Racing in the 1950s-1970s
Tunes from the tracks: Speakers on
Remember the Rinkydink theme over the Tannoy? Thanks to Malc Brown who has brilliantly teamed RinkyDink with his collection of stock car photos on YouTube, here:
The Anthem for bangers, Mouldy Old Dough: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aO5GWJJP3FM
played by "Lieutenant Pigeon", a band led by Rob Woodward with his mum Hilda on keyboards. The song made it to #2 in Belgium before it rose to #1 in Britain in 1972.
On this video, Mouldy Old Dough accompanies a really good compilation of banger action, but the first few seconds are silent --- speakers on! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En8EKOR6AAo
Also the outrageous Nut Rocker by "Bee Bumble and the Stingers", (also recorded by the Pigeon band!) which occasionally played at Brafield. (No. 1 in 1962's hit parade, a take-off of Tchaikovsky's NUTCRACKER.)
If you followed oval racing, you know this: March of The Mods by the Joe Loss Orchestra in 1964, which oddly was based on an old Finnish dance tune called the 'Jenka' .
How about the Spedeworth favourite, "I was Kaiser Bill's Batman", by Whistling Jack Smith? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZOgbOojBJU
(Most YouTube clips of it show an imposter posing on a platform lip-synching to the real record.)
Another favourite: Bert Kaempfert's "Swingin' Safari": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVK9ZgRs3Zc
Let us never forget "Stock Car Racing is Magic". Comic actor Bill Maynard ---"Claud Greengrass" in Heartbeat, as well as a "Carry On" films regular --- wrote the lyrics. Click on this link to YouTube for the song. Here are the lyrics.
Novelty-nonsense songs were often big hits in Britain in the 50's, 60's and 70's --- have we become too serious today? Remember:
Stock-cars and Rock-stars? Russ Thomas the Brafield deejay tells me that a regular record-requester at the track was Biddy Meek, mother of the pioneering British sound engineer and rock producer JOE MEEK. Joe's memory lives on in the Joe Meek Appreciation Society. If you jived or twisted to Heinz, Mike Berry, Lonnie Donegan, John Leyton, Dave Berry, and my own heroes "His Majesty Screaming Lord Sutch and His Savages", you were listening to Joe Meek productions. Joe Meek wrote and produced the all-time hit "TELSTAR", inside his tiny upstairs bed-sitter, using even the kitchen and stairwell to get the right sound. Joe Meek's whole family, including his farming brothers Eric and Arthur, loved stock-car racing.
'Man on the Mike'
If you enjoyed Sunday afternoons at Brafield Stadium, whether as picnicking early-birds or just-in-time race fans, you were serenaded for 14 years from 1963 to 1977 by a fascinating chap billed as 'Rick' Thomas, real name Russ Thomas. Russ "lived and breathed stock cars", and early on had the gumption to buttonhole manager Graham Guthrie and owner John La Trobe about having music. Before that, Geoff Barnett had played tape recordings of Alan Freeman's PICK OF THE POPS; the only actual records owned by Brafield were God Save The Queen, Bobby's Girl, and the Tornadoes' Globetrotter; what a collection! Russ persisted until they let him start with a Dansette Junior record player in front of the mike.
In 1965 La Trobe splashed out on a new PA system, along with disco style twin-deck Garrard turntables that allowed Russ to fade records in and out. If "Rinky Dink" by the Johnny Howard Band stuck in your mind, it's because Russ chose it and kept on playing it, and eventually other tracks in England and Holland copied the idea. Despite people groaning "Oh no, not again" when Rinky Dink started up, drivers and mechanics came to appreciate it as an ideal "races starting" reminder.
For years Brafield's PA system ran all day on a single car battery. When it broke down, Russ would have to tour the track on the back of a truck, holding up the race results chalked on a blackboard ---.
Geoff Barnett, previously the Staines manager/commentator, was a big believer in entertainment: brass bands, gymnastics displays, backwards races, the terrifying Australian speedway sidecars, spectator laps [1962 photo], burst-a-balloon, Senior-vs-Junior match races, climb-the-greasy-pole, comic commentaries, you name it, and even sudden spontaneous prizes:
"Look, Aubrey Leighton's under his car doing repairs --- the first girl to run across and give Aubrey a kiss wins three bottles of Coke."
Russ has for years studied the early history of the stadium and its cast of weird and wonderful showmen and impresarios --- let's hope he writes a book about it one day. Russ first trained as a motor mechanic in Northampton, and developed his career into sign-painting, becoming a lifelong signwriter, http://www.rjthomas-signwriting.co.uk/, doing cars (including stockers of course), shops, antiques, vintage machinery and specializing in the mysterious and arcane arts of canal-boat and fairground decoration, (strictly by hand, no airbrush) of which here are four stunning examples:
Fairground 1 apart from the brilliant paintwork, look at the "marbling" on this mobile fairground paybox.
Fairground 2 have you ever ridden the Super Waltzer?
Fairgound 3 a tiger snarls from "the Waltzer".
Fairground 4 more of the Waltzer, and now below: the winged messenger Mercury in dazzling colour:
Russ also loves and collects and compiles the classic pop music of the fifties and sixties. I'll finish with Russ's heart-warming retrospective:
"I got a bird's eye view of some fantastic racing, witnessed the start of banger racing and the attempted revival of speedway at the track. I met people from all walks of life from all over the world, some famous, some infamous, made many friends and enjoyed every minute of it."
In the words of an Alan Price song --- "O Lucky Man."
Two 1950's movies featured stock-car racing.
An early Benny Hill cops 'n' spies comedy, titled Who Done It? was filmed in 1956:
7-minute clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=md79_mGp-nA
It has a short scene in which Benny accidentally gets into a stock-car race at West Ham's stadium (identified thanks to Graham Brown.) Film fans who enjoy reporting continuity errors point out that after several hard damaging collisions, Benny's car is shown undamaged. I've not seen the film, but its cast included substantial actors like
"Stock Car" in 1955 featured great racing and so-so acting. Available in a two-film package:
It was Sabrina's first brief film appearance, but with a dubbed voice. According to Speedway And Stock Car World of 7 July 1955, Sabrina made an appearance at a Birmingham stock car meeting with Bill "Mad" Mason.
Paul Carpenter played the star role, maybe his best among many B movies. His girlfriend was played by Rona Anderson (Dixon of Dick Green, Doctor Finlay's Casebook). Also in it were Paul Whitsun-Jones (The Avengers and Quatermass Experiment) Uncredited is Frank Thornton (Are You Being Served? and Last of the Summer Wine) who was still acting in 2010; and Frazer Hines (Emmerdale Farm). The cinematographer Geofrey Faithfull did over a hundred films, including Village of the Damned and The Green Helmet.
Young has alerted me that YouTube has a race sequence from the movie,
and you can try doing "screen shots" to catch a car number and name! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9wrF2mVV0o
"What The Papers Say"
One of the South Devon Herald Express editors fondly remembers the action at Newton Abbot from the old days, and published this excellent article about the stock cars and bangers. (copied-and-pasted from their website onto a PDF file).
BBC Radio Goes into Stock Car History
February 2009: Out of the blue, I was contacted by BBC Radio Northampton, who were doing a series of pieces about local heroes, and who had evidently come across my website. They wanted to hear about Aubrey Leighton #42, so here is a 13-minute conversation between myself and the excellent interviewer John Griff on his afternoon show of Thursday 19th February 2009. Like most people, I hate hearing my own voice recorded. The programme implied that Aubrey was Northamptonshire's only world champion, and I forgot to mention that Kettering racer Murray Harrison was also a local World Champ (1999) and scored two other World podiums.
September 2010: On Saturday 4th September, BBC Radio 4 broadcast an unusual documentary, "Stock Car Sewell" [link below]. Brian Sewell is a famously "lah-di-dah" art critic and aesthete, once described as 'the only person who makes the Queen sound common'. A journalist and one-time Christie's art consultant, Sewell was also a close friend of Sir Anthony Blunt.
But Brian Sewell the suave gentleman has also been a keen stock car fan for over 30 years. In this radio programme, he ventures out to interview the legendary Wembley rascal Pete Tucker #85 who raced at the very first New Cross meeting, about those wild early days. Pete does his wonderful gravelly Cockney drawl to counterpoint Sewell's posh accent. Then Brian visits a Wimbledon Spedeworth meet and talks to his guide Paul Huggett, Spedeworth's magazine editor ("A Virgil to my Dante, if you will."), chats to banger racers, raves over the vista of smoke and sparks under the floodlights ("Like a November sunset by J.M.W.Turner"), wishes that a realist painter could portray the scene, and insists he can smell gin in the exhaust fumes.
Interviewing race marshal Andy Cook, Sewell asks rather loftily "So you are the grey eminence behind all this?" and Andy retorts "I'm the Law is what I am." Yet the officials, drivers, and mechanics were surprisingly hospitable to this eccentricupper-class alien in their midst. Leaving at the end of the night, Sewell says "It feels as though you've just watched BenHur, King Lear, and a pantomime all together." Listen to this unique radio programme.
(Big file may take a minute to open.)
March 2010: [from a 1960 BSCDA newsletter, courtesy of Steve Farndon] Several stock car sites mention a short documentary/news film called SMASHING THROUGH, showing in cinemas in 1960 as part of the Rank Films series "Look at Life". According to Peter Marsh's site, the film shows Staines and includes Alan Wardropper. There is a 4-DVD set of Rank's Look at Life, on the theme of transport, but I don't think it includes "Smashing Through". If you know it, please e-mail me.
An Inspiring Letter!
August 2011: Long ago, March 1965 to be precise, I was at Graveley airfield in Cambs where one of Britain's early drag-race meets was being run. There was a Senior F1 stock car there, being tuned and shaken down, and I remember the snooty announcer making a snide remark about its presence. Later that year, DRAG RACING magazine printed a bold and inspiring letter that contrasted stock-car people with less-helpful "RAC types". I found an old copy of the magazine, and re-reading the letter I realized the [misspelled] writer was Jayne Tabor, once Jayne Douglas, an American woman who raced F2's built by Roy Goodman, and who married Graham "Tiny" Tabor from Cambridge, who raced both F1 and F2. (His career is mentioned on the Junior F2 page). The car Graham raced that day --- twice beating a dragster off the line --- was his ex-Barry van den Oetelaar machine, which had a highly modified Olds Rocket 88 motor.
Read Jayne's letter and give a loud cheer for our sport.
The artist Jason Curwen, who paints portraits to order, crafted this pastel/chalk portrait of Trevor Frost on behalf of Trevor's daughter. It is based on a photo of Trevor in 1964. You can see many more examples of his work on this website: http://www.capturedmyart.com/#/artworks-for-sale/43/
Books, Badges, and Programmes
February 2014: Twenty years before stock-cars competed on Britain's stadium ovals, Midget cars struggled to "take off". Postwar Britain also saw attempts to revive this form of racing, and today a high-tech version flourishes especially on tarmac. But on the cinder-tracks of Belle Vue, Stoke, Brandon, Crystal Palace et al., some brave entrepreneurs went at it in the 1930s with outboard motors and big J.A.P. V-twins, often in tiny 4-wheel-drive chassis. This phenomenon has been largely forgotten by the general public, but thanks to dedicated fans, and author Derek Bridgett, we can re-live those days and perhaps wish things had gone better before speedway politics and the Second World War got in the way. Here are the front and back covers of Derek's excellent book:
the back cover photo below shows the illustrious Bugatti specialist Ivan
Dutton with some of his midget car collection. Derek has sent me a big high-res file of this photo, along with this key identifying the cars visible. Derek
Bridgett has contributed photos of his late brother Bill Bridgett who
raced stock-cars, grasstrack and speedway in the late fifties, on my EARLY DAYS page.
Derek's book reads like a hot-off-the-press race report,and gives
driver biographies and plenty of technical info. You can buy it
from FONTHILL MEDIA, at fonthillmedia.com
February 2014: Trivia quiz: In 1963, out of almost 120 Senior/F1 finals, how many were won by white-top drivers, who were they, and at which tracks?
Try another: on 2nd April in 1977 two red-tops, both first name Gordon, won finals under two different promoting organizations --- . Gordon who, and which tracks?
Not like the story-and-commentary format of the excellent Keith Barber history books, this one is simply the biggest and only complete record of EVERY SINGLE SENIOR/F1 FINAL WIN from the start of stock car racing up to the end of 2013:
Compiled by a team led by BriSCA's Guy Parker and Nigel Anderson, this heavy large-format paperbound glossy volume of 330 pages ---- definitely for the kitchen/dining table, too hefty for bedtime reading --- is made of comprehensive tables with every name and date and number and organization in the sixty years thus far of Senior/F1 competition. Scores of programme covers, excellent car photographs, this will keep you busy for ever.
A UNIQUE BOOK IS PUBLISHED in France, by pioneer racer Guy Curval, on the history of stock-car racing in France 1953-1970. Guy Curval regularly raced in England in Senior F1's and in Junior F2's, including several World Finals. Guy was a close buddy of Jock Lloyd, who often helped arrange Guy's trips. French stock-car racing never developed the oval-dedicated "specials" that appeared in the UK in the mid-sixties onwards. French cars were always large American and French saloons, and the tracks were mostly larger dirt ovals on temporary sites. However, Jock's influence persuaded Curval to build a fantastic-looking Jag special. Guy Curval last raced in 1969, when after an injury-filled career his doctors ordered him to stop. Guy is still to be seen around the sport in France, and has a classically-restored stock-car in his garage. The book is a high quality hard-back, "coffee-table" size, over 140 pages, with scores of fascinating photos, including some of English tracks, and of Fred Mitchell's union-jack-wearing car on a French visit. It is quite expensive, and all in French of course. You can ask about it or buy it from a specialist car book shop in Paris: "PASSION AUTOMOBILE", and their e-mail address is email@example.com
Ooh la la, more from France: William Camus was half-Iroquois, half-French, born in the Yukon, who became a Parisian journalist, children's author, writer of Westerns, and occasional stock-car driver. He was one of the French contingent who came over to New Cross in 1954. He wrote a stock car adventure novel for a youth audience called "LES FERRAILLEURS", the title roughly meaning "scrap dealing swashbucklers". It is set in the USA, not in France. I haven't read it yet. It's published in Belgium and France by Duculot Editions as a paperback.
Terrific DVD: Les Cotton has available a DVD (sleeve image) of wild stock-car action from the 'real' Belle Vue in 1986, the new Belle Vue in 2004, and Sheffield in 1987.
Go to Les's website: http://home.clara.net/norden/lescotton/cd.htm
or e-mail Les: firstname.lastname@example.org
More: Les Cotton's wife Sue is an accomplished artist, in watercolour, oil, pastel, and pencil. Here is a super commissioned portrait of a modern F2 stock car on her website: http://www.seahorsestudios.co.uk/penother.htmMay 2012: Many of us have to take a hundred photos to get one or two "decent" ones; then we come across a photograph by a professional and think "Now that is classy."
Paul Fielding has self-published a superb collection of photographs of Banger racing. My site does not normally touch on bangers, but having seen the tip-top quality of Paul's photography, and his text, I just had to report it here. Like the Sowerby Smith photos of Long Eaton in 1965, you can tell that these are artworks made by someone with a trained eye. I will show just the cover and
and one page spread to give you the idea. The photos show the special lifestyle, humour, and skills of banger drivers and builders, and Paul Fielding was able to choose those unique shots that say it all about life in the pits and on the track. email@example.com
July 2010: The book everyone's heard of --- THRILL OF THE CENTURY by the stock car icon (though no saint!) Pete Tucker #85. Reading this is like sitting in on the best after-hours pub talk with a bunch of fans and drivers. It's like having Pete talk to you --- no fancy editors to tame or 'correct' it. Outrageous, a laugh a minute, Pete and his contemporaries were up to all the larks, but don't forget they were skilled and hard working mechanics too, putting in all the hours. If he has any copies of the book left, you can get in touch with Pete on tel. 01-223-207324, or at
TUCKERS USA CARS, 142 Meldreth Road, Whaddon, nr ROYSTON, Herts SG8 5RP
NOVEMBER 2011: "Crash-Bang-Drama-Flaming-Stunt-Thrills-and-Spills!"
If you want a couple of books that you literally can't put down, these are for you. Down to earth writing, chock full of life, characters and exploits that make you want to cheer; that's what you get in these self-written self-published books.
First: "My Wild Youth in Gloucestershire" by 'Daredevil Dick' Sheppard spanning from 1930 to the 1960's, describes how an ordinary lad from an ordinary background grew into a local entrepreneur and an extraordinary stunt man who toured the world with his team of like-minded madmen. Lots of lovely old photos and anecdotes of Gloucestershire life before WW2 that would entertain readers who don't even follow stock cars and stunting. I'll give away one example: at school, Dick struggled for a long time to gather enough pocket money for the school trip to Stratford to see Julius Caesar. His unsympathetic teacher told him he was too late to get a seat on the bus --- so Dick Sheppard rode his bike behind the bus all the way from Gloucester to Stratford, and back again after the show!
Contact Dick or a bookstore; its book number is 978-0-9565329-0-9, published by Tweenbrook Publishing in Gloucester.
Second: the massive "Close To The Edge", by Dick Sheppard and the late Jacquie de Creed, his daredevil partner, who tragically died just before this book was published. Over 400 pages, told alternately in Dick's and Jacquie's words, this is a feast. This is the literary equivalent of your favourite cafe's biggest sausage-egg-chips-beans-chops-mushrooms-fried-bread-bacon-and-scrape dish; ie, not what your doctor or English teacher would approve of, but what a belly-filling treat. From Dick's early days scrambling and racing stock cars against Bozzie and Wild Bill Bendix and Jumbo Tustin, to Guinness World Records and television, along with tunnel-of-fire and T-bone stunts, and the dodges and tricks of scrap-yard deals and late nights on the road. Jacquie's life too is enthralling, from her restless girlhood to a stunt career in cars and motorbikes including the existing world record 232-foot jump in a Ford Mustang: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PbVb6Is00U. And yet: "I was crashing cars and breaking world records, but put me in front of an audience, and I froze," so Jacquie decided to overcome her shyness, earned a teaching diploma and bravely began to teach speech and drama in Cheltenham and to give inspirational workshops and team building sessions.
Do yourself a favour and get this book. Contact Dick or your bookshop; its book number is 978-0-9565329-1-6, published by Tweenbrook Publishing in Gloucester.
The Ultimate Stock Car Books:
Between them, Keith Barber and Malc Aylott have given us the last word in stock-car histories. If you see these (eg at Keith's stall?) anywhere, dish out the dosh. Here's one. Here's the other. They cost a few quid, but you could spend more on a bad night at the pub. To keep myself honest, I have refrained from 'stealing' from the treasures in these books for my website.
Another "ultimate" stock-car book: Who drove #304? What years did Chippie Weston drive? Where was Karl Grossman from? How do you sort it all out, especially when over the years, #21 has been assigned to fourteen different drivers. Remember a driver's name? This book has over 2,000 surnames in A-Z order. Remember a number? Same thing in numerical order, all with the driver's full name, home town, and years racing. Put your hands together (and in your wallet) for Mike Greenwood, who with son John Greenwood and Granville Holmes, has issued the updated 3rd edition [click on it:] of:
You can get it from Photostox, 17 Willingham Close, Sothall, Sheffield, S20 2PD, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Arthur Whittam maintains a truly massive collection of BriSCA photographs, from his time as track photographer; several appear with his pwermission on this website.
As well as selling high-quality prints, he has now created two "e-Books", which you can access and purchase via this link:
<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/brisca-f1-stock-cars/id657658427?mt=11&uo=4" target="itunes_store">BriSCA F1 Stock Cars - eBooks by A.B. Whittam</a>
(I am unsure about how to make "code links" for Apple/i-tunes so I hope this works.)
Another book: Andrew Weltch (http://www.ovaltrack.co.uk/andyweltch.htm) is a long-time writer, journalist, and announcer who has with Richard Neil, published several oval-track books. Here are the covers of four of them, and you can order them direct from his website. Backtracks. Hot Rods. Superstox. F2s in Devon and Cornwall.
Good-old-days magazine: if you're visiting this website because you appreciate the good old days, then you should try to find an old copy of Oval Track Classic magazine. A brave and commendable venture, the first issue came out in Spring 2009, from YBA Publications, the folks who brought you Short Circuit Magazine. It ran to a total of six issues. Here's the issue #3 cover:
See Brian Jones's 'Topolino' style car up there? There's not a piece of Fiat tin on it; it's a Jones-crafted dead ringer, a Heritage car he's racing in memory of his years-ago exploits, which you can also see in the JUNIORS section of this site. And how d'you like this lovely "Pop" heritage racer below: Brian Bearman's 1974 Spedeworth Superstox:
The magazine had many veteran racers on hand, with their stories and photos from all the short circuit formulae, for instance Dave Willis at Aldershot, doing what those cars did so well. It covered present-day revival / heritage cars and racing, as well as archival material going back 50 years.
Where are those badges and stickers you collected?
These may remind you:
Mark Crisp acquired this beautiful bumper badge at a garage where he worked over 40 years ago -- since the fabulous Formula II cars were called Juniors for several years after their 1961 birth, this high-quality badge is probably 1964-onwards. A very professional design compared to many of the badges back then.
Belle Vue fans may remember this badge, below, preserved by Terry Dickinson on his "badge waistcoat" (like the old cockney Pearly Kings and Queens, serious stock car supporters were often covered in badges.) I will for ever regret losing my enamelled Bristol Bulldogs speedway badge from my denim jacket many years ago.
"Chissy" supporters collected this one. BSCDA Membership, then their coveted driver's patch. Aye lad, the North knows how to race, at Aycliffe. Next: Belle Vue, what a disgrace that the authorities let it be demolished, an unforgivable bit of "development" . How's about Lincolnshire's Cadwell Park? Don't forget Kings Lynn Next: Coventry's badge ("Brandon" if you're old ---). Down to Notts, where Long Eaton put on great shows. South a bit to Leicester. In Northants, Brafield printed a rather weird image of a "stock-car", but it brought the crowds in. Down south, Harringay Stadium's badge. Here is the rare Brands Hatch acknowledgement of stock car racing. Next, Weymouth's sticker. Further still, the Mendip, where the lovely Bristol track sits in an old reservoir depression on the very top of the hills. Down west we go to St. Austell. [stickers courtesy of Rick Young's collection]
An early Brafield Stadium sticker, courtesy of Chris "Totter" Holmes, Jock Lloyd 131's long time mechanic.
Model Stock Cars
March 2012: One-time racer Neill Crookes [see the Seventies page] has been reliving the glory days by making 1/30 scale stock cars. He's created 45 to date, and I am going to do a "quick pick" of my own four faves:
well as the following, there are great photos of a model Tony Wicks 93
car and transporter, in the Tony Wicks section on the "MORE SENIORS"
Here (and on my Links page) is an excellent website by expert modeller Colin Moss: http://www.mossmodels.co.uk/index.htm
Justin Small was lucky as a kid in the 1980's to have a model-making father, whose favourite cars/drivers are shown here (tiny gems, parked beside the towing Oxo box on a shelf!): SuperStu 1;
one of the Staffordshire Finnikins 55; Willie's #2; Dave Berresford's 260; and Dan Clarke 203
Thanks to Mark Crisp, who took some "Heritage" car photos at a 2007 Brafield meet that included Heritage cars, to be shown elsewhere. But the highlight is this amazing display case full of perfect accurate models of the great stock cars of four decades. Neither Mark nor I know who created these models, so please if you know, give me an e-mail. I also cropped the photo to show a close-up of one small display section here.
Some serious 'working' model stock-cars. Terry Dickinson has raced radio-controlled stock cars (3.5cc motors) for years, scoring high in championships in the UK and Holland, at meets that attract anywhere from 40 to 90 "drivers". Car # 3 was a hard-used racer for several years, and sports the traditional roof fin. The other two cars are display models, without the rugged steel chassis that racers need. Terry's models are accurate right down to pedals and seat belts.
January 2011: The 1963 West Ham world semi-final. I've had these scans for ages and apologise for forgotting who sent them. However, some famous names and numbers here:
January 2011: John Dyson grew up in Leicester not far from the Blackbird Road stadium, and a miracle of preservation means that this first-meeting-of-1955 Leicester programme survives in perfect nick: it's a huge 6MB "pdf" file of all 12 pages. See the ticket prices and the prize money in the days when they were packing 10,000 to 20,000 fans into the stadiums. I have copied the photographs from this into the EARLY DAYS / FIFTIES page of this site.
August 2010: Graham Cox scanned this Brands Hatch programme from their historic first stock-car meet on April 10th, 1966, with winners written in. Apologies to Graham for sitting on these scans for so long.
: May 2010: Long Eaton rivalled Brafield for "oldest track", as shown by this 1955 programme cover, and Graham Cox kindly scanned the full contents which you can see in The Early Days section of this site.
Another Barry Redman contribution, and the indefatigable Gerry Dommett was promoting Hell Drivers and stock cars at Weymouth's Wessex Stadium in 1958. The 381 car is listed as being"Killer" Sayers from Nottingham --- imagine trying to enter a race under that nickname today.Also, how about Kent's Lydden Hill circuit in 1956; the photo of Ken Freeman and Pat Willis is high enough resolution that I will enlarge it for the EARLY DAYS section of this site. Thanks, Barry.
Ian Melton is proud owner of this mint Coventry/Brandon World Final poster --- there's no year printed on it, but that artist's impression is adapted from this real track photograph of the 1950's -- but which track? The trees look like Brafield but Brafield didn't have lights. March 2010, Trevor Chater confirms this is indeed the 1960 poster.
From ex-racer Barry Redman #151, a trip back through 54 years to Staines, on 1st June 1956: the programme cover. Look closer here and remember that, post-war National Service still going, soldiers enjoyed discounts, and some of you remember it was normal practice to pick up a soldier hitch-hiking in uniform, anywhere in Britain. Also, notice that antique phrase, the "popular enclosure" --- like the public bar vs the lounge bar. Then, the inside pages, showing famous and less-familiar names, racing under the old numbering system.
Historic programme, kindly scanned and sent by Terry Dickinson. Belle Vue, October 30th, 1954, with Johnnie Hoskins's notes and all the drivers, and some results pencilled in. This was apparently the seventh meeting of that inaugural year at Belle Vue. The six double-pages are scanned at high resolution, so you can zoom in and get every detail, even if it takes a while to open. Terry and his father spectated for many years, and both raced saloon formulas on ovals. It was Terry's dad who picked up this actual programme at Hyde Road all those years ago. Thanks a million to Terry for this gem.
August 2009 / November 2010: Gavin Davis found a few stock car treasures among his collection of speedway programmes, and kindly sent me this bit of history --- a stock-car fan's handwriting in 'Biro' on the Southampton programme for Tuesday 12th October 1954. The wonderfully named "Maxie Bacon" from Plumstead won the Consolation and collected £12 [double the average weekly wage for a consie win]. And here is its cover.
Trivia spot: younger fans in Britain, and fans elsewhere may not know that 'Biro' is a generic word for a ballpoint pen. Laszlo Biro of Hungary invented it in 1938, and it was first used by the RAF because high altitude pilots could not use fountain pens! The patent was bought by Marcel Bich in 1950, for his Bic pen company.
Move on eight years to Tuesday 2nd October 1962, and some familiar names line up at Southampton, including Danny Bassett and Maxie Bacon, who had both been there in '54. Here too is its cover.
Mark Crisp kindly dug out this Long Eaton programme from 19th May 1973: