In 1984 we sold our bungalow in Maidford, Northants, and relocated to Hartwell, which was nearer to the Milton Keynes Cold Store at Wolverton where I was working. At that time , I was still working on contract with Darbys Transport.
Not long after the move I was taken on as a company driver by BEJAM who were the UK’s leading Freezer Food Retailer at the time. The first truck I drove for them, was a SCANIA which was soon replaced by a Renault.
Once again, my first racing event of the year was the New Years Day session for BriSCA F1’s at Long Eaton. I couldn’t think of a better way to start the year, than standing in the cold watching the action with my friends !
I had now been a member of the VSCA ( Veteran Stock Car Association) for over a year and in February, Pat and I attended their annual Dinner and Dance for the first time.
We were joined by our friend and fellow member, the late Derek Manning. Derek lived in nearby Bletchley and had been a race fan since the 1950’s .
He will always be remembered as being the best known collector of race programs and historic racing memorabilia in the UK. Derek introduced me to Keith Meekings, another racing friend of his who lived near by in Potterspury.
The VSCA event was held in West Bromwich ( Birmingham) and it was on this occasion that I met up with many of my childhood heroes and the stars of the past.
Fred Mitchell (38) , Doug Wardropper (5), Chick Woodroffe (1), Jock Lloyd (131) and Pete Tucker (85) , to name just a few. The two hard-working personalities responsible for running the association at this time , were writer and driver Don Round (321) and ‘Mr Starter’ Al Henderson.
It was on this occasion that we got to know Pete Shepherd (144)and (352) another old friend who is sadly no longer with us.
Pete was a notorious chassis builder during the 60/70’s and along with his brother , was responsible for the one on my first stock car .
The regular racing season got under way in March and as usual , I was at the Brafield opener (Mar 10) . There were 46 BriSCA F1’s in attendance and it was Frankie Wainman (212) who took the checkers.
Now that I was company driver for BEJAM we were slightly better off, financially, so decided to take a holiday with a difference , and there wasn’t a race track in sight !
This was the time in world history before the collapse of the ‘Iron Curtain’ that separated Western Europe from the Communist Block of the East.
Good value holiday package tours were available on the Black Sea resorts of Bulgaria, so in late spring, we flew out from Luton Airport.
We spent a week at the Sunny Beach resort.
It was definitely an eye opener for us , seeing how the other half lived. The workers at the resort would try to buy our western clothing, like jeans etc. I remember one particular waiter at our hotel that kept offering to buy my sweater that had the BriSCA logo on it.
I must mention something interesting about the food we ate. Most of it was typical Western European fare, prepared especially for the tourists, but on one occasion we chose to eat out somewhere typically Bulgarian. I ordered a dish of something that resembled mushrooms, but later found out it was probably sheep’s brains ! Whether this was true, or whether someone was pulling my leg, I’ll never know !
My racing diet consisted mainly of my local tracks of Brafield and Coventry.
After moving to Hartwell we got to know Will and Carol Merrell who were near neighbors and race fans.
It was through them that we became friends with Ian and Sylvia Dominey. Ian was a former Spedeworth Superstox driver, that had turned to BriSCA F2 (143) . Their company Bedfordshire Recovery supplied the tow trucks at Brafield each week, so most Sunday afternoons you’d find me in one of their wrecker’s hauling the cars off the track.
Our home in Hartwell had very little room to work on the stock car and I really needed more space. The fact that it was some what under powered compared to the others was also discouraging.
It wasn’t long before we put the house on the market so we could find somewhere with more room and nearer to Wolverton (MK) .
A group of my old friends had been hiring Ray Scriven’s (110) cars to race, then after a while they decided to buy one from him to share .The Essex trio of Ian Hall (381), Bob Hall (380) , Tom Sealey (256) as well as Southampton’s Stu Ralls (379) became the owners of an Alan Barker (179) built, ex Pete Bashford (107) car.
They bought a coach transporter from Mo Smith (51) and they formed a team. The original intention was to take turns in racing it, but as time went by, Ian became the regular pilot. They were all good friends of mine, so when they were appearing at Coventry, I’d be found in the pits helping out and getting my hands dirty !
On Aug 11 Brafield were once again hosting the televised European Championship for Brisca F1’s. This years gimmick for the TV viewers, was a London Taxi Cab race. As for the the big race, it was won by my old buddy, Danny Clarke (203) of Kettering , Northants.
The first of the 1985 World Finals to took place on August 17 at the Cowdenbeath Raceway in Scotland for the Spedeworth Superstox. I missed this one, which was won by, the local hero , Vic Russell (94).
Of course I didn’t miss the BriSCA F1 World Final which was held at the Odsal Stadium in Bradford ( Yorkshire) on September 14. There were no North American representatives this year and the overseas content consisted of eight drivers from the Netherlands Johan Derond (5), Friedhelm Welters (8), Jan Van Toren (9), Piet Keijzer (10), Jan Van Kessels (111), Kees Souters (12), Rien Rutjens (15) , Leon Cox (17) and three New Zealanders ( Dave Evans (3P), Warren McIntyre (19), Ian Easton (11).
A couple of weeks later on September 22, it was the F1 Long Track World Final at Baarlo in the Netherlands.
Two of my buddies, Mick Black and Micky Bodily, accompanied me for this one in my old Austin Cambridge , which turned out to be the last overseas trip for the ‘old girl’.
Even though the engine was good , the body and chassis were getting quite rusty, so her days were numbered. We did the 60hour return ferry crossing from Dover to Ostende and based ourselves at a small bed and breakfast place in Roermond.
This years Baarlo weekend was sadly missing the great Jac Van Claes who had passed away at the end of 1984. I’ve said it before and will say it again, Jac was one of the best auto racing promoters I’ve ever known, and following his untimely death, the running of the NACO organization passed in to the capable hands of his daughter Kitty.
In late summer our house in Hartwell was sold and we moved to Cosgrove, Northants, which was on the edge of Milton Keynes and only a ten minute drive from Wolverton where I worked. Cosgrove is a quaint old village on the banks of the Grand Union Canal and the ‘Barley Mow’ pub soon became my regular watering hole.
Also the village was famous for the Cosgrove Lodge Park, which boasted a camp site, swimming pool and lakes for fishing and water skiing.
Our new home had a lot more space with a good sized garage and enough room in the driveway for at least two cars, a stock car and our camping caravan.
Within a few weeks of moving in , I was on the look out for a more powerful stock car.
My buddy from the early days , Chris Pickup, had now retired from the sport and his 425 cu in Buick powered Allegro bodied car had moved on to Lionel Shaw (362) . Lionel had since upgraded to a different car so it was sitting around at his farm in Stopsley , just waiting to be sold.
We struck a deal and I became the new owner.
By now, the 1985 BriSCA F1 season was almost over, so Lionel’s numbers were quickly painted over and replaced by my ’67’ . Within a couple of weeks of buying it, I was out on the track once more at Brafield’s season finale on November 3. I used my Jaguar XJ6 to tow it on a borrowed a trailer and Keith Meekings came along to help me out.