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