British Stock-Car Racing in the 1950s-1970s
(Home)

Juniors / F2s
Seniors / F1s
in the Sixties
More Seniors / F1s
in the Sixties
The Seventies
The Early Days
Some Replicas and Restos
Automotive Oddments
Spedeworth
Early British Drag Racing
Links

 


Welcome all to David Kipling's Home Page

Important: Thanks to the generous help of Rick Young's phenomenal experience and memory.

             "BriSCA" Stock-Car 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!

and

 British drag-racing, 1960s-1970s


If you spot your own photographs being 'stolen' from this site and offered as prints on e-Bay, here's how to stop it (one of us already has!):
 
http://www.ehow.com/how_2050031_file-complaint-ebay.html  


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. 

British stock-car racing and drag racing thrive today in a sophisticated high-tech way, but this web site is dedicated especially 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 and stories.

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. 

You'll 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.   

====================================================

R.I.P. 

If 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:

First, 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]  

Second, 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 UPDATE 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.
I try 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.

This introductory page explains what's in my site and why; and includes photos of stock-car badges, stickers, programmes, audio files, books, and so on.

badge
match

 fencer

andy webb

Over 1300 photos of British stock-cars


Plus one whole section on:

1960s-1970s British drag-racing 

 whose   potter

Do you have a vintage stocks or drags photo or story you'd like to contribute? E-mail me



"Shield of honour"

If you were good enough to qualify into the stock car World Final, you received this shield. 

This one 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 Fred.  

Pete 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" 

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 many 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. Ansell had been the 1967 World Champ.  

snoad trophy  ian flag


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.

harrison


Two classic track programmes, from 1959 and 1960

long eaton cover 59       

[Brandon programme from Andrew Lively]

Two pit passes to revive old memories, courtesy of Barry Redman #151:

Belle Vue                                                                    Harringay

pit pass 1  pit pass 2

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:

wembley ticket



I know very little about computers,  so no comments, please.

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 spratton@hotmail.com

Below: Summer 2004 happy to be back at Brandon [first time there since 1966!], beside the car of Big Tony Smith:

scooby  

Below: at Skagit Speedway in Washington State, USA, August 2011:

me at skagit

and below at the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit, 2004:
cater

-
- 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.

Silverstone's 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 Buxton's Hi-Edge raceway later in June.  I'd be in the Peaks at the same time, so I went to meet him:
me and nathan
 
-- 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, here:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dwntmPCRhc
 

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 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:
  • "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" and "Country Bus".
  • Hedgehoppers Anonymous [who were RAF pilots] : "It's Good News Week".
  • Bernard Bresslaw's "You Need Feet" and "I Only Arsked"

   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:
fairground 5 

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

who done it

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 

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).
 
Stratford Johns (Softly Softly) and 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

 

 
"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.  

Rick 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

UPDATE  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.


UPDATE 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.)
      

UPDATE  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!

UPDATE  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.

Portraits

trevor portrait

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

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.  

Programmes

1963 Brafield
April 13thApril 15thMay 5th
June 16thJuly 14thAugust 4th
August 18thOctober 13th

Other Tracks

Hednesford 3 JuneHednesford  24 AugustNorwich 13 July
Harringay 20 AprilWest Ham 25 MayNorwich 29 June








1964 Brafield

 March 30 April 19 May 3
 May 17 June 7 July 12
August 2  August 23 October 4
 1964 Matchams Park (Ringwood) September 20


1965 Brafield

 April 19  May 2 June 6 June 27  July 18
 August 8 August 29 October 3  October 17 November 28

Other Tracks

  Cadwell Park  July 4 Cadwell Park  August 15 West Ham  September 25


1966 Brafield

 March 27 April 11 May 1
 May 29 July 17 August 28
 September 18 October 16 October 30

Other Tracks

  Cadwell Park  August 14 Kings Lynn May 15 Kings Lynn  July  10 Kings Lynn  July 24
   Kings Lynn  August 7 Kings Lynn August 21 Kings Lynn  September 11 Kings Lynn October 9




Stock Car Racing News:  

SCRN front and and back covers for 1963:  August    September

SCRN front and back covers for 1964:  

 April June
 July  August

          

SCRN front and back covers for 1965:  

  May June July August
 September October November

SCRN front and back covers for 1966

 April MayJune July
 August September October

Thank you, Kevin Fisher!

===================================================================================================================

 
More Old Stock Car Programmes

UPDATE   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:
  • Front cover

  • 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 10 missing.
  • 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.

UPDATE  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.
UPDATE 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.
UPDATE:  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.  
I will extract some of the photos and save them into the "Early Days / Fifties" section of this site.
UPDATE 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:  
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:

Brafield from 1963 and  Belle Vue  from 1963 

Hednesford  from 1963 and  Leicester WF Qualifying Round from 1963;  

Matcham's Park from 1964;  Norwich from 1963;  

Plymouth from 1963; Southampton from 1963;  

Staines from 1958 [Ken Mason];  Swindon F2 Junior WF from 1964;  

West Ham WF from 1965;  White City  from 1962.

Brian Clementslong-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

Pennycross 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.

UPDATE  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.  

UPDATE  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:

midget cover
    

Note: 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

 dutton photo reduced

=================================================


UPDATE  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:

parker history

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.

You can contact/buy it via cheque or PayPal from Guy Parker, 22 Wiltshire Rd, Skelton, Saltburn By The Sea, Cleveland, TS12 2BW   or if you contact me I can put you in e-mail touch with Guy.

 ======================================================================



 
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 passionautomobile@etai.fr
 


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.

camus


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:  stoxdvds@googlemail.com

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.htm

 UPDATE  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."
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

banger book

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. 
pfielding@gmail.com

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


UPDATE  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:

STOCK CAR DRIVERS: an index of registered UK Formula One stock car drivers
and their racing numbers 1957-2007.

You can get it from Photostox, 17 Willingham Close, Sothall, Sheffield, S20 2PD, or contact  mike@photostox.demon.co.uk  

=============================================================

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: 

oval 1

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:

oval 2

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.
dickinson badge

"Chissy" supporters collected this one. BSCDA Membership, then their coveted driver's patchAye 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
 UPDATE  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:
Aubrey Leighton.  Big Jim Esau.  
Ted Janes.  "Bozzy".
Okay, just one more: Pete Tucker
tucker
As 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" page.
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.

Stories / Heroes / Photos / Friendly corrections?  E-mail me 

 

 

 

(Home)

 

Juniors / F2s

Seniors / F1s
in the Sixties

More Seniors / F1s
in the Sixties

The Seventies

The Early Days
Some Replicas and Restos Automotive Oddments Some Hot Rods Early British Drag Racing

Links