1990sRICK @ the RACES (1990 RETRO REPORT)

Episode # 24

The Swindon track reopened in 1989 for BriSCA F2 racing which prompted me to get myself hastily back on the track . 12698498_10206883350460799_5444707807998449811_oThe car I’d bought , hadn’t given me much luck and my winter months were spent rebuilding the engine and changing the body work design. All the environmental ‘BS’ and ‘big brother’ rules were starting to creep in, and a silencer now had to be fitted to the exhaust system. 1990b

We were still living in Stony Stratford on the edge of Milton Keynes and one of my former school friends Pete Saunders and his wife Lorna lived just down the road. He had helped me with some of the paint work, before his work commitments forced him to move his family to Sussex.

As far as my work was concerned , I was still employed by ICELAND , driving a SCANIA and based out of the nearby Wolverton Cold Store.1990z

I was starting to lose a bit of interest in racing the F2, so the rebuild job took a lot longer than you’d expect.

The first race I attended ( as a spectator) was the Brafield F1 opener on March 11, which was won by Ian Higgins (29).

I was back there again on March 25 to see Gary Maynard (151) take a win.

On April 7 it was the Coventry season opener and I was there to see Des Chandler (213) get a rare win. I had now been to three meetings in 1990 and they had all produced unusual winners. The same happened again at Brafield on April 15 , when BriSCA’s lady driver Jane Bean took the checkers.

On April 22 the High Edge Raceway, located near to Buxton in the picturesque Derbyshire Peak District was having their first ever BriSCA F1 meeting, so we organized a family caravaning weekend around the event. While we were in the area , we camped at nearby Bakewell ( home of my favorite tarts !).

Although the Buxton track had hosted SCOTA/FISCA F1 stock cars in the past, this was a historic ‘first’ for BriSCA and many fans from all over the country had made the trip.


img840This, my first and only visit to this track , has one unfortunate and unpleasant thing that sticks in my mind. . The ‘gents’ toilet facility could obviously not handle the extra volume of people, and the urinals were continuously over flowing with a steady ‘stream’ running through the pits all afternoon.

Danny Clarke
Danny Clarke gets a heat win at Buxton

Bert Finnikin (55) was the man to take the F1 honors that day, while John Thompson won in the F2’s.

On April 29 we were at Brafield, then on May 6 we did a Skegness and Boston ‘double’ . The following week on May 12 , I was at Long Eaton to see Pete Falding take a win.

As mentioned, our friends Pete and Lorna Saunders were forced to move to Sussex and had bought a house in Uckfield. They’d invited us for a visit so on May 19 we took time off from the races and drove down to see them.

Pete Saunders
Pete Saunders

While we were down there Pete took me to see a very historic piece of stock car history.

Not far from their new home was the site of the ‘long gone’ Cross in Hand track.

This was a very popular venue and part of Spedeworth’s empire, during the 1960’s and early 70’s. It was located in a rural wooded area and I’m pretty certain the reason it closed was because of complaints from the local ‘NIMBY’ ( Not In My Back Yard) whiners .

Pete drove us to an overgrown , tree lined lane that used to lead to the pits, We parked the car, and from there we walked in to the forest to the spot where the racing use to take place.

The old track could still clearly be seen covered in foliage as well as an old wheel or two, and bits of fence post wire. It was a track I’d never visited in its glory days , but after my walk in the woods that day, it wasn’t hard for me to imagine the fumes and dust from years gone by.

The Following week we took off for another caravaning holiday , and were heading somewhere a little different. Although I’d been to Scotland before,  on a few occasions, Pat and Carla had not done so, and our destination was north of the border.

Dad with me and sister Anne beside the Fourt Bridge on a child hood visit to Scotland
Dad with me and sister Anne beside the Fourth Bridge on a child hood visit to Scotland

Our first stop was at a campsite near Kinross .

img027Then on Saturday night (26 May) we visited the Cowdenbeath Racewall to watch the BriSCA F2’s in action. All though this track, with the Cowdenbeath Football pitch located in the middle,  has been in operation since the 1960’s I’d never been there before.
In the early days it had been a Spedeworth track, but was now in the hands of BrISCA promoter Gordon McDougal. 1990e 1990fIt’s a great track with plenty of atmosphere, and it was Jimmy Moodie (7)  that won that night.

From Cowdenbeath we traveled further north via the Fourth Road Bridge to the coastal city of Aberdeen, where my father was born. I had an Aunt that lived there , so we paid her a visit.

The Fourth Road Bridge.
The Fourth Road Bridge.

On my earlier visits to Aberdeen as a child, The road bridge had not been built, and we had to get a ferry across the River Fourth.

The historic rail bridge was still a photo-op I didn’t want to miss.img024Once in Aberdeen, we parked our Caravan at the Hazlehead Campsite, another place I’d visited as a child. Of course we also had to visit the sandy beach.img022

Auntie Betty and cousin Ewan at their home in Aberdeen
Auntie Betty and cousin Ewan at their home in Aberdeen

We spent a few days taking in the sights of the highlands before heading back south via Edinburgh and Berwick. Although I’m not a fan of golf, we paid a visit to the famous course at St Andrews, where the sport was born.

We found a camping resort south of Berwick where we based ourselves for a couple of days . While there we took a drive out via the causeway to Holy Island to see Lindisfarne Castle.1990g Our final stop was at a campsite in Nottinghamshire before making our way to the Coventry Stadium for the Saturday night BriSCA F1 races (2 June) . John Lund (53) won that night.

On June 8,  I was at the Birmingham Wheels track and Long Eaton on June 9 where Bert Finnikin (55) won both BriSCA F1 Finals.

At the end of the month our Dutch friends Willem and Anne Boschma paid us a visit while they were on vacation in the UK .1990h

I was at Coventry on 7 July to see Andy Maynard (151) take a surprise win and at Long Eaton on 14 July where Dave Berresford (260) was the winner .

The BriSCA F1 final at Brafield on 22 July was won by Chris Elwell (501) while Berresford won again at Coventry on 5 August.

Brafield were hosting the World Championship Semi Final for BriSCA F2 the next day and I saw Scotland’s Alistair King (74) take that one.

The Superstox World Final was scheduled for the 11 August at the Wisbech Stadium in Camebridgshire, but I missed out on that one where local driver John Mickel, got the gold. We were heading off to the Netherlands .

The Long Track World Final at Baarlo was taking place on 26 August and it gave us a chance to combine that with our family summer holiday, and do a bit of European touring.

A stock car meeting was scheduled for the St Maarten track in the north of the Netherlands, so we decided to take this one in too.

On Saturday Aug 11 we took the night ferry from Ramsgate to Dunkirk in France before crossing over into Belgium for the first few nights. We stopped at the De Haan campsite which was close to the nice sandy beach. Monday was spent looking around the historic city of Brugge.

On Tuesday (May 14) we took the Breskens ferry to Visssingen and motored up the coast towards St Maarten where we found a campsite at Petten , about 5 miles from the track. We’d taken our bikes with us , so once the caravan was set up, we went for a ride along the sea front.

Like most events in the Netherlands, the racing was well advertised with posters publicizing the ‘Auto Cross’ all around the area. By arriving four days before race day it gave us a chance to check out some of the places of interest in the area. We visited the traditional cheese market at Alkmaar then took the ferry boat over to the Island of Texel.1990i

When Sunday arrived we found the track easily as we’d gone on a ‘track finding mission’ earlier in the week.

Like the Blauwhuis track that we’d visited a few years previously, it was a dirt oval with a large ditch separating the cars from the viewing public. We’d arranged to meet up with the Boschma’s at the track and once the races were over we followed them back to their place.1990j 1990k 1990l 1990m


They lived at Nijland in Friesland , so the drive involved a trip across the famous Afluitdijk, the road across the sea. After stopping Sunday night with our friends, we set off on Monday for a few days in Germany.

Our destination was Bruhl not far from the big city of Cologne , where we’d planned to visit ‘Fantasialand’, which is a theme park, best described as Germany’s answer to Disneyland. 1990n 1990oWe were in no hurry to get there so stopped beside Lake Wisseler near to Kleve before getting closer to Bruhl . We found a nice campsite at Liblarer near to Erfstadt , where we based ourselves.

After a couple of days there it was time to head back towards the Netherlands and the forthcoming ‘Long Track Weekend ‘ at Baarlo. 1990qWe arrived there on the Thursday which gave us plenty of time to pay a family visit. Our young niece, Carolyn from Somerset had joined the military, and was stationed at nearby RAF Bruggen. 1990pWe visited her at the base, and then she and her friend came back with us to the races.b00 (Small)

We also met up again with the Boschma family, who were there, just to watch. Willem had suffered a back injury and had not been racing this season. Jon Dokter had taken over from Willem in the Piet de Berkt owned car.b2 (Small)b18 (Small) b13 (Small) b12 (Small)Mother Nature was kind to us for this years event and it turned out to be warm and sunny,  as England’s John Lund (53) took the checkers in the big one.1990r 1990s

PICTURES from Baarlo Long Track World Final

Once the racing was over, it meant our holiday was over , and it was time to make the familiar trip back to Ostende in Belgium to catch the ferry.

We always tried to be back in Ostende in time to get an earlier boat than our booking, and were pleased when we had a hassle-free drive to the port.

We’d forgot that it was the Belgian F1 Grand Prix that weekend ,and the port was full of returning UK fans, which meant we couldn’t get on the earlier boat .

We had to wait for one that departed at 2-00 am and it wasn’t until 9-30 am on Monday morning that we got home to Stony Stratford. Luckily I’d booked an extra day off work ‘to recover’.

The following weeks it was back to normal, attending the usual first Saturday of month Coventry races . Mick Noden (306) won that night.

Pat and Carla didn’t come with me on this occasion, as a new sporting attraction was opening in the city of Milton Keynes. An ice rink had opened earlier in the year and on this day , it was the first game for our local hockey team, the MK Kings. If it hadn’t of clashed with Coventry, I would have been there too. Pat and Carla went along and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I’d seen ice hockey on TV and had always thought what an exciting sport it was. The following Saturday (8 Sept) I gave the races at Long Eaton a miss and went along to see the MK Kings take on the Harringey Racers. It was my first ever hockey game and I instantly got hooked.1990dd

The next morning we were up early to do a Skegness and Boston double. Frankie Wainman Jr won at Skeggy in the afternoon, while John Lund won the evening races at Boston.

The following weekend it was the BriSCA F2 World Final at Cowdenbeath, but we missed this in favor of a visit to one of Pat’s friends on the south coast. The winner at Cowdenbeath was local driver Alistair King.1990u

We’d now had our Volvo for a couple of years and for some time had been making do as a ‘one car family’ ( I still used my Yamaha motor bike to go to work on)  We felt it was time to get back to owning two cars, and on Sep 21 , we bought a fairly new ( just a couple of years old) Vauxhall Cavalier. 1990v

The paperwork wasn’t finalized in time so it was in the Volvo that we drove to the Odsal Stadium in Bradford for the 1990 BriSCA F1 World Final (22 Sept) where Bert Finnikin (55) was the winner.1990bb1990w

1990xIn recent years, New Zealand had been represented in the big race and it was on this night that I got to know one of their visiting media men. Mike Magyar of Upper Hutt NZ had been a regular photographic and editorial contributor to the UK racing press and we’d arranged to meet up at Bradford.

Mike who was also at the traditional ‘day after races’  at Brafield became a long time friend. The winner at Brafield that day (23 Sept) was Peter Falding.

I’d still got some vacation days to use up, so on Monday (24 Sept) I went up to the NEC in Birmingham for the Motor Show.

I’d enjoyed my first experience of ice hockey and on the last Saturday in September I was at the arena cheering for the ‘Kings’ against Sunderland.

As we went into October,  I saw John Lund win at Coventry ( 6 Oct) , Frankie Wainman Jr at Boston (7 Oct) , while the VSCA reunion meeting at Brafield ( 14 Oct) gave Lund yet another win.

During the weekend of October 20/21 I was on another overseas trip to the Netherlands Championship at the Midland Speedway in Lelystad. This was a just a quick trip with the ‘guys’ and we took two cars. We sailed on the overnight ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland, saw the racing on Sunday afternoon, then returned on the overnight ferry back to Harwich.

Among my traveling companions for this trip, but driving in his own car, and accompanied by his young son Paul, was Derek Hines from Hinckley in Leicestershire. phines-stickerLittle did I know at this time, that many years later, Paul who often spent time sitting with Carla at the races would later end up as one of the top UK stock car drivers (259).

st14 (Small) st17 (Small) st41 (Small) st29 (Small)

There were quite a number of English drivers taking part at Lelystad and one of them, Frankie Wainman Jr (515) won the Championship race.310645_2369610878203_1188391750_32161795_1962344947_n


My racing year came to a close in November when I saw Gaz Bott (41) win at Coventry (3 Nov) Pete Falding at Brafield (4 Nov) , John Lund at Boston (11 Nov), John Lund again at Hednesford (18 Nov) and Dave Berresford (260) take the final Brafield of the year (25 Nov) .

It’s also interesting to note that on November 27 an era of British politics came to an end, when Maggie Thatcher, one of the UK’s most respected prime ministers stood down to make way for John Major.

I never got to race my revamped BriSCA F2 during 1990 and at the end of the year it was put up for sale, as my interest began to wane. 1990tI was becoming a big ice hockey fan as well as having a yearning to own an American car.