Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Midget Heritage Newsletter 10 - Winter 2014

The latest issue – another season passed and again sadly I was not able to get along to any meetings this year but have kept up to date via the results website MyLaps and also the reports that filter through. We do have a new name on the championship roll of honour this year so congratulations to Dave Bonser who is the 50th Midgets points champion. Yes I do realise that the current formula has not been going for 50 years but when you count the ‘double up’ of champions in the Spedeworth/MARC years we have now reached that total. Congrats also Peter Dorrell was the front engine Champion for 2014.


The top newcomer this season was Leon Smith, a very welcome addition to the grid and a name well known to those who have been around the ovals for some time. Leon picked up a brace of wins in the meeting at Birmingham on 27 September, winning both a heat and the prestigious Graham Hill Trophy. Another name from the late 70s, Paul Knight, made his debut too.

The club did a demonstration at Coventry stadium in September with a view to some racing on shale at some stage in the future. Of course, shale racing is nothing new to the formula as the original demo races back in 1967 were conducted at Wimbledon Stadium.

We’ve had some fantastic news regarding the 2015 fixtures sees the return of GP Midget racing to Holland with the European Championship slated to take place at Posterholt in August. My records show that, incredibly, it will have been 20 years since the last major European race overseas – the 1995 European having taken place at Gruitrode in July that year (Klaus Kilianski being the
winner). This is a terrific opportunity for the formula so let’s hope for a decent turn out from the English lads – maybe a hire car or two can be made available for potential overseas drivers – there is certainly lots of planning time that could help. Well done to all concerned.

Without wanting to bang on too much about trip to Posterholt, the journey (albeit from London) is estimated at about an hour shorter than that to Edinburgh so the meeting is certainly comparable with the Scottish outings that the club has enjoyed over the past few years. Many of my friends in other formulae concur that the trip to race in Europe is an agreeable one.
Multi front engine champion Clifford Bunn has unveiled his new car – believed to be the first import from the USA to be used for UK Midget racing for a long, long time. The chassis was built by Danny Drinan in Indianapolis and is number 10 of 10 built. Clifford bought it second hand (but unused) from Michael Pjatikin of Pennsylvania. The car was built to take a ‘bike engine but has been converted to take a Ford Zetec SE, engine and gearbox.

Thank you to those of you have been in touch – sadly not getting too much through these days – maybe people will have a delve into the archives over the Winter. 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 ovaltrack@btinternet.com

Looking Back…
45 years ago… The 1969 season saw racing continuing well into the November with three meetings at Wimbledon. Rod Tanswell won the National Championship on 8 November by taking three second places, the title being decided on points. Rod also won the Midgets points championship ahead of Pete Smith, Mick Miller, Frank Boyles and Tony Stubbs
35 years ago… Not much activity at this time of year but the 1979 points championship had been won by Basil Craske from Dave Wesbroom and Chris Butler. The ’79 season had seen both the World and European championships staged in Germany (at Kaldenkirchen and Recklinghausen respectively).
25 years ago… Basil Craske was still the man to beat having wrapped up the 1989 points championship from Dave Wesbroom and Harry Sayell.
15 years ago... Rob Sayell was the 1999 points champion having beaten Stuart Haynes into second place. Steve Piggins was third.

2015 Race Dates
2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the Club following the marriage of the Spedeworth and MARC factions!

Neil Clarke has put together another great fixture list for the season ahead….

Sunday 5 April Grimley West Country Challenge
Sunday 19 April Arena Southern Championship
Sunday 3 May Swaffham East of England Championship
Sunday 24 May Aldershot June Cochrane Cup
Saturday 6 June Birmingham Steve Walford Motorsport Challenge
Sunday 21 June Buxton Simon Pashley Trophy
Saturday 4 July Birmingham British Championship
Saturday 8 August Posterholt Peter Scheepens Memorial & Tourist Trophy
Sunday 9 August Posterholt European Championship
Saturday 22 August Ipswich World Championship
Sunday 23 August Yarmouth Derek Kisby Trophy
Sunday 6 September Aldershot Bill Boarer Trophy
Saturday 19 September Swaffham Graham Hill Trophy
Sunday 20 September Swaffham National Championship
Saturday 3 October Birmingham SHB Ltd Trophy
Saturday 24 October Arena Dorrell Flooring Trophy
Saturday 7 November Birmingham iFactor Final

From the archives...
A rare colour shot from 1970. This photo was taken by the track photographer Fred Buss. At the time the grades were denoted by the colour of the driver's crash helmet. So the mixture of grades here suggests it's the team meeting, Royal Tunbridge Wells v Brighton (!) on 25 May 1970. It's Tony Stubbs in 6. Don't know who raced 51 although we think it might be a team mate of Colin Harper who raced number 50 possibly Colin's car borrowed for the meeting. 51 appears on the final points chart for 1970 but not in any driver listings that any of us anoraks (enthusiasts) have. It's Mick Miller in the 22 car and Colin Byrne in the lawnmower at the back. My very grateful thanks to Dean Cox who looks after the Fred Buss archive and also Dave Baldwin (http://www.graphicsbydave.co.uk/ - for all your graphic requirements!) for allowing reproduction here.

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

Friday, 18 July 2014

Midget Newsletter 09 - Spring 2014

Welcome to the latest newsletter – I am sorry it has taken longer to put together but this proved to be a very busy year. Thanks to everyone who has been in touch to ask for copies of the newsletter and also to those who acknowledge that they’ve got past the email spam filters. 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 ovaltrack@btinternet.com. 60s / 70s

Thanks to Graham Brown and Derek Smith for looking into the Kirkby programme cover that I included in the last newsletter. It seems that Midgets were not racing on that day – the promoters simply decided to put the photo on the front cover. Graham’s research also added another date to the archive however, the first Trackstar promoted meeting at Boston on 28 April 1972.

Great picture right... Guy Smith went to visit Malcolm Brockhurst in Chichester with the “Dastle Wedge”. Malcolm confirms it is the car he had back in the early 1970s. Guy’s plan is to restore it to the original specification. Guy then tried to contact another former owner of the car, Pat French but sadly found out that he passed away a few years ago.

If you’ve not heard of it before then we need to tell you about the ‘Old Skool Superstox’ which is a heritage group set up by Dean Cox and Stu Blyth. It’s different however from the classic racing formulae that you may already know about ie the Classic Hot Rods and Historic Stock Cars. The Superstox are very much about heritage rather than competition. The aim is to restore original cars or build replicas without the worry of competition with a strong social element. 80s / 90s

We’ve now added Steve Lay and Eddy Ricketts to the mailing list – good to hear from you both. Also good to hear from from former club scrutineer Peter ‘Olly’ Ollson who has been watching Midgets out in Australia – thanks very much for the postcard!

Current Scene

Very pleased to say that the ex Gary Bonner / Carl Checkley Fireball has been bought by Peter Bourn. We are trying to work out who had the car before Gary so we can document the complete history. Carl Checkley is making a welcome return to the formula in the Suzuki powered Dastle formerly owned by Darren Clark and Derek Hawes.

The first meeting of our new season was at Northampton and saw Marc de Land top the points and also win the June Cochrane Trophy. Marc lost his position at the top of the points with a ding in race two in the second meeting at Grimley – all three races being won by front engine cars – Peter Dorrell and Tony Smith. We’d like to welcome ex Hot Rod racer Leon Smith to the formula. Leon is racing in last year’s championship winning Scorpian (below) bought from Jonathan Pooley. 

The British Championship took place at Northampton on Easter Monday – congratulations to Dave Bonser on winning the title for the first time. According to our records this was the 42nd running of the title – it harks back to 1971 when both Spedeworth and MARC drivers competed for it so, like the National Championship at that time, it actually had some meaning being something other than a Spedeworth or MARC “domestic” meeting. The first few stagings were at London’s White City. It looks like following the cancellation of the 1974 event it was forgotten about for the first two seasons of the combined Midget Grand Prix Club and then re-instated in 1977 when two versions were held – one at Newton Abbot on 5th June (dubbed the ‘Speedcars’ British Championship) and the properly labelled version at Hartlepool on 28th August. That may well have been the formula’s only ever meeting at Hartlepool. Sadly I can’t find any record of the 1978 British Championship at the moment and the trophy currently raced for only goes back to 1993.

This year’s dates include the World Championship at Arena on Monday 26 May which will most likely be past by the time you get to read this newsletter. We also return to Eastbourne on 25 August when Marc de Land defends his Southern Championship title. Since then Jonathan Pooley has regained the top spot in the points table with Nick Price (last year’s top newcomer) in second and Daz Rycroft in third.

Looking Back…
45 years ago… 1969 was the second full season of Midget racing promoted by Spedeworth. Notable racing included a Walthamstow meeting on Friday 25 April where South African visitor Julian Silberman won two races. It would be interesting to know whose car he was driving – sadly that’s not recorded in any journals we’ve seen.
35 years ago… In 1979 there was an early season meeting at Lydden Hill where thirteen drivers took to the oval for two races which were won by Basil Craske and German visitor Willi Thissen. It was also reported that Brian Harding had been racing his Arrow with the South Eastern Grass Track Organisation at Funtington.
25 years ago… Back in 1989 the majority of meetings were run at Alwalton although the Bill Boarer Trophy was contested at Ringwood in April with Anthony Brewer becoming the first front engine driver to win it.
15 years ago… Although not so far back in the mists of time, this particular season is one where we don’t have too much information at this stage. Gary Bonner won the Casa Challenge cup with Andy Collins winning the West Country Challenge.

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 or photocopies 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.