1991wRICK @ the RACES (RETRO REPORT 1991)

Episode #25

Towards the end of 1990 , Pat , Carla and myself were introduced to the sport of Ice Hockey and had become supporters of the M K  Kings. The winter months were spent watching their games at the ‘Blade Runner’ the recently opened ice arena in Milton Keynes.

This also coincided with my slight lack of interest in racing.

BriSCA F1 stock cars were becoming too clinical with their fancy paint jobs and technical set ups that were more akin to conventional racing. It wasn’t the same sport I’d learned to love, since my child hood.

Some of the long time fans I’d known for many years had limited their racing visits, and a new ‘clique’ would be found in the race track bars for the traditional end of the evening pint.

I never got to race my BriSCA F2 stock car throughout 1990 and it was sold at the beginning of 1991 to make way for something else I had in mind. 1991c

Our visits to the races would decrease as our family began to do other things. Carla had taken up Karate and we accompanied her to some of the events she was competing in.1991f

Our racing year began on March 3, when we did a Skegness and Boston ‘double’.

We saw Richard Pratt (162) win at Skegness in the afternoon, before making the short trip to the night meeting at Boston, where John Lund took the checkers.

The following week (March 10) it was the Brafield opener where John Lund took another win.

The second Brafield of the year on March 31 was won by BriSCA’s ‘First Lady’, Jayne Bean (309). 1991d

We were at the Coventry opener on April 6 where Peter Falding (33) was the winner.

The MK Kings were having a great inaugural season, were in the play off games for league promotion, and on April 20, we traveled down to Gillingham, in Kent to watch them play against the Medway Bears. 1991aEven though we lost the game, we still gained promotion.

For a many  years I’d loved American cars and always had the desire to own one. Our regular set of wheels for our family, was the Vauxhall Cavalier that we’d bought in 1990, and our second car was the Volvo. The Volvo still looked good, but was getting a bit ‘tired’ so the plan was to replace it,  live my dream and own a ‘Yank Car’ (as they are called in England)

For quite a while, I’d been looking around the specialist dealers as well as taking a regular look through the pages of  ‘Auto Trader’. In one of April editions I spotted a 1977 Chrysler Cordoba For Sale which took my fancy.

12548986_1053841621322362_8800994443375134065_nEver since the mid 70’s Ford Thunderbird used as a Start Car by NACO in the Netherlands first caught my eye, I’ve always liked that sort of styling, and the Cordoba was very similar. The guy that was selling it lived in Maidstone, Kent and after a making a phone call , I found out that he was interested in doing a trade against my Volvo.

We struck a ‘tentative’ deal without either of us seeing each others cars and arranged to meet  ‘about half way’ at the South Mimms Services on the M25 on the morning of April 28. We’d both made prior arrangements with our insurance companies, should the deal go ahead. The Cordoba didn’t turn out to be as tidy as my Volvo, but I decided to go ahead with the trade, and drove back to Stony Stratford in my new toy.1991b

Once home, the Cordoba  was parked in the driveway, and the family took off in the Cavalier to the afternoon races at Brafield to see Peter Falding take the win.

The following weekend (4/5 May) we were at Coventry to see veteran driver, Mick Noden (306) take one of his last victories, and at Boston for yet another John Lund win.1991t

Carla had a Karate competition in Watford on the weekend of May 11, which was taking place close to a local American car parts dealer. I was in the process of tidying up the Cordoba for the up and coming American Auto Club of UK annual rally.

This took place each year at the Billing Aquadrome, near to the Brafield track, and was one of the largest shows in Europe for American cars. 1991hWe’d joined the AAC and had started attending our local club nights in Milton Keynes, Luton, Bedford, and Northampton.

On the weekend of May 25/28  we took a non racing family break with our caravan  to the Moon & Sixpence campsite near Ipswich, where we were able to visit my Grandfather. He was in his late 80’s and still living in the same house in Parliament Rd, a short distance from the Foxhall Stadium, that I had visited since I was a kid.

On June 1 we were at the  monthly Coventry meeting where Bobby Burns (471) was the winner.1991e

I’d been spending much of  my spare time working on the Cordoba. My friend Fred, who was Carla’s Karate instructor had done some chassis repairs while I’d prepared the rusted bodywork ready to be resprayed at a near body shop.

The Billing show was rapidly approaching on the weekend of 14/15/16 June and with time running out, I took a day off work so I could have it ready in time.

The Cordoba hadn’t got a tow bar for pulling our caravan, so we took both our cars on this outing. 1991gIt was a great weekend and we really enjoyed the classic American Car scene. img006 (2)

While we were there we made a lot of new friends and were invited to another show the following Saturday (22 June) in Corby, Northants.1991i

On Sunday (23 June) we went to Brafield in the Cordoba , where Nigel Whorton (422) took the win. 1991y

Once the racing was over, we continued on to the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham where one of my all time favorite bands were in concert.

I’ve been a fan of The Beach Boys since my childhood days and we had tickets to see them performing on Sunday night at the NEC.

We were getting more and more into the American Car scene and our weekends were shared between car shows and racing.

On July 6 we were at Coventry to see Bobby Burns take another win, then the next day we were at the Hollowell Steam Rally (Northants) . The Hollowell event was not just for steam engines but for all kinds of motorized vehicles and included a section for ‘Yank Cars’. The Northampton AAC was represented and one of our friends at this show was former Brafield Stadium ‘disc jockey’ Russ ‘Rick’ Thomas, who owned a Cadillac.img006

On Sunday July 14 we attended a rally at the Huntingdon Racecourse (Cambs) before going on to the racing at Boston in the evening. 1991jThat night there was a surprise win for Nottingham’s John Wright (128) .

The following weekend we were at Brafield for the European Championship. The big race was won by Peter Falding while Chris Elwell (501) took the days regular final.

The weekend of Aug 3/4 was once again shared between racing and a rally.

We were at Coventry on the Saturday night where Frankie Wainman Jr was the winner and on Sunday at the USAF air base at Alconbury.

There were a number of USAF bases scattered around East Anglia and the one at Alconbury (Nr Huntingdon) staged an annual Air Show. Amongst the other attractions at the show was a display of classic American Cars. We had a hanger to ourselves, and half way through the afternoon we took them out down the runway for the crowd to see, while Pete Tucker ( another racing friend from the VSCA) gave a commentary. I remember him cracking a joke about me being a stock car driver and that I was taking mum and dad for a blast down the run way.

The following week I made, what by now, had become a rare visit to Long Eaton where Paul Harrison, son of the great Willie (2) was the winner.

Into August and it was time for the Young family holiday.

We were doing something a bit different this year, and it turned out to be one of the best holidays we ever had.

It was a kind of a ‘Hi De Hi’ type of holiday arranged by the travel company HAVEN , but not based in a Hotel.

Instead of being stuck in a Hotel, we were on a camping site where they supplied the accommodation. The site was in Antibes on the French Riviera and on arrival a pre erected tent with real beds , refrigerator etc would be waiting for us. By doing this, we hadn’t got the hassle of towing our caravan all the way down there and finding a suitable site.

We left home in our Cavalier on Aug 15 and took the hovercraft across from Dover to Calais in France. 1991kWe’d never gone by the quicker, Hovercraft before, because of the expense, but it was included in the package, so we were eager to try it out. Instead of the one hour plus, of a ferry crossing, the Hovercraft got us over the channel in less than 30 minutes.

From Calais we drove down to Aix le Provence, where we made an overnight stop. We had packed a small tent to use, for this.

The next day (Saturday) we arrived in Antibes at 10-00 am and once at the campsite, we were directed to our luxury tent.1991m1991l

Antibes is situated in the heart of the French Riviera on the Mediterranean Sea and close to St Tropez, Nice and Monaco.

On Monday Aug 19 we took a drive to the Principality of Monaco, where we visited Prince Rainier’s Royal Palace. 1991n1991oMonaco is also the location of one of the worlds most famous auto races , when the streets are closed for F1 Grand Prix. Of course with me being a race fan I had to say I’d driven round part of the circuit, so took our Cavalier around the famous Casino Turn . A moment I will always treasure !

From Monaco we drove back to Antibes via Nice and Cannes, home of the famous Film Festival . While in Cannes ,we stopped by one of the sea front eateries where I remember buying my most expensive Burger and ice creams ever !1991q

This part of the South of France is close to the Italian border and seeing as Italy was a country I hadn’t visited, we made a day trip there on Friday (Aug 23). We crossed the border and drove to the coastal resort of Ventamiglia, where we visited the local market before relaxing on a private beach. img007Of course we couldn’t visit Italy without an authentic Pizza, so we found a suitable restaurant.

We stayed at the Antibes campsite until Tues 27 Aug when we had to leave for our return drive home. 1991pI’d never been to Paris, the French capital before, so we stopped overnight at Nemours, and like on the journey down, we used our small tent.img008

The next day we drove into Paris to see the sights.

We parked our car in the underground parking lot by the Arc De Triomphe , then walked down the Champs Eleysees. 1991rAfter this we got on the Paris Metro and visited the cities most famous landmark, the Eiffel Tower . We then took the elevator up to the first viewing level where we got the view of the city and the River Seine.

From Paris we drove back to Calais for the return sea crossing. Instead of the Hovercraft we opted to take the SEACAT, which was another ‘first for us’ . The SEACAT was a catamaran large enough to ferry cars. I must admit, my memories of this were of a ‘rocky’ unpleasant voyage and was glad when we reached Dover.

The weekend after returning from France was a busy one for us with a mixed agenda.

On Friday 30 Aug we went on an organized coach trip to ‘Cadbury World’. Carla was a member of her local Brownies, and they’d organized a trip to the ‘worlds best chocolate’ factory. For those that don’t know , ‘real’ Cadbury’s chocolate is British, and has been made in Bourneville ( Birmingham) for many years.  I consider myself a connoisseur and a self confessed chocoholic, so now that I live in North America , I always have to look out for the real imported variety from the UK.

On Saturday (31 Aug) I traveled up to the Scunthorpe track for a rare visit. The occasion was the Semi Final for the BriSCA F1 World Championsip, and that night I had the pleasure of seeing Frankie Wainman Snr (212) take the win.

On Sunday we had another ‘Yank Car’ show with the Cordoba, when we attended the Chiltern Hills Rally at Stokenchurch, near High Wycombe (Bucks).

The following week we had another mixed agenda, where we saw Steve Hodgson (172), 1991sson of Dave (ex 272) win at Coventry on Saturday before attending a Rally at the Cottesbrooke Hall in Northampton on Sunday.

It was then time for the BriSCA F1 World Final and on the weekend of Sept 14/15 our friends Willem and Anne Boschma from the Netherlands came for a visit.

We did Long Eaton on the Saturday night before Sundays World Final at Hednesford. 1991bb

Steve Hodgson won at Long Eaton while Chris Elwell took the meeting Final at Hednesford after the World Final was won by John Lund.1991u

The following week at Brafield it was the VSCA reunion day, where I met up with many old friends. Of course Pete Tucker was there too. George Ansell (ex 375) driving the John Lund (53) car , went from third place to first on the last lap , to win the Veterans Race. Check out this video .

Nigel Whorton was the winner of the regular racing that day .

On the weekend of Sept 27/28 it was the Long Track World Final at Baarlo, and time for us to head back over the water to the Netherlands. 1991xWe left home on Thursday (Sept 26) and camped the night at the ‘Ugly Duckling’ camp site near Dover, so we’d be handy for an early Friday morning ferry to Ostende.

Here is the link for my Baarlo Long Track World Final photos


We arrived at our usual Camping De Berckt site at Baarlo by mid afternoon. Once settled, we paid another visit to our niece , Carolyn who was stationed at nearby RAF Bruggen ( just over the border in Germany)

Saturday morning was spent in the city of Venlo before enjoying a good night of partying at the track.

The big race on Sunday had plenty of British drivers taking part, but it was Assendelft’s(Amsterdam) Ron Kroonder (217) , a second generation driver, and son of George that took the win.1991w

When the races were over, we left Baarlo at 7- 15 pm and were in Ostende by 10- 00 pm in time to catch the 11- 00 pm ferry back to England.

We arrived back home in Stony Stratford at 7-00 am in the morning.

While we’d been at Baarlo, the BriSCA F2 World Final had been taking place at Bristol (Mendips Raceway) and it was Manchester’s Rob Speak (218) who claimed the gold roof.1991aa

In 1991 , I also missed the Superstox World Final, which was held at the Venray Track in the Netherlands and won by England’s Darren Innocent. Darren was the son of 1969 BriSCA F2 World Champion Ron Innocent

The next weekend (Oct 5/6)  it was a Coventry and Brafield double where once again the winners were familiar names. Bobby Burns got yet another win at Coventry, while Nigel Whorton got another at Brafield.

As the season drew to a close, we attended race meetings at Boston (Oct 13) won by Steve Hodgson, Brafield (Oct 20) won by Chris Elwell, 1991vCoventry (Nov 2) won by Frankie Wainman JR and Brafield (Nov 3) that was won by Bert Finnikin.

During the year we’d decided to move house once again and our place in Stony Stratford had been put on the market.

After finding a buyer for ours in November , we lost out on a house in Hanslope that we’d put an offer on.

At this point we had to decide on our next move.

There were some new houses being built in Cranfield (Beds) on a very exclusive plot, so on Nov 13 we went ahead, applied and bought one that was about to be completed.

It was ready for us to take possession on Dec 6 and we were moved in , in time for Christmas. As it was our first ever brand new home, we decided to give the house a name, and it became recognized by the post office as ‘The Stocks’1991z