Derek Hibbs was a long time race fan from Walthamstow in North London who I’d know for many years. Like me, he took photos of stock cars wherever he went. He’s now sadly passed away but many of his great photos still live on. Before he died, he passed many of his rare color shots over to present day photographer Mike Greenwood. Mike had the foresight to print them off and make them available to those that wanted nostalgic reminders. Paul and Joan Jenkins have been connected with the sport for many years and are currently the VSCA treasurer and secretary of the VSCA.
I was still working for Bejam , delivering to their frozen food stores from the Cold Store at Wolverton. It was only a short distance from our home in Cosgrove and I bought a 90cc Yamaha motor bike to travel to work.
During the course of my work week I’d visit many of the Bejam stores in my SCANIA that I’d plastered with stock car stickers.
On one occasion when delivering to the Tottenham store in North London, the manager spotted my stickers. It just so happened he was a stock car fan too, and as you would expect, we ended up getting into a long conversation. His name was Robin Shaw, we became good friends and from then on , I always stopped in for a chat and a cup of tea when making my delivery.
My first visit to the race tracks in 1987 was on March 8 went I went along to Brafield’s practice day.
I was back there a week later for the season opener for BriSCA F1’s which was won by John Cayzer (495).
I saw Mick Noden (306) win at Long Eaton on March 21 and Richard Ainsworth (354) take the honors at Brafields second meeting on March 29.
I was no longer taking an active role in racing, so was helping out Ian Dominey with his tow trucks.
The following week I took time off work so we could make a day trip to France in our recently acquired Ford Granada.
On April 4 it was the Coventry opener and as you’d expect, I was there, and saw Frankie Wainman (212) take the win.
The big news for 1987 had been the opening of the Mildenhall Stadium in Suffolk for BriSCA stock cars.
It had been running motor cycle speedway for a few years and on Sunday April 13, the Skegness promoter Vince Moody opened it up for oval racing’s elite. It was located right next to the huge USAF Mildenhall Airbase, so noise should never have been a problem ! We went along to the opener with Derek Manning, and witnessed Frankie Wainman (212) win the historic first final.
Two things I’ll always remember about this track were the excellent ‘Fish and Chips’ that were sold and the thunder of the nearby American Air force jets as they took off.
Not only had Vince Moody introduced Mildenhall Stadium to the BriSCA fold , but he was also bringing the Kings Lynn Stadium back under his TRACKSTAR organization. In the 1960’s the Norfolk track had been part of Chick Woodroffe’s Promotasport empire and in recent years had ran under Pete Baines with his independent Three Star organization.
The first meeting back under the BriSCA banner was on Saturday April 18 and it featured the Formula 2 stock cars.
My friend Ian Dominey hadn’t raced his BriSCA Formula 2 for some time and asked me if I’d like to drive it. I hadn’t raced since my F1 crash in the middle of 1986, and I was just itching to have another go.
After talking it over with Ian , I applied to race at the Kings Lynn opener.
As I took to the track in the heat race , the green flag dropped and I put my foot to the floor. As I said , Ian hadn’t raced the car for a while and as the accelerator pedal went down , it ‘stayed down’ with the throttle sticking wide open. It was quite a hairy experience, but I managed to get it round the first bend and quickly to the safety of the center.
Once back in the pits and a healthy application of ‘plus gas’ (or a similar penetrating oil) I was back out for the consi.
Russell Taylor won the Final.
Ian’s car was the best handling stock car I’d ever driven and I really enjoyed driving it. I came away from Kings Lynn with the thoughts of buying another F2 !
The next day, I was at Brafield helping Ian out on the tow trucks at the BriSCA F1 meeting which was won by Ray Tyldesley.
A week later on May 2 it was our monthly visit to Coventry where we saw Nigel Whorton take a victory.
From May 7 to 14 we went away on one of our ‘Hi de Hi’ holidays with no racing on the agenda.
Our destination was Sagres, on the Portuguese Algarve.
After returning from Portugal we attended Mildenhall on May 17, the F1 opener at KingsLynn on May 23 and Belle Vue on May 25.
As well as these we made our regular visits to Coventry (6 June / 4 July / 1 Aug ) and Brafield (30/31 May / 21 June, / 5 July / 19 July / 26 July) .
On Tuesday 14 July I made my last ever visit to the Milton Keynes Speedway to watch the MK Knights (motor-cycle speedway) take on the Edinburgh Monarchs. At this time my Dad was working for an engineering company in Luton called Fine Stamps. They were sponsoring the evening and we went along as their guests.
Following Willem Boschma’s visit to the UK in 1986 we’d kept in touch and as our friendship developed he and his family ( wife Anna, and his daughters Marie, Elsje and Nellie) visited us again on the weekend of 25/26 July. They were on their way to Scotland for a camping vacation, and before heading north they joined us for the Sunday afternoon races at Brafield.
Keith Jr and Michelle Emmett were about the same age as Pat and myself and there daughter Cerise was Carla’s age. They were not only members of the Showman’s Guild, but the family also owned a factory in Oxfordshire that manufactured amusement rides which I visited once with Keith. They also had a vintage Showmans Traction engine powered by steam which we went along to see when they took it out for a run.
The Emmetts became good friends while we were in Cosgrove and we planned another of our holidays around one of their ventures. During the summer months they owned and operated the amusement rides at a holiday camp near Exmouth in Devon so we planned a weeks camping down there with them.
Exmouth is conveniently close the Newton Abbott Racecourse and on 12 Aug we went along to see the BriSCA F2 races where Mike James took the Final victory.
We were back home in Cosgrove by the weekend and watching the BriSCA F1’s at Mildenhall on Sunday 16 Aug.
It was about this time ( I can’t remember the exact date) that I had an early evening phone call from my buddy Ian Dominey.
All he said was “I’ve got something for you, and I’m on my way over”.
He didn’t say what he’d got, but within 30 minutes he was parked outside my place with his flat bed recovery vehicle.
Sitting on the back was a stock car of the F2/Superstox variety. In the course of his work day he’d come across an old race car in some ones yard and was offered it, for 20 pounds.
It had # 40 John Goodman on the side which was a name and number I was unfamiliar with.
From the look of things, it was an old Spedeworth Superstox that had spent it’s last track appearances with the Arena Essex F3/Superstox.
While mentioning Ian and his business (Bedfordshire Recovery), I can recall a time when I went out with him on one of his car collections.
We drove over to Mildenhall to pick up a Chevrolet Camaro belonging to USAF serviceman who needed it transported to Bedfordshire for some transmission work. In a past RETRO report I told of my growing love for American cars and of course this only did more to fuel my passion.
On the weekend of 22/23 Aug it was the Long Track World Final at Baarlo in the Netherlands and for this one I was joined by Robin Shaw and his buddy Roy Jones for a quick weekend trip in my Granada.
Roy was a race fan from Hertfordshire who later took to the track in Spedeworth F1 Stock Cars (409) .
Pat and Carla decided to stay at home this time so it was a weekend away with the ‘boys’ for me. I took Friday off work and picked up Robin and Roy early in the morning near to the Harringay Stadium (North London) en route to Dover. The usual Sealink crossing to Ostend was used and we arrived at Baarlo on Friday night.
We took tents and camped at the De Becht site next to the track.
At the same time as the ‘Long Track’ was taking place in the Netherlands, back in the England the BriSCA F2’s were having their World Final at the Skegness Stadium. Dave Luscombe (642) was the winner of that one.
After returning from the Netherlands, I was at the BriSCA F1 meetings at Brafield on Aug 30 and Coventry on Sept 5.
On Sunday Sept 13 the Spedeworth Superstox World Final was taking place at the Kaldenkirchen track in Germany but I missed that one. Martyn Brand from Lincolnshire was the winner.
Willem hadn’t been selected to represent the Netherlands this year so came over with a bunch of his buddies to watch the race. Foreign drivers included, Dutchmen Chris Hof, Chris Bimmel, Leon Cox, Piet Keijzer, Mat De Le Roy and Koos Pieters as well as Warren McIntyre of New Zealand. Winner of the big one that night was John Lund (53).
Following the three hour drive back from Manchester to Cosgrove we had a full house that night. Willem and his buddies as well as the Van Goot family ( who I’d met at Baarlo) needed somewhere to stay and hour living room floor became a camp ground for the dutch.
We all went along to Sunday’s races and returned that night for a Spaghetti supper Pat had prepared before a night of drinking down at the Barley Mow, Cosgrove’s village pub.
One of Willem’s friends who was also one of his sponsors was a guy called Lammert Veenstra who we became friends with too. He presented me with my very own pair of dutch clogs that were painted in the colors of the Friesland flag. I still have those clogs to this day !
During the month of October I only went to one race meeting, that being Brafield (Oct 18) as much of my spare time was devoted to my BriSCA F2 rebuild project. I got hold of a 2 litre Ford Pinto engine then did some tidying up to the roll cage, frame and bodywork.
As mentioned before, I think this car was originally a Spedeworth Superstox and the way the roll cage was formed, I tended to think it was once fitted with ( what was popular in the 70’s) a cut and shut Fiat Topolino body.
With this in mind, and my desire to make the car look traditional, I made the sheet metal roof line similar to that of a Topolino.
We’d been thinking of moving again, the house was put on the market, and had even thought about going back to the Dunstable/Leighton Buzzard area to live.
While looking at houses in Eddlesborough and Eaton Bray we had a mishap with our Ford Granada. For some reason a fault had developed in the carburetor, there was a splutter and a ‘pop’ which was followed by flames. There was a fire under the bonnet which we quickly put out with the help of an onlooker. It had done enough damage to mean we needed a tow back to Cosgrove.
It was off the road for a few days while it was in the work shop getting fixed.
My last two race meetings of the year were at Brafield on Nov 1 and Coventry on the Nov 7.
As the racing year came to an end a new track for BriSCA F1’s opened at Scunthorpe , in the North East on Humberside but I never managed to get there.
It had been running F2/Superstox style cars in previous years for an independent organization but was now in the hands of Hartlepool Stadium promoter Warren Taylor. This late season opener was a ‘taster’ for a full season in 1988.
We ended our year with a New Years Eve Party where many of our racing friends were in attendance. Once more the floor of our house became a make shift sleeping area. It was a ‘fancy dress’ event and I was dressed up as a Scotsman in a kilt. As well as our racing friends, people we knew from the village were also in attendance. It went on until the early hours and needless to say there were plenty of sore heads the next day !