1989 RETRO REPORT
1988 was a bad year for me, as far as my health was concerned.I’d suffered from sudden attacks of extreme pain which the doctors put down to kidney stones. No stones were actually found , and they told me I was most likely passing grit.
As the year came to an end I had another issue to deal with, concerning my employment. Bejam , where I’d been working for the last few years were involved in a hostile take over bid. Iceland, a smaller rival company surprised the financial world by attempting to take over the freezer food giant. No body really expected the take over bid to succeed , but some how it did. After the initial worry, I started 1989 with Iceland as my employer. As you’d expect, there was a lot of uncertainty as the new bosses started to make changes. At one stage it looked like our family might need to relocate.
After more than three months without a pain attack, I thought my kidney stone problems were over, but I was wrong. While I was at work on Jan 24, I had another. I was delivering to one of the companies stores when it happened and had to be taken to hospital in Watford (Herts).
The first race meeting of the year that I attended was the Brafield opener for BriSCA F1’s on March 12. It was won by long distance traveler Mike James (417) from St Austell, in Cornwall. He’d been a star driver in BriSCA F2 who had switched over to the big league.
The next Brafield meeting on March 26 set the trend for much of the year as Pete Falding (33) won his first of many 1989 Finals.
A week later , I was at the Coventry opener on April 1 which was won by John Lund (53)
On April 7 a new track was introduced to the BriSCA fold with the opening of the paved Birmingham Wheels Raceway, right in the center of the nations ‘second city’. I was there at the historic F1 opener where once again Pete Falding took the checkers.
Another edition to the BriSCA fixtures this year was the return of the Abbey Stadium at Swindon.
I first visited this track back in 1968 with my dad, and was looking forward to the re-opener for BriSCA F2’s on April 15.
The next day I was watching the F1’s at Brafield where Pete Falding once again took the spoils. He did the same thing at Brafield two weeks later on 30 April.
In to the month of May and I was at the usual ‘first Saturday’ session for F1’s at Coventry, where Des Chandler (213) took a win.
On Wednesday May 10, we took off for another of our ‘Hi di Hi’ holidays with a package tour to Spain. We flew out of Luton Airport for a week on the Costa Brava. We stayed at the Taurus Park Hotel at Pineda De Mar . We rented a SEAT Panda to get around while we were there , but no racing visits took place ! We took off in our rental car and I was able to visit Llanfranch, the beautiful little coastal resort on the Costa Brava , I had visited with my parents for camping holidays as a child.
On our return from Spain, we made another trip to watch the F2’s at Swindon on May 20. Malc. Locke from Dorset won this one.
The desire to get back into F2 racing was still there and when I spotted a F2 car parked beside a nearby garage at Paulerspury, Northants I inquired if it was for sale. Indeed it was, and after a bit of bartering, it became mine.
I have to admit, this was hasty decision , that I would regret, and should have looked around, before buying. In hindsight , it turned out to be a real waste of time and never competitive. The guy that sold it to me was the garage owner and not the former driver. The name and number on the car was (738) Steve Johnson, someone I was unfamiliar with.
Before that, it was driven by Roy Page (677) from Yorkshire.
My plan was to have it ready, and be out racing at the next Swindon meeting. In between work and attending other race meetings my spare time was spent fixing it up, and re painting with my name and number.
On May 28 Peter Falding won yet another Final at Brafield whereas Dave Mellor took the win at Coventry on the June 3.
One of the high profile promoters at this time was Vince Moody and his TRACKSTAR organization was regularly putting on ‘back to back’ Sunday races at their Lincolnshire tracks of Skegness and Boston. Skeggy would run in the afternoon and Boston in the evening.
I wasn’t too bothered about traveling up for the daytime races, but liked the idea of Sunday nights at Boston.
We could spend most of Sunday doing family things before heading off to the races in the evening. What made it even more appealing was the fact that Boston was a shale track (dirt) which usually provided more exciting racing.
This fact was evident on June 4 when we witnessed a BriSCA F1 Final race, full of carnage, where only three cars were left running at the end. It was John Lund who took the checkers.
Sunday nights at Boston became one of our favorite outings, which were always finished off with some late night fish and chips in the village of Market Deeping.
On June 11 , we were up at the Hednesford Hills Raceway for the F1 European Championship. There were plenty of overseas drivers present but once again it was Peter Falding in Victory Lane.
By Saturday June 17 my BriSCA F2 was ready to race and we towed it to Swindon on a trailer behind our Volvo. All remember about that night, was being involved in a skirmish where the ‘bang’ resulted in the electrical wiring getting burned out.
I don’t know whether it was anything to do with what happened at Swindon or not, but the following day I had another of my pain attacks. It lasted for one hour before the pain subsided. This would turn out to be one of the last of my attacks.
The following week we were at Brafield on Jun 25 and Coventry on July 1 watching the F1’s before heading up to Skegness for the weekend of July 8/9 with the F2.
It was a two day event so we took our tent and stayed overnight in the camping field/pits.
This was a another disastrous weekend with the main crank shaft retaining bolt parting company before the car even got on the track. The errant bolt could not be found and the race car had to be put back on to the trailer. We decided to stay at the track and see the weekends events, which also proved to be a bad move.
Unfortunately we were camping close to a bunch of noisy drunken revelers who wanted to ‘party’ all night until 4 .00 am in the morning. It was almost impossible to get any sleep.
On July 23 it was the F1 World Final Semi at Brafield and we were there to watch Ray Tyldesley (85) take the win.
My father had lived in Totland on the Isle of Wight during WW2 when , my Grandfather was stationed there while working at The Needles for the military.
We didn’t see any racing on this vacation, but were back home in time to be at Coventry on Saturday Aug 5 to see yet another Falding win.
The Spedeworth Superstox World Final was held at the Wisbech Stadium in Cambridgeshire the next day but we missed this one where Gary Sparkes won the gold.
On the weekend of Aug 12/13 we attended a different kind of racing when we went along to the local Silverstone Circuit for the Truck Grand Prix. While we were there Pat took advantage of the helicopter rides that were on offer.
On Aug 19 we were back at Swindon with the F2 and I was pleased to come away with no damage and a seventh place in the consolation.
At this time he was racing for the De Berk team and would be driving one of their cars. Willem lived in Friesland and the team were based in Limburg, so he and Anne traveled over to England by themselves. They stayed at our house and met up with the team at the track.
Unfortunately the team didn’t bring their best car , instead of bringing the competitive Rien Rutjens built car , they brought a dated former John Neis car. May be it was the fear of ‘wrecking the good one’, but who knows ? The outcome was obvious, the car was uncompetitive and in the early stages of the race Willem got shunted out.
The damaged De Berk car wasn’t fit enough to compete at the traditional ‘day after’ meeting at Brafield, so Willem and Anne joined us, in the role of spectators.
As usual we combined this event with a short camping vacation, but this time, without our caravan. We did one of the quick 60 hour return trips from Dover to Ostende , so decided to make do with our tent and save a bit of money. We arrived at our regular campsite , the De Bercht, on Thursday which still gave us plenty of time to spend in the Venlo area.On Friday we took the small ferry boat from the village of Baarlo and drove into the city.
On October 7 we made our usual monthly visit to Coventry where Frankie Wainman Jr (515) took the win. This was the first time I witnessed a win by the second generation driver.
I saw another new F1 winner the following weekend when Mark Wareham (401) won at Brafield (15 Oct).
We took off for another short holiday at the end of October when on Wed 25 we traveled via the Sally Line from Ramsgate to Dunkirk in France.
We were able to park our Volvo in the pits next to Willem’s Mercedes camper, and the stock car transporter.
There were plenty of cars in attendance for the staging of the Open Netherlands Championship. Willem was racing the same Peter De Berk car that he’d raced at Baarlo. When the racing was over we bid our farewell’s and departed in the direction of France and the ferry boat home to England.
By now the UK racing season was almost over, and I finished my year by attending Coventry (Nov 4), Long Eaton (Nov 11) and Brafield (Nov 12). Coventry was won by Ray Tyldesley (85) , Long Eaton by Bobby Burns (471) and Brafield by John Lund (53).
One week after the racing season ended I suffered another attack of pain. This resulted in another return to the medics and on Dec 14 , I had an appointment to have X rays at the Milton Keynes hospital.
After a disappointing year with my F2 , the winter months were spent working on the engine and a change of bodywork, while I decided on my next move.