Towards the end of 1983 I finished the rebuild of the former Chris Pickup (50) ‘E’ Type Jag powered Spitfire bodied car and made a return to BriSCA F1 at one of Brafields late season meetings. As one of the few low budget cars in attendance, it went as well as expected and very little needed doing for the coming year.
My 1984 track visits as a spectator started early with a trip to the New Years Day BriSCA F1 races at Long Eaton.
Every now and then, when I felt the inclination, I’d take the stock car to Brafield , to join in the fun. During the winter months, the only changes made to the car were the cutting out of some side windows for better vision, and the construction of a stronger rear bumper as I figured I was going to be hit more often !
Pat, Carla and I , were still living in our small bungalow in Maidford Northants and the 30 minute drive to work each day in Milton Keynes was starting to become a bind. We needed a place with a bit more room, and nearer to civilization.
Maidford was way out in the ‘boonies’ and the nearest towns were either Towcester or Daventry.
It was also very close to the world famous Silverstone Racing Circuit and on F1 Grand Prix day you could hear the cars from our back yard (which we didn’t mind)
In the Spring time the bungalow was put on the market and we started looking for somewhere else to live nearer to my work. I was still employed by Darby’s Transport, driving Atkinsons and Leylands, on contract to the BEJAM Freezer Food company at their Milton Keynes Cold Store in Wolverton .
On Tuesday July 3 we were at the Groveway Stadium in Milton Keynes to watch the MK Knights Motor Cycle Speedway team. They were in a National League match against the Arena Essex Radio “Hammers”. At this time my Dad was working for a company in Luton called Fine Stamps. They were sponsoring the evening, so we were there as guests.
On August ( 4/5 ) Brafield hosted the European Championship for BriSCA F1, which was televised by London Weekend Television for the weekly ‘World of Sport’ program. As a novelty race, and most likely staged especially for the cameras, we were treated to some double decker buses in action. Half a dozen ex London Transport buses took to the track for a dash around the quarter mile oval.
The big race for F1 stock cars turned out to be good for the cameras too, with a conclusion that could not have been better, if it had been stage managed.
Harry Smith (100) , a flamboyant northern driver, sadly no longer with us, looked unbeatable that weekend. He was out at the front and leading the pack, until five laps to go, when John Cayzer (495) arrived on his tail. The two of them dueled for the remaining laps with Smith slightly ahead as they powered towards the last bend. At this point Cayzer chose to make his move, and with his foot to the floor, he gave Smith a hefty hit on the back bumper, sending him wide and close to the fence. While Smith floundered, Cayzer nipped past to grab the checkers. After losing ground Smith recovered to claim second. It was great stuff and a perfect example of how to use the bumper, and definitely one of the best televised UK stock car races I’ve ever seen. I was there watching that day, so had my VHS recorder set up at home to tape it. I still have it in my collection to this day !
On the August 19, I was back at Brafield, with my car, giving it a run.
The 1984 BriSCA F2 World Final was held in Scotland at the Newtongrange Stadium ( 8/9 Sept) and was won by long distance traveler, Malc Locke (598) from Dorset in the South of England.
The Superstox World Final was held at the Tilburg track in the Netherlands where Anthony VD Oetelaar retained his ‘gold-top’. I didn’t attend either of these events. Anthony was the son of Reading, Berks, 1960’s , F1 Stock Car driver, Barry VD Oetelaar, # 386 , who returned to his native Netherlands to become a promoter.
The BriSCA F1 World Final was held at Belle Vue, Manchester ( Sept 15 ) and had an impressive line-up of overseas representatives. From New Zealand there was Dave Evans and Brian Anderson, From South Africa there was Harry V/D Spuij , the Netherlands were represented by Rien Rutgens , Pete Keyzer, Leon Cox and Cees Soeters , then from across the Atlantic came Americans Jim Brown and Willie Elliott.
One week after Belle Vue, I joined the growing band of traveling BriSCA F1 fans to cross the English Channel for the Long Track World Final at Baarlo ( 22/23 Sept). Saturdays preliminary heats saw Friedhelm Welters (8) in a class of his own, he looked unbeatable and an easy bet for Sunday’s big race.
Stuart Smith obviously realized this too, because before the first lap was completed he’d pushed Welters hard into the crash barrier, where he flipped over and on to his side. The race came under red flag conditions while the Dutchman’s car was put back on all-fours. On the restart Leon Cox took the lead, but was soon passed by eventual winner Rien Rutjens who took his third consecutive Long Track World Final victory.
While I was at Baarlo, a sad event was taking place back in the UK. September 22 turned out to be the last ever night of racing at the Leicester Stadium. The land on which the track was located had been bought by a building company and construction was about to begin on a housing development. Mick Noden (306) of Rugby in Warwickshire won the historic last ever BriSCA F1 final.
Our modes of transport at this time were still the old faithful, Austin A60 Camebridge and the BL Princess that had previously belonged to my Dad. We didn’t keep The Princess long, and soon after moving to Hartwell we traded it for a 4-2 litre Jaguar XJ6.
My job with Darby’s Transport involved working alongside BEJAM’s company drivers doing the exact same job, but as a contractor I got paid a lot less. Obviously I wanted to make the transition, but there was a ‘gentlemens agreement’ in place, where the company didn’t hire ( poach) contractor drivers. I liked the work I was doing and planned to look elsewhere for a job, (temporarily) , so I’d then be in a position to apply.
Once I got offered alternative employment, I handed in my notice.
I was no longer working for Darby’s the contractor so within a few days, I was eligible to apply as a Bejam company driver.
I was accepted straight away , so never needed to take up the alternative ‘new job’ .
The first truck I drove for BEJAM was a Swedish built SCANIA painted up in the colors of their subsidiary company Milton Keynes Cold Stores. This part of the company specialized in ice cream deliveries.
I’ve been a trucker for most of my life and after driving 30 different makes from around the world, I still rate SCANIA as my favorite.
While I’d been working for Darby’s, I bought my diesel from SHELL outlets and had become a member of the SHELL DIESEL DRIVERS CLUB.
I received the club magazine and was lucky enough to win a competition they were running.
The prize was a day out at the races ! SHELL were one of the sponsors at the MULTIPART TRUCK GRAND PRIX held at the Donnington Park Circuit in Derbyshire ( 29/30 SEPT) and my family and I , were going to be their guests.
Don’t be confused, this was a race for real trucks, not the little pick-up truck variety that are common around the race tracks these days.
Donnington Park , close to the Long Eaton Stadium had quite a checkered history, and it was a track I’d never visited before so was an event I was really looking forward to it.
On arrival we were greeted by the top brass of SHELL and were welcomed in to their courtesy double decker bus. The top deck was converted into a restaurant where a meal was laid out for us. Following the food we were introduced to some of the drivers taking part, and issued with our seats in the grandstand.
The racing was split into three classes, up to 300 HP, 300 to 350 HP, and over 350 HP. The drivers had come from all over Europe to compete and included a few names I was familiar with. In the 300 to 350 HP class, former World Motor Cycle Racing Champion Barry Sheene was driving a DAF 3300. Other trucks programmed for this class , were a Leyland, Scammel, ERF, Ford Transcontinental, Mercedes, Volvo, Fiat, MAN, SCANIA and Renault. The over 350 HP class included two big names from the oval racing world. Hot Rod driver Paul Grimer was racing a DAF and former SCOTA/FISCA F1 Stock Car World Champion Ian Ireland was in a Volvo.
Making things interesting in this class were two Hanomag-Henschel’s, a pair of Magirus Deutz’s and a Foden.
It was a really enjoyable day and a great experience.
The rest of our year was spent, as we began it, attending our local Coventry and Brafield races.