Part of 'The Evolution of Midgets' by Rod Tanswell from the book 'Living With Spede'
Spedeworth felt there was a need for a new style of motor sport on the raceways. Les Eaton came up with the idea of re-introducing the Midget racing car once more into this country. We saw it in pre-war days, the first steps taken with small motorcycle engined cars racing, on speedway circuits around the country. They were not an instant success by any means, and without backing, they soon petered out of the picture. Since those days there have been a number of half hearted attempts at putting them on the map so to speak but no concerted effort was made nationally to promote them.
Les Eaton, Ron Amas, Harry Barnes and Tony Bostock of "Hot Car" fame put pen to paper and designed what they considered at that time was a basic specification for Midget cars. It was a design that could be constructed by the average home constructor without too much experience but was different from other forms of motor sport competing at that time. The design of those early cars was very simple. A ladder chassis, in-line water cooled four cylinder engine and second hand parts from a variety of cars.
Two of these cars were built and demonstrated before the public in those early days. They proved to be quite a handful as they did not have the ability to corner well and proved unreliable on track. However they persevered with one of these cars and got it to run reasonably well. It was dressed up and put on display at the 1967 Racing Car Show where it received a mixed reception from the motoring public and press. Quite a number of people could see the potential of these cars if they were re-designed and updated somewhat. One of these happened to be Geoff Rumble, who, having had some considerable experience in car design, saw that there could be more to Midget racing than meets the eye. I have no doubt that he went home a very thoughtful man. The outcome of this was that the Dastle Manufacturing, Co. was formed. The first Dastle rolled off the production line sometime during the early part of 1967 and made its debut at Hednesford Hills raceway. I quote an article from the Spedeworth journal of that time written by Mike Shingler of the National Hot Rod Association:
"The Dastle Midget racing car is the latest in the line of proposed short circuit Midget racing cars in this country. I am certain to be right in saying that it is definitely the best I have seen so far. Our dear departed champion of short circuit motor sports Ron Amas would have been gratified in seeing that his own Midget race ideas have been continued and tremendously improved by the Dastle Organisation." (Ron Amas lost his life in South Africa).
The car was test driven by Barry Kibble of Hot Rod fame round Hednesford; it proved to be very competitive on the banked circuit, the lap times being very commendable to say the least.
Another quote worth a mention at this point is that a Midget made its debut in Scotland at about this time, driven by Neil Stevenson and I quote: "Neil Stevenson 151 is bringing out his Midget again and says that on tarmac it will go like a bomb. If it doesn't he can always put two handles on it and use it as a pram for he tells me his wife Gay is expecting a happy event in May." I often wonder why the Midget did not catch on in Scotland. Perhaps now that the Midgets are more established Roy Cecil will invite them for a couple of meetings in Scotland in the near future (sorry Roy, I only asked).
Late in the year of 1967 the specification was reviewed somewhat. The original specification was for 1,200cc but it was felt that by going to 1,250cc they could be made more competitive. Certain other items were worked on for safety. Brakes for example were amended to - "One system to operate all 4 wheels, but in the event of failure twin master cylinder with balance bar" ensured that in the unlikely situation of losing rear brakes you at least had brakes on one set of wheels. This applies to present-day specification.
1967 came to a close with a number of people showing more than a keen interest in Midgets. Geoff Rumble, Pete Smith, Tony Bostock, Dell Stickings and myself to name but a few.