Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rick at the Races #19 (1981)... by Rick Young

PIC 1 RALLY CROSS at Brafield in December 1980
PIC 2 My Austin A60 Camebridge
PIC 3 As I look out over the city of Athens ( Greece) there's not a race car in sight . (March 1981)
PIC 4 Colin Herridge works on Bill West # 39 car at Brafield
PIC 5 Some of the gang that traveled down to Ringwood with the Bill West # 39 team.
PIC 6 Tim Warwick # 478 in his Frankie Wainman 'rent car' at Ringwood
PIC 8 Frankie Wainman # 212 on the Grand Parade lap at Ringwood
PIC 9 A mobile advertizement for the 81 Baarlo World Final
PIC 10 Willy Neiling # 48 on his Victory Lap following his 1981 Long Tack W/F win at Baarlo
PIC 11 Willy Neiling # 48 in Victory Lane following his 1981 Long Track W/F win at Baarlo.
PIC 12 Having fun on the trip to the 1981 BriSCA F1 World Final at Bradford
PIC 13 Warren McIntyre # NZ 1 at the 1981 BriSCA F1 World Final at Bradford
PIC 14 Jim McClure # USA 3 at the 1981 BriSCA F1 World Final at Bradford
PIC 15 Colin Herridge and me looking over the Isle of Man reps car at the 1981 Brafield F2 World Final
PIC 16 David Bunt # 595 defending champion with his gold roof at the 1981 BriSCA F2 World Final.
PIC 17 Bill Batten # 667 was the winner of the 1981 BriSCA F2 World Final at Brafield
PIC 18 Len Wolfenden # 190 was the winner of the 1981 BriSCA F1 World Final at Bradford

Words and Photos by Rick Young

1981 was a year when there were many changes to my life, but before I continue, I first have to mention an event I attended in late 1980 ( December 28 to be precise) that almost slipped through my memory net . My local Brafield track held it's first ever ( and only , I believe) RallyCross . They utilized part of the centre green with a link to a dirt track made in the spectator parking field. A section of the perimeter fence had been removed to join the two sections.

While preparing this report, I couldn't remember who won, but after a quick e-mail message to my buddy Colin Herridge he confirmed that the winner was # 2 Trevor Hopkins in a 1840cc Ford Fiesta.

Time to digress... I hope my North America readers don't confuse this type of event with the US style of RallyCross where the cars race 'one at a time' against the clock. European RallyCross is 'real' racing, 'wheel to wheel' , usually with four cars in four lap races.

I'll also take this opportunity to mention that in 2006 , what is believed to be the first Euro Style RallyCross in the USA took place at the Glad Rag track near Saratoga Springs NY. After a suggestion that was made to a group of ice racers , Mike Kamm of the AMEC club put the event together. It was a great success and another event followed shortly.

Back to 1981
One of the first changes of the year was my car. During the winter I got rid of my Ford Capri and bought a modest 1966 Austin A60 Cambridge from my sister Anne's father in law. He had owned it from new and it had very low mileage.

The week before the BriSCA season got under way, Pat and I got married ( Mar 7) which was followed by a short honeymoon in Athens the capitol of Greece. We saw the Accropolis and toured the Greek Islands but saw no racing .

After working on the same trucking job on contract to a paper company in Dunstable for many years, I moved on, in an endeavor to earn a bit more cash. I went to work for another transportation company which specialized in a different type of work. Much of it meant 'hand bombing' loads of building bricks or sacks of animal feed from flat bed trailers, an ordeal which I soon began to hate. Every now and then I'd get lucky and do one of their better contracts, which involved hauling high security loads and would be accompanied by guards. I remember one such trip I did , via the Felixstowe to Rotterdam ferry to the Amsterdam docks. Once the containers had been safely loaded on to an awaiting ship, the other driver, myself, and the guards all sat down to watch the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Diana on a TV in a Rotterdam bar.

Pat who was also in the transportation business ( she was the co-owner of a small trucking company specializing in loads from the UK to Italy when I met her ) started working for a company in Milton Keynes. She had the use of a Jaguar company car, so her Fiat X19 was sold.

Colin ( Herridge) and myself were still helping Bill West # 39 at the races , although most of the 1981 racing season , I didn't stray further than my local tracks of Coventry Brafield and Leiceseter. Pat and I had started looking to buy a house near the new city of Milton Keynes where there were better job prospects. We ended up buying a bungalow about a 25 minute's drive north of the city in the small village Maidford, Northants. Maidford is very close to Silverstone, where the world famous racing circuit is located. On race days you could hear the cars from our back yard. It was also quite near to the Brafield track and only a half-hour drive from Coventry.

To coincide with our move to Maidford, I changed jobs once more, and started driving for a company with a contract to the UK's leading Frozen Food store company of the time, from their cold store in Wolverton ( Milton Keynes).

The new house needed some work done on it, and my stock car buddies came to our assistance. Friends, Mick Coady, a BriSCA F2 driver and Kev Shambrook who drove a Spedeworth Superstox did the re-wiring. ( I learned that Kev sadly passed away in 2006) . Brian Bedford # 209 , my old friend from the mid 70's when I started my BriSCA F1 career did some of the plumbing. Actually Brian who used to live in Hemel Hempstead ( Herts) had also moved north and was now living in the nearby village of Weedon.

The Long Track F1 Stock Car World Final at Baarlo was scheduled early this year (Aug 8-9) but we still found time to make the trip to the Netherlands. The 1981 Championship went to Dutchman, Willy Neiling # 48 of Schinveld.

At the end of the month ( Aug 31) I was at Matchams Park , Ringwood for what I believe was the last BriSCA F1 meeting to be held there. Out on the track that day was my old friend Tim Warwick # 478 from Bedford who was renting a Frankie Wainman # 212 , 'hire car'. Wainman had started providing a service where budding racers could rent a BriSCA F1 stock car for the day. Many newcomers started in the sport this way, as it was a great way, prospective racers could see if they 'liked it' or 'not' before making an investment in their own car. After a long and successful career Frankie is retiring from the sport at the end of 2007 and his testimonial meeting was held at the Sheffield Stadium in November 2007. As for Tim, he was still racing a BriSCA F1 in 2007 and I met up with him at the Volusia Speedway. Florida in February when we were both there for the Speedweeks .

The 1981 BriSCA F1 World Final was held at the Odsal Stadium in Bradford, West Yorkshire on September 12 and a group of us traveled up in a rented Ford Transit mini-bus. Although the old Beds & Herts club had been wound up, a former committee man Malcolm Burton organized the trip for a few of the former members. I remember a lot of beer was consumed on that journey, and in the Rugby Club bar at the track afterwards. One noteworthy fact concerning the race was the first inclusion of a New Zealand representative. Warren McIntyre # NZ1 was driving a Wainman car as was, Jim McClure # USA 3 from Saco, Maine, making his second appearance in the UK. Winner of the big race was Len Wolfenden # 190 from Nelson, Lancs.

The Superstox World Final was held at the Kaldenkirchen track in Germany and was won by Norfolk's (UK) Neil Bee # 482. I missed that one , but was at my local Brafield track in Northamptonshire for the BriSCA F2 World Final on September 20, which was won by Cornwall's Bill Batten.

Even with all those major changes in my life, I still managed to attend over forty race meetings in 1981.

1982 to follow....

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