British Stock-Car Racing in the 1950s-1970s
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Senior  F1 Racing in the Sixties

*Look for UPDATE labels: new additions may be scattered randomly throughout the page.

Over 400 photos on this page --- use your Edit-Find function to find your favourites or just sit back for an hour and browse.

If you spot your own donated photgraphs being 'stolen' from this site and offered on e-Bay:  http://www.ehow.com/how_2050031_file-complaint-ebay.html

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. 


 

'Dirty Dennis' Burdett-Coutts

dirty dennis

Photo above courtesy of Arthur Marlow

"Dirty Dennis" Burdett-Coutts # 380 from Hitchin, Herts, was a great character, and I welcome any stories from fans about DD. 

June 2015: A kind donation by Dennis's daughter Jean, here and in the EARLY DAYS page, of terrific photos.

face 1   cartoon

Thanks to Roger Biggs, a Brandon regular for fifty years, for recognizing his favourite track ---- how long before we are robbed of the historic stadium by investors who have no interest in community or public events such as stock car racing and speedway?


October 2015 update:  "He was a lovely, crazy guy," recalls one racer from the time.
When Dennis first brought the ex-Freeman car out of retirement at Brafield, and scrutineer George Stannard signalled for the braking test, Dennis sailed 100 yards past him towards the track office. Steve Pringle worked with Den "for about an hour, unseizing wheel cylinders and bleed nipples to get them just about working."

Below: a gorgeous photo on a gorgeous summer day, with (I believe) Gill Burdett-Coutts at the wheel.

query gill

UPDATE  November 2012:  Den on his head again, in 1963.                                                                                         It was pretty much accepted that Dirty Dennis would roll in any given race, and that his Brafield bookings were also guaranteed --- the promoters loved his wild driving.  Here Dennis's helmet is 'up' against his roof coming out of turn 2, with Rod Dore in the background and 143 Bryan Sharman (Notts.) getting sideways. Courtesy of my great helper "Anonymous":

dennis on roof  roll

UPDATE  July 2012:  

At one point in his life, Dennis worked at the world-famous Vincent Motorcycle factory in Stevenage, Herts, in the Cycle Assembly dept.  A member of the Vincent Owners Club, Ted Davis, wrote a memoir of Vincent employees from the old days, in the club's monthly magazine "MPH", issue 377 in 1980: and here's one he remembered:

“Crazy Dennis used to challenge me to races round the factory yard, with his Rudge special which often caught fire; Dennis still lives locally and is in business producing castings.”  [ = foundry in Leighton Buzzard]    http://www.voc.uk.com/net/docs/18/18-368-13.pdf


Russ Thomas ["Rick" Thomas the Brafield deejay] used to bicycle to Silverstone with a friend.  They saw a famous racing driver, who actually spoke to them and asked if they were big motor racing fans. RT said "Yes, but I prefer stock car racing."  The F1 driver said:
"I know a bloke that does that, Dennis Burdett-Coutts, he was a bloody madman, I used to work with him at the Vincent factory in Stevenage. " 

Here is that friendly chap:

Below, a bad photocopy of a photo I took at Brafield: 

dennis autocar

When he wasn't racing Citroen fwd's in France (was one of the 1960 British team to race at Normandy's Villers-en-Ouche  annual Liberation celebration races), this goatee-bearded mystery man was entertaining us on British tracks; he NEVER gave up.  Keith Barber dug out some history on DD: he was nicknamed "Dirty" as early as a May 1958 programme; in 1957 Dennis's number 303 (and sometimes 304) was entered under the name of The Red Cockatoo, against Willie Wanklyn's The Grey Shadow. We didn't get many double-barrelled names at the stocks, and a Burdett-Coutts family tree back in the 19th century included a Baroness who was the richest woman in Europe and who owned a bank.  Coutts Bank still exists, but Dennis once told me he couldn't prove a family link to inherit those millions.  Dirty D ran what nowadays they call an "automotive recycling facility", and usually had a mountain of American V-8 motors around the place.  

Dennis once ran a demonstration match-race in his monster Hudson Terraplane 4-door against the USAF team's VW bug driven by "Doc" Kelly, at Brafield.  Ed Hake, ex-USAF, remembers "Dennis's bonnet was longer than our whole Beetle — it had the crowd laughing all the way." Ed also kindly remembers Dennis in the simple phrase "He was good people."

Dirty Dennis grins! This time as #301: [Thanks to Rick Young for this], a number Dennis used from 1962 to 1966.

Mick Bennett was DD's mechanic for a while in the 60's.  He tells me that Dennis once used a massive 6-cylinder motor from an army half-track vehicle, with three carbs on top — which Dennis ripped off when he went straight through Brafield's track fence.  Another stunt was to collect a V-8 Packard motor's exhaust into two huge conical fire-extinguisher canisters, and the racket deafened all of Harringay stadium. Thanks to Mick for the stories.  More history:  According to Pete Arnold's Handbook of 1960, Dennis wrote off nine cars in 1957, his first season, including one whose battery acid took the seat out of D's trousers --- (Tony Organ gave me the info)

Rick Young gave me these two great action shots from Brafield:  They were taken in 1971, but I wanted to include them with the rest of Dirty Dennis's pieces here.  

Dirty Den smokes 'em

The next shot by Rick shows Dirty Den doing the dirty deed on #268 Manchester's Hedley Hill:

dd

Thanks to Steve Gateley for this lovely 1963 pits shot of Dirty Dennis's car at Brafield.

I photographed the Dennis-the-Menace cartoon on the back of DD’s Ken Freeman-built car in 1964, and got it into AUTOCAR magazine in 1965: "Dennis-the-Menace". This cartoon was also painted on the boot (trunk) of Dennis's Austin Sheerline towing limousine.    Another shot of Dirty Dennis, on a parade lap at Brafield.

Dennis raced his cars so hard he sometimes had to borrow one: in this case #383 with its number quickly altered, at Brafield.  Marian Palmowski and Ken "Rush"Tyrell are names associated with 383 at that time.

   And I think the authorities must have had Dirty Dennis in mind when they made this sign.

Someone who was there told me that Dennis would occasionally tie a railway detonator to his front bumper,  and tap an unsuspecting victim, who'd think they'd blown a tyre or cracked an axle —.

Dennis retired to relax at his much-more-peaceful fishing lake near Hitchin, Herts, and passed away in November 2005 at the age of 75, greatly missed by people who worked with him.  He had a younger brother, a keen Vincent motorcyclist, who lost his life in a road accident in about 1960.   We don't get many characters like Den any more, so let's be grateful for the years of excitement and fun that DIRTY DENNIS gave the sport.

============================================================================================
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Were you in a driver Fan Club?

38 a  38 b

and the 38 club sec's letter.

al war

and the Tiger Griffin Fan Club sec's letter page 1
and
page 2:


The late Bill Burdett was a keen fan, and took his son Cliff to the races;
Cliff provided the Mitchell club images, as well as the two Cadwell Park photos below:



cadwell


tiger

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

UPDATE
 February 2016:

The Dirty Dennis story includes his Ken Freeman-built cars.  Thanks to Colin Ralph, here are three of Ken's great stock cars.  Colin was a Ken Freeman mechanic, and worked there with racer Don Roomes, and later at Jock Loyd's garage.

Below: Colin Ralph chauffeurs Ken Freeman and Rod Dore with their trophies at Harringay, no date. Big MB file may take time to open.:

colin and ken


Next:  Colin by the 61 car in the pits: which track, anyone?
Background: how many men wear shirt-and-tie, or women wear skirts to a race nowadays?

colin pits

And Colin up on the roof getting a bird's eye view of the scene.




 
UPDATE February 2015

From now on, when somebody asks me "what it was like?"  I'll just show them this image of Russ Thomas's wonderful oil painting, and say

"This is what it was like ---- this is exactly what it was like at its best."

russ 2

See my Home page where Russ Thomas's "career" at Brafield is fully described, for details of his painting.
Please respect Russ's signature and copyright of his painting.


UPDATE
 December 2014

* The Laurie Brothers *

Please go to the JUNIOR F2 page top see photos of the Laurie Junior F2 cars.

Thanks to ex racer Bruce Laurie for information on himself and his three brothers.

I am grateful to Bruce, who passed away at the end of February after generously, during his illness, taking the trouble to pass on the Laurie brothers' history and these photographs.  Our thoughts to his wife Georgina. 

In order of seniority the racing brothers are:

Cecil            #118 and #368
Bruce           #281 and #517 (Brafield sometimes wrongly listed Bruce as “Brian”.)
Bob              #98 and #312  
Dick             #680 ("Dare-Devil Dick" was painted on his car).

The Lauries were from Westrop Farm at Byfield [between Daventry and Banbury], and all are active today in 2014 and the farm is still in the family.  Some stock car fans noticed the Lauries’ absence from the tracks during harvest time: first things first if you’re a farmer.  Farmers have always featured strongly in stock-car racing, no doubt because of their mixture of mechanical skills, no-nonsense attitude, workshop and tools, and of course open fields to test their cars.   The Lauries knew, worked with, and raced against local drivers Guy Holtom, Bryan Ellard, Andy Webb, Willie Cowper, Steve Bateman and Ian Durham.

Bruce's very first was a Hillman 14 [example shown] . He entered it in Brafield's end-of-season meet in 1959, in the "consie" race. It did not survive.  Second car was a Canadian-made 30hp Ford V-8, which later passed to brother Cecil [film clip 'still' lower down.].

The third of Bruce's stock cars was a Ford-Bedford mix with a 3-speed column change, though like all racers he used only one gear, 2nd in his case. It had a very torquey straight-8 Buick engine, and out-accelerated the flathead Ford V-8s, but Bruce remembers its handling as so bad that it didn not score the points its engine was capable of.  In one race someone charged him from the centre green and put Bruce through the fence, which tore off his front axle and let his front bumper come to within mere inchers of the terrified folks on the spectator fence. He can still remember the scare it caused. Result shown below!

buick crash

  • Byfield's #368 Cecil Laurie arriving in the pits, in a Canadian-made V-8 Ford 30hp that previously had been Bruce's.
  • Bob Laurie's "demonic" #98 at Brafield 1964.  Bob earned a red top in 1970.  The "ack-ack" exhaust stacks could shoot pheasants ;-)

Two photos of Bob Laurie:
[Thanks, Russ Thomas]
Bob's Frankenstein Special in the pits in 1963.

1965 action shot of the "demonic" car.

Battered but I believe you can see Bob smiling in there.  390cu.in. Ford motor is the label.
Bob doing a spectacular jump in March 1969  at Brafield's King of the Midlands event; in this car he has cut off almost all the exhaust pipes, leaving just eight rackety stubs to deafen us.  


Good pals Bob Laurie and Mick Noden do a waltz.  Notice Noden's advanced use of rear coil spings:

laurie 

Bob Laurie at it again, scorching the tyres at Hednesford [photo from Peter Hooton].


laurie hednesford




I am very grateful to Bruce for taking the time to guide me down memory lane. Thanks also to some other Brafield ‘regulars’ who have helped dig out programmes and facts for me.  The Lauries thoroughly deserve to have their stock car exploits remembered.


UPDATE
 October 2014:  
Pathe News recorded a 1962 Ministry of Transport safety test of potential motorway barriers and fences, and in this clip we see Ken Freeman #61 stock car racer ramming one of several Standard Vanguards into the fence, under the observation of Minister of Transport Ernie Marples. http://www.britishpathe.com/video/safer-for-motorways/query/safety+barrier+crash+test+car

Racer Don Roomes worked with Ken in the old days, and confirmed my own memory that Chick Woodroffe was also there, but unfortunately lost a wheel when making a run, and was never recorded!  Anyway, paraphrasing Don's message:

Ken was one of the first to be approached by the M-O-Transport in the late 50s and we had to supply cars and Ken would drive these vehicles at various speeds and turn at various angles into these test barriers for the motorways.
I used to prepare the cars with Ken, mostly Standard Vanguards. We had to fit safety belts etc and Ken would also use his crash helmet. The MOT were looking at barriers to stop vehicles going through them and to slow the vehicle gradually to a stop. Another mod we had to carry out was a triangle frame welded to the chassis behind the "flitch plate" next to the rad, to stop a hawser cutting in to the cab.
Other designs were catch fencing which was designed to hold the vehicle and slow it and prevent it going across into oncoming traffic and to keep it off its own carriageway.
The vehicles, once prepared, were then resprayed white (quick flash over) and I think on the later ones had a blue circle or square on the roof for identification for the helicopter.




[ November 2013 update ]   "LOOK AT LIFE"

rank gong

Some of us remember sitting in Odeon and Gaumont cinemas, waiting for the main film, and watching Rank's LOOK AT LIFE documentaries in the mean time. If you want the full history of this wonderful much-missed series, check Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Look_at_Life_(film_series)#Volume_4:_Sport
 

The BBC TV, courtesy of ITN, has been broadcasting these old documentaries, and the Volume 4: Sport is now available in the UK as a three-DVD pack that contains 42 separate films.

I am currently unable to buy a compatible DVD, but several kind fans have sent me "screen shots" from the film.  In addition, three minutes of the stock car portion (or part of it) can be seen on the internet here:
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0-_P4DxnylZeF9HaHpMd1ZSaU0/edit?usp=sharing&pli=1
  
The filming was high quality, and took place at Brafield stadium on (correction) 15th May 1960.  Rank Films bravely mounted a cine camera on the dashboard of Johnny Swift's car (#80 from Loughborough) for a demo lap. Here are some drivers and cars:
  • Leighton 42 powers past Vic Ferriday 73.
  • Harvey Smith from Beds. being towed off.  In the background is Aubrey Leighton's breakdown truck.
  • Famous faces! The historic father-and-son champions Alan and Dougie Wardropper hard at work:
alan and doug




Below:  a packed crowd under a bright Spring sky, a field of stock cars growling slowly round the rolling start lap, with Trevor Frost, Nev Hughes and Ted Pankhurst in their red tops ready for serious racing.

Brafield in the mid sixties  - the golden age:
brafield


 

UPDATE January 2013:  Roy Clarke's name crops up in several places on the JUNIOR / F2 page, and is well-known in the stock car world.  He is one of that extended Southern 'clan' of family and friends to the west of London who were in the sport from the beginning.  He first lapped an oval in 1960, and is still racing today in the Heritage series. Let's see some of his early days:


Below: Roy's 1960 car under #146:
roy 1
Some photos of Roy's superb Heritage recreations of his own cars and those of his bro-in-law Pat Willis, appear on the Repicas And Resto's page.  Turn to the JUNIOR F2 page for Roy's most successful career exploits.


UPDATE May 2012: What would BriSCA racing have been without its strong fields of white-tops?  Hednesford pits in 1969, and this is Accrington's John Hickey #27 fettling his car  [Photo courtesy of Peter Hooton.].  The kettle sitting on the front bumper could be for a rad top-up, or maybe for a cuppa?  That engine is from a Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, 6-litre, made from 1957-1959.  How the heck do I know?  From the biggest and most knowledgable US hot-rodders' message board, H.A.M.B., which answered my question within 10 minutes.       On its lorry in the background of that photo is #171, Rod Barrett from Coventry.
  

John Hickey was a skilled pattern maker who later went into business in joinery and building, which curtailed his racing in 1972.  
Brenda Hickey has kindly sent the following facts and photos in memory of John, who passed away in 2000.
  • Here's a pdf scan of the local newspaper article that celebrated John's venture; veterans will feel nostalgic about the days when you could put a car on the track for £200.
  • Below is the press photograph of John [sat on the wheel] and his team, taken on a snowy February in 1969.

hickey


Trivia: if like me you grew up listening to the football results on the radio, and the gritty name "Accrington Stanley" ---  I used to think the 'Stanley' must be the famous tool makers, who I imagined were a typical north-country firm. No:  Stanley tools were always American [!], and the football club was named after its first headquarters in the Stanley pub on Stanley Street.


UPDATE  March 2012 Four gorgeous summer photos in the Brafield pits, from a generous veteran fan and long-serving helper in the sport, a modest 'gent' who prefers to remain anonymous.  I will also load these four photos next to other shots of the same drivers/cars.  Sit back, click, and be transported back to 1963 under a blue Northamptonshire sky.
freeman 1963 
That tow car is a lovely Austin A135 Princess long wheelbase limousine with a  4 litre straight-six motor. Yes, back then women did wear light sleeveless summer frocks and nylons and 'flats' to go to the stock car races.  Would today's women believe it?
  • Below: "The Kid" Alan Wardropper, walking round his 245 car; see Chick's 409 Junior and Senior cars behind.  Chris King identifies that Woodroffe car as an ex-Johnny King, ex-Johnny Brise racer.
aw63

The Yank car in the background is a 1957 Ford Fairlane 300; it was identified by US speed shop wizard Ray Buck, in March 2013. [See Ray's amazing website, http://www.chevyasylum.com ]

Car "detective" David Collins took one look at the photo and checked in his Registration Book to see that "LK" was from London (Stanmore ) so then did some checking to discover that "LK" plates  [prefixed by G-to- Y] were issued from 1942 –1959.  Next step: David checked every prefix G-Y, and it looks like there are only 2 such plates that remain in circulation today
OLK 2 on a Jeep Cherokee, and RLK2 on a Skoda Fabia.  
Now we just need a veteran fan or driver to get in touch and say "Hey, that was mine!"
  • Oxford racer originally from Germany, and workmate of Barry Hebborn: Karl Grossman 289
  • Yes, that Grossman helper is wearing a white long-sleeved shirt and black slacks and polished black leather shoes in the pits.
  • Longest-serving racer though he didn't know he would be: 163 Roy Goodman. Must be August; there's a combine harvester working in the field behind.  AUGUST 2016: my farming brother-in-law took an expert look at the photo and said "That's a Massey-Harris 780."
Some of us are old enough to say "That was truly a golden age."

 UPDATE   February 2012  Eric Taylor raced Junior F2's and Senior F1's at the same time ---- well, not exactly 'the same time"!  Eric bought the Alan Cayzer 266 car, with an Olds 88 Rocket V-8, and campaigned it under #212 (Wainman's number later on), and reached blue top status.  When the Cayzer bros moved to Spedeworth, Eric bought up their gear, including two Cadillac engines.  Later, after a very successful spell in grass-track racing Eric returned to the ovals at Ipswich and Wisbech under the Spedeworth banner.

Here's Eric's big 212 F1 car:
  • On parade at Brafield, following Nottingham's 166 Bill Jackson, and ahead of 'Basher Bob" Laurie.
  • Ready for the off at Brands Hatch.

You can see Eric's Junior F2 career on the Juniors page.

 
 UPDATE February 2012  Thanks to Jim Bury for the photo and the information here.
Is this a tidy motor, or what?  From time to time a builder gets it 'just right' in my eyes, and #86 Mike Holt [son of Harry Holt #84] did the business here:

holt 86

Mike (licensed 1964 to 1974) raced in the 1967 World Final.  This photo, courtesy of Jim Bury, who mechanic'd for Mike, was taken circa 1969 at Mike's garage in Little Lever near in Bolton.  The engine was a big 425 cu.in. Buick, which eventually went to Wilf Hargreaves. The unstoppable Harry Holt, Mike's father, raced from 1958 to 1971, and was eventually under doctor's orders not to race again after fracturing his neck in a rollover.   But one Boxing Day meet at Belle Vue, after Wilf Blundell won heat and final, Wilf quietly lent Harry his car for the last race of the night ---- and Harry won!  The Holt family owned not only the Stopes Garage but also the Stopes Tavern in Little Lever, presided over by Harry's wife.  Description of stock-car paradise, some would say ----.

UPDATE  January 2012:  Two from a 1964 Brandon programme, though the second photo is from 1962:
  • Syd Farndon and Ted Pankhurst lead a pack that includes 69 Nev Hughes, 255 Bill Gilmour from West Midlands, and Ken Freeman is pushed a bit out of the limelight.
  • Below: Ellis Ford's unmistakable 'coupe' is backwards while 242 Phil Griffin spins, and this time Ken Freeman gets the advantage
ellis 183


UPDATE  December 2010: Lift-off!  Andy Abel launches his car off the Brafield barrels. 

abel launch

Andy from Bedford sent these fine photos.  He recalls "the honour" of racing against star names like Smithy, Ansell, Esau, Mitchell, and Tony Allen --- men who Andy remembers were always friendly and helpful.  

Here's an example:  Andy Abel in the unforgiving Brafield fence:                                                                                                   "I got fenced by Don Evans, --- who came right over afterwards to see if everything was okay."         This was not unusual for "Gentleman Don", who once did the same at Brandon, stopping during a race to help a fenced rival, even though Don had been doing well in the race.

Andy got his car from a Brandon (Norfolk) racer.  Powered by Oldsmobile, it had a 2x6 box-section chassis, with a Ford tranny.  The motor's Holley race carb came from a USAAF Chicksands serviceman.               

More Brafield action by Andy:

Tangling with #72 Jim Robinson from Worcs; 

Tackling 38 Fred Mitchell

Tit-for-tat, Andy tackled by Stuart Hardy from Co. Durham. 

Andy got onto the cover of Stock Car Magazine with mayhem at Harringay that involved Don Buddin and Harry Moody among others. Like many racers, Andy remembers a typical moment. " At Harringay one weekend I remember going down the straight towards the pits, and thinking I was going fairly fast --- when Reg Pryor 109 thought he would help me go down a lot faster.  I never made the bend, and finished up for the first time hitting a fence post.  It really does give you a jolt."

 Andy took a camera along in earlier days and snapped George Ansell and Chick Woodfoffe.

Andy raced from 1968 to the end of 1970, towing to Brafield, Harringay, Hednesford,Crayford, Snetterton, and Brands Hatch, in a good old Thames van loaded to its axles with spares and gear. Like many from those days, Andy says:
           "I thoroughly enjoyed the time I had racing against those drivers at that time."

Mystery:  March 2011:  Here is Sid Farndon in the role of promoter at Tamworth, handing a trophy to a happy winner; but who is the winner?   The mystery man is wearing what looked to me like a flight-suit overall, but both the RAF Museum and the Polish military history buffs at RAF Northolt state it is neither an RAF nor a Polish flying suit. December 2012: Polish military-history experts have just told me that the helmet's decoration is NOT a Polish eagle crest.  (However, he's  wearing a ring on his right hand, which is an East European custom. Also on the helmet is a USAF-style star.  Maybe Chippie Weston just enjoyed some 'decorating'.

                                chippie mystery

Bill Morris is at the wheel of the jeep [recognized by Keith Barber and Steve Gateley] . Steve Farndon, who owns the print, understood it to be Chippie Weston, agreed by Steve Gateley and Russ Thomas.  Derek "Chippie" Weston from Rugby, earned his living as guess what --- a 'chippie' --- and raced from 1957 to 1972, below in his car. 

chippie    

Although some veterans still reckon it might be Johnny Piper [wish I had some better photos of JP.].  For now, Chippie gets the vote! 

MARCH 2015:  Ring on the right hand --- look closely at this Brandon photo: Jim Berg has invited Chippie up onto Berg's car, and Chippie is holding onto the flag. Enlarge the photo and you will see the glint of a ring on Chippie's RIGHT hand.  More evidence.

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

I have now decided against an earlier guess, which was Polish driver Nick Hyrszko, whose driving and cars got him nicknamed   "High Risko".  Nick was variously listed as from Loughton in Essex, Bletchley, and Newark, Notts.  According to Russ Thomas, Nick built a terrifying car with one Ford and one GM V-8 motor, end-to-end, but the 16 cylinders were always disagreeing.  Here's an early close-up of Hyrszko's face, and the Brafield programme cover that printed it.

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

  UPDATE  January 2012: Old campaigners having a 'confab', photos supplied by Ray Elliott of Slough's Elliott racing family:

Pat Willis, Johnnie King, and Bill Elliott:

pat johnnie bill

Next, Ted Pankhurst,  Bill Elliott, Johnnie Brise, and Pat Willis.  

ted etc


UPDATE January 2011: Below: 

Dave Chapman took this brilliant colour photo of three red tops, pitted at Brandon in May 1964.  If you had wanted to explain to someone what stock cars were, you couldn't do better than show this trio.  Ellis Ford  #3 (he's standing at front of it),  Nev Hughes #69 (brother Frank Hughes in blue is pointing), and Aubrey Leighton #42 --- these men were skilled engineers able to build strong, powerful cars and willing to use the bumper.

3 etc

If you are interested in getting a quality colour print of this original photograph, I can probably put you in touch with Dave Chapman:  e-mail me

UPDATE  April 2012:  Anonymous donor sent this great close-up of the Ellis Ford cab, at Brafield.

Also there were #61 Ken Freeman in his last year of racing, and the #199 car is Jack Toon from Coalville.

Here's Ken's car enjoying the Brafield sunshine in 1963.

Nev Hughes #69 was also at Long Eaton in 1964, and here's the car in the pits, (unknown mother and daughter in the left foreground, previously wrongly identified as Nev's wife Dorothy)   What the heck is that radiator grille?  Here's a blown-up view of Nev's grille, and a comparison with a Delahaye radiator.  Two members of the Delahaye Club have confirmed that the badge/insignia is a Delahaye.  Then I found a commercial Delahaye that looks 95% right; it's a 1939 era fire truck.   In the first of those two photos (junk yard) someone's already nicked the enamel badge.


UPDATE Feb 2011:   Result! --- Nev Hughes [now living in Canada] has informed Dave Chapman that YES, it was indeed a Delahaye (1937) radiator grille, bonnet, and bonnet sides, from a friend's written-off Delahaye.  

According to Keith Barber's book, ("BriSCA: The First 50 Years") Nev's Topolino was reckoned by many to be "the business" and   Nev was hard to beat at Belle Vue. The engine was a monster motor from Jim Berg, who'd made some drivers envious of his powerful engines.  When Jim's USAF tour of duty ended, he offered Nev his very best motor --- a hot 425 cu.in. Buick overbored to 437 cu.in.  When Nev withdrew from racing, Ron Rogers was the lucky inheritor who benefited from its power.  

UPDATE March 2011:  Doug Cronshaw admired the car so much he built a near-replica of it. Doug's mechanic, Kieron Tatlock, is at the back.   Thanks to Dave Chapman and Phil Chance for this update.

Long Eaton memories: fans who were there may recognize, from this Google street view, the railway bridge and a chip shop and entrance gate; there was a chip-shop there 45 years ago, and Dave Chapman recalls spectators could sometimes "get the nod" from the man at the gate to nip over for chips during a meeting.

 UPDATE August 2010:  Car #165 on the hook at Belle Vue.  This photo is of BV's Boxing Day meet for 1968, so IF Gary Edwards from Sheffield had got his number early (he raced 1969 and 1970), it's Gary.  But if not, then the car was still in the hands of Willie Abberley from Staffs, who had #165 from 1965 to 1968.  Regardless, here's the 165 car drooping its back axle, and you can just see the grandstands --- 7,000 spectators that day which is not bad for a January in Manchester.  

By the way, 1969 was the year BriSCA first officially allowed racing tyres: 8"-wide for Seniors and 6"-inch wide for Juniors.  I say officially because I saw Dunlop R5 racing tyres on Rod Dore's and Jock Lloyd's cars in about 1964.  Like the debate about wings and bodywork, the tyre question will keep fans arguing for ever.


 
 UPDATE March 2010:           Jack Minion:  'A Quiet Man and A Good Sport'

In various spots throughout this site you can see glimpses of the number 90 car of Derby's Jack Minion. Now, thanks to his daughter Alison, we can get a proper look at the chap who, although quiet by nature, had a wicked dry sense of humour and loved an after-race drink with his mates.   Jack ran a motor business in Peet Road, Derby, and:                                                                "Every winter when trade was slack, he'd be in there either renovating a stock car or constructing a new one"

 kack sixties  jack 70s

                       [The first few photos are from the fifties, but I'd like to keep them all together]

Jack first raced in 1955, a pioneer, and loved Coventry, Belle Vue, Long Eaton, and Tamworth among others.  He'd grown up the son of a champion bicycle racer of the 1920's and 30's, so had racing in his blood.  Here's a classic stock-car family photo, with Jack on the right of the roof:

minion 10

Three more of his 1950's cars.  First, with some admiring friends outside Jack's garage in Peet Road; Jack is pointing at the engine, the chap with the centre parting is Len "Flukey" Flowers, and the young guy with the teddy-boy quiff hairstyle is Len's son Tony Flowers.  Jack nicknamed Len 'Flukey' on the grounds that any race won by Len had to be a fluke.  

Here he is going "full steam ahead" in E90 at Long Eaton (and what daughter wouldn't be proud to see her name on the bonnet of her dad's racer?);  and oops: a big repair job before next weekend. Wedged above Jack's car is that of Lincoln's Les Foottit, #161.

In 1961, Jack won a heat at Long Eaton's World Qualifier round, and the Derby newspaper wrote it up.
Here Jack is in the group photo for that famous West Ham final; Jack is third from the left, and to the right of smiling Jim Berg and Jock loyd who would go on to win that WF.  By chance I have a scan of that night's programme which a fan had carefully filled-in, showing that Jack and Jock both started the race as B graders --- .

Lap scorer Peter Foxwell had a son Chris, who was a dab hand at art, and here is his very tidy sketch of one of the Minion cars.
Pete Foxwell's sister Pat Worthington was also a scorer, at Long Eaton, and father George was scorer and steward (Thanks to veteran lap scorer 'Nerves-of-Steel' Ken Mason for that info).

Jack had a taste for Buick V-8's, and with US military bases closing all over England, his friendships with servicemen meant that Minion Motors were never short of power.  
Desperate measures:  One night at the track, Jack's radiator was holed, and between races he sent someone to the shop to buy about 20 packets of Wrigley's gum --- which were then handed out to all and sundry with orders to "Start chewing, quick, five sticks at a time!"  Jack's daughter can't remember whether the improvised repair got her dad a chequered, but she still remembers her aching jaw ---.

From a different source,
ex-racer Ian Melton #403 comes this Long Eaton photo of Jack in his #90 car.   Twelve different drivers raced under #90, and Jack Minion was the second one, from 1958 to 1962.  Anyway, Ian selected this photo because he remembers Minion's car trying to climb inside Ian's own at L.E.   Enlarge the photo a bit and you'll see that Jack is using a straight-8 motor ---- likely a Buick, or a White truck engine which some early racers used.

Next, Jack Minion scoots past 312 Chris Edwards (Oxford) and Willie Harrison's #2. 

Let's finish with the fond dad with his doting daughters Charmiane, and Alison who sent this and who says,
"Even when he was over 70 he was still working on cars in his garage and still attended race meetings."

UPDATE  January 2011:   In Montreal, Canada, Michael Smith found this website and says he still remembers, as a kid, seeing his uncle Jack in England all those years ago, watching him race, and being told stories of his exploits and Jack's amazing ability to transform a damaged car overnight into a winner the next day.  


UPDATE  February 2010: Thanks to Martin Palmowski and to John Palmowski (who owns J.A.R. Motorsport in Rotherham) for the following facts and photos.  Marian raced from from 1954 to 1980, under 383, 414, and the famous 38 number too.  "Tight budgets in those days" meant that building, repairs, and travel had to fit in with Marian's and later John's work at their Central Garage.  

Here's the 383 car, in the South Yorkshire Times and again in The Star  both in 1969.  He's a serious looking chap, and many of his rivals were nervously aware that Marian --- one of many brave fighters from Poland thanks to WW2 --- had seen action both as a parachutist and in the 1st Tank Division ---- you couldn't scare this man!    

Another 1969 photo, at Doncaster, showing Marian and Roy Goodman in a tangle.

A West Ham 1960 programme showed Marian in his 414 car chasing or maybe having just rammed # 123, Benny Wesley.  [And thanks to Russ Thomas for recently telling me that the two racing Wesley brothers were in fact descendants of the great John Wesley, the 18th century preacher and founder of Methodism ---- stock car fans know everything one way or another!]

[Look at the 1970's section of this site for four photos of Marian in that era] .

UPDATE April 2010:  Danger: Men At Work in Brafield's first bend: #347 Barry Johnson from Kegworth, Derbyshire and #315 Steve Neal from Leics.  Behind is the unmistakable ex-Jim Berg car driven by Barry Hebborn.
348

UPDATE February 2010: Grainy old Brafield photos from 1962: in the first, Jumbo Tustin leaves Roy Goodman spinning while a Beetle-bodied Don Evans follows.    
braf 62

Below: Future champ Ian Ireland 314 passes spinning Jumbo, while Chick Woodroffe's 409 misses the action. In the background,  that familiar gnarled oak tree tells anyone this has to be Brafield.  Note: that 409 is the ex-Johnny King / ex-Johnny Brise motor.
bf spin

JUMBO TUSTIN: November 2009
,  Sad news from his one-time mechanic Roger Harris that Jumbo died
at home with his family. He was one of that great cast of 'characters' that made British stock-car racing so unique --- they don't make 'em like that any more. Let's hope Jumbo's family knows how much his life and exploits meant to us.

On 28th December 2008, Jumbo had celebrated his 82nd birthday.  Old hands remember the various weird-shaped Tustin cars in the fifties and sixties, along with Jumbo's exuberant driving style. The vigorous side of the sport was hinted at by the late Aubrey Sutton, Jumbo's mechanic, who once told his son that   "a big spanner came in handy sometimes, and not just for fixing the car."   Gerald Ralph Tustin, also known as Joe, was a Gloucestershire man, and stayed busy in his workshop all his life, in the village of Bamfurlong just outside Cheltenham.  Lord Of The Rings fans may remember Bamfurlong as the farming village where the hobbits stole farmer Maggott's mushrooms; and Jumbo looked a bit like a cheery hobbit.  
The two photos below show he never lost the mischievous grin and twinkle that made him look so much like Heartbeat's Claud Greengrass [centre].  Roger Harris, who was mechanic for Jumbo and Geoff Harrison, presented Jumbo with two framed photographs of his car and himself, taken over 44 years previously. Thanks for the memories, Jumbo.

jumbo 2 claude  jumbo 4

More Jumbo Tustin:

UPDATE  April 2010: An anonymous fan sent this nice photo from 1962 (colour photos in 1962 were pretty special) of, possibly, Jumbo 179 leading 68 Trevor Frost and 42 Aubrey Leighton into turn 1 at Brafield. NOTE:  the "179 might just be a "79", in which case the blue-top is Harry Blevins from Manchester. 

UPDATE February 2010:  Upside-down view of Jumbo at Harringay Stadium in 1962.

A big thank-you to Diane Sutton and son Paul for these six terrific photos of Jumbo from the collection of the late Aubrey Sutton, Jumbo's mechanic. I am not sure where these photos were taken, but you will enjoy them: 

Next, an old b/w snapshot I took, of Jumbo's car  in the pits at Brafield.   An original looking combat-car, and we miss those open exhausts.  Jumbo began racing in the 1950's, and was still smoking tyres up to 1967 — a real character, whose favourite track was the greatly-missed Belle Vue.  Once at Brafield Jumbo was involved in a "vigorous incident" --- say no more, gov' --- with Jim Esau and Darkie Wright, which is still remembered today Mechanic Roger Harris (who also raced grasstrack sidecars and rally cars.) gave me the the gen on Jumbo's car:  Ford 292 V-8 with two 4-choke Holley carbs, homemade chassis, Morris rear axle on Ferguson tractor struts, Ford front axle on transverse springs, part-Topolino body, Ford lorry gearbox with homemade bellhousing.  Where did Jumbo's nickname come from?  He painted a big elephant's bum on the back of the car. 


UPDATE  January 2010: from Nigel Harradine, some "backyard snapshots" of the Peters brothers' cars.                               First, from Hatfield, Herts, is the crumpled car of 231 Dave Peters, and here is its "health-and-safety" interior with the jerrycan petrol tank very handy for the driver.  Dave raced between 1965 to 1974.                                                                                      Then, brother Ray Peters #171, who raced from 1965 to 1968. Here's Ray's interior, and here's a spare Jaguar engine in the Peters' yard.

UPDATE March 2010: No, the rules did not allow four-wheel drive.  Chippie Weston's massive crash at West Ham took off the rear axle, and I suspect the mechanics just loaded it on there for towing off the track. Anyone know the story? [Steve Gateley scan]


Hednesford Hills


UPDATE
September 2010:  In the early sixties not many people were using colour film, but one kind contributor has given me three panoramic colour photos of Hednesford.  The first shows some of the spectator facilities, looking 'normal' to some of us and probably prehistoric to younger viewers. Then, behind the kids' play area you can just see some veteran cars probably lined up for a demo derby on the sleeper-walled track;  lastly, some Senior F1's racing.  I wish I could identify them; possibly 224 yellow top Syd Farndon from nearby Brum, possibly 225 Norm Phillpots [sic] from Barking.  And if that's #1 at the back, he'd be Dave Isaacs from Ilford.  One of the sliding blue tops looks like a Ted Pankhurst car, but ---.  Anyone help?  In the last photo the track surface looks rather like shale, although Hednesford was tarmac'd some time in the early sixties.

UPDATE
 March 2010:  Hednesford features in several parts of this site. For instance THE EARLY DAYS section has some amazing history.  But here are some gems from a 1960's program and newsletter, thanks to David Hughes who grew up with cars, having a skilled engineer father, and who watched hot-rods and stock cars at Long Eaton, Tamworth, and Hednesford.  While apprenticing at BMC and getting an engineering degree, David prep'd this Zephyr in 1968 for the "Economy Cars" events, and tells me that his painted name and number were still wet when he drove onto the parade lap, to the theme tune from "Mogul".  Make sure you read some of the following programme pages --- did you know where Hednesford got its big clock from?  Do you know where the grandstand came from?  Here's the drivers' list for the meet.  
Below: Two legendary "grand old men" of the tracks:  Bill Morris and "Bill Bendix" (real name Jack Stewart) circle the track, and although "Bendix" may not be in the best shape but he's going to enjoy that cigarette [below].  Trivia: Bill Bendix was a pig farmer, from Leominster.  Several stock car racers have been in that line of work, champion Johnny Brise being one.

morris 

Here's Hednesford from the air, taken from their Summer 1967 newsletter cover; NASCAR would be proud. Up from Saffron Walden came Ron Cayzer 267 to enjoy the very fast laps possible on Hednesford's banked 440-yard surface.   Fuzzy photo of Reg Pryor and Loughborough's Bryan Davies in the wall.  
 

The Russ Bates Collection: 60's and 70's

Russ Bates, ex-racer #225 famous for his 'flower power' car [though Russ was no peaceful flower-power man!] , has kindly handed over to me a ton of photographs from his own no-longer-operating website.  I invite Russ and anyone else to add facts and stories to the photos as they appear here.  There are many different drivers featured, some of which crop up elsewhere on my website, but I am keeping them all together here.  The photos are not large or high-resolution, but they will rekindle a lot of memories. So, in no special order, let's start with four Ron Rogers cars (spot the plastic model). Ron, from Leek, Staffs. must have been made of cast iron - he raced from 1954 to the 1980's, and in 1966 won THIRTEEN finals and the national championship:

Ron Rogers 1   Ron Rogers 2    Ron Rogers 3   Ron Rogers 4   

UPDATE July 2010:   Ron Rogers is getting the cheers from the fans in this photo from Gordon Bland, showing the 1965 Harringay Fan Club Derby. Ron, from Leek in Staffs, was a farming contractor.

UPDATE October 2010: Ron was a tough 'un --- he raced for 27 years from 1957 to 1984.  He also knew how to have fun.  When Ford V-8 Pilots were still the weapon of choice, Ron had two: a regular road car and a much-modified but stock-looking version.  A stock-car mechanic tells how Ron would sometimes take the racer out for a burn-up on the Leek/Buxton road, which irritated the police, who tried unsuccessfully to chase him down.  Certain it was Ron, the police would arrive quickly at his farm, to find a Ford Pilot sitting there, stone cold, evidently not driven recently ----. (Yes, the racer was hidden elsewhere on the farm.)
   

Another Ron ---  Ron Graham #123 from Rochdale, gets on his side.

Big tangle here among 121 Ken Sanders, 265 Rob Bradsell, and [215 or [245?] Albert "Shady" Andrews.

Sliding on the shale #34 Tony Leicester on the outside of 228 John Hillam

Grainy photo of two champions, Jock Lloyd and Freddie Mitchell.

Jaguar man Les Suckling towed his 132 car from Plaistow for over 10 years, here doing battle with Aycliffe's Ron Deane #20.

Bumpers snagged by Tony Sterling 205 from Notts, and Lancashire's Vernon Parker 356.

Ancient history abandoned in the weeds:  the "Wild Bill Bendix" car. "Bill" raced from 1955 to 1957, with a huge locomotive-style "cow-catcher" front bumper padded with a tyre, and a stuffed boar's head trophy on the roof.  From Leominster, Hereford, his real name was Jack Stewart, but he adopted the name of the 1950's Hollywood "heavy" character actor.  He actually looked the part, as we can see here as "Bill" presents a trophy to another heavyweight, Ellis Ford.

Car 298 wrecks into the cables at a Belle Vue Boxing Day meet; that's an Austin A40 body.

Bryan Sharman 143 from Notts and Dougie Wardropper get stuck.

At one of the London tracks, Jack Ollerenshaw gets the boot from Oxford's Don Evans 37.
Ollerenshaw again, escaping a tangle at Brafield, with Basildon's Nobby Clarke 322.

"Dad, I crashed the car ----"  Fred and Les suss out the damage to Les's Cadillac-engined Senior.

Latest fashion: three big names line up and show what was then the next stage in car body layout:  Willie, Tony, and Ellis built their seats a long way back in their cars.


Ouch again:  Brian Maynard 226 from Ongar, Essex. peeks to see whose car is underneath ---.

Third ouch: Russ Bates himself, 225, gets on his roof, watched by 29 Terry Gill from Buxton.

Cadwell Park action between Tom Toon 202 and 84 Harry Holt.
Tony Haynes 140 gets under 85, which is Paul Pringle [Thanks to racer  John Rigg for spotting him]


UPDATE  March 2010:  Still at Cadwell, here is the beautiful Tom Toon 202 car (with Tom), in the pits.   Look at the extremely "knobby" tyre on the back ---- like a scrambles bike. [Steve Gateley pic]

 
UPDATE  May 2012: Another photo of Tom Toon at Cadwell, this courtesy of Peter Hooton.  Also there are Mick O'Hara 372 and long-running veteran Jimmy Young 106.
 

 

 Pat Willis #25: photo courtesy of 403 Ian Melton

willis 25

Thanks to Barry Redman, ex-racer #151 between 1969 and 1972, for this photo of a Pat Willis car showing some wear and tear. Barry recalls riding many miles with Pat Willis, while Barry's father drove the lorry for Pat's buddy Ted Pankhurst.  Barry had gone to school with Pete Webb #8 and later worked in Webb Snr's garage.   Pat used a Chrysler hemi 354 cu.in. motor in one of his cars, a motor he took out of a Facel Vega, the rare luxury French GT car  - it must have been quite a wreck, because new and used Facels cost a fortune.

Here's Pat looking thoughtful in a BriSCA photograph.

Ian Melton also sent a sequence of three photos of Pat Willis's #25 car looking very fifties but I have included it here, an unusual "modern" unmodified body. Pat Willis was #25 between 1957 and 1967.    Photo one.  Photo two.  Photo three.

UPDATE   August 2011:   More Pat Willis, thanks to ex-racer Doug Fisher. Here's Pat in his #25 car at a very sunny Ringwood meet some time in the 1960's --- smiling behind the car is the great Roy Clarke, quote "a brilliant F2 driver", who worked for and mechanic'd for Pat, and who Doug Fisher in turn mechanic'd for.  This Willis 25 car is a Johnny King-built machine, into which Pat fitted a rebuilt Chrysler hemi (mentioned above, from a Facel Vega); "it was a flyer".

At one point Pat worked for Ted Pankhurst 104 at his Eton business, later running a repair shop in Geoff Elliott's Datchet yard, and finally his own garage in Virginia Water.  Doug recalls Pat as a terrific engine builder and able to repair anything from a Mini to an HGV.   Earlier, before Pat got the Brise-King car, he had been racing a fast Jaguar engined car which he sold on to Dennis de Quincy #207 from Walton on Thames. Here's a 1961 West Ham WF photo of Dennis in that ex-Willis car.  My especial thanks to Doug Fisher for those two photos and facts; Doug had worked at one time for Pat as HGV1 driver and car mechanic, and can be seen at the top of the Seventies page.

Pat Willis is still "up and doing" in 2011, busily applying his mechanical skills to the delicate task of rebuilding scale model locomotives.  September 2011:  Pat's friend Barry Redman told me that after stock car racing, Pat went on to be a National points champion in off-roading, at over 60 years of age, and then became the only Brit to win the tough RALLYE DES CIMES in the South of France, in 1982.  Tough guy!

Below: the great Nev Hughes from West Bridgeford, Notts, on an obviously chilly Brafield Sunday: 

nev

 --- and handsome Nev looking happy in a BriSCA portrait photo.

 UPDATE  SEPTEMBER 2010: Below in 1968, as Long Eaton promoter, Nev Hughes on the right is presenting a smiling Rochdale youngster with BriSCA's Personality of the Year trophy; guess who.

nev and stu

UPDATE  January 2011:  Below: "Himself" in good company.  The much missed Stu Smith on the left, nurses his mild or stout, while his Rochdale rival Doug Cronshaw takes centre stage.  The elegant chap on the right was partly responsible for the groundbreaking Cronshaw #396 car of the seventies; engineer Kieron Tatlock worked with Doug in the winter of 1969 to build the famous Cronnie special, and drafted Doug's "supermodified" ideas onto paper, for its unique "booted" body.  

Kieron, who sent the photo, comments that he must have been the designatede driver that night at the Belle Vue banqueting suite in 1969 --- he has no beer. Sociological analysis: we know it's posh --- not by the dickie bows, but because they're drinking from tankards, not proper "sleeves".

stu and two more

This scan of an SCRN cover was sent by ever-generous stox veteran Ken Mason, to identify Haley Calvert #351, who is just about escaping the 'Flying Dutchman' Barry Van Den Oetelaar (386), during Brandon's June 1966 "Heart of England" championship meeting.  Heading straight for the chaos are 146 Jim Potter and 375 George Ansell, and I hardly need to read the 12-? on the following car because that distinctive front wheel is on Geoff Harrison's 127 car -- recognizable anywhere.  

Ron Pears raced under 331 and 15, and was notorious under both numbers, from 1958 to 1965.  From the village of Outwell, near Wisbech, this "rakish" looking chap ran a scrap yard among other things.  The quaint wooden windmill was Ron's grandparents' home.  A write-up in a local history publication, can be read here.  [Thanks again  to Tim for the scans.] 

UPDATE  March 2010:  Here's Ron Pears 331, masked-up and ready to rock with a mischievous grin, and here, in 1960 at Staines, Ron and Ken Freeman (61) lose traction.

UPDATE   August 2010: More on that Wisbech wild man Ron Pears #331.  Thanks to William Smith, who grew up in the same district as Tony Wicks, Viv Harper, and Haley Calvert, and had Ron Pears as a neighbour. William selected this great shot of Ron Pears and his mechanic John Lister, taken in 1960, from his collection [William publishes local history books through his Carrillson Publications].  William remembers when he was a lad, helping Ron with his car, and the reward was rides to various tracks, with a quick "disappearing act" that got him in free ---.  Ron Pears was one of the far-sighted builders, like Barry Hebborn, who invested the then-huge sum of £1,000 for a new race-prepped engine from the States.

UPDATE  September 2011:   Also from William Smith, Ron Pears strikes a "Hollywood" pose beside his car; place and date not known.

See the JUNIOR F2 page for more of Haley and Ron. 

 

Albert "Tiger" Griffin

griffin car
The "long-lost" photograph

If you raced in the 1960's, sooner or later you had to deal with Albert "Tiger" Griffin from Redditch, and Tiger took no prisoners. When Stu Smith took over this car, he was horrified by its evil handling, and declared it undriveable. No wonder Tiger's exploits were cheered and gasped at by the fans. There were popular rumours that Tiger had packed the bumpers with concrete, for extra "effect".  The photo above was kindly donated by Cliff Burdett and his father Bill.  They had purchased the print from a stall at Belle Vue may years ago.  In January 2011, the original photographer, Dave Chapman, then of Leicester, recognized the picture, which he had sold off in a collection of photos and programmes ---- and here it is, back to 'haunt' him.

More Tiger.  Two photos, taken just one month apart, at Coventry, identified by Ken Mason,   the first one in April and the next in May 1963, show that Tiger Griffin, when he wasn't fighting other cars, was fighting his own car's handling. [Trevor Richings scans.]  

Tiger's car in the Brafield pits  I took this snapshot over 45 years ago, and today it reminds me that we put on proper slacks and skirts and suits and hats and overcoats for a dusty afternoon at the track. As early as 1963, Tiger's car (348 cu.in. Chevy) was a forerunner of the lightweight specials of the late sixtiesKeith Barber unearthed this car and repainted it for a Stu Smith Testimonial event at Belle Vue in 1987. Keith did a super drawing / "bio" of this car in his STOCK CAR MAGAZINE. 

Here's Albert Griffin looking tough in the pits at Long Eaton in 1963.  [Steve Gateley photo.]

A bunch of racers in 1963 in the Brandon pits, including Albert Griffin 178, Tom Toon #202, Wilf Blundell #75, and at far left Haley Calvert. [Photo by Steve Gateley]

UPDATE  May 2012:  Here's Tiger Griffin showing his teeth in the pits, track not known, with new white-walls; in the background is #36 Rod Falding.

Wham-Bam West Ham


A collection of scans from programmes from 1961 to 1965, courtesy of Trevor Richings.  The dates are the programme dates, but remember that promoters often included photos from previous seasons (especially in the first couple of meets each year), so the driver names and numbers below may not be 100% accurate. Viewing advice for scans of old half-tone photographs:  put your cursor on the picture, and it may give you a "+" sign to click and make the photo clearer. 

Ken Mason advises me that some of these photos are in fact Coventry; the same promoter ran three tracks.

I suspect this West Ham photo was taken in 1960/61, but it's a night-time lineup featuring Martin Johnson 19 (Newton-Le-Willows), 196 John Duckham (Coventry), 414 Marian Palmowski (Rotherham), and 320 Reg Walker (Cheltenham).  

 Wilf Blundell 75, (in 1962), Leighton 42, Alan Wardropper 245, and Ray Watkins 362 (Shepshed, Leics.) get involved on the track and the infield. Here's Wilf Blundell cheerful in an official photo. Here, Blundell at West Ham in 1961, takes his mechanic for a ride.

I just came across an interesting link -- Wilf Blundell [of Blundell's Coaches] was friends with the famous and eccentric "Mrs Topham" --- (Mirabel Topham who was chair of the Grand National at Aintree race course.  At the age of 70 she was running the whole operation from her bed, by phone!)   Wilf used a double decker as a mobile grandstand and promotional vehicle, and with Mrs Topham's approval even sketched out a prospective stock-car oval in the middle of the Aintree course, which sadly was refused planning permission.
 From a June 1960 West Ham programme, we see Plaistow's #166 Alan Hughes in the barrels, with both Darkie Wright #7 and Bob Marshall #63 abandoning ship.

Another shot of 362 Ray Watkins, damaged at Brandon in 1961.
 
Ted Pankhurst #104 gives Ken Freeman a boot in the behind, while #25 Keith Steward from Lancs gets leaned on.  Let's see their faces:  Ted P. and Ken F. in their BriSCA photos.

UPDATE  December 2011:  Thanks to John "Dick" Elliott, one of the Slough mechanics and racers, for three Pankhurst photos.  First, Ted on the truck at Brands Hatch:

ted brands

Here's Ted, date and track unidentified, [Brafield's hawthorn hedges?], car on its towing dolly.
Ted Pankhurst does a lap of honour at Harringay.

Oxford's Don Evans 37 goes upside-down beside Roy Goodman, and  Ted Elliott #444
(
Rugby) 
also gets sideways.

A multi-car schemozzle under the floodlights: closest to the camera is the irrepressible racer who competed under SIX DIFFERENT competition numbers, John "Gimpy" Goodhall
#200 (Stoney Stanton, Leics.); then behind him is 146 Jim Potter, 472 Pete Guinchard, just-visible 255 Bill Gilmour (West Midlands); and coming in from the right is hard man guy Arthur Townsend 339 (Loughborough).

Tiger Griffin 178 leads the way, while Ted Elliott spins, Allen Briggs #138 chases, and an unnumbered car ducks round the outside.



 
1964 West Ham programmes
:


Aubrey Leighton's Pink 'Un #42, in his final year of racing, with the Jag-powered Terry Coell #133, and behind them Ellis Ford jumps a barrel.

Willie Harrison #2 leads Ken Freeman #61, while one of the wild Laurie brothers, 118, Cecil, (Bob, Brian, and Cecil were from Byfield, Northants), climbs on the roof of #110, a mystery driver, as 110 was not allocated to anyone between 1961 [Jumbo Allen] and 1966 [Ray Scriven].

Don't you love those Fiat Topolinos?  Elsewhere on this site is my favourite snapshot of Ted Pankhurst and Dougie Wardropper neck-and-neck at Brafield in their fabulous identical-looking cars.  Here they are in full combat, with Doug ramming Ted, and packed in the scramble are 283 Graham Rackley from Oxford,  and (possibly) 331 Ron Pears, unless it's 330 Les Bacon --- the number is quite damaged. Ted Pankhurst had earlier been a speedway rider, and while he raced stock cars also owned a racing greyhound.


Another Fiat man, Joe Toon 210 from Coalville, munches a barrel, while Roy Goodman 163 goes on his way. The authorities forgot that those old oil barrels were marvellous local "crumple zones", and could absorb enormous impacts, slowing the cars' crashes and saving machinery and injuries --- and when they were spinning crazily along the infield, the barrels were actually safely releasing the kinetic energy from the bump ---- we need a professional engineer to write this up for BriSCA, because the ban on barrels was not properly thought out.

July 1964: This is described by lap scorer Ken Mason as "The most amazing rollover I ever saw".  You can read Promoter Charles Ochiltree's subsequent programme notes here.  Ken Keyte 348 (from Tiger G's hometown Redditch) does a flyer in front of Don Evans 37, Graham Rackley 283, Jumbo Tustin 179, and in the background 198 Roger Taylor. Ken did THREE barrel-rolls and THREE end-over-ends, landing between the track fence and the crowd, which was suddenly hushed --- until Keyte hopped out uninjured.  Thanks, Ken.


Three-wide and one escapee:  379 Alan Charman (Thames Ditton), squeezes Roy Goodman into 453 Vic Wright (Harrow), while up against the fence Les taylor 439 scrambles over the cables to safety.

Info Update December 2014
Part of "the Plaistow Gang" were Les Suckling #132  [10 years racing]  and Terry Coell #133  [over 20 years racing], both famous for Jags that challenged all the big-inch V-8s.  Racer Steve Pringle and his brother Bill worked with Coell, and report that Terry Coell had a friendly contact in Jaguar's R&D dept, who gave Terry tips on the eengine's exhaust manifold for extra power.

  • Terry Coell's Jag #133 (Plaistow), sliding alongside 118 Cecil Laurie, while what looks like 368 Bill Broadbent (Prestwich) or 366 Bill Judd (Reading) stays clear.  I cannot identify the about-to-roll car; # 206 was not registered between 1963 (Bill Wright) and 1968.
  •  Terry Coell, ready to race, has a 'GB' plate on his Jag motor.
  •  Red tops in the sunshine, thanks to Steve Pringle for this shot of Terry Coell lining up at Brafield, and interesting that Jaguar straight-6's could still run with the big guys.
  •  Terry Coell towed his car all the way 'oop North' long before there was a handy M6.  

  • Nigel Harradine  sent this snap of Les Suckling, smoking a ciggy, manoeuvring his Jag special in the pits at Harringay in 1965.
  • Here is Terry Coell's Mini-bodied Senior racer in the pits at Brafield, autograph added.  

  • For fans, a choice of this transfer, [Designed by Coell's long-time fan and mechanic Bill Pringle, brother of racer Steve Pringle] or this sticker.   [Rick Young collection].

Rick Young reminds us (from hard experience) that instead of today's luxury transporters, these guys towed the racer on dolly wheels.  




==========================
Brawling at Brandon


 

UPDATE  December 2010: Long before Coronation Street, in 1965 the Honorable Sue Nicholls presented the trophy and rode Coventry's cop car with Eddie Asling and Ellis Ford. At that time she was in "Crossroads".  
We're talking about Audrey Roberts, m'darling!
  "Honorable" because her dad was Lord Harmar-Nicholls, 1st Baronet, a Tory MP.
Famous Corrie quote by Audrey about her husband Alf:

"You could meet Alf Roberts riding a horse in the middle of the Sahara and still know he’s a grocer."
 
The following photos appeared in a Brandon (6th June 1964) programme:

  1. Bill Judd 366 and Fred Williamson come to blows.    
  2.  Fred and Bill, again
  3. Then a crowd arives on the scene, with Fred W. still facing backwards, Gil Pratt (Crick, Northants) avoids the upside-down Bill Judd, while 62 Chippie Weston and Mick Robinson (Aylesbury) stay out of trouble.

Phil Corey 184 (Rugby) on his back while Ron Pears 331 talks to the fence cables; 1962 photo.  

Down from Lincoln comes the chequered car of Pete Newton 363, to ride the front wheel of 303 John Sims (Loughborough), while Les taylor 439 goes by.

'Dashing round Doncaster'

 UPDATE  January 2012:   More from the camera of Malcolm Brown at Doncaster, and it will take a while to identify all the numbers in these scenes --- just looking at the photos recalls the unforgettable racket of those big V-8's:
  •  Fifteen cars, twelve numbers visible in the crowded pits on a sunny day.   #310 Paddy Byrne from Todmorden;                 #121 Ken Sanders from Ely;   #269 Ken "Blondie" da Costa up from London;  #347Barry Johnson from Kegworth;                  #226 Brian Maynard from Essex; 
  •  Below:  Same basic view but "left hand down a bit" -- now we see the 26 pink 'un, Jack Ollerenshaw from Grindleton                [eh by gum, they 'ave some right grand place names in Lancs.]
malc donc
  •  Twenty-six Senior F1's on the track, and lined up waiting for the next race; lots fun in the offing.                                       Behind the post, 318 is Denby's Dave Fox, who raced for  26-years;  #123 is Ron Graham from Rochdale;                                    a mechanic is climbing on #73 which is either Tom Fox or Nev Turner; the well known #85 is Wilf Blundell, the "coach man" from Stockport.  Fans: please yell if can identify more or correct any errors here.

UPDATE  September 2011:  Four more photos from the late sixties taken at Doncaster by Malcolm Brown. The Doncaster stadium was the greyhound track, running speedway since 1930, and once home to the rugby club.
  • The ubiquitous Brian Tuplin 155 shares pits space with 85 Paul Pringle from Hebden Bridge.
  • The 27 car of John Hickey and the 23 of  Eddie Fish, both drivers from Accrington, in front of Mal Sample's ambulance.
  • Waiting on the dog track are 183 Ken Chapman, 55 Charlie Finnikin, 12 Mal Sample, 29 Terry Gill from Buxton, and 235 Dave Musson from York.
  • One race about to start, and the second field lined up on the dog track.  Rod Falding's Fiat #36, Arnold Ball 216, Tony Haynes 140 from Oldham, Brian Wignall 102, just-visible 53 Ian Barker, 161 Ollie Martin, and 204 Geoff Buck.
My thanks to VSCA Chairman Phil Chance for identifying some of those cars.


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

'Bashing at Belle Vue'

UPDATE  September 2011:  Four photos from 1967 at the 'Vue, taken by Malcolm Brown, and help with names from Phil Chance:
  • Yellow top #216 is Arnie Ball from Congleton. Previously mis-labelled Peter Hales.
  • The white tops used to give us so much fun:  257 Arnie's older brother Cyril Ball [mis-labelled Don Stacey from Guildford], 19 John Lewis, 112  well-named Malcolm Quick from St Albans, and the long-lived Ford Pop is #89 Geoff "Chalkie" White from Nottingham.
  • Here's an in-car photo of Chalkie from a 1964 Long Eaton programme.
  • Faster men at the back include 77 Pete Farrington from Southport, 183 Ken Chapman from Rochdale, and instantly recognizable are #2 Willie H and #100 Tony Neal's red tops.
  • White-top Kevin Richardson 246 from Clayton-le-Moors enjoys the chequers.

Programme scans below supplied by Trevor Richings

These are digital scans of the old 'half-tone' photos in Belle Vue programmes; enlarging or reducing may improve the quality.  I will identify driver names by number as and when I can. As with most track programmes, it's likely that one or two photos may have been taken during the previous season.

Cars 41 and 111 in 1963.  Bev Marshall (Sheffield) carried 41, and 111 is probably Mick Harrison (Sheffield)  It's possible 111 was John Allsopp.

Cars 48, 352, and 41 in 1963.  Fred Walker #48 (Ashton-under-Lyne), and Paul Manders (Blackpool) is #352.     Paul  moved onto drag racing in some very fast cars, one being shown in the DRAG RACING section of this site.   

Cars 77 and 315 in 1963.  Steve Neal (Anstey, Leics) is 315, and 77 was the well-known Jaguar exponent Pete Farrington (Southport).  Pete Farrington's happy photo from a BriSCA Annual.

Car 88 in 1963 is Manchester's Alan Heap, who also had #282.

Brian Wignall drives # 102; from Clitheroe, home to several of the sport's 'hard men'.

Jack Lord 233  and Roy Goodman 163 get tangled. 

Below in 1963: "Jumping Jack" Lord #233.

lord

Below: first photo: Jack Lord was still racing in 2009 at the age of approx 75; next, Jack's son in action:

lord son


Jack Lord's son Glenn, who sent me the info and new photo, raced in the mid-80's under numbers 180 and 309.  Glenn recalls watching Jack's early Jag and Allard based specials being built, as well as Jack's rough-housing with Preston hard man 418 Bob Heaney.  Later Jack and Glenn enjoyed years of hill-climbing and sprinting.  Glenn then briefly used an ex-Lund F1 car, with an Aycliffe win.  Today "old Jack" can be seen on the Warton track (http://www.wartononline.com) , near Carnforth, Lancs, where Glenn won the 1996 championship, and also races today.  On top of all this, Glenn's younger brother Jason Lord ALSO races at Warton -- it's in the blood.

Phil Griffin 242 and 179, dear old Jumbo Tustin.  Phil up from Staines and 'Jumbo' from Cheltenham.

A total wipe-out wreck for 370 Ken Mack from Pendlebury.  I hope it didn't hurt.

And for the older generation, here are some TV commercial jingles for Bristol cigarettes back then (I was a "Park Drive" smoker myself).

Nottingham's Fred Ball (#285 and 139) gets the trophy, from none other than Sally King, wife of the late great Johnny King.

October 26th 1963 saw the "Cleopatra Gold Cup", and here is the programme cover.

Alan Wardropper 245 picking up the RAILWAY QUEEN CUP.  Any idea what that was?  

UPDATE August 2010:  Thanks to the sharp eye and memory of Vic Smith who remembers the popular annual Railwayman's Outings, with a full day at Belle Vue Zoo and Gardens, brass band contests, and the crowning of the year's Railway Queen, who would then present the cup to that evening's stock car winner. Vic was there when Alan Wardropper won, and the date was 14th September 1963.  Vic was a regular stock car fan, and recalls seeing Ray Watkins (362) tipping his car onto its side so that he could remove its Buick engine, behind the Watkins pub.  Also the day Ray's car got loose from its trailer and "visited" a shop window!  Thanks, Vic.

Dave Richardson towed over from Clayton-le-Moors with his 247 car and had THIS happen.

Nev Hughes is a happy man with his #69 car.  Is Nev tall, or is the presenter rather ----?

Barry Van Den Oetelaar

Barry Van den Oetelaar, a Dutch driver from Reading # 386 , was one of those cheery characters the crowds always welcomed when he appeared on the track. Thanks to Leon Bekkers for the following photos and facts:  Leon was given the photos by Barry's widow Dorothy (Barry passed away in October 1997). 

Barry lived in England from WW2 to the 1970's before returning to Holland to run that country's Spedeworth promotions in Tilburg.  

Barry 1.  Barry 2.   Barry 3.   Barry 4.   Barry 5.   Barry 6.  

Leon Bekkers was a good friend of Barry, and in his honour is building a heritage replica of one of Barry's Junior 10 cars, one which raced at Tamworth in 1960.  Dorothy had no trouble supplying the car colours from memory, and says she could easily write a whole book about her "Flying Dutchman".   Barry started in F1 Seniors, but then concentrated on Juniors and then Superstox.

More of Barry, thanks to Trevor Richings [Rod Dore's mechanic].  First, some programme facts.  Next, a Walthamstow "upset"  for Barry's Renault 4CV-bodied car, in 1965.  Rick Young sent me this Brafield pits photo of Barry in his 386 car. 

Leon Bekkers sends these four nice shots of that smiling Dutchman. First, two from when the final was sponsored by the salesman in charge of peanuts (yes, peanuts) at the track and who put up a trophy and £50.  Barry did not actually qualify for the final, but some smooth talking and dealing somehow got him into the race, and to the discontent of the other drivers, Barry ran away with the race and received the "Peanut Trophy"

At West Ham Barry gets his victory lap on the bonnet of a Land Rover, and enjoys the presentation with a laughing Jock Lloyd.         I know that model of "Landie", having grown up in GNV 454, with a windscreen that folded flat onto the bonnet, doors you could lift off in one movement, and a petrol filler under the driver's seat cushion.

Five more photos, courtesy of Barry's wife Dorothy and her daughter Maria, and forwarded with e-mail help by Leon Bekkers and his daughter Chantal.  
And lastly in this group, below:  chatting to Ted Pankhurst  (right) and Karl Grossmann.  Notice the #386 boot, which is actually the louvred engine cover from a rear-engined Renault 4CV.
grossman
Karl was so notorious for his dirty overalls that announcers and programmes used to joke "He must have missed the Ariel Commercial" and "He's not using the right washing powder."  According to Harringay's director Stan Hinckley in a 1963 programme, Karl once pulled out of a race and stormed over to Stan demanding to know why he'd been disqualified. Stan told him he wasn't. Karl protested: "But I heard the loudspeaker yelling 289, 289, 289 every time I went by the starter!"  
"That's because you were leading the bloody race!"


More trophies:  April 1965, at Harringay, and Barry collects the Empire Trophy.

I'm including two photos from 1958 here:  Barry and car (1);  Barry and car (2).

In later years, Barry ran the Tilburg track in Holland, and here he is giving instructions.  On the occasion of Tilburg's 25th anniversary, we see Barry on the right, next to the venerable Freddie Mitchell, Les Eaton, and Barry's wife Dorothy --- quite a  VIP gathering.  Lastly, an overhead shot of Tilburg, date uncertain.

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

Courtesy of Steve Gateley, here in 1962 are some happy men at work on the "The Saint" Doug Warner's #313 car; is the smoke coming from their cigarillos or from the motor? Doug Warner, from Birmingham, who raced 1959 to 1964, is on the right; on the left is Bert the mechanic, and a youngster named Barry behind the wheel. 

UPDATE December 2011:  Thanks to David Hughes, a Midlands spectator and racer, for this 1963/4 Hednesford action shot which shows Steve Gateley  ["That's me still learning ---," says Steve today] spinning in a cloud of smoke.  

A rather fuzzy old programme photo of Doug Warner's 313 car climbing the fence at Brafield, during the track's 1962 World Qualifying round.  Also in 1962, West ham's April programme praised Doug's "speedster" as a model for all builders; front view.    Earlier, in 1961, West Ham's track photographer caught Doug Warner in a kerfuffle with 331 Ron Pears, 454 Dennis Thacker (Lincs), and somewhere under Ron was Dougie Wardropper's car! 

Steve Gateley himself in action, first at West Ham in 1964, lining up beside Oxford's Karl Grossman 289 and Ben Spiers 312 (Evesham)Next, see the tilt of Steve Gateley's engine mounting on 320 as he moves ahead of Russ Bates.  Steve was a friend of Ellis Ford #3, and here is Steve's car under construction/repair in Ellis's crowded workshop.  

Then at Brandon in 1964, Steve tangled with Mick Screaton 357, (Diseworth, Leics). 

Mick Screaton's godson Tony Sykes [Sykes Snr was Mick's mechanic] reports that the #357 car ended its career in a monumental smash against a post on Long Eaton's back straight, and Mick took the opportunity to move South to some gentler pursuits, including a farm not far away from Keith Barber's home.  Always a skilled woodworker, Mick nowadays handles Cornish "Pilot Gigs", this one a unique six-oared 32-foot wooden design based on a boat built in 1838 and which is still racing! 

Thanks to Tony Sykes again for this smart photo of Mick Screaton's beautiful #457 car in the pits at either Long eaton or Brandon.  

screaton

(Mick's number was 457 from 1961 to 1963) In the background is a Bob Laurie #98 car.  Tony recalls sitting in his uncle's car as a child, in his Diseworth work yard.  Where the heck did all those Fiat Topolinos come from?

The great Willie Harrison's #2 car, here at Long Eaton

UPDATE September 2011: Willie Harrison #2 in the Doncaster [?] pits with white-top #95 Peter Roebuck from Long Eaton and #225 Russ Bates on the lorry. [Photo Malc Brown]

UPDATE  May 2011:  Earlier, in 1963, Willie's car suffers bad damage up against the Long Eaton fence; see the small #2 "taxi light" on his roof.


Last of this 13-photo treat from Steve is a Brandon pits panorama showing Tom Toon #202 ,Tiger Griffin #178, and #75 Wilf Blundell from Southport, .

The spirit of stock-car racing is illustrated by this 1967 photo of the Nelson track's turn 4.   In the background you can see the white overalls of drivers and mechanics watching. The stands are packed, the cars are spinning and rolling, there's dirt and steam everywhere, and not an aerodynamic wing or big-budget sponsor to be seen anywhere.  Cars include #124 Oliver Smith (Durham), #240 Kevin Shackleton (Leicester), and #33 Oldham's Keith Thompson. Thanks to Andrew Hirst [ex-F2 racer at Aycliffe, Buxton, etc] for putting me in touch with the photo.

Old newsreel films of stock cars:

Here are two old Pathe News films of Brands Hatch in 1966.  I hope you can view the "avi" files

Ted Janes wins
If that doesn't load, you can go to the British Pathe website and view it: https://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=44278 and 

Allen Briggs wins
If that doesn't load, try the British Pathe website:
http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=44054

UPDATE  August 2011: Roger Butterworth #61 gets it sideways at Brands. Roger was from Earl Shilton in Leics.      

Ken Freeman, the previous holder of #61, waits for a night race.

UPDATE
  January 2011: Sixteen photos of the racing at Brands Hatch in 1966 were sent by Dave Chapman.
If you recognize a car not listed, or incorrectly named here, contact me.  Fasten your seat belt, these are terrific:

1:  Winner Ted Janes #66

2:  The late great Johnny Marquand's colourful "hot rod" # 189
It is sad to report Johnny passing away in early 2011 at the age of 74. News via Dave, who contributed these photos.

3:  Rolling lap with eventual winner Ted Janes 66 on the pole

4:  Ted Janes puts the elbow on Mike Lewis.

5:  More of the Ted Janes-vs-Mike Lewis bump

6:  #191 Mike Lewis is now out of it, and 138 Allen Briggs chases the pack

7:  #198 Roger Taylor has passed the flag, which I think must be for #5 Doug Wardropper

8: Action stations!  81 Pat Driscoll takes off, Jim Potter white-walls his way past, Russ Bates 225 and Allen Briggs are neck and neck, and George Ansell 357 is ready to attack.

9:  Is this 253 Eddie Asllng, or 257 Don Stacey, leaping the barrel, "sponsored by Yokohama"?

10:  White-tops #151 Ken Sheridan from Enfield on the outside of Johnny Goodhall who has Ken Freeman's retired 61 number ('only' the third of SIX numbers used by "Gimpy"); Pratt's Rolls rad on row six?

11:  From London, white-top Melvyn Dillow #233 gives it opposite lock after Ken Sheridan

12:  Fred Skinner #228 and Willie Wanklyn #304 spreading topsoil; Willie's last year racing.

13:  Lots to see here: 197 Les Taylor calls it quits; 24 Alan England grabs grass; Dillow has gone backwards; 171 Ray Peters spins; 395 Fred Williamson goes past in a blur. Derek Green #6 scoots away, not knowing what happened behind him.

14:  Darkie #7 has parked, Ted Pankhurst 104 sails by, and I spy a sideways Ellis Ford

15:  In the mid ground, Russ Bates 225 chases Allen Briggs up the hill

16: The orange #30 is Johnny Challis from London in his Rod-Dore-lookalike car


Phew! Thanks to Dave Chapman.

UPDATE  August 2010: Graham Cox sent me some programme scans, and here's the striking pink cover from Brands Hatch's historic first stock-car meet, April 10th 1966.  Winners that day included Ted Janes in the 'consie', Willie Wanklyn in Heat 1, Ellis Ford in Heat 2, Alan Wardropper in Heat 3, and Allen Briggs in the final.

Three photographs that someone ? sent me ages ago; if you sent them, remind me to give you the credit.  

  • First, the 98 car of (either) Bob Laurie or possibly Allan Jones of Manchester at Nelson: a hard driver at a hard track.
  • Second, car # 275  drifting fast on Belle Vue's dirt.  The 275 could be either Peter Schofield from Huddersfield, or Eddie Jackson from London (Ten different drivers have carried # 275.) Trying to put a name to a car number in an old photo? Get the great Mike Greenwood book "Stock Car Drivers" 3rd ed.

Where the hard men raced: "Give it  wellie or go home" was the Aycliffe motto, and thanks to Bill Taylor, here is a 1967 programme cover.

This car appears elsewhere on this site as Ron Cayzer's;  then it went to his son John Cayzer.  Here, in approx 1968 in the Coventry pits, the car belongs to "Blondie" Da Costa #269.   A classic 60's car, simple and tough. The Cayzers left BriSCA for Spedeworth, and John switched back again in 1979 and is still racing f2's.  [Rick Young collection]

An old Stock Car News photo of action at Hednesford, featuring some great names and cars: #385 is Wilf Hargreaves in the ex-Tiger Griffin car before Smiffy got it; also Tony Wicks 93, Jim Potter 146, and the late Ron Rogers 152.

Tony Neal, #100, in the pits at Aycliffe in 1967.  The man walking into the shot was once known under the nickname "Jack The Ripper" in Junior racing:  Aycliffe's scrutineer Jack Cowling. Photo and facts from John Rigg.  The white rose on Tony's car shows it's from Richmond, North Yorks, not the rival town of Richmond, Lancs.  [In the Wars of the Roses, the white rose was the House of York.]. 

Before the storm:  a Harringay World Final group photo of 26 of the sport's best drivers prior to doing battle in —  Ken Mason identifies it as 1967, and recalls that the WF saw the very first issue of 'Stock Car'.   (Photo  from Jason Holden's father Paul, via Pete Schafer)

  • From top, left to right:  Allen Briggs, Chick Woodroffe, Jock Lloyd, Tony Neal, Johnny Pratt [who scored second place], Bert Shipman.  
  • Next row:  right-to-left: Ron Cayzer, Terry Coell, Guy Curval (France), Geoff Harrison, Pieter Noorlander (Dutch), Fred Mitchell, Ray Watkins, George Ansell (eventual winner), USA's Ted Janes. 
  • Seated: l-to-r: Les Mitchell, Ron Rogers, Lou Hermanides (Dutch), Ron 'Dixie' Deane, Peter Farrington, Arthur Townsend, Marinus van Roy (Dutch), Mick Holt, Jim Potter, and Derek Green above Pete Guinchard.   Jim Esau is absent from the photo, as is Ellis Ford who may have had his car banned (typical Ellis!).  What would this website do without Rick Young's memory and archives giving me the names?

Syd Farndon, who not only promoted at Tamworth, and practically invented the Junior/F2 formula, but also raced the big un's, and here his red-top # 224  is 'brewing up' in the 1960 World Final at Coventry.  Syd's car was originally a George Foulger special. Also there are 35 Rod Dore and 68 Trevor Frost

Thanks to Steve Gateley for this candid photo, below, of the Farndons busy in the guts of their motor, at Brafield; that's 362 Ray Watkins's car in the background. After a lot of asking and searching, it seems the radiator grille and bonnet are from a Standard 9 or 10 of about 1935.  I received much help from this terrific internet forum: http://www.oldclassiccar.co.uk/forum

farndon pits

Syd's son Steve Farndon supplied the above photo, and this scan of the 1960 Coventry program, which is  a large file, but if you move it around you'll see some potted biographies and photos — including not only Syd but also Alan Wardropper looking so young.


Johnny King:  "I did it my way"

Blood sport: Thanks  to Steve Farndon for this shot of Johnny King #6:

king

In the photo above, Johnny has won a final despite getting a rock in his face (Walthamstow, 1962, recalls his son Chris King who attended all the races)  Just look at that guy --- they don't breed 'em like that any more —  if you remember the men who raced stock cars in the 1960's, they were often skilled and hard-nosed tradesmen, self-made, who had seen a world war and/or National Service, and had not lived the easy life — but they knew how to have fun, and how to live and play hard. 

King came second in the 1961 World Final, went to South Africa to win their championship, emigrated there in 1963 (family photo of JK at the airport), returned to England in 1979, then re-settled in SA in 1999, passing away in 2001.   

The 1961 West Ham WF would probably have been Johnny's, as he was the class of the field, and tore through the opposition until a lap-down Trevor Frost "settled some old grudge" [journalist's reminiscence], putting Johnny in the fence, from which he brilliantly escaped and went on to 2nd place.    In 1962 at the Belle Vue WF, as shown on this programme, King made 4th.     

In the 1963 West Ham semi-final programme, Pete Arnold predicted Alan Wardropper to win from Johnny King, and got it half right --- Johnny did get his 2nd place.  

Only a few photos show Johnny with a public smile --- more often they show a rather intense look [see an official Johnny King profile ], which probably gave a shiver to even his bravest rivals.


UPDATE  April 2012:  Johnny collects another chequered flag: photo courtesy of his niece (see handwriting on the print).

uncle john

Johnny in a track lineup ahead of 131 Jock Lloyd's tartan terror, also Nev Hughes 69 and Jim Berg 471.   Date probably 1962.

A truly happy JK, during his South African championship tour in the winter of 1962-1963:

king SA tour

South African oval racing became sophisticated in the mid 1960's, with US sprint cars being imported, so JK's ex-Brise car was obsolete.  But Johnny King surprised everyone with a unique modified Brabham Formula 1 grand prix car provided by a sponsor, that had been extensively modified for 1/4 mile ovals --- and Johnny ran away from the competition until the authorities banned the car --- what's new?

UPDATE  April 2012: The unique rear-engined car of  Johnny King; and here on the track.


UPDATE January 2010:  Here is Johnny King in circa 1960, blasting down a Brafield straight --- a terrific shot from a 1962 programme.  This car is part Morris Minor-bodied, and was built before Johnny took over the famous Brise-built 'supercar' car at the start of the 1961 season (info from Chris King).  

The car that changed the game.  Once in a decade or more, a car appears that moves stock-car racing 'up' a level.  This one did it for the sixties, built by Johnny Brise, with a Jaguar gearbox, the Olds Rocket 88 motor bored out to almost 7.5 litres, a Jeep rear axle, and a Mercedes chassis.

UPDATE April 2010: Anonymous photo of Johnny King in a 1962 Brafield meet, being vainly pushed to start  ---- it didn't work.

UPDATE January 2010: Johnny Brise. [photo scan from Russ Thomas] Johnny Brise was World Champion in 1956, 1959, and 1960, and in this photo he is at Belle Vue, receiving a medal.  Johnny Brise was originally a pig farmer (more than a few stock-car racers made this their living).  He and his brother Bob were from Ashford, Kent, and both were racing sports cars and the 500cc Cooper single-seaters in the 1950's.  Johnny went on to race and build karts, (and was Class 1 champ in 1961) and in 1967 used a gearbox kart to defeat the entire field of racing cars in a hill climb at Bouley Bay in Jersey.  In 1970/71 Brise went to South Africa to compete in a Formula Ford series.  Johnny's sons Tim and Tony followed dad's footsteps, both doing rallycross, and Tony eventually moved from karts to F3, then F5000, and up to Formula One Grand Prix, competing in ten Grands Prix races before his tragic death in 1975, in a plane crash along with three-time F1 champion Graham Hill.  Johnny was heartbroken and already ill, dying exactly five years to the day after Tony.
Also in that picture are popular singer
Sheila Buxton, whose songs are listed here.  Sheila was in the 1960  Royal Variety Show with Max Bygraves, Lonnie Donegan, Russ Conway, and The Crazy Gang!  
In the background is a character who Russ Thomas recalls:   C. Jack Barrick, a famous football referee [FA Cup Final, 1948] who was the regular starter at Brafield right up to the mid-sixties, and an occasional starter at Belle Vue, etc. Jack settled in Brafield village. His dark glasses were to ward off the sun and dust (soccer refs value their eyesight), and he was famous for his "loud" chequered jackets and his rolling accent "like John Arlott."   Imagine: "It's a luuurvly day here at Old Trafford and Oi can see the swallowz nesting above ourrr comment-ary box, and bowling from the gasworks end Mick Noden stuffs Chissy roight in the wicket."

Russ Thomas sent this: The late great Johnny "Gimpy" Goodhall's very first car #200, in the Brafield pits: the bodywork was mostly secured by bits of rope, and Gimpy didn't give a hoot. 

Remember when there were thousands of those lorries on the road, hinged wood sides, especially the red-liveried British Road Services [from 1948 until Maggie Thatcher ---].

Terry "Chick" Henson

 Chick Henson from Kempston, Beds, was a fitter and then a design draughtsman who kept busy with car repairs and rugby when he wasn't racing and running Brafield's catering ---- no lazy man.  Chick's dad was a grocer who was also the Brafield caterer from 1955 onwards, until Chick took over the concession.   Do you get the pun that produced the "Chick" nickname?  HEN - SON.

Here are four photos of his 1961 car.  He bought the Ford Pilot V-8 from Gerry Sheldrick of Linton (Cambs), and towed it home with a straight bar to the front bumper.  The car was pretty much stock but side-valve Fords were unburstable and ideal for racing in those days.  Here's the car in the Brafield pits (1) and (2).  Chick raced it only at Brafield.

Chick went on to win this 1963 Brafield race.  Chick's car is wearing a Ford E93A "Pop" body, with a Model B grille.  In the same shot is 209 Fred Masters from Rugby.

[Another Steve Gateley photo:]  Chick Henson, again in 1963, in the Brafield pits.

Below: "Henson Hurly-Burly" at Long Eaton, 31st March 1962.  

henson

The Henson 477 car rode up on Chippie Weston's bonnet and windscreen, and 'Chick' recalls that when the noise and shaking stopped, he climbed down in a hurry to help extract Chippie from his car, and someone tapped him on the shoulder --- it was Chippie, who'd been even quicker to jump out.

More of Henson's exploits, all from 1962:  First, a snowy January photo of Chick's ex-Ron Pears car.  Then, at a cold test day at Brafield.  Then, a programme write-up of that test day, with several other famous names.

It's that man again --- pounding Brafield's back straight ahead of car 184, Phil Corey from Rugby, in April 1962 (23rd of April if you want to be precise).  And here is Terry Henson looking out of the cut-down door of his car, at Brafield in June 1962.  Note the "jet age" helmet, new in those days, and the stout roll cage, also more advanced that a lot of 1962 cars. 

A generous spread of photos all from 1963 of Chick Henson:
Heading West a bit, six pics from Harringay's wonderful and much-missed stadium:
  • April 13th, Henson lining up beside Reading's Bill Judd #366.
  • April 13th, 477 gets a clear run down the straight under the floodlights.  Someone remind me what those indicators are, in the background -- for the greyhounds?
  • May 11th, and once more Chick lines up with Bill Judd.
  • July 27th, and a red-topped Jock Lloyd really puts the bumper in on Henson.
  • July 27th again, and see the muscle work required to steer those 1960's cars.
  • August 17th sees a wet track, with Chick's inside wheel splayed wide, and steam pouring under the motor.  London's Frank Morseman #39 is checking his fenced car in the background.  Enlarge this photo a bit and you will see that long-ago fact of life: the men in the crowd are mostly wearing shirts-and-ties and dark jackets. A bloke going out to the pub for an evening wearing jeans would be stared at (maybe not in the West End trendy pubs, but don't try that in Hackney.)

Brafield was Chick Henson's happy hunting ground. Seven photos and a great story:

May 19th, Chick and Alan Wardropper 245 exiting turn 2 backwards while the rest of the field heads to 3.

Familiar tale of stock-car mutual aid:  Chick Henson's towing Standard Vanguard lost its clutch in the M1 down to Harringay on a Saturday.  [keep reading, this won't take long ---]  Along comes Benny Wesley (Newport Pagnell) with his tipper truck and stock car in the 'bed'; he chains up Chick's car+dolly+racer, and off they go.  Only prob:  the Vanguard used the same master cylinder for the clutch and brakes, and by the time they reached North London, no fluid and NO BRAKES except for the handbrake! So the Vanguard kept bumping its nose on the back of Benny's tipper.  
After the Harringay race the other "Chick" in this story, Mr Woodroffe, offered Henson the use of his Tip-Top lorry for the following day's Brafield meeting.  So, while Henson's stock-car was rope-towed back to his home,  Chick H. went with Chick W. to Thurrock, unloaded the Woodroffe car, then Chick H. took the Tip Top lorry back to Harringay after midnight, loaded up the dead Vanguard, drove home, dropped off the Vanguard, loaded the Henson stocker that you see here, and off to Brafield --- to win a trophy!   Somewhere in there Henson must have grabbed a nap and a bite of breakfast.
Now see what came about ----.  
A sunny July, on Woodroffe's lorry, which shows all the track names and the "Tip-Top" name on the driver's door.  Here is the colourful Henson car being backed off Woodroffe's Tip Top lorry in the pits, with that familiar Brafield oak tree in the background.  
WAIT, it's not over ----
That July 28th had sun and a win for Chick Henson, riding his car with Miss Brafield.  Woodroffe, who had lent Henson the lorry, and who came to watch, laughed  "Typical.  Every time I lend someone something, they win the b**** final!"


A very pleased young Henson with his South Midlands Championship Trophy.  Although he won the championship on that sunny Sunday, the actual trophy wasn't at Brafield that day, so the "victory lap" had to be completed on the following Sunday ---- when it poured with rain at a Junior meeting.   Here in the wet, Chick Henson parades with the trophy.  No fancy Nomex fireproof / waterproof driving gear back then --- you tucked your overalls into your canvas plimsolls and got on with the job.  

Chick Henson's own words: "This story shows the effort that everybody went to in order to help out fellow drivers in trouble.  Whether it would happen today I don't know. I know that some of the things we did back then (see above) could NEVER happen now."


A sunny September 15th in 1963 as Chick Henson lines up with #37 Oxford's Don Evans behind; once again, check out the crowd; most men are wearing ties and white shirts; one or two have been daring and removed their ties, but one chap has taken off his jacket to show his waistcoat. Try finding a man wearing a waistcoat in the crowd today.

An amusing comment on the young Chick Henson, from Harringay's July 27th 1963 programme, probably written by Stan Hinckley or Johnnie Hoskins. Read here.


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

A tribute to the USAF visitors who livened up our stock-car racing 

They brought in some big motors, and knew how to throw a party.  Thanks to Aubrey Leighton's daughter Carol Cockings, for providing some names: 

From the left: Carey, Kelly, Hitchcock, Bill Powers, McKinnon, Ferrall, Correll [though he looks a lot like Jim Berg?].  If you know these guys or can add details, let me know.  If you're in touch with any USAF veterans, please tell them.  Veteran Bill Scheffel tells me "Doc" (Ray) Kelly was a medic at USAF Chelveston, who stayed on in the UK until around 1968.  Is that a Chrysler Firepower hemi motor there? 

UPDATE May 2010:  By the end of World War II, the US military had over 800 "installations" in England (not all were air bases of course, many were offices and depots).  For instance Suffolk had 36 and Nortamptonshire had 31 US installations.  Major closures in the early 1960's reduced this number. For those who fancy looking up a town, village, or county, an official USAAF researcher compiled the complete list, which is here on a "pdf" file.  Have fun with it.

UPDATE March 2010: Looking through a 1960 Norwich Stadium I see some amusing American names and nicknames from Chelveston: "Mother Carey", "Fencer Marvin P. Gash", "Rat Face Ferrell", and "Flanen Samson" (the last one may be real).

Meet Doc Kelly, who once raced a VW Beetle against Dirty Dennis's giant Hudson.

UPDATE February 2010: Chelveston serviceman Clayton Sampson 338 is the "American sandwich" at West Ham in 1960, with #446 (Rugby's Graham Butcher) and #90 Jack Minion giving him the squeeze.  In the back Sid Farndon stays out of trouble.

Jim Berg

USAF airman Jim Berg* # 471 (stationed at Chelveston, Northants) sparked a sensaton in 1961 and 1962, with his powerful and beautifully-constructed car #471, with which he collected a ton of trophies and ruffled some British feathers.  USAF  Clayton Sampson had worked with Jim to build an earlier car with a Canadian 3/4 ton chassis, Morris body, and a 6-cylinder Bedford lorry engine.  Clayton was buddies with folks like Jim and Doc Kelly, mentioned elsewhere.   According to Clayton, Jim was a brilliant welder, from his Nebraska farm childhood, where he and his brother had always 'played' with welding equipment. Thanks to Steve Gateley for this 1960-ish snap of Jim Berg at work with mechanic Bob Green, and Jim's car being built at USAF Chelveston.  When Jim raced, it was # 471, but when he couldn't make a race, Bob would get out the paint brush and make it a # 470  and race on his own account!


UPDATE December 2010: Jim was a regular at Brafield, and here he is with his famous 471 car.  Also there that day was Rod Dore, shown with Jim.

Ian Melton (ex-#403 racer) was a keen young model maker back in the old days, making both stock cars and planes.  Ian was chatting to Jim Berg about the B47 bombers at Chelveston (in service between 1958 and 1963), and the talk got on to model stock cars --- the result being that Ian worked on a Fiat Topolino 1/24 model that originated as an AMT hot-rod; "it took some work but came out a very good likeness", and it was presented to Jim as a gift.  Hey, we'd better have a dramatic photo of a B47 getting aloft with the help of some rocket-assist.
Jim has kindly sent me this collection of photos from his Chelveston days. If you see a USAF face you recognize, please contact me. I have loaded them as high resolution files, so they may be slow to open.

Two "Yanks" at the Chelveston base: Jim's Topolino and Ray "Doc" Kelly's #280.  The next photo is a bit "muddy" thanks to my computer: Jim's supporters in black cowboy shirts, and in the background we see Barry van den Oetelaar #386.

Here below, Jim and one of those supporters relax with the 471 car. See the then-novel signwriting, and those impressive louvres along the bonnet (hood).  November 2011 from Jim: those distinctive hood panels came from a 1938 Cadillac LaSalle 4-dr sedan [typical version shown here]  that Jim bought in the UK, a r/h drive model, which unfortunately was borrowed and rolled and wrecked by a couple of wild-driving USAF 'fly-boys', so Jim just kept the hood for the stock car, which was known as the "Yankee Ghost", with a skull and crossbones painted on the back. Help: if anyone out there has a photo showing the back of Jim's car, please get in touch!
jim and buddy

Jim and team at a night race.  The sticker on the car says "Schooler Cams & Kits: Jacksonville, Florida: TORQUE, not TALK".

Next, Jim Berg in action, snapshots taken through the track fence in a night race:  Chasing Freddie Mitchell, and racing on the shale about to take Roy Goodman's 163.

UPDATE  February 2010: Jim is happy on a parade lap after winning at Brandon in 1962; he welcomed second-place Chippie Weston to join him.
March 2015:  Enlarge that parade photo and look at Chippie Weston's right hand holding onto the flag; there's a glint of a ring on his 2nd or 3rd finger.  More evidence that Chippie Weston is the Tamworth "mystery man".

He didn't only race stock cars while he was serving in Britain.  Jim Berg was also an instructor at USAF Chelveston, and here in the classroom he's about to drill some technical facts into those fly-guys:  Sit up and listen.
Now for the trophies.
  • In this photo, everyone is in full dress uniform, with Jim to the right of the important-looking senior officer.  I don't know where this snapshot was taken, but behind the group is the famous Pete Tucker 85 car --- you figure it out.
  •  Collecting the "Bristol Cup" at Harringay in 1961, with promoter Johnnie Hoskins in the background watching expenses.
  •  Enjoying the Bristol trophy here, and here again.  These were taken at Chelveston, by the base's photographer, I think.
  •  One last time, at Harringay after collecting the goodies.
(Memories for Bristol smokers:: one;  two.)

Hot tempers at Belle Vue, September 30th 1961:   Anyone would be proud to own an original letter from Pete Arnold, even if it raps some knuckles.  It seems Jim and Frank Haft #8 of Manchester had exchanged some strong words and actions on the centre green after the last 'Helter Skelter' race --- "who ever heard of stock-car drivers getting angry?".  It had already settled down, but the BSCBC had to put it on recordOne of life's  coincidences is that Pete Arnold was writing from Coleridge Road in Crouch End (London), and three years later I was living on the next street.

UPDATE  March 2010:  The massive 'oomph' of the Berg car overpowers Brafield's tarmac, smoking the tyres in a slide, while Ken Freeman and Rugby's Bob Weston 482 nip past on the inside.

Let's finish this section properly, with a very friendly goodbye column in the BSCDA Newsletter of  July 1962, which recognizes publicly what a great contribution Jim's spirit and his cars and buddies made to British stock-car racing.  I'm of a generation that used the word "Yank" positively, with admiration and appreciation.  It simply would not have been the same sport without them. Cheers, Jim.
 

More "Yanks":
Clayton Sampson sent me these two bits of identification:  his BSCDA membership, and his wife's membership of the USAF Chelveston Car Club, from 1960, and here's 
Clayton Sampson, nicknamed "Sam", at home.

You can also see Clayton with his midget racer in the EARLY DAYS section .

A nostalgia special: Ted Janes was a USAF airman who raced with the Alconbury Spartans stock-car team based at USAF Alconbury (Huntingdonshire).  Here he is in 1966 with a 'special' that harks back to the 1950's -- Ted built this #66 as a nostalgia exercise for demonstration runs.  Rick Young provided the photo, but tells me that those shiny chrome wheel trims were removed before Ted ran this thing in anger.   And here from another fan is Ted's autograph

UPDATE    December 2010:  International:  USAAF racer Ted Janes meets French racer Guy Curval a long time colleague of Jock Lloyd.  The photo's original label says Harringay --- but ?. 

UPDATE  July 2010:  Great photos of Ted Janes, courtesy of hot-rod WC Gordon Bland:
Ted putting on a lively Wild West act at Harringay in 1965 --- with fans packing "Colt .45's".

Ted celebrates his win at one of the rare Brands Hatch races, which was also filmed by Pathe News and is viewable elsewhere on this site.

"Friendly" Ted Janes puts the bumper to #161 Ken Sheridan from Enfield --- at Brands Hatch.

Ted Janes #66 in a more modern car, pitted next to Frank Bourne, at an unidentified (rural) track; photo source forgotten.

Now see below for why "the Yanks"  loved Aubrey Leighton ---- .

Aubrey Leighton:

Audio file of a 13-minute interview on Radio Northampton, about local hero Aubrey Leighton, for their afternoon show. There's another link to this on the Home page.

July 2015 updates: 

  1. Aubrey grins at the Cadwell crowds. Date? Photo courtesy of Cadwell management and Dave Chapman.
  2. Keith Barber knows the Leighton story better than anyone.  "The Leighton car at Cadwell dates from 1960. This is the first car that Aubrey built with an RHS chassis, and it first raced in the early part of the season.  The only thing Chrysler about the car is the bodyshell. Early on it  had featured the Model B grille, but after subsequent damage this was replaced, first with one from a Mercedes and then an E83W Ford van grille. During 1961-2 the rear axle was brought forward about 4 inches which makes it look different. It was retired when the last car, the one I have, first raced in September/October 1962." 
  3. Aubrey's one-time apprentice Harry Prigmore recalls Aubrey and his foreman Maurice Bedford converting a 1950 Morris Minor to have a hotted-up Ford 10 engine with twin exhausts and twin SU carbs, which attained 86 miles an hour! This was in 1953.

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

Aubrey built specials just a little ahead of the others. His garage, pretty much unchanged today, is in Earls Barton, just 10 miles from the Brafield track.  I took the photo below in 1964, Aubrey's last season.  The unusual bonnet and grille are from the once-famous Armstrong-Siddeley line of luxury cars, and were made of aluminium.  Aubrey's may be from an A-S "Typhoon", as in this photo provided by the Armstrong Siddeley Owners Club.  Once upon a time a little 2.3 litre straight six lived under that bonnet; Aubrey preferred a 7-litre Mercury ----- ;-)

leighton best


UPDATE  November 2012:  It's 1963 and Aubrey is at the height of his powers, power-sliding the 42 Pink 'Un round Brafield's first turn in this great photo, anonymously provided.

UPDATE  January 2011:  Colour photography in May 1964 -- then still a luxury --- lets us see Aubrey's 42 car in the Brandon pits, courtesy of Dave Chapman, then a Leicester based fan. If you enlarge the image a lot, you can just see Aubrey's face, with his glasses glinting.  Just four months later at the same venue, Leighton's last-lap glimpse of a second world championship was dashed, and his racing career came to an end.
Next, same date, Aubrey's #42 Pink 'Un is up on the converted fire-engine that Leighton used.

Here are two photos of Keith Barber's recreation of that historic car, 40 years later:(1) and (2). 

Aubrey Leighton #42 collects more silverware, this time at Belle Vue: The Mirror Trophy.  Aubrey always looked like an RAF character though he wasn't.

 Ken Mason scanned this column about Aubrey Leighton, which mentions his polio and his solution to it.

Here is the ex-Leighton car, rather battered, raced by #78 Barry Goldsby. (Paul Durham: magazine clipping).   Aubrey retired from racing after Fred Mitchell 38 notoriously took him out at Coventry in the 1964 WF, with only a hundred yards between Aubrey and a second World Championship.  Forty-seven years on, the controversy has not been forgotten.

Aubrey's car in its later Willie Harrison #2 paint, and in the lurid colours of "Gimpy" John Goodhall #261.  [Dick Young collection]

Below:  Later, Aubrey's / Willie's car came to rest at Long Eaton stadium (this photo is a few years old now), right next to the famous Bozzy Bosworth's #22, both owned by Keith Barber, who restored them both for the "Heritage" series.

  
Sometimes nicknamed Gov', Leighton encouraged the USAF stock-car visitors in the early days.  Ed Hake, one of the USAF servicemen, remembers Aubrey:  

"A true friend to us Yanks.  Aubrey supported us when there was opposition to us bringing in some big V-8 motors; he stood up publicly and said "Let them bring what they will — I'll race against them!" and he made it his duty to make us feel welcome and introduce us around the tracks — a nice chap."  

The Leighton car had several owners even into the 1970s.  Here we see Russ "Rick" Thomas #286 racing it at Leicester's Blackbird Road stadium.  Russ was deejay at Brafield from 1963 to 1977.  

How did Aubrey Leighton get into stock-car racing? A young Northants man named HENRY (HARRY) PRIGMORE apprenticed for Aubrey in the mid-1950's. When Aubrey took his tow truck to Brafield to help with the wrecks, Harry decided to have a go, in cars that Aubrey built and sponsored (numbers 4 and 70).  Aubrey actually said "You'd never get me in one of those!"  [Click on the link to the 1950's section, and you'll see some great action shots of Harry mixing it up at Brafield.]   Then Aubrey tried one race in Harry's car, and was hooked.  Leighton's famous "armoured cars" were in reality just rigidly boxed and triangulated designs (1/4-inch checker plate) ahead of their time — when the bumper hit, the whole car's strength was behind it.  The shouting and shoving in the pits and on the track, sparked by his success, became a stock-car legend.  Harry Prigmore later went to Australia and raced stock-cars and supermods in the 1960's, and crewed on sprint cars.  

For Aubrey, "good enough" was not good enough.  Harry tells me that after he had completed a valve job on an old Morris, and being under age for a driving licence, he asked whether Aubrey would road-test the car.  Aubrey said "Not now, but first thing tomorrow I'm driving down to Oxford in that car, and you'll come along and bring your toolbox. If it breaks down you're going to fix it right there on the road."  Aubrey told young Harry to treat all his work that way — as if he was totally accountable for it working well.  Not a bad way for a youngster to learn a trade.  The Oxford trip was to Fred Mitchell's, to look over a V-12 Packard that Aubrey had plans for.  That infamous Packard is illustrated in the 1950's section of this web site.  Harry retired in Perth, Australia, and it's thanks to him for this piece of history.

Here is Aubrey's car in the pits at at Belle Vue, date uncertain.

More Aubrey-related: The late great Fred Mitchell's mechanic, Pete Schafer, tells of a 1959 emergency at Brafield:  Fred's #38 broke a track rod in the first race.  Fred and Pete jumped in the tow car, drove fast over to Aubrey's garage in Earls Barton and welded some angle steel onto the rod, drove back to the track, cobbled it all back together, in time for Fred Mitchell to race in the consolation!   

 UPDATE February 2010:  After the 1964 WF upset in which Mitchell knocked Aubrey out of a certain championship, the idea developed that Leighton "walked away from it all" after that race. But see what Pete Arnold was writing six months later, in Harringay's first-meeting programme for March 1965:

leighton retires

A generous comment by Pete.  Aubrey was a perfectionist task-master who could drive his mechanic crazy, but he was good for the sport.  Below:  his permanent grin, swept-back Brylcreem hairstyle, 'officers' moustache, and public school accent, drove some people crazy.  Pete Tucker had a nickname for Aubrey which I'm not going to print here!

aubrey

UPDATE April 2010:  At Brafield in October 1962, wearing a blue top, Aubrey gets it properly sideways, and Jock Lloyd's new-that-year XK140 lurks in the background. [Anonymous donation]

The magic of numbers runs all through oval racing.  Most racers' sons try to register under their dad's number, but Aubrey Leighton's iconic #42 "pink 'un" had such a hold on one family that it was adopted by the son of National Hot Rod champ (#356) Gordon Bland: Shane Bland, when he got into Rods.  A big mural painting of Aubrey's car #42 had for years adorned a wall in the Bland garage, and young Shane had grown up with it (info from Graham Brown, thanks.)

 
Fred and Les Mitchell:

I am very grateful for the chance to scan the following Fred Mitchell photos, from to Fred's long time mechanic, the late Pete Schafer, who loyally stayed in touch with all the "greats" of that era.  Pete also told me a few hair-raising stories of mechanical genius and fun.

Below:  The late Fred Mitchell, becoming  World Champion at Belle Vue.  Peter Arnold does the handshake, and Pete Schafer, who was Fred's mechanic for 15 years, is well satisfied.

Next:  Fred in 1963(?) can anyone identify the track — looks like an RAC road circuit.  Thanks to Ken Mason for suggesting Snetterton or Brands.  Ken was a BriSCA lap-scorer for over 20 years at Bristol, Coventry, Ringwood, Brafield, Long Eaton, Leicester, Boston, Skeggy, Reading, Lydden Hill, Bradford, White City, Manchester, Belle Vue, Newcastle, and Salford.  Ken even did a Semi and World Final.   Just call him "Nerves-of-Steel".

Fred on parade the car cleaned and polished and surrounded by cheerleaders.  I think this must be the 1967 pre World Final parade at Harringay. (Photo provided by Fred's son in law Paul Holden.) 

Below:  At Brandon, Fred collects another trophy. Charles Ochiltree is on the left, and Fred looks like he's doing an Elvis.  Looking cool against the car is an uninvited fan who had nipped over the fence to get in the photo. Pete Schafer also in the background.  

 

Below:  "The guys".  British stock-car racing flourished because of characters like these:  Back to the camera is young Alan Wardropper;  Pete Schafer (Fred's spanner man) is grinning at Fred Mitchell who's leaning on Chick Woodroffe's car and thinking of something else;  Dougie Wardropper sitting on the tyre looks like he's worked hard; and look at that cool tough guy George Ansell.

guys

Credit to the chap who has donated so much info and photos about Fred's career for this website:  so, 40 years on, here is the late Pete Schafer the ace mechanic, at home near Seattle, USA, with his 'best friend'.  

UPDATE August 2010:  A fantastic-but-true mechanical tale, from the late Pete Schafer: in 1962 or 63 Fred broke a conrod at a Wednesday Southampton meeting, and quickly contacted a friend at Ford's main spares depot on the Great West Road, who said that they had just received a pair of V-8 Mercury motors from an offshore racing powerboat, raced only once.  Lovely! Fred bought one of the motors, and he and Pete scrambled to install it before the weekend.  Fred fired it up, put the car in first gear, let out the clutch --- and #38 went BACKWARDS --- it had been the boat's left-side engine which, following standard nautical engineering practice for balancing a powerboat, it ran ANTICLOCKWISE, with the starter, cams, timing, etc all set up to allow that. So it was engine-out and rebuild the whole damn thing before Friday!

Fred and son Les:  the fans grinned and the opposition tensed a bit when the Mitchells rolled into the pits:  Fred's 38 and son Les's 238.  This was a very rare spell when Fred Mitchell wore a yellow grade top.

Not a bad way for a teenager to grow up:Les Mitchell at 16 years old with his stock car, which he raced before he had a road licence.  Check out those hand-cut front tyres. And the family 'dynasty' goes on, with Darren Mitchell, Fred's grandson, Les's son, racing V-8 stock-cars (#238, Les's old number) in Spedeworth, and winning heats and finals all over the place.  Photo courtesy of Pete Schafer.

Les Mitchell reminds us what dirt-track racing means. In the 70's Les was racing in the Scota/Fisca series on Spedeworth's tracks, and Rick Young identifies this as Wimbledon.

Here is young Les sitting proud on his 238 pink 'un, a Topolino-bodied car on a parade lap;  where is this track?  Could be Brands Hatch, could be Snetterton (Photo from Pete Schafer via Les's bro-in-law)

UPDATE February 2010:  Fred visits the Cadwell fence, courtesy of wild man Wilf Blundell, #75; from a July 1962 Cadwell programme.

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

Long time racer Willie Wanklyn # 304, who raced everything over the years, and eventually was a promoter in Northern Ireland;  I don't know who the photographer was.  

Here's another shot of Willie Wanklyn, with the Tip-Top trophy he won at Harringay in 1964.  Then, bingo, Willie gets ANOTHER trophy at Harringay, same year, the "ALL ENGLAND".  Does anyone recall Annette Morse, who presented the trophy --- was she in TV or movies?  And thirdly from Harringay, an action shot that looks like Willie is trying for an aerial hit on a sideways George Ansell.  [Scans from Trevor Riching's programme collection]

In the Brafield pits in 1969 is one of the famous Driscoll brothers: Dennis # 274.  [Rick Young photo ]  Powered by a Jaguar 6-cyl, this car won finals wearing first a chopped Fiat 500 shell, then briefly a Morris Minor shown here, then the Fiat reappeared after a Coventry wreck.  The motor was fitted with three twin-choke Weber carbs, and instead of the usual LD back axle, this racer rode on an independent Jaguar Mk 10 rear end.  Brother Pat Driscoll was racing back in 1961, and a program shows that Pat's 3rd place at Harringay on 20th May won him a whole £5.  The Driscoll family is nowadays represented on BriSCA tracks by Dennis's son Danny # 174. 

Some rare photos on this site come courtesy of Steve Gateley, so here's a shot of Steve #320 at Brafield in 1964, side-by-side with car 95 Walter Matzke from Rugy.  Steve's car here is a Ken Freeman special with a '61 Thunderbird motor, ex-Ellis Ford. [ Steve raced F1s and F2s and built F2s as well as giving a hand to several other drivers.]

 Skid Skinner [autographed] laps the Brafield track in a Volkswagen Beetle-bodied special. Dick Young photo 


The Wardroppers
At present, Dougie and Alan Wardropper crop up in many different places on my site. One day I will 'shepherd' them all here; meanwhile:
UPDATE  August 2011:  Serious racers unload at Brafield.  The Wardroppers with their two cars, and Chick Woodroffe with his #409 Senior and Junior cars.  Photo taken in approx 1963 by Doug Fisher.
both w

Then a closer-up photo by Doug Fisher, showing young Alan's 245 car.

UPDATE  March 2012: Super colour photo taken in 1963 of Alan's car that may have been taken on the same day as the one above, and also showing the Woodroffe "stable" of cars.

UPDATE  July 2010:  Big thank-you to Gordon Bland for this classic victory photo, autographed by Doug Wardropper. Often a Dougie grin, accompanied by narrowed eyes, would 'put the frighteners' on other drivers, but here it is just happiness:

doug autog

UPDATE  January 2011:  Brandon, May 1964, and here are father-and-son cars in the pits. Alan's 245 car  on the right, is showing its bonnet's burned underside as usual, and Dave Chapman who sent the photo points out that the dapper chappie in the cap is Alan Wardropper himself.  Other men wearing ties, of course, in 1964.

Father-and-son transporter  at Brafield.  Alan started BriSCA in 1959 as a teenager, and drove brilliantly on shale and wet tracks. Alan's cornering on Coventry shale was beautiful to watch; he would cock the wheel once to set up the slide, and not move his hands through the whole bend.

Dougie Wardropper #5  --- look at that knowing expression ---  gets the Bristol Cigarettes trophy, at Belle Vue.

Doug W. in the fence (scan thanks to Trevor Richings.) Doug started racing at the very beginning of the sport, in 1954, and won the World Championship in 1963.

Doug Wardropper, his #5 Fiat showing definite signs of wear and tear, at Brafield.
But here the famous #5 Topolino is looking good on a sunny day [my photo in 1964 with a 42/- plastic Brownie].

Gordon (1979's Hot Rod World Champ)  sent these:

The golden lad:  
Alan Wardropper  raced as a teenager and is still thriving in the motor business today.

At Brafield in 1962 is the Alan Wardropper 245 car, this time with flames painted, unusual among stock-cars though every hot-rod seemed to go the flames route.  

UPDATE January 2010:   Russ Thomas and myself, 46-plus years ago, each separately witnessed violent Doug Wardropper crashes at Brafield. I saw it happen during a two-car match race, when apparently his throttle stuck open on the home straight, and he wisely and bravely aimed his car straight at an RSJ upright girder; it was an awful impact that cut through the bumper and chassis and radiator.  Russ saw an identical crash on a different occasion when Doug was running a "stock car school training session", and this time the car ended up completely though the fence.  Russ sends this photo, saying Doug crawled out and commented "that's not supposed to happen".

Here's Brafield's invitation to go to school under "Mister Wardropper, please Sir", and here is the kind of classroom where you would not doze off in the back row.

UPDATE  January 2011: Small world. Someone who was in Doug's racing school that day, Dave Chapman,now from Essex, is the dapper young gent on the far right of the 'classroom' photograph above.  

Doug and Alan both getting their Brafield trophies.  [Photos from Carol Cockings]

Here is a press photo of Doug and Alan Wardropper in 1962/3: The Wardroppers also built famous Formula Ford engines under the "Scholar" trade name, and had the Silverstone circuit racers queuing up at their Ipswich garage. 

It is sad when stock car heroes pass away, but if it has to happen --- Dougie Wardropper died suddenly at the age of 72, doing what he loved best, busy in in his engine-building workshop.


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

Father and son (a common feature of British stock-car racing).  First Ron Cayzer # 267, at Brands Hatch;  then his son Alan Cayzer # 266.  This car body style seemed to me near-perfect, so balanced and so neat and looking like a car!  Alan's own son races today (Steven) in BriSCA F1 as #380.

Ron Cayzer enjoying his victory parade with the chequered flag, accompanied by Doug and Alan Wardropper, and driven by Alan Cayzer.[scan from Steve Gateley]

Hot engine for those days: three carbs on a Chevy  Hot in other ways, too: no fan belt, no fan, no hoses, no radiator! How about the spectators' clothes?  It's easy to forget how formal people were then, even at a muddy stock-car race. Back then, a working-man often wore a collar-and-tie to his job.

DEJA VU:  In August 2000, thirty-six years after I took this snapshot in the Brafield pits, I received an e-mail from a couple who recognized themselves as the people in this photo.  Even though their heads were cut off in the original snapshot, they instantly recognized their clothes and the way they stood ....  I only wish their happy faces had been included.

Dick Sworder #150 in a steel sandwich with Oxford's Don Evans squeezing the outside of the pack; how they got four-cars-wide at Brafield is a miracle, but these guys would never give an inch. (Rick Young photo) and here is Don Evans's autograph:  

UPDATE AUGUST 2010 --
This is not a 'current news' website, but I have to mention here that Don Evans passed away on August 5th, at the grand age of 82; a well-loved character who worked hard at his racing and organizing, and who is remembered for his kindness to youngsters in the pits.

Tony Allen #348 shown tangling with Dirty Dennis in the Brafield fence.


Ellis Ford #3

April 2017 update: lost and found again!

trophy1

  In 1965 (the year he won the WF at West Ham), Ellis Ford also won the national championship, at Brandon:

sue nicholls


Over the last 50+ years, the driver's trophy (a modest copy of the permanent BriSCA cup) was stored and moved and eventually went missing. Ellis had emigrated to the USA iun 1968 and died there in 2002.
In April 2017, a chap in Sussex who was hunting for "trivia" in car boot sales, saw this old trophy among some junk, and bought it. He then Googled for stock-cars and Ellis Ford and found this website.  I had an address for Ellis's granddaughter, and told her, and she told her mum (Ellis's daughter), and BINGO, the trophy is now going back to the family.  Hooray for the Internet!  Ellis is probably grinning somewhere.

UPDATE July 2015:  Ellis enjoys victory at Cadwell Park: but whose is the 333 or 338 car in the background?
ellis at cad
 UPDATE  May 2012: From Peter Hooton, son of Laurie Hooton #180, come two terrific photos of Ellis's "space age" car that irritated the authorities: spraying shale at Belle Bue, and lining up in bright sunshine at Hednesford.  That rear exhaust outlet made a burn pattern on the body; makes me think of the 'fishtail' pipe on Velocettes.  

 UPDATE  January 2011:  ellis braf roof  

A generous and regular contributor shares that startling copyright photo that he took at the first meeting of 1963.Ellis's cars always looked tough, but this looks ready for war!  You can see Ellis's helmet and shoulders far back by the mechanic's legs, almost out of the wrecked cab. 

 UPDATE  November 2012:  Ellis's rollover gives us a perfect view of the undercarriage; you can just see Ellis behind the front bumper.  Same year, and a coincidence for me, as I watched Ellis lose a wheel in turn 3, and it bounced dangerously off the top of the fence, then off the grass bank without hitting anyone, then off two car roofs before thudding into the bonnet of this car. The photographer thinks it is Don Round's car.  One of the cars that were hit had a dog inside, which went berserk of course.

UPDATE February 2011:  --- and shortly after that wreck, Ellis introduced his soon-to-be famous 'special' --- here at a sunny Brafield meet, with both hands off the wheel as he buckles his helmet while accelerating to catch the rest of the rolling startfield --- a stunning copyright photo, thanks to its owner.

UPDATE  January 2011: A big high-resolution photo from Long Eaton.  Ellis is there with his futuristic car, ready to rumble, and that looks like a hurried splash of gold paint on his roof, meaning this was taken shortly after Ellis's WF success down at West Ham, in the autumn of 1965. Long Eaton's railway bridge is in the background, with its tobacco advertisement.  Dave Chapman remembers the fish 'n' chip shop across the road that spectators could be permitted to run to halfway through a meeting --- and Cliff Burdett reports that the shop's still there today!  Photo courtesy of Dave Chapman.

Ellis at Cadwell, breaking the sound barrier as usual.

Long Eaton, 1962, and running under #183, a red-top Ellis Ford chases hard on the heels of Banbury's Jimmy Wright (ex-speedway rider) #236, and the rest of the pack.  Colour photo anonymously donated.

Ellis Ford #3   [Rick Young photo] 

UPDATE  February 2010:  In 1960 Ellis raced under # 183, and this West Ham photo shows him investigating: ellis

Thanks to Reg Walker for passing on these new Ellis photos: Ellis with Reg Walker at right;  Ellis doing the cool "pose"; Ellis the winner; Ellis being interviewed by a serious looking young reporter.

Ellis originally did coal-delivery in his truck, then set up a rock 'n' roll teddy-boy espresso bar, with an members-only night club upstairs, in Stratford-on-Avon.  Ellis would park the stock car out front on a Saturday before going to the races.  Someone who knew Ellis back then recalls that, despite his famous limp, E.F.  could deal with rowdies and drunks in 5 seconds flat.  A WW2 injury [various stories about that] had left Ellis with the limp.  He was also famous for his humour and practical jokes Ellis, wife Pat, and daughters Marilyn and Patti-Anne, lived "over the shop", and he kept his cars on a farm outside Stratford.    Are you old enough to remember the Cliff Richard film "SUMMER HOLIDAY"?  The Ford Thunderbird in that film was Ellis's — but he had already swiped its big 430 cu.in. motor for his stocker.   Alan Wilson, who raced F1's from 1972 to 1988, remembers watching Ellis Ford's car cut up for scrap — sometimes you just don't have the cash on hand to save a car. 

Here is an Ellis Ford fan club Badge .... and here's Ellis's autograph: images/elisford.jpg  Thanks to ex-racer Steve Gateley (who himself was in F1 cars at the early age of 16), and to Andrew Lively, who each knew Ellis when they were teenagers, in "the good old days. "

Call your local "health and safety" official and make them look at this photo of Ellis's car!  A terrific shot of Ellis with flag and Miss Brafield — the man is happy! [Photo from Carol Cockings]

Thanks to ex-racer and Ellis-Ford-crewman Steve Gateley for these two snapshots: Ellis and Steve on the way home from Brafield, outside the famous Blue Boar motorway 'caff'.  And a super colour shot in the Brafield pits, of Ellis with helpers Steve, Alan, and Pat.

Here is Ellis Ford doing the honours, presenting a boo-ootiful bouquet of flowers, and doesn't he look charming?

UPDATE May 2010: 'Old pals chatting' --- at Brafield in 1962, Ellis, arms folded, sitting comfortably on the front of his 183 car, listening to (oops:  not Trevor Frost as previously labelled) someone.  [Thanks to "Stonemason" for the photo.]

"So long."  Sad to report, Ellis passed away at his home in Florida at the end of 2002.  They tried to ban Ellis's cars several times — big motors, lightweight wheels, bare-minimum-bodies, Ellis was always tweaking the authorities.  You could hear Ellis from miles away with those pom-pom exhausts — usually on booming  428-inch and 430 Ford / Mercury V-8's.   


E-mail me if you have any additions or corrections or donations!

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