Friday, 15 July 2016

Midget Heritage Newsletter 15 - 2016

Once again thank you to all those who acknowledged the previous newsletter – loads of you actually which was great.

Among those who wrote were Derek Smith and Graham Brown in response to my comment about not having the results from he Oxford meeting. We now have the race winners in the archive - many thanks.  We already knew about Keith Fransella but the other races were won by Bob Burridge and Frank Boyles. Frank also won one of the match races against the Hot Rods whilst Derek Green won the other so it was one-all between the two classes.  Derek (Smith) has kindly provided a great deal of missing race winners for other years as well so a big thank you to him. I’ve also been able to help him with his own research – with regard to the meetings that the Club promoted under its own steam on Spedeworth circuits in 1975.

Thank you David Wesbroom for helping with data relating to the ex Gary Bonner car that we mentioned in the previous newsletter.

I am not too far away from having a full list of every Midget meeting contested by the present formula but for some reason am missing a list of dates for 1999 as a cross check. We may also be missing some MARC events so if anyone can help, please let me know.

I have also had a very interesting chat with Ron White, a driver who only raced one meeting in the formula back in 1969.  Ron was responsible for getting Frank Boyles involved in Midget racing and the pair shared the driving duties at the opening Ipswich meeting that year.


The annual Motorsport at the Palace event (Crystal Palace Park) proved to be well worth a visit. It was good to meet former Midget racer Jon Doubleday was among the entry in his ‘Fraud Cortina’ . Jon raced with the club back in 1986.

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

Current news…

Congratulations to Camey Dorrell who became the first lady winner in the GP Midgets in only her second race meeting. She is probably the youngest winner too at just 16 years of age but it’s going to be difficult to prove that one with nearly 50 years worth of drivers (over 400 in the database so far) to consider.  Camey is also one of a handful of people to race under a three digit number in the class (262), the one she raced in Ministox with.  This has been fairly common practice over the years in Europe but I can only find seven others here in the UK: Scott Roth (100), Geoff Divey (101), Don Bird (111), Chris Phillips (121), Eddy Nichols (124), Arthur Knowlton (128) and Hedley Leyton (208).

I mentioned that Steve Sutch has joined us this year and he has also been a race winner very quickly and led the points after the second meeting.  Steve has coped with racing from the back of the grid really well too, maintaining red grade and staying in a healthy position in the points.

Congratulations to Dave Bonser on winning this year’s World Championship race (the 40th running). Sadly there was no overseas representation but the entry was not the lowest for the event.  Sorry to hear that Neil Clarke was taken poorly at this meeting and we wish him a speedy recovery. Dave also won the European Championship at Posterholt where Richie Scheepens and François Damen (making his Midget debut) represented the Netherlands. Congratulations also to Mark Hodges who bagged a race win and also Jonathan Pooley who won the Peter Scheepens Memorial. Thanks to all those who made the weekend’s racing at Posterholt a success and we have continued hope for the return of regular Midget racing out there.

Three new car owners – Keith Brooks (ex Hodges VW), Stu Stretton (ex Bunn Firehawk) and Alex Causer (saving the ex Scheepens car from being weighed in) – welcome both. Actually it’s also farewell to Alex who has sadly had put the car up for sale already.

Four cars went along to Coventry in September for the shale invitation – the following picture is Tony Smith in action (courtesy of Anthony Jenkins).



From the archives...

Courtesy of Thomas Ackroyd, a picture from Skegness which he tells me is from 1979.  We think it might be the Easter weekend. No idea who the lead car is but it’s Basil Craske in 21 followed by Malcolm Goodman, John Lowe and another unidentified driver in a white Fireball mk2 (possibly Ray Hooper).



I am indebted to anyone who has contributed to the archive over the years in any way however small! It can be viewed online at www.ovaltrack.co.uk/gpmidgets/tome.  If you are able to contribute then I would very pleased to hear from you - photos, results and programmes, etc.  I don’t have to have your originals as scans which you can email to me 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

Friday, 18 March 2016

Midget Heritage Newsletter 14 - Spring 2016

Once again thank you to all those who acknowledged the previous newsletter - good to hear from you all. Special thanks to Barry Martin for the offer of the 1970 National Championship programme which was a gap in the archive. 

Missing results and information still comes to light every now and then including most recently the race winners from the third meeting of the 1969 season which took place at Ipswich. The search for the full results continues…

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

Restorations
There has been a lot of chatter on the Facebook group about classic Midgets which wound up with us wondering what happened to the type III Dastle owned by Dick Nadin in the 1990s and more recently Eric Walker. Eric sold the car 1ast
year but unlike the similar car which he sold to a new owner abroad, this one is now in the hands of Sandy Glen who is restoring it to use for sprint and hillclimb events here in the UK.  I was quite surprised to look back at the old Midget Club newsletters and see that Dick’s original enquiry to me for more information was way back in 1995!  Since then we have amassed and collated a little more information on the early days and can have a good guess as to which car it actually is…  The chassis plate dates the car to 1968 and given the base colours described by Dick 20 years back it is most likely the car originally raced by
Pete Smith
the late Pete Smith. He took several wins in the car and also topped the points chart at one time as well during the 1969 season.  The onward path of the car is not so easy to trace at the moment, particularly as Pete was programmed racing a type VII in 1971 and Fireball chassis during 1972. It may be that Pete’s brother John took over the type III in ’71 as he is listed racing one for the MARC at that time.

Thankfully the future of a mk4 Fireball has been secured. Ben Pashley has acquired the ex Gary Bonner car and is hoping to restore it to as near to original specification as possible.  We are hoping to establish exactly which chassis this was and indeed confirm it is an original Fireball – does anyone have contact with the Bonner family so that we can find out who they bought the car from?  An uneducated guess would be that it’s the ex Roland Parker mk4 – mainly based on geographical location and the fact that neither drivers careers overlap.  Gary is showing as having started racing with the club in 1990. It would be useful for us to have the information for the archives and also for Ben.  Carl Checkley won with the car in 2010 which set a record – it basically being a 35 year old chassis winning a race in a current formula against current specification machines.

There are occasional opportunities to display and demonstrate heritage cars so if anyone wants to start on such projects please let us know.

Current news…
The 2016 season opener scheduled for Grimley was cancelled for several reasons including several drivers not being ready.  The schedule therefore got underway with a Saturday / Sunday outing at Swaffham with two new drivers, Steve Sutch and Camey Dorrell, joining the grid, Welcome both of you. It was particularly timely for Camey to join us as this newsletter had been discussing lady racers (issue 12) and I think Camey becomes not only the youngest lady racer to compete in the formula but probably the most experienced as well having attained red grade status in Ministox.
Back to Swaffham, Saturday's races saw Jon Pooley, Leon Smith and Dan Pooley take the wins. Newcomer Steve Sutch won the two heats on Sunday with Jon Pooley winning the final.  Jon topped the points after round one from Steve and Leon.

From the archives...

I’ve always liked this picture which shows a match race between the four BP / Custom Car team Midget and Hot Rod drivers.  Rod Tanswell is on the front row alongside the mk1 Ford Escort of Derek Green. Behind them Paul Smyth in the Mini and Frank Boyles. The date is Sunday 29th April 1973, the only Midget meeting in Spedeworth’s short lived tenure at the Cowley Stadium, Oxford. 
This is one of the meetings where full results are not held in the archives aside from the information which Keith Fransella kept – he won the opening race, was third in the next and second in the final. The second picture from the same meeting shows Tony Gale (39) ahead of Frank Boyles (34) and Barry Martin (12).

I am indebted to anyone who has contributed to the archive over the years in any way however small! It can be viewed online at www.ovaltrack.co.uk/gpmidgets/tome.  If you are able to contribute then I would very pleased to hear from you - photos, results and programmes, etc.  I don’t have to have your originals as scans which you can email to me 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

Monday, 18 January 2016

Midget Heritage Newsletter 13 - 2016

Once again thank you to all those who acknowledged the previous newsletter - good to hear from you all. Particular thanks to Marcus Retchless tells me that the number 4 on the 1989 points chart was Mark ‘Sparky’ Parrin whose son Thomas currently races 2 litre Saloons.  Marcus tells us: “He raced my car at a two day meeting at Mildenhall.  On the Saturday night I broke my thumb after being forced into the catch fencing. Mark raced my car on the Sunday.”

Marcus was also the double heat winner at the last Wimbledon meeting back in 1993. You might remember that in the last edition I mentioned that John Weston won the final.

François Damen
The 2016 fixture list looks like another good season and also a busy one.  It is the 49th year of competitive racing for formula started by Spedeworth back in the late 1960s. There is a welcome return to Posterholt for the European Championship, keeping hopes of a mainland revival on course. We’ve also had more encouraging news on that front as François Damen (car pictured right) will be joining Richie Scheepens representing the Netherlands. François’ father John was a top Superstox driver – taking the runner up spot to Tony Roots at Ipswich in the 1997 World Championship. There’s a further Midget link to the World Superstox race later in the newsletter. Back to the fixtures and there is also a return to Skegness after many years (last one in 1987?) and a non championship run out on shale at Coventry.

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

How do I get old data?

There was a discussion on the Facebook group recently about how data is pieced together for the archive which I manage.  Many drivers and families of drivers have provided information over the years along with several enthusiasts who keep such things and very generously share their material. Over and about that, results and text generally comes from the programmes and magazines of the time. The archive is at its’ best where there is a mixture of results and reporting.  Here’s a quick run down of where the information was published…

In the late 1960s there was information published in Spedeworth’s Stock Car Journal which included some, but certainly not all, of the race results from the time.  I’ve picked up a few results from Stock Car Supporter magazine as well, Most of the published material was by Rod Tanswell who wrote under the pen name of ‘the Informer’ plus reports and results by Denys Jones (Man on the Terrace) and his son Chris Jones.  Following the demise of Spedeworth’s Stock Car Journal there was no regular results ‘service’ so from 1972 we are relying on data from filled-in programmes or Man on the Terrace again for the excellent London Diary (mainly, as the title suggests, meetings in the capital) which was published weekly in the Spedeworth programmes.  Spedeworth also published the Living with Spede book which had a big section on the formula’s history, again written by Rod Tanswell.  Most of the Spedeworth fixtures (if not the results) can be assembled by looking at the programmes and fixture lists. The MARC breakaway at the end of 1970 is more difficult to chart although there there was some coverage via magazines such as Hot Car and Car Advertiser.  Both Custom Car and Auto Enthusist magazines had drivers running in their respective colours and as a result covered the racing from time to timr in the early 70s.

Once the independent Club was formed in 1975 (merging the Spedeworth drivers with the MARC) the information becomes even more difficult to get hold of since there was no regular coverage in the Spedeworth programmes or any magazines.

Things improved a great deal in 1977 when Paul Huggett started up Short Circuit magazine which meant some news and fixtures appeared on a regular basis right through to its’ eventual demise a few years ago.  The mid 1980s saw Alf Boarer do an incredible amount of work to get regular coverage in Motoring News which also continued for many years – the likes of Dave Cox, June Cochrane and John Hyam being regular scribes before Anne Sayell’s extensive work began. Anne is probably the most prolific writer that we have seen, not only maintaining contributions to MN and Short Circuit but also finding many other homes for coverage as well such as local newspapers and short lived periodicals such as Competition Car.

These days the results are normally easy enough to collate from websites or Facebook but there is little in the way of narrative from event to event as there are no magazines giving regular coverage. It would be nice to have a corner in Spedeworth’s Wheelspin magazine againe…

The driver listings that appear in the archive are put together in much the same way. For some season we have full and final points charts available whilst for others we might know who the top five or six scorers were but apart from that have to assemble the full driver lists.  Even a full / final points chart will only list the scorers and not take account of drivers who did not score any. Back in the Spedeworth days there were plenty of those.  In the 1990s one of the club officials showed me the drivers registration book which contained all the licence holders back to the formation of the club in 1975. I did ask to borrow it but was not allowed and it subsequently ‘disappeared’.

I am indebted to anyone who has contributed to the archive over the years in any way however small! It can be viewed online at www.ovaltrack.co.uk/gpmidgets/tome.  If you are able to contribute then I would very pleased to hear from you - photos, results and programmes, etc.  I don’t have to have your originals as scans which you can email to me are just as useful.

Looking Back…

40 years ago…  The 1976 season opened at Wimbledon Stadium and was a Fireball lock-out – Frank Boyles winning a heat and the final with Roland Parker taking the other heat victory. It was a busy weekend with the following day seeing a meeting at Ringwood.

30 years ago…  The first meeting of the year was at Northampton. John Lowe won the 1986 Fretten Shield which was traditionally presented to the victor of the first race of the season. Basil Craske won the two remaining races and there were to podium finishes for George Wright.

20 years ago… The first three trophy winners of the 1996 season were Stuart Haynes (Cliff Davis Trophy), Harry Sayell (Casa Trophy) and Klaus Kilianski (Trafalgar Challenge Cup).

10 years ago...  In 2006 there was a hat trick of wins for Martin Lamb in the first meeting of the season which was held at Swaffham. The Gazelle driver therefore carried the silver fin into the second meeting of the year at Ringwood.

From the archives...

This photo of twice World Superstox champion Geoff Goddard surfaced on Facebook recently. It’s the first Fireball mk3 which was raced by Rod Tanswell from late ’72 to the end of ’73. The car then went to South Africa, I believe initially being bought by Koos Schoombie and clearly raced by Geoff. I’m not sure when this photo was taken but I will try and get some more information from Geoff himself.
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