Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Midget Newsletter 01 - Spring 2011

I thought it would be a good idea to put a newsletter together for former Midget racers from varying eras. I cannot promise to publish with any regularity but just so long as there is some interest I will put a few notes together.

MARC / Spedeworth days

Sad news back in October last year concerned the passing away of multi champion Malcolm Goodman (ex 28). Malcolm had not been in the best of health since a motorcycle accident some years back. Malcolm is pictured right racing in his Mk4 Fireball at the BP Supernational race meeting at Wimbledon in 1973.

I have recently been contacted by Richard Knowlton. son of the late Arthur Knowlton (128) who was the secretary of the MARC. Ironically I had driven right past Richard's place of work on the day he called me. It was great to chat to Richard - he knows so much about the old days of the sport.

A while back I was also contacted by Ben Bostock and Rhodri Griffiths whose fathers both raced back in the day too. Thank you all for getting in touch - it is appreciated.

Those of you who know my efforts in relation to documenting the history of the sport will know that I am in touch with Paul Daly (ex 17) who now lives in the USA. Issue three of my classic magazine carried a feature on Paul whilst issue one had Dick Nadin's Mk3 Dastle restoration. I am hoping to talk to Martin Robertson (ex 16. pictured right) soon with regard to a feature in an upcoming issue of the magazine — Martin raced hot rods as well as Midgets in the 1970s. My magazine covers all forms of classic short circuit racing but my website, which is an extension of the Grand Prix Midget Club website, focuses on the history of Midgets since the Spedeworth revival in 1967. You can visit the site here: www.ovaltrack.co.uk/gpmidgets/tome

I would be delighted if anyone can fill in blanks on detail / results.

Being someone who is always on the lookout for unusual pictures I thought I would include the one at the foot of the page which comes from Ringwood back in 1971. It was taken by Spedeworth photographer Eric Setchell and shows a very strong white grade line up. Grades in those days were denoted by the colour of the driver's crash helmet. Looks like Dick Waldock in car 11 has been down-graded!

John Hyam will be a familiar name to many as one who has, as a respected journalist, tirelessly written about and promoted the sport through the years. He has set up an inspiring internet resource called the Midget Panorama – this goes way beyond the scope of my own archives and charts the story of the original pre-war Midget cars. The Panorama has been found by a few names from the past including Norbert Dietsch (ex 77) who still has his Dastle Mk7. Another name which came up was Biota – a car originally built and raced by John Houghton. The car. which is being restored, is owned by a guy called Doug Wright from Essex. I've tried to track down John Houghton but to no avail. You can visit the Panorama at:

There are now some third generation drivers entering the fray although not in Midgets as yet! Ray Perry's (ex 47) grandson, Jake, is grass track racing for SEGTO, the organisation based in the south east of England. Neil & Shirley Thomas's grandson, Bradley, takes part in Bambino karting .

More Recent Days

Former driver Andy Collins has sold his Mk1 Ford Escort Classic Hot Rod and has had an immaculate 2-litre Hot Rod built (pictured right) – this means he will have a few more race dates to attend as the classic class only do a handful of meetings each season. Young Rob Sayell is emulating other great Midgets racers such as Alf Boarer by moving onto the circuits and winning races. Rob competes in the single seater. slicks and wings Formula Jedi.


The new season fixture list shows a swing towards the Midlands which also mirrors the driver demographic somewhat. There is still a chance for south easterners to watch the class down at Aldershot in May and September plus Arena Essex in July.

Sunday    27-Mar-11    Grimley
Saturday    02-Apr-11    Birmingham
Saturday    23-Apr-11    Birmingham
Sunday    01-May-11    Yarmouth
Sunday    22-May-11    Aldershot
Saturday    04-Jun-11    Birmingham
Sunday    25-Jun-11    Northampton
Saturday    02-Jul-11    Arena
Sunday    03-Jul-11    Arena
Sunday    17-Jul-11    Yarmouth
Saturday    06-Aug-11    Knockhill
Sunday    07-Aug-11    Cowdenbeath
Sunday    14-Aug-I1    Buxton
Saturday    03-Sep-11    Birmingham
Sunday    18-Sep-11    Aldershot
Saturday    01-Oct-11    Birmingham
Sunday    16-Oct-11    Northampton
Saturday    05-Nov-11    Birmingham

35 years ago... The Midget Grand Prix Club's second year of existence started with the sad news that Derek Kisby had passed away. The early season meeting at Wimbledon on 271h March saw Frank Boyles win two races with Roland Parker taking the other. The 1975 points champion. Malcolm Goodman. headed the entry which also included Paul Emery.

25 years ago... Alf Boarer had bowed out of Midget racing having won his third points championship in 1985. Four drivers. Richard Byrne. Marcus Retchless. Eddie Ricketts and Graham Sinclair had their Midget debuts at the opening meeting which took place at opening Northampton. There was another double race winner at this meeting, namely Basil Craske, whilst John Lowe took the Eric Fretten Shield for winning the opening race of the season.

15 years ago... Harry Sayell commenced the campaign where he would be looking for a sixth consecutive title. Championship rival Stuart Haynes won the 10th running of the Cliff Davis Memorial at Birmingham Wheels.

5 years ago... The season opened with a hat trick of wins for a front engine car – the Gazelle of Martin Lamb winning the June Cochrane Trophy at Swaffham on  8t11 April.

Final Thoughts
With a few classic cars kicking around. a group of enthusiasts are thinking of putting a classic `track day' together so that the cars can have a safe run. It would be great to be able to invite as many people along as possible. I went to a similar event last year for the Heritage Stock Cars and it was one of the best days out of the year.

Another recent photographic find was the one at the bottom of the page which shows Jock McClure's Midget at Wimbledon in what would probably have been 1971. Anyone know anything about the car? Possibly a Formula Ford'?

In closing, 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 begetting a copy of this bulletin.

Richard - gpmidget@gmail.com

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