Racing in the Sixties
for 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.
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
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
Photo above courtesy of Arthur Marlow
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.
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.
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.
November 2012: Den
on his head again, in 1963.
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
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.pdfRuss 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:
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:
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.
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
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)
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.
The next shot by Rick shows Dirty Den doing the dirty deed on #268
Manchester's Hedley Hill:
to Steve Gateley for this lovely 1963 pits shot of Dirty
Dennis's car at Brafield.
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
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.
Were you in a driver Fan Club?
and the 38 club sec's letter.
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:
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
Below: Colin Ralph chauffeurs Ken Freeman and Rod Dore with their trophies at Harringay, no date. Big MB file may take time to open.:
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?
And Colin up on the roof getting a bird's eye view of the scene.
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."
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.
* 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.
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).
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.].
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
let his front bumper come to within mere inchers of the terrified folks
spectator fence. He can still remember the scare it caused. Result
- Byfield's #368 Cecil Laurie arriving in the pits, in a Canadian-made V-8 Ford 30hp that previously had been Bruce's.
of Bob Laurie: [Thanks,
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:
Bob Laurie at it again, scorching the tyres at Hednesford [photo from Peter Hooton].
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.
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
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
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"
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.
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
on the internet here:
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:
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
Brafield in the mid sixties - the golden age:
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:
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ]
"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
" 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!"
Some of us are old enough to say "That was truly a golden age."
- 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."
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
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.
February 2012 Thanks to Jim Bury for the photo and the information here.
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:
(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
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 ----.
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
December 2010: Lift-off! Andy Abel launches his car off the Brafield barrels.
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
got his car from a Brandon (Norfolk) racer. Powered by
had a 2x6 box-section chassis, with a Ford tranny. The motor's
race carb came from a USAAF Chicksands serviceman.
More Brafield action by Andy:
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.
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'.
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
1972, below in his car.
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.
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:
Next, Ted Pankhurst, Bill Elliott, Johnnie Brise, and Pat Willis.
January 2011: Below:
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.
you are interested in getting a quality colour print of this
original photograph, I can probably put you in touch with Dave Chapman:
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.
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.
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
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
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.
August 2010: Car #165 on the hook at
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.
the way, 1969 was the year BriSCA first officially allowed racing tyres:
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.
: 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
[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:
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).
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.
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
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.
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] .
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.
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.
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.
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
I am not sure where these photos were
taken, but you will enjoy them:
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
Where did Jumbo's nickname come from? He painted a big elephant's bum on the
back of the car.
January 2010: from
Nigel Harradine, some "backyard snapshots" of the Peters brothers'
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.
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.
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]
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.
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
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
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.
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]
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]
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
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
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 cars. (Pat Willis raced under #25 between 1957
and 1967.) Experts tell me the 2nd and 3rd, taken at Staines, are a Ford Customline from circa
1950. The first photo probably shows the same car after "retirement",
with the rear window and roofline having been "torched" and bent
dowbnwards to fit. Photo one. Photo two. Photo three.
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".
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
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:
--- and handsome Nev looking happy in a BriSCA portrait photo.
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.
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.
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
drinking from tankards, not proper "sleeves".
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.
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.]
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.
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.
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.
The "long-lost" photograph
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 sixties. Keith 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.
Griffin looking tough in the pits at Long Eaton in 1963. [Steve
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]
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
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
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.
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:
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].
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 2014Part 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.
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
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
Young reminds us (from hard experience) that instead
of today's luxury transporters, these guys towed the racer on dolly
Brawling at Brandon
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)
- Bill Judd 366 and Fred Williamson come to blows.
- Fred and Bill, again
- 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'
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;
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.]
- Twenty-six Senior F1's
on the track, and lined up waiting for the next race; lots fun in the
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.
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.
My thanks to VSCA Chairman Phil Chance for identifying some of those cars.
- 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.
'Bashing at Belle Vue'
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
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.
Below: first photo: Jack Lord was still racing in 2009 at the age of approx 75; next, Jack's son in action: 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
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?
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.
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.
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
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.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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
(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?
great Willie Harrison's #2 car, here at Long
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]
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.
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:
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
photographs that someone ? sent me ages ago; if you sent them, remind me to give you the
the 98 car of (either) Bob Laurie or possibly Allan Jones of Manchester at
Nelson: a hard driver at a hard track.
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.
the hard men raced: "Give it wellie or go home" was
the Aycliffe motto, and thanks to Bill Taylor, here is a 1967
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
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
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.
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.].
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)
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?
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
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
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"
sport: Thanks to Steve Farndon for
this shot of Johnny King #6:
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.
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.
April 2012: Johnny collects another chequered flag: photo courtesy of his niece (see handwriting on the print).
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:
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 ---
April 2012: The unique rear-engined car of Johnny King; and here on the track.
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
April 2010: Anonymous photo of Johnny King in a 1962 Brafield meet, being vainly pushed to start ---- it didn't work.
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 ---].
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.
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.
Steve Gateley photo:] Chick
Henson, again in 1963, in the Brafield pits.
Below: "Henson Hurly-Burly" at Long Eaton, 31st March 1962.
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
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
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.
amusing comment on the young Chick Henson, from Harringay's July 27th
1963 programme, probably written by Stan Hinckley or Johnnie
Hoskins. Read here.
tribute to the USAF visitors who livened up our
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?
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.
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).
who once raced a VW Beetle against
Dirty Dennis's giant Hudson.
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.
USAF airman Jim
# 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!
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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".
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.
(Memories for Bristol smokers:: one; two.)
- 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.
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 record. One
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.
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.
"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 .
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
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
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 ?. 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 ---- .
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:
- Aubrey grins at the Cadwell crowds. Date? Photo courtesy of Cadwell management and Dave Chapman.
- 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."
- 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.
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 ----- ;-)
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.
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).
#42 collects more silverware, this time at Belle Vue: The Mirror
Trophy. Aubrey always looked like an RAF character though he
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.
car in its later Willie Harrison
#2 paint, and in the lurid colours of "Gimpy" John
Goodhall #261. [Dick
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.
nicknamed Gov', Leighton encouraged the USAF stock-car visitors
in the early days. Ed Hake, one of the USAF servicemen, remembers Aubrey:
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."
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.
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
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
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!
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:
generous comment by Pete. Aubrey was a perfectionist task-master
who could drive his mechanic crazy, but he was good for the sport.
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!
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]
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.)
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.
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.
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".
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.)
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.
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.
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
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.
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)
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
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]
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
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
Skid Skinner [autographed] laps the Brafield
track in a Volkswagen Beetle-bodied
special. Dick Young photo
present, Dougie and Alan Wardropper crop up in many different places on
my site. One day I will 'shepherd' them all here;
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
Then a closer-up photo by Doug Fisher, showing young Alan's 245 car.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
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.
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]
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
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: 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
Ellis Ford #3
April 2017 update: lost and found again!
In 1965 (the year he won the WF at West Ham), Ellis Ford also won the national championship, at Brandon:
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.
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.
July 2015: Ellis enjoys victory at Cadwell Park: but whose is the 333 or 338 car in the background? 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
February 2010: In 1960 Ellis raced under # 183, and this West Ham photo shows him investigating:
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.
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
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
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.
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?
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.
me if you have any additions or corrections or donations!