Thursday, 1 January 1970

1968 - Mick Bonner's story

Mick Bonner’s Story – from Midget Club Newsletter some time later

In the early Summer of 1968 John Holloway and I noticed there was a formula called Midgets racing at the same meeting as the Hot Rods up at Foxhall Stadium. We were both intrigued by what these cars were like and so we went along to have a look. We were certainly very interested but weren’t too keen on the ‘sit up and beg’ design of most of the machines and thought we might knock up something with front wheel drive along the lines of a Mini as we were both very keen on these machines and knew a little about them. Needless to say neither of us had much idea about building a racing car but nevertheless obtained front and rear Mini subframes and set about linking them together with angle steel welded together to make box sections, channel and flat steel, whatever we could lay our hands on, welded it together, covered it in plastic sheeting and then installed the heart of the machine, a 1071 Cooper S engine which we obtained from a garage in Brentwood for a song, the owner thinking it was only a Cooper engine.

Actually when it was first built the car had a rather bulbous nose that enveloped the whole engine due to the specifications telling us the engine had to be completely covered. This made it look rather ugly which came out as a slip by Rod Tanswell at a drivers meeting when he mentioned “What a devil of a job I had getting by the dustbin”!!

We first booked the car into a meeting towards the end of Summer ’68 at Aldershot Stadium. John booked in to drive, went out in the first event, drove a very reasonable race then came off and suggested I went out for the next one as it was dark by then and no one would notice. So I started from the front of the grid, into the lead, and for a few laps thought it was a right doddle burning round a small oval. Then I got a big shock as the likes of Tanswell, Pete Smith, Geoff Rumble, etc. came flying by. I thought “They can’t do this” and then put the welly in a bit harder. Now, anyone who new Aldershot can tell you that the far turn is a bit like the top of an egg – rather sharp and seems to keep coming round. As I went in on this particular lap I was going rather too hard and understeering badly from front wheel drive and almost certainly have hit the fence by myself but another car coming through on the inside caught my nearside wheels and launched himself into a double somersault landing totally wrecked in the middle of the track. For myself I hit the fence broadside on, still going like the clappers, hitting my ribs on the side of the cockpit and fracturing them badly. The race was stopped, everyone rushing over to the other car being a more spectacular looking crash, but the driver was fortunately ok. Poor me, totally winded and gasping for breath and couldn’t even move to get the safety harness off. Eventually I got attention from the track staff and the marvelous St John Ambulance people and landed up in Aldershot Hospital. I still carried on racing Midgets for another 18 years – Must be mad!

Major Honours

World Champion 1977, 1982
European Champion 1985
British Champion 1971, 1977, 1984
National Champion 1980

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