Friday, 18 March 2016

Midget Heritage Newsletter 14 - Spring 2016

Once again thank you to all those who acknowledged the previous newsletter - good to hear from you all. Special thanks to Barry Martin for the offer of the 1970 National Championship programme which was a gap in the archive. 

Missing results and information still comes to light every now and then including most recently the race winners from the third meeting of the 1969 season which took place at Ipswich. The search for the full results continues…

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

There has been a lot of chatter on the Facebook group about classic Midgets which wound up with us wondering what happened to the type III Dastle owned by Dick Nadin in the 1990s and more recently Eric Walker. Eric sold the car 1ast
year but unlike the similar car which he sold to a new owner abroad, this one is now in the hands of Sandy Glen who is restoring it to use for sprint and hillclimb events here in the UK.  I was quite surprised to look back at the old Midget Club newsletters and see that Dick’s original enquiry to me for more information was way back in 1995!  Since then we have amassed and collated a little more information on the early days and can have a good guess as to which car it actually is…  The chassis plate dates the car to 1968 and given the base colours described by Dick 20 years back it is most likely the car originally raced by
Pete Smith
the late Pete Smith. He took several wins in the car and also topped the points chart at one time as well during the 1969 season.  The onward path of the car is not so easy to trace at the moment, particularly as Pete was programmed racing a type VII in 1971 and Fireball chassis during 1972. It may be that Pete’s brother John took over the type III in ’71 as he is listed racing one for the MARC at that time.

Thankfully the future of a mk4 Fireball has been secured. Ben Pashley has acquired the ex Gary Bonner car and is hoping to restore it to as near to original specification as possible.  We are hoping to establish exactly which chassis this was and indeed confirm it is an original Fireball – does anyone have contact with the Bonner family so that we can find out who they bought the car from?  An uneducated guess would be that it’s the ex Roland Parker mk4 – mainly based on geographical location and the fact that neither drivers careers overlap.  Gary is showing as having started racing with the club in 1990. It would be useful for us to have the information for the archives and also for Ben.  Carl Checkley won with the car in 2010 which set a record – it basically being a 35 year old chassis winning a race in a current formula against current specification machines.

There are occasional opportunities to display and demonstrate heritage cars so if anyone wants to start on such projects please let us know.

Current news…
The 2016 season opener scheduled for Grimley was cancelled for several reasons including several drivers not being ready.  The schedule therefore got underway with a Saturday / Sunday outing at Swaffham with two new drivers, Steve Sutch and Camey Dorrell, joining the grid, Welcome both of you. It was particularly timely for Camey to join us as this newsletter had been discussing lady racers (issue 12) and I think Camey becomes not only the youngest lady racer to compete in the formula but probably the most experienced as well having attained red grade status in Ministox.
Back to Swaffham, Saturday's races saw Jon Pooley, Leon Smith and Dan Pooley take the wins. Newcomer Steve Sutch won the two heats on Sunday with Jon Pooley winning the final.  Jon topped the points after round one from Steve and Leon.

From the archives...

I’ve always liked this picture which shows a match race between the four BP / Custom Car team Midget and Hot Rod drivers.  Rod Tanswell is on the front row alongside the mk1 Ford Escort of Derek Green. Behind them Paul Smyth in the Mini and Frank Boyles. The date is Sunday 29th April 1973, the only Midget meeting in Spedeworth’s short lived tenure at the Cowley Stadium, Oxford. 
This is one of the meetings where full results are not held in the archives aside from the information which Keith Fransella kept – he won the opening race, was third in the next and second in the final. The second picture from the same meeting shows Tony Gale (39) ahead of Frank Boyles (34) and Barry Martin (12).

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  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.

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 –

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