a deceased Guthrie lying on a hospital bed with four Nazi soldiers standing guard and a Swastika ribbon on his body.
Jake says the rider’s teammates initially put the crash down to mechanical failure.
However, years later Irish rider Stanley Woods claimed he witnessed a German rider force Guthrie off the track.
“A year after Guthrie was killed, that rider was banned from racing for a similar thing,” said Jake.
“There’s speculation that the Norton team didn’t want to upset the Nazis as the political situation was delicate so they said it was engine failure.
“And there’s also a theory that the Nazis were determined it would be a German rider who won as they wanted to show they were part of the master race.”
Trophy was kept in a coal shed due to Hitler connection
Hitler reportedly shed tears over Guthrie’s death and insisted his personal train take his body to the border.
When the rider eventually arrived in Hawick, there was a huge turnout of locals determined to pay their respects.
And the trophy, which had been meant for the German rider with the fastest lap, was handed over to Guthrie’s family.
However, motorcycle racer and journalist Graham Walker – father of the legendary commentator Murray Walker – persuaded them to donate it to the Kirkcaldy club in 1949.
“We were the first club in Scotland to run a motorcycle road race and we also had links with Guthrie, who used to race at our events on the sand here,” Jake said.
“We presented the trophy to the winner of the senior event at Beveridge Park every year.
“And they generally went on to win the Scottish Championship that year.”
But the 90cm-tall winged messenger of the gods figure is worth a fortune due to its provenance.
“We stopped letting the winning rider take it home in the early 70s because of its value,” said Jake.
“One year we found out a winner’s wife wouldn’t let him keep it in the house because of its dark past and it spent a year in a coal shed.
“Another winner kept it in his garden next to his pond.”
‘People called it the Hitler Trophy but now we call it Wee Jimmie’
Jake added: “It’s a shame the trophy gained the bad reputation it did.
“People called it the Hitler Trophy and it was renamed the County Motors Challenge Trophy to take the stigma away.
“It was raw for people who had lost family in the war.
“And it must have been tough for them to hear Hitler’s name, hence the new name.
“Now we all just call it Wee Jimmie.”
While the statue’s amazing story is little known outside motor racing circles, it’s famous among fans of the sport.
And club members take it to motorcycle events across Britain to show it off.
Not only is it a talking point but it helps the club raise money for various charities.
“People want their pictures taken with it and we ask them to put a pound in our bucket,” said Jake.
“The money goes to the Blood Bikes or whatever charity we’re collecting for at the time.”
Kirkcaldy club’s centenary celebrations
Kirkcaldy and District Motor Club is planning a motorcycle show as part of its 100th anniversary celebrations in 2022.
And it also hopes to hold a month-long display at the town’s museum.
The trophy will be one of the main attractions, along with other memorabilia, including bikes used by club members over the years.
And the club is looking for more material held by past members, as well as further information about the trophy.
President Hugh Ward said: “We hold all the club’s historical records and books but for our centenary we are on the lookout for new material or photographs that may have been hidden away.
“And certainly we’d like any new information that could cast more light on what really happened on the German Grand Prix racetrack all these years ago.
“The trophy has become only part of our club’s rich history.”
Anyone with information can contact Jake Drummond on 01592 650562 or email email@example.com
More on the club’s history is laid out in a series of archive publications, which are on sale.