Hello again – another three months have passed so I thought it was about time to produce another couple of pages on the Midgets. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nice to hear from Norbert Dietsch again and also Alan Fretten. By the time this newsletter hits the spam / trash folders you may also have seen an orginal 1970s car, the Terry Baimbridge machine, on circuit with Antony Smith. The chassis is a Dastle which sports Fireball panels. Whilst trawling the internet I came across some more old cine of short oval racing – this time from the west Country. It includes a couple of minutes action from an MARC meeting at St Austell back in 72/3.
70s & 80s
I was pleased to find former Short Circuit photographer Jim Crucefix who is still taking pictures on the short ovals up at Yarmouth. Jim’s first meeting was the inaugural Graham Hill Memorial at Bovingdon back in 1978. I also managed to find a 1978 race date and result to add to the archive which was the Derek Kisby Trophy won that year by Mick Bonner. If anyone can add to the archive please get in touch.
35 years ago… The end of the club’s second season. Malcolm Goodman led the points chart from Alf Boarer with Mick Bonner in third. Pete Loff had won the European Championship at Kaldenhirchen whilst Malcolm Goodman was National Champion. Records are still a bit sketchy for 1976 so if anyone has old programmes or results it would be great to share them (I don’t need originals – photocopies could be just as good).
25 years ago… Brian Forrest won the 1986 British Championship at Northampton in October. Promoter John Clark drove Dermott McGivern’s car that day. Basil Craske won the points championship with the best front engine cars being Ray Coulson in second place and John Lowe 3rd.
15 years ago…The key meetings were the 1996 European Championship, Gerald Smith Memorial and the Simon Pashley Trophy. Clinton Dorrell won the Gerald Smith Trophy with Harry Sayell winning the other two plus the points championship. The intervening ten years had seen the top front engine cars slip down the order – the best placed ‘front’ was Eddy Rickets in 9th.
10 years ago.. I know that the 10 years ago pattern does not fit in with the way I’ve included content in the newsletter but I cannot believe it is that long since we lost Steve Piggins and Anthony Brewer. I was working at Thruxton on an F3 meeting when the news came through – we’d just had a nasty moment there too – it was far from a good day.
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.
Rob Sayell raised the topic of long races in a Facebook discussion. This year’s World Championship at Birmingham was the grand total of 25 laps. On a personal note I would think that anything worthy of that title on the short ovals should be 30-35 laps. The main concern these days is getting as many races run in as short a timeframe as possible so we will never see the likes of the longer distance races again. Most records don’t show the number of laps raced but the Midgets took part in two 100 lap races at Ipswich in 1972 and 1973. There were the Spede Prix races which pitted the cars against both Hot Rods and Superstox. 15th September 1973 saw what was probably the longest Midget-only race, the rain sodden BP / Custom Car Supernational at Wimbledon won by Barry Martin.
Back in the day the MARC midgets ran on a couple of long circuit meetings organised by the BRSCC. It was at of their recent events, at Rockingham, that had two former Midget drivers out on the circuit – Nic Grindrod was racing in the Pickup Trucks and Rob Sayell was competing in Formula Jedi. I did not managed to get to that meeting but I did see Nic take two pole positions, two wins and two fastest laps at the previous weekend’s meeting and was pleased to hear the circuit commentator mention GP Midgets when he spoke about Nic’s background.
I was really pleased to make it along to the European Championship meeting at Arena Essex in July. It was good to see Toni Scheepens over for the meeting but he suffered some mechanical problems that held him back somewhat. The annual (?) trip to Scotland appears to have gone well although the famous Knockhill ‘horizontal rain’ main an appearance this year. Still no sign of the Scottish cars that are rumoured to be being built.
Neil Clarke and I went along to Oxford and Cherwell Valley College recently to meet the students and their tutor, Peter Reeves, The team are building a car completely from scratch. The background to this is that ex Midget racer Dave Smith was a tutor there. The team have an old Stealth chassis which they started work on but have since decided to build their own car. I am sure they would be willing to sell the Stealth chassis if someone wanted one to get started in Midgets and it would be some welcome funds for the college project. We’ve offered to go along and talk to the new intake at the start of the new academic year to tell them more about GP Midget racing.
Wanted! 1) Still looking for a set of plans for the Arrow design if anyone has them. 2) We are always looking for old photos, programmes and results for the Midgets archive. Photos don’t have to be official ones bought from the circuits. Personal ones are just as, if not more, interesting.
Jason Fitch has been in touch to ask if anyone remembers his dad, Frank, racing Midgets. He would have been #91. Unfortunately I cannot find him in the archives at all so you have any mention or even better photos/pictures, please let us know. Jason says that frank raced when Midgets were a Spedeworth formula. In addition Kev Rowe is the son of David Rowe who raced in the 70s too – has anyone got any photos of David at all?
In closing, as ever, I apologise if I have missed anyone out of this newletter – 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. Next one will be out after the end of the season.