1986 RETRO REPORT

1986kRICK @ the RACES (RETRO REPORT 1986)

EPISODE 20

1984 and 1985 were very busy years for the Young family, we moved twice, in to different homes which meant a quieter time as far as my racing was concerned.

By the end of 1985 we were living in Cosgrove, Northants where I’d got two ex Chris Pickup (50) BriSCA F1 stock cars parked in the driveway.1986b

1986cI’d bought the former 425 Buick powered Allegro from Lionel Shaw (362) after realizing the Jaguar powered Spitfire wasn’t up to the present day competitive racing.1986bbb 1986ccc

Cosgrove is a small village just a short drive ( or bicycle ride a long the canal tow path ! ) from Wolverton in Milton Keynes where I worked. Once we’d settled in to our new home, 1986 turned out to be a very eventful year .

During the winter the Allegro was painted in my traditional colors of blue chassis, white body work with with red and blue stripes.1986d

On March 1 , I took it along to Brafield for the pre-season practice day.1986a

There was a little bit of snow on the ground, but the track was only wet and still good to use. I was parked in the pits next to Bedford’s Dick Smith (507) . During the day my battery died and it was Dick who helped me out with a push start.

Later that week, he supplied me with a good replacement battery before the season opener.

I raced at the first three Brafield meetings that year until the head gasket let go on April 20.

A new track for BriSCA F1’s opened up at Easter ( Good Friday , March 28 ) but I had too many other things going on, so had to give it a miss . Cleethorpes, formerly a Spedeworth track had opened it’s doors to the UK’s oval racing elite. It was Frankie Wainman (212) who took the honors at the opener.

Our ‘old faithful’ Austin A60 Cambridge had come to the end of the road and was sold off to a local Banger driver. img003It went out in style at one of out local tracks.

The Jaguar powered stock car was also sold to someone in Gravenhurst (Beds) , and believe it was later used on the Spedeworth tracks. The F80’s that Spedeworth  had introduced at the start of the decade, had faded and their big engine, open wheeled stock cars were now called Formula One ( which made things a bit confusing ! )

We needed to have two road cars, so the Austin Cambridge was replaced with a real classic. One of the guys I worked with, had an immaculate, low mileage 1970 Morris Minor Traveler ( Woody) for sale.1986e

The price was right, so we bought it. I loved that car and it was the only vehicle I’ve ever owned where I managed to sell for double the buying price. On April 26 we drove it down to Dover and and took it over on the ferry to Calais for a day trip to France.

As usual I attended every race meeting at the Coventry Stadium in the role of spectator. We traveled there each month with our friend Derek Manning in his Austin Maxi often accompanied by Keith Meakins.

On a typical night, I’d be helping Ian Hall ( 381) in the pits during the races, followed by a good session in the bar afterwards to get rid of the dust ! Derek was a non drinker so it worked out well for me, with him being our designated driver.

The night would always end up with a late night supper at the Fish & Chip shop in the village of Wolston.

When I wasn’t racing my BriSCA F1 at Brafield , I’d still be helping out Ian Dominey with his tow trucks.1986j

In the early part of May we took another ‘Hi De Hi’ family holiday, this time to the Spanish Island of Majorca.

‘Hi De Hi’ was a TV comedy series that was popular at the time, based  at a holiday camp. So that’s the name our family gave to package tour holidays . 1986fimg003 (3)While in Majorca we rented a little Renault to get about the Island and do the tourist things. img006 (3)It’s a major tourist destination for many Brits, but it was our first and only visit. img003 (4) img004 (2)There are plenty of sandy beaches and things to do.  img005 (3) img004 (3)We visited a safari park as well as the Caves of Drach.img007 (3)

After our break in the sunshine, we were back home and on June 1, it was the time for the BriSCA F1 European Championship. Instead of it being held at its usual venue of Brafield , it took place at Skegness.

We traveled up for this one where Staffordshire’s Bert Finnikin (55) took the checkers.

One week later on June 8 the Spedeworth Superstox had their World Final at the Wisbech Stadium in Cambridgeshire. I had to miss this one where local hero Neil Bee (482) of Downham Market, Norfolk claimed his fourth title. 1986gOne of the overseas drivers taking part at this event, was Irishman Rob Morrow.  I had the pleasure of meeting Rob many years later when he visited Canada on a vacation.

As I mentioned before, Cosgove Lodge Park, made our village a bit of tourist destination for special events,  and on Sunday July 6 , it was hosting the RALLY of the GIANTS.

This was a show and shine event for old American cars, so before going to Brafield that day, I walked down to take a look.

While I was there I met, pioneer stock car driver and fellow VSCA member Pete Tucker (85) . Since he quit racing, his interest turned to classic ‘yank cars’ as they’re called in the UK.

Pete owned a beautiful 1934 Ford Coupe, the type made famous by top band of the time ZZ TOPS . 1986hI’ve always had a passion for old American cars and if my lottery numbers should ever come up, I’d be on the look out for a big black Hudson Hornet. 1986iMy visit to the park that day was a major catalysts that eventually pointed me in the direction of my new life in Canada.

In the years leading up to our emigration in 1994 , I got to know Pete quite well and I have to say that it was his book ‘The Thrill Of The Century’ that inspired me to write these RICK at the RACES RETRO reports.

I found it, compulsive reading and enjoyed the way he told of his life in the early days of UK stock car racing.12705398_10204024408570974_7011768247416275055_n All written in easy to understand, every day language with no fancy adjectives or posh prose.

My busy life style at this time meant the head gasket repair to the stock car took a while to get done, but by July 27 it was ready.

6710This was the date of the BriSCA F1 World Final semi-final at Brafield and on that day I was booked into the supporting program.img002-Large (Small)1150195_1405170163037216_912667512_n (2)1986k

This meeting turned out to be my last ever drive in a BriSCA F1 car.

During the Consolation race, I was just starting to get used to all the extra power, when I made an unscheduled visit to one of the sturdy Brafield fence posts.

Rob Scriven (117) and I had locked wheels and tangled. As we both drove into the pit bend , side by side and locked together we lost our ability to steer.

As a result both both of us went straight on, Rob hit the wires, which are a lot more forgiving, while I hit the fence post.

The Brafield fence posts were noted for their strength, and I’m sure I’m not the only driver to come away with sore ribs after hitting them. 1986l

It winded me and I was in a lot of pain, but managed to avoid a trip to the first aid room. My ribs were still aching when I got home and reluctantly decided to get them checked out at my local hospital. After some x rays it was a relief to find out that nothing was broken and the diagnosis was just bad bruising.

That was good news, because our main family holiday to the Netherlands was just a week away.

For our summer vacation , we planned a camping trip with our caravan to the ‘Long Track World Final’ at Baarlo in the Netherlands

Earlier in the year I’d got in touch with Stock Car Monthly Magazine’s Dutch correspondent Kees Hermans. He’d mentioned in his column about some race tracks in the north of the the country and I was interested in checking these out.

Of course 1986 were the days before internet , so information was hard to come by. Kees was able to furnish me with some race dates, and our plan was to visit a couple of new tracks the week before Baarlo.

We invited our teenage niece, Maggie Trevorrow from Somerset to join us for this vacation and on the second week in August the four of us set off in our Jaguar XJ6 with caravan in tow.

Once across the Channel, and into Belgium our first port of call was the Meli Park at De Panne, close to the French border. img005 (2)This was a theme park based on honey bee’s and the manufacture of honey.

From here we moved up into the Netherlands to a campsite at Urk, beside Lake Ijsselmeer. img005It’s location was about half way between the two new tracks we were going to visit.

1986mOur first new track was at Blauwhuis, near to Sneek in Friesland.

It was a Saturday afternoon event held in a field with a large ditch separating the race cars from the viewing public.1986n

There were probably about forty cars in attendance which varied from state of the art UK style cars to some ‘old clunkers’ .

One of the best looking cars was a Rien Rutjens built, 440 cu in Chrysler that belonged to Willem Boschma (1) .fc12 (Small)

Little did I know, that Willem from nearby Nijland would become a life long friend.

fc13 (Small)His young mechanic Bonnie Wiersma had spotted us ‘Brits’ walking around the pits and had taken more than a passing interest in Maggie !fc2 (Small)

Bonne Wirsma and friends
Bonne Wiersma and friends

We all got talking and by the end of the day we’d all become well acquainted.

Willem told us that he’d be racing the following weekend  at the Long Track World Final at Baarlo so we agreed to meet up again .

Me in the Blauwhuis Pits
Me in the Blauwhuis Pits

We enjoyed our day at Blauwhuis and after the races we returned to the campsite at Urk.

The next day was Sunday, and our plans were to visit our second new track.

This was the Midland Auto Speedway at Lelystad in Flevoland .

It was a paved track, about 3/8 mile in length and very similar in appearance to a UK oval.

1986pWhile walking around the pits I met up with Dirk Ris (18) a driver I’d met at Baarlo a few years back and for a time, had exchanged letters.1986o l10 (Small) l6 (Small) l7 (Small)After the Lelystad races we returned once more to the campsite at Urk.

On Monday we made a trip to the tourist village of Geithoorn.

I guess you could say this is the Netherlands answer to Venice. Instead of driving around the town by car you do it by boat.

img007 (2) img006 (2)We rented one with an out board motor and went exploring.

On Tuesday we left the campsite at Urk and set off in the direction of Baarlo, but rather than going directly there, we made a detour in to Germany for an overnight stop at Kleve,  near to the river Rhine.

We arrived in South Limburg on Wednesday and instead of heading for our usual camping base of Roermond we decided to try the Camping De Berckt, that was located right next door to the Baarlo Auto Speedway.q0 (Small)

I’d never stayed there before as I’d always had the impression it was a residential site and not open for tourists. It turned out to be a really good campsite that boasted a tropical swimming pool, tennis courts, laundermat, bar and restaurant. It would become our regular base in the years that followed.

As the weekend approached the race teams started to arrive and by late Friday evening we had met up with our new found friends Willem Boschma and Bonne Wiersma .1986q

We were soon introduced to Willem’s wife Anne and the rest of the family which consisted of their three daughters, Elsje, Marja and Nelly. They were all camping in the centre of the track and we joined them for the Saturday night party and barbecue.

This years big race also included a New Zealand driver. Russell Joblin had come to Europe to compete in both The ‘Long Track’ and the BriSCA F1 World Finals. 1986rHe was staying with a race team in the UK and during his visit, he had built his own Kiwi style racer.

img009 (2)Local favorite Friedhelm Welters was the 1986 Long Track World Final winner .1986s

Willem had been invited to take part in the 1986 BriSCA F1 World Final which was taking place at Coventry in two weeks time, so we offered to be their hosts.

Following Sunday afternoons races we said farewell to them, and made the familiar drive back to the Ostende ferry port, via Eindhoven , Antwerp and Gent.

I was back at work on Tuesday for just a few days before taking Friday off to start my next racing excursion.

Gordon McDougal who had been running BriSCA F2’s at the Newtongrange Stadium in Scotland had scheduled a special event on August 30, The Scottish Championship for BriSCA F1’s.

This would be the first time the UK’s premier stock car division had raced north of the border since Stevenston (nr Ayr)  in the 1960’s.

I wanted to be there and joined Derek Manning and Keith Meekings for the road trip.

We left the Milton Keynes area on Friday morning for the long haul north and arrived at our Bed and Breakfast place in the Pimlico district of Edinburgh about supper time.

We had booked in for two nights so,  prior to Saturday nights races we could take in the tourist sites of Holyrood Palace , the famous Edinburgh Castle  and Princes Street.

1986tNewtongrange is mining town just outside Edinburgh and I recall visiting a coal mining museum on Saturday afternoon.

There were about 38 BriSCA F1’s booked in which included long distance travelers Bobby Burns (471) and my friend Ian Hall (381) and the team from Essex and Hampshire in Southern England.1986u

Winner of the Scottish Championship was Lancashire’s John Lund (53).

I also recall there was a very good bar at the Newtongrange track and remember grabbing a pint or two between races. While I was in there drinking I remember chatting to one of the up and coming new drivers, of the time,   Peter Falding (33) who was there watching that night. Little did I know that one week later the youngster would be making stock car history !   Peter is the son of Rod Falding (36)

The next morning we left our Bed and Breakfast accommodation for the long journey south.

We had no intention of driving straight home as there was racing taking place at the Aycliffe Stadium in the North East of England that afternoon.

We stopped by for the BriSCA F1 races and saw John Lund get his second win in two days. This would be the last time I’d see racing at the Aycliffe track, because like so many others, it’s days were numbered. Soon the developers would be moving in and it would be demolished.

I was back to work again on Monday for a full week before the BriSCA F1 World Final at Coventry on Saturday September 6.1986v

Around mid morning Willem, Anne and Bonne arrived at our house in Cosgrove with the stock car on the back of their Mercedes truck.1986w

As he pulled into our driveway one of the mirrors on the stock car, smashed against a tree. The mirror had originally come from a SCANIA truck , so I had nothing suitable that he could use.

Not long after their arrival in Cosgrove, I was taking Willem and Bonne to SCAN-TRUCKS in Milton Keynes in our Morris Minor.

They had the replacement we needed and we were soon back at Cosgrove fitting it on the car.

In the middle of the afternoon Derek Manning came round to pick up me, Pat and Carla.

Willem then followed us up the A5 to Coventry.

We arrived nice and early and were able to meet up with the rest of his crew from Friesland.

1986xIn the big race he got involved in a big push,  like many other visiting drivers often endure. He hit the fence and dislodged the front axle.

At the end of the 25 lap World Final , twenty year old Peter Falding of Rotherham Yorkshire, the young guy I’d been drinking with, the previous week,  became the sports youngest winner.1986y

Before loading the stockcar up at the end of the night, Willem and the crew had already repaired the damage.

After a few beers in the main bar we all moved down the road to the Wolston ‘chippy’ for our late night supper.

1986zOur Dutch friends were staying with us in Cosgrove and their intentions were to compete at the next days races at Skegness.

I was quite tired and hadn’t intended going, but got persuaded to, at the last minute.

Our friends the local father and son team of Keith (105) and Pete Palmer (101) were racing there and offered to give me a ride with them. 1986zzWillem, Anne and Bonne then followed in the Mercedes.

1986aaAfter the races, when it was time to go home, they continued to follow us south, until we got to Eaton Socun on the A1.

This is where we said our goodbye’s as they headed for the ferry at Dover while went back to Milton Keynes.  Bobby Burns won at Skeggy  that day.

The following week on Sunday 14 September it was the BriSCA F2 World Final at the Hartlepool Stadium. I needed a break, so missed this one.

Gary withe the Gold Roof Crispen Rosevear Photo
Gary withe the Gold Roof            Crispen Rosevear Photo

It was a shame really , because I would of  liked to have seen it. The winner was the long time budget racing red top, Gary Hooper (686) from Exmouth in Devon.

The remainder of the racing season saw me at Coventry (Oct 4/Nov 1), Brafield (Sept 28/Oct 19/ Nov 2) , Long Eaton ( Oct 11)  and Sheffield ( Sept 29/Oct 27).

The Monday night Sheffield meetings came about by some good logistics regarding my job. I was still working for BEJAM and was now driving a nice new SCANIA with a good sized sleeper cab. img004 (13)My dispatcher had kindly given  me the Yorkshire run on those dates and I was able to park the truck up for the night at the race track. I wasn’t the only truck driver doing this, and was parked along side my buddy Tim Warwick who drove for Inskips of Bedford.

Before the racing year was over, there was one other special  event I attended on Sunday December 7.

Stuart Smith (391) who had dominated the sport for many years had decided to retire and a tribute meeting had been arranged in his honor at Belle Vue, Manchester.1986zzz

One of the attractions was a celebrity race in loaned cars that included champions of the past and present. They included Fred Mitchell , Gary Hooper and Spedeworths’s Roy Eaton to name a few.1986zzzzfred

As the year came to an end my 425 cu in Buick powered BriSCA F1 was up for sale as I began to lose interest in competing.

FOR MORE PHOTOS FROM MY 1986 TRIPS TO BLAUWHUIS,  LELYSTAD AND BAARLO CLICK THE LINKS BELOW

Blauwhuis  16 Aug 1986

Lelystad 17 Aug 1986

Baarlo  Long Track World Final Aug 1986