all to David Kipling's Home Page
Racing in Britain 1950s-1970s
for fans of real racing in the golden age
2014 update: two new books on oval racing; see lower down this page
2014 update: SIXTY complete track programmes 1963-1967, and 18 front and back covers of Stock Car Racing News
further down this page!
British drag-racing, 1960s-1970s
This is not a personal home page.
I set it up to share a specialized topic for relatively few people world-wide: BriSCA "Stock-car
racing" as the phrase has applied in Britain since 1954, and the early days of drag racing in Britain. This
is a nostalgia page about rough-'n'-ready forms of motor sport that
were too often ignored or looked down on.
racing and drag racing thrive today in a more sophisticated way, but
this site is dedicated to the racers who entertained
us in the 1960's and 70's.
I started with a collection of old snapshots I'd kept in a shoe
box; but over the years, many kind people have sent me their
stories and their own photos.
Ex-racer Dick [now 'Rick']
Young, lap-scorer Ken Mason, and Brafield 'deejay' Russ Thomas ---- and
many many others ---- have been especially helpful with pictures
As a result, my website has now become a collective and communal
celebration on the part of fans who, like me, admired the early era
of stock-car racing and drag racing. Some were
racers; some are the sons and daughters and even grandchildren of racers featured
here. It has been wonderful to hear from you good folks over
the years. Keep 'em coming.
need hours to go through this pictorial history. Click
on the headings at the top and bottom of the pages, and you'll find a ton of
stories and technical facts, plus my opinions, and most photos are a
link to click on.
warning: I don't know computers, and over the years the
background html codes have become very tangled, so you must put up with
odd spacing and typefaces, etc. I can't fix it. Who cares, we're
enjoying stock cars!
you stood on the terraces and cheered your heroes and booed your
villains in the fifties, sixties, and seventies, the passage of years
is naturally taking those drivers away. Until 2013
I occasionally reported the death of stock car racers; but I
don't want this living historical website to become a list of
obituaries. Besides, men
like Dougie Wardropper and Chick Woodroffe, to us, are still
fighting their cars and their rivals round the tarmac and shale up and
down the country in our memories. Let's leave them racing in peace without too many R.I.P. notices.
My JUNK SHOP principles:
I don't gather photos from other Internet sites; everything on this
site has been sent to me personally by a stock car or drag racing fan,
making it a kind of community collection. Naturally, they may
have donated their photos elsewhere as well. [The Automotive Oddments section is a free-for-all, however]
it's a jumble --- that's the way it has grown, and that's the way I
like it, and many people tell me the same thing. There are some
excellent "quick-reference index" websites on the Net, but this is
a place for browsing leisurely at random and stumbling on stories and
drivers and cars you weren't expecting. You can always use the
edit-find function on a page
Look out for the labels
for recent additions, which are not necessarily at the top of a page. If you are already an occasional visitor, just do edit-find for a month/year since you last visited, e.g. "August 2011", or just the year "2012". I generally delete update labels after 18 months.
to keep drivers' info bunched together, but often a race photo contains
several cars. Also, a driver may appear in two or even
three decades, and some photos can't be dated accurately. Do an edit-find for your favourite track or driver.
introductory page includes photos of stock-car badges, stickers,
programmes, audio files, books, and so on.
Over 1300 photos of British stock-cars
Plus one whole page on:
you have a vintage stocks or drags photo or story you'd like
to contribute? E-mail
If you were good enough to qualify into the stock
car World Final, you received this shield.
This was presented to superstar Fred Mitchell, #38, when he entered the
1963 world final as defending (1962) world champion. This
beautiful memento passed to Fred's long-time race mechanic Pete
Schafer, who generously entrusted it to me, in memory of
Schafer, master mechanic (Pete Tucker called him
a "wizard"), friend to everyone, and loyal to Fred Mitchell
and his family for many years, passed away at his home in Washington
State, USA, in early 2007 at 82 years. Pete was a gent
of the old school, but with that characteristic sense of practical
joking that was everywhere in stock-car racing in those days. Pete
loved this little tale, which I will pass on here as a way
of winking "thank you" to Pete and his generation: Fred
Mitchell and Pete were working on the #38 car in Fred's workshop,
and they called for some help from a chap who had dropped in,
a farm worker who was wearing steel-toed boots. Fred
was welding some steel plate onto the car, and he said "Ah,
just the bloke we need — stand up on this, will you,
to hold it in place", and "But shut your
eyes because of the sparks." You've guessed it ---
Fred took a piece of scrap and tack-welded the man's
boots to the #38 chassis.
The "King of Tar" 1967 World Champ George Ansell
George Ansell 375 won Harringay's qualifying round in 1970, on tarmac of course [photo below]
before going on to the WF semi on Coventry's trickier shale ---
and won that too. George generously gave this QR trophy to his
lifelong number one fan Ian Snoad. Ian
had followed the racing at Harringay since the age of 8, and years
later contacted George's ex-mechanic Jim Bunyan, and George himself.
Ian sent this handsome photo, saying he'd not part with the trophy for all the money in the world.
May 2014: Below: John Lomax
was a big Willie Harrison fan, and like many serious fans he made up a
perspex "sticker board" for his car, and just re-discovered it today. A
nice bit of history.
March 2015 update:
Steve Russell has these rare early programmes in his collection: [Steve's son Martin Russell raced under #870 in F2.]
classic programme coverss, from 1959 and 1960
from Andrew Lively]
Two pit passes to revive old memories, courtesy of Barry Redman #151:
Ex-speedway rider, and Kiwi promoter Trevor Redmond put on a show and Steve Harrison got this seat in the front row. Steve raced for over 20 years in Bangers, Rebels, Stock Rods and Lightning Rods:
A bit about me:
I taught technical and business writing for 30 years at the BC Institute
of Technology, in Canada, but I grew up in Brixworth (rural
Northamptonshire UK). The field where I herded the sheep
is now occupied by Indy-and-Grand Prix-winning ILMOR / Mercedes Racing
Engines. I also lived in Birmingham, North
London, Redhill (Surrey), Bristol,
the South of France, and Vancouver
BC, Canada. If anything you see here makes
sense or revives memories, say "Hi" on email@example.com
Below: Summer 2004 happy to
be back at Brandon [first time there since 1966!], beside the car of Big Tony Smith:
Below: at Skagit Speedway in Washington State, USA, August 2011:
and below at the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit:
- and that's me after some passenger "hot laps" on the
Silverstone circuit in 2007 --- if I lived permanently in England I'd go bankrupt paying
for more of this, because it's so addictive. They had several professional racers on
hand (looking for a chance to get some practice in) My driver was Charlie Hollings, a serious F3 competitor, and his terse instructions were "hang on very tight and don't touch anything!" Just
being a passenger exhausted me; this was a full-race
Caterham R400, and it felt like being
shot out of a cannon onto a toboggan run. Yep, I burned my hand on that carbon-fibre exhaust shroud.
new Grand Prix circuit layout was opened in April 2010, and the track was actually blessed by the Bishop
of Brixworth, tapping the tarmac with his bishop's crozier
or 'pastoral staff' (that's a shepherd's crook to you and me). So what? It was my late father who made that
crozier about 30 years ago. Here's the track blessing, watched by Prince Andrew, GP world champion Damon Hill, Mark Webber, David Coulthard. Cheers for my dad.
I took a two-day racing course at a tight road circuit
near Vancouver in March 2009. I borrowed a stripped-out Honda CRX and
had a ball, though I am frankly a "resistant learner" ---, and received a couple of
black-flag warnings for going a bit over my actual skill level. Here I
am leading a Porsche
into Turn 2 --- yes, he soon passed. There's nothing like a serious training
course to make you eat humble pie when you thought you were pretty good.
July 2009: I visited Earls Barton to look at Aubrey
Leighton's old garage, and found it is now in the hands of a hard-working racing family. The boss, Antony Etheridge, and his sons and daughter run a flourishing 24-hour rescue / service outfit, A.E.S. Their famous racing motto is "Team Ethers: Hated but Rated" and the
whole family gets out on the ovals, from bombers and IncaRods to
Rebels, F2 and
even an occasional F1. Nathan Etheridge has been a Masters and
British champ in Rebels, and he was booked to race at
Hi-Edge raceway later in June, so I went to meet him:
-- and here Nathan storms into turn 1 at Buxton.
Tunes from the tracks: Speakers on
Remember the Rinkydink
theme over the Tannoy? Thanks to Malc Brown who has brilliantly
soundtracked RinkyDink with his collection of stock car photos on YouTube,
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 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
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:
- "Come Outside" and "Will I What?" by Mike Sarne,
- Bernard Cribbins's "Right Said Fred" and "Hole In The Ground".
- Then there was "Lily The Pink" and "Thank You Very Much" by The Scaffold.
- Then Charley Drake's "My Boomerang Won't Come Back" and "Please Mr Custer"
- Jake Thackray's "Ulysses".
- Hedgehoppers Anonymous [who were RAF pilots] : "It's Good News Week".
- Bernard Bresslaw's "You Need Feet" and "I Only Arsked"
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
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
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
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
For years Brafield's PA system ran
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 ---.
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
Aubrey Leighton's under his car doing repairs --- the first girl to run
across and give Aubrey a kiss wins three bottles of Coke."
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
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:
February 2015 Update:
This 2.4 megabyte image should bring joy to the heart of any veteran fan or driver. Russ Thomas painted this 24" by 20" picture in oils, and it was auctioned at a VSCDA event and bought by Alan Wardropper. As soon as I set eyes on it, I said
"Yes: this is what it was like --- this is exactly what it was like at its best."
a skilled and affectionate depiction of a perfect Sunday afternoon under
flawless summer skies, out in the countryside, with our heroes and
villains in colourful action. A huge thank-you to Russ Thomas for
creating this work of art, and for allowing me to show it on this
Please respect Russ's signature and copyright of this painting.
Let's finish with Russ's own heart-warming
"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
To quote the Alan Price song --- "Lucky Man."
Two 1950's movies featured stock-car
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
"Stock Car" in 1955 featured great racing and so-so acting. Available in a two-film package: David Kossof, (Alf Larkin from television's THE LARKINS 1958-64; also in Cliff Richard's Summer Holiday.)
Charles Hawtrey ('Carry-On'
films veteran), one of the last eccentrics.
The US crooner and actor "Fabian" ("Gonna Sit Right Down and Write ---") [joke in the film is that Benny's dog is named FABIAN.] Arthur
Lowe (Dad's Army).
Arthur Rigby (from The Blue Lamp to Dixon of Dick Green), and --
The Dagenham Girl Pipers. I'd
always thought they were a made-up joke on Morecombe and Wise, but they
formed in 1930 and are still running after 80 years. When they
were ENSA performers in WW2, Hitler was overheard to say "I wish I had
a band like that." Here are some nostalgic photos accompanied by the DGP, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rT4qNtIrd5M
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.
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
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
advertising** If you went to the pictures in Leicester in the early
sixties, you might have seen this slide advertisement projected on the
silver screen: I think the driver is Jack Ollerenshaw #87, he had that number between 1959 and 1962.
Image provided by Steve Russell
"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". Brian Sewell [d. 2015] was a famously "lah-di-dah"
art critic, once described as 'the only person who makes the Queen sound common'. A journalist and one-time Christie's art
consultant, Sewell was 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'", murmurs Brian.
He then 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 swears 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."
the officials, drivers, and mechanics
were surprisingly hospitable to this eccentric upper-class
alien in their midst. Leaving at the end of the night, Sewell says "It feels as though you've just watched Ben Hur, King Lear, and a pantomime all together."
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 practice 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 Tabor ran 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.
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
AUGUST 2014: Thanks to Kevin Fisher
for these PDF scans of stock-car programmes and Stock Car Racing News. These
unique bits of history are valuable not just for the driver lists
(which we love), but for the old half-tone photographs, and the
on-the-spot comments ands news by track promoters: bits of gossip that
simply didn't appear anywhere else.
it seems some of the Brafield links below all go to the same programme:
I will try to fix this when I get a moment; 11 Dec 2014. DK
Stock Car Racing News:
SCRN front and and back covers for 1963: August September
SCRN front and back covers for 1964:
SCRN front and back covers for 1965:
SCRN front and back covers for 1966:
Thank you, Kevin Fisher!
More Old Stock Car Programmes
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:
Pages 2-3, showing Pete Arnold's intro [and Reg Pryor's garage advertisement!]
Pages 4-5, with more Pete, including a cigarette promo, and the Brandon semi results.
- Pages 6-7, showing the two heats for the evening's Gold Sash final, and the first WF semi heat, with winners pencilled in.
- Pages 8-9, showing the second semi and Gold Sash, winners pencilled in.
- Page 11,
in which Len Porter predicts a first heat win for Alan Wardropper,
chased by Johnny King; now go back to page 7 and see if he got it right.
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.
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. I will extract some of the photos and save them into the "Early Days / Fifties" section of this site.
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:
Here are twelve programme covers scanned for us by Trevor
Richings, all early 1960's, and an early one from Ken Mason. I
will leave you to read the exact dates from the covers. This
brings back memories:
from 1963 and
from 1963 and
Leicester WF Qualifying Round
from 1958 [Ken Mason];
Swindon F2 Junior WF
West Ham WF
Brian Clements, long-time
veteran F2 fan, sent these scans of a Walthamstow Whitsun 1965
programme: a then-traditional "mixed meet" of Juniors and Seniors, with
star drivers like Dougie Wardropper, Chick Woodroffe, etc, racing both
formulas the same day.
Here is the (June 7th) programme cover.
Here are the first two races, showing winners and placemen.
Here are the third and fourth races, and the trophy race, again with results added.
More of Brian's historic programmes can be seen in the Junior F2 section of my site.
Also from Brian, this programme from Plymouth's Pennycross Stadium, 1965. The pages include a comprehensive list of South West drivers, details of the (notoriously rough) team races, and the regular heats. And the advert for the Plymouth Stock Car Association.
Stadium ran from 1928 to 1972, with greyhounds, speedway, and
stock-cars. I just uncovered a photo of a poster from one of
the rock concerts there --- did any of you in 1969 shake your long hair and
bell-bottoms to FLEETWOOD MAC and THE HERD [Pete
Frampton's first band, with their single "I Can Fly" Their old
b/w video of this song is viewable on YouTube, and oddly it looks like
it may have been filmed at a stock car track --- Pennycross? although
the building they stand on is like those at Newton Abbot, and
there is a piece of fenced "track" in the background of some shots ----.
Two old aerial photos of Pennycross: one, and two.
September 2011: In 1964 I took some photos at Brafield with my cheap Brownie Cresta camera,
and in 1965, got permission from John La Trobe to publish them, and
sent an article to AUTOCAR weekly. Lo and behold, they published
it with a cute title and artwork, in their 3rd September 1965 issue.
Somehow I lost my own copy over the years, but managed to find
one in a public library, photocopied it, and here it is in a "pdf" file, along with the following week's reader's letter.
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?
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:
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. To purchase this marvellous book, contact Guy Parker by e-mail (not by the previously listed postal address)
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com
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.htm
May 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."
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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,
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
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
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:
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
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
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:
CAR DRIVERS: an index of registered UK Formula One stock car
and their racing numbers 1957-2007.
can get it from Photostox, 17 Willingham Close, Sothall, Sheffield,
S20 2PD, or contact email@example.com
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:
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.
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
a disgrace that the authorities let it be demolished, an
unforgivable bit of
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
courtesy of Rick Young's collection]
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:Okay, just one more: Pete Tucker
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.htmJustin 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
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.
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.
My "Tommy Duggan" story (6 minutes)
Stories / Heroes / Photos / Friendly corrections?