Thursday, 15 November 2012

Midget Newsletter 05 – Autumn / Winter 2012

The recent-ish visit to Aldershot has reminded me that it’s time to put pen to paper (metaphorically) once again. My apologies that it has been so long since the last issue - it’s been a very busy year. Thank you to those of you have been in touch – even a one line ‘thank you’ is good to hear.  If you have news of anyone who was involved in the formula from days gone by I would be very pleased to hear from you. My email address is gpmidget@gmail.com.

Aldershot Meeting 2012
With all the classic road and racing cars heading the other way (to the Goodwood Revival) it felt like we were going in the wrong direction on 16 September but the meeting at Spedeworth’s Rushmore Arena turned out to be a good one.

The words Aldershot, Dastle and Fireball evoke some strong memories for many of us and it was a treat to see all the cars in action, not just the classics.

Peter Perry was back with the club in his mk4 Fireball (car 99 pictured below) – recently bought from former club chairman Barry Goldsby. Peter started the races from the back of the grid as he re-acclimatised himself to the racing. You may recall that Peter’s Dad, Ray, raced for Spedeworth, initially in a mk2 Fireball and later in a mk4. I never knew until recently that the well known character Keith ‘Bomber’ Wells was Peter’s uncle who raced Superstox and F1.  The Dastle mentioned is the Fireball bodied mk7 (above, right) belonging to Terry Baimbridge and driven by Tony Smith which has taken a race win this year.

I’m sorry if I did not catch up with everybody at Aldershot but there were a lot of visitors including Norbert and Margaret Dietsch, Gary and Louise Piper, John and Rosemary Weston. I think I also saw somewhere that Brian Gough and his wife were there too.

Peter Dorrell
The races were excellent and won by Pete Dorrell (keeping the front engine fans happy), Dave Dollin and Marc de Land. Dave’s car is pretty much a bit of a classic as well – it’s the ex Harry Lowe Spartan Formula Ford conversion which I first saw racing back in 1986 (and it’s probably older than that too). Dave has really got it going well and took four wins at three different tracks this year.

In addition to getting all nostalgic about Midgets we had the chance to see the excellent 60s / 70s based Historic Stock Saloons racing (‘new formula’ Stock Saloons started the same season as Midgets, 1968).

It was particularly good to see the much respected motor racing journalist Dud Candler in the pits at Aldershot. Dud had travelled up from the coast to see the meeting and was taking a keen interested in the Midgets.


70s & 80s
Down at Brands Hatch a couple of weekends ago I met early 70s Spedeworth driver Malcolm Brockhurst who raced the only Dastle mk4 and was runner up in the first proper European Championship back in 1973. Malcolm’s son, Chris, had won the Intermarque (circuit version of current hot rods) race on the Saturday.

The Brands Hatch meeting had a bit of a Midget theme for me as David Jenkins (who raced with the Midgets in 1987) was competing in the British Truck Racing Association Champion- ship which, along with the Intermarques, we were filming for the Motors TV ‘Last Lap’ series.  Two weeks later I was commentating on another programme in the series which fea- tured multi Midget champion Rob Sayell racing his Formula Jedi at Donington.

After the last issue I was thrilled to hear from Natalie Stubbs, daughter of pioneer racer Tony and his wife Vererna who I am pleased to say are now also recipients of these missives.

Current Scene
The season passed all too quickly but I think it must have been one of the most competitive in terms of the number of different race winners for many seasons. Congratulations to the Pooley family on taking the top three places in the championship. A remarkable feat.  Clifford Bunn once again secured the front engine title and was fourth overall.  Top newcomer to the championship was the aforementioned Dave Dollin. I think this year saw a record percentage of race winners which pays testament to the skill of all out there on the tarmac and also the grading system.

Looking Back…

45 years ago…  Spedeworth had completed a few demonstra- tion runs for the new formula Midget cars and were planning to introduce the class in the following season (1968)..

35 years ago… Basil Craske had wrapped up the 1977 cham- pionship in the formula’s third season as an independent club. Mick Bonner won the first World Championship race in Sep- tember over at Posterholt. The Midgets began to get regular coverage in Short Circuit magazine (sadly ceased publication this year) which was in its first season.

25 years ago… Basil Craske was still the top man in 1987 winning the championship in his VW ahead of a brace of Arrow-BMCs, driven by the Sinclair brothers, Graham and Paul.
15 years ago...
There were 27 points scoring drivers in the 1997 season and it was still VW power at the top of the table as Harry Sayell took the points title from the Arrow of John Weston and the Dastle mk18 of Gary Granger.

Thank you
Many thanks to thank Ben Bostock for sending me scans of some superb pictures of his dad’s Midget days which you might not have seen before and also for allowing me to use them in this issue. I think the first picture is from the demonstration events in 1967 at Wimbledon and the third one most likely from Brands Hatch in 1970 - the first season the cars ran with full roll cages.



Internet

Many thanks to thank Ben Bostock for sending me scans of some superb pictures of his dad’s Midget days which you might not have seen before and also for allowing me to use them in this issue. I think the first picture is from the demonstration events in 1967 at Wimbledon and the third one most likely from Brands Hatch in 1970 - the first season the cars ran with full roll cages.


Just a quick reminder that the club has its own website which is www.gpmidgets.co.uk.  From there you can also access the extensive history site which is www.ovaltrack.co.uk/gpmidgets/tome.

Wanted!  Photos, results and programmes from any era – I don’t have to have your originals as scans are just as useful.

In closing, as ever, I apologise if I have missed anyone out of this newsletter – It’s not intentional! Please pass on any news when you have it – I will try and maintain a balance between the various eras represented.  Please also let me know if you have contact with anyone from the Midget scene who might not be getting a copy of this bulletin. Don’t forget to keep in touch. I hope to issue another newsletter in the new year as soon as the 2013 fixtures are announced.

Richard – gpmidget@gmail.com

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Midget Newsletter 04 – Spring 2012


The fourth issue of our newsletter and I must apologise for not getting this one out before Christmas as was my intention. Thank you to those of you have been in touch – even a one line ‘thank you’ is good to hear.  If you have news of anyone who was involved in the formula from days gone by I would be very pleased to hear from you.  My email address is gpmidget@gmail.com.

Spedeworth/MARC days
Basil Craske’s record extends well beyond the Spedeworth days of course but I thought I would include this item in here at that’s when he started. Basil is now Chairman of the Steam Car Club of Great Britain. It was Ez Walker who spotted Basil’s name at Prescott Hillclimb where Basil set the steam car record on the hill.

I am very sad to report that the former Spedeworth boss Les Eaton, the founder of the present Midget formula, passed away in January.  Readers of previous newsletters will know the name of Jock McClure who raced the Formula Vee car featured therein. Sadly Jock passed away over the Winter too.

On a happier note it was a great pleasure to get in touch with Victor Vincelli who, along with his brother Peter, raced with Spedeworth back in the early 1970s (picture right).

70s & 80s
It was good to hear from Richard Byrne who shared a Dastle with Mark Brothwell back in 1986. Richard found us via the Midget Panorama forum / site and has gone to considerable trouble to help send me DVDs and race programmes which have been put onto the history website. Thanks Richard.

Current Scene
Belated congratulations to Jonathan Pooley on winning the 2011 Points Championship and to Philip Retchless on winning the Graham Hill Trophy for the third year in succession.  I have been nagging all and sundry since the start of 2011 about getting a photo of the trophy to show the Hill family and eventually one came through (thanks to Marc de Land) and I have sent it on to Josh Hill (Graham’s grandson) who was racing in Formula Renault last season.

The 2012 calendar looks good with the cars racing at Lochgelly in Scotland for the first time. There are several new drivers in the formula and the good news is that many of them are racing cars that were previously inactive.  The opening meeting was at Grimley in Worcestershire and it was Daz Rycroft who won the first race of the season and also went home as top points scorer.  The second heat was won by 2011 newcomer Tony Smith (his first win) in the Dastle we mentioned in the last newsletter.  Heat three was won by a driver having his debut at that meeting, Darren Clarke, racing the front engine P&K.  With two ‘first time’ winners in the heats it was perhaps fitting that our longest serving driver, Gordon Pooley, won the West Country Challenge final.  Gordon followed up by winning the final at the second meeting as well over the Easter weekend at Birmingham Wheels. So, we are two meetings, seven races, into the new season with six different race winners and the defending champion yet to nab a win.

Some notable car changes this season – Dave Dollin is racing the ex Harold Lowe Spartan Formula Ford conversion whilst ex BriSCA F2 racer Tom Keep has another championship winning car, the Cheetah.

I’ll post the remaining 2012 fixtures on this newsletter – if you’ve not been to a meeting for a while then it would be great to have your support.

Looking Back…

40 years ago…   The Spedeworth season was due to open at Walthamstow stadium on 25th February but the meeting was cancelled due to the power crisis! The first meeting took place at Wimbledon on 11th March with Rod Tanswell taking all three wins.  The second meeting was again a Southern fixture, at Aldershot, with Frank Boyles winning the two heats before Bob Elson bagged the final.

30 years ago…  Anthony Brewer won the opening race of the season, the Fretten Shield at Bovingdon. The Fretten family name was also represented in media information promoting the NAMICSA Speedway Midgets.

20 years ago… Harry Sayell opened up his defence of the Points Championship by winning all of the opening four trophy races in the 1992 schedule.

10 years ago...   Harold Lowe won the first race of the season but it was Rob Sayell who took the first silverware of the year by winning the Ace Communications Shield at Peterborough. Hard to believe but the The Rolling Thunder show at Arena was into its’ second season and the Saturday evening racing under floodlights saw two wins for Gary Bonner in his Fireball and one for Daz Rycroft, who seems to like early season wins, in the ex Stuart Haynes VW.

Internet

Just a quick reminder that the club has its own website which is www.gpmidgets.co.uk.  From there you can also access the extensive history site which is www.ovaltrack.co.uk/gpmidgets/tome. 

Wanted!  Photos, results and programmes from any era – I don’t have to have your originals as scans are just as useful.

In closing, as ever, I apologise if I have missed anyone out of this newsletter – It’s not intentional!  Please let me have any news when you have it – I will try and maintain a balance between the various eras represented.  Please let me know if you have contact with anyone from the Midget scene who might not be getting a copy of this bulletin.  Don’t forget to keep in touch.

Richard – gpmidget@gmail.com

Forthcoming Race Days

Sun 22 Apr, 1pm Buxton, Simon Pashley Cup
Sat 5th May, 6pm Birmingham, National Championship.
Sun 27th May, 5.30pm Yarmouth, East of England
Sun 17th Jun, 1.30pm Hednesford, World Ch.
Sun 24th Jun, 1.30pm Northampton, June Cochrane Cup
Sat 14th Jul, 6pm Cowdenbeath, Northern & Midland
Sun 15th Jul, 1pm Lochgelly, Tourist Trophy
Sun 22nd Jul, 5.30pm Yarmouth, Derek Kisby Trophy
Sat 11th Aug, 6pm Birmingham, Dorrell Flooring Trophy
Sat 1st Sep, 6pm Birmingham, British Championship.
Sun 16th Sep, 1pm Aldershot, Bill Boarer Trophy
Sun 23rd Sep, 1.30pm Northampton, European Champ.
Sat 6th Oct, 6pm Birmingham, Graham Hill Trophy
Sat 27th Oct, 6pm Arena Essex, Southern Championship
Sat 3rd Nov, 6pm Birmingham, Racequip UK Trophy