Trendsetting cars and others that have stood out from the rest.
'I can remember a very wet Long Eaton meeting with all the cars covered in thick shale, numbers obliterated but the 345 Keith Jubb ex Harry Smith 'Batmobile' was still instantly recognisable powering down the back straight in a gaggle of cars. The 384 John Jebson 'Untouchable' was another example as was the 422 Nigel Whorton car with the scooped aerofoil.'
65 GENTLEMAN JOHN STIRK
John Stirk from Halifax, West Yorkshire raced the BriSCA ovals from 1972 to 1984, winning one Final in 1979.
For me and many other fans of stock car racing he will forever be remembered for introducing the first and only six-wheel F1 stock car in 1977. A year earlier the Tyrell F1 GP team had debuted their six-wheel Grand Prix car, so for motor sport enthusiasts it was not a new concept but few would have expected it to surface in stock car racing.
When it did appear at Brafield Stadium, Northampton on Sunday October 16th 1977, it created quite a stir and was quickly surrounded by hordes of fascinated spectators keen to admire the engineering skills of John Stirk. There were two Ford Transit axles set on 14 inch wheels instead of the usual LD axle on 15 inch wheels. Power came from a 440 cubic inch Chrysler engine, driving through a Leyland FG gearbox to the normal LD axle and wheels.
Unfortunately this unique looking machine failed to make the grade on track despite considerable efforts by John and his team to find the correct set up. It only raced a handful of times before it was converted to four wheels for the 1978 season.
John's son Iain currently races under the number 65 having commenced his racing career in 1982 with the number 464.
In recent times a replica of the six-wheeler has appeared among the heritage stock cars. It was built by the Stirk family and how the years fell away when those of us who remember the original saw this replica storming around the ovals.
A model of 65 John Stirk's 1977 six-wheel stock car is pictured below:
85 RAY TYLDESLEY 'MISTER BEEF' OR 'THE BULL'
On May 6th it will be ten years since the tragic death of one of BriSCA stock car racing's top personalities and a huge crowd-pleaser. Although he had ended his full-time racing carer in 1991, the news of his fatal motor-cycling accident in Belgium in 1999 shocked the sport he had contributed so much to during a career covering just thirteen short years. People from all corners of stock car racing could hardly forget the ever-smiling, larger than life character, a man who lived such a full life during his forty-five years, seemingly able to move effortlessly between business matters and recreational activities with such natural ability and enthusiasm as to make it look so easy.
A former water skiing champion, Ray took to the ovals in 1978 in an F2 as number 641. Success followed in 1979 using a brand new Higman chassis, the top choice at the time. He won the European and British Championships and the Benevolent Fund trophy and was third in the National Points Championship. During that season he had also tried his hand at The Big League in a Wainman hire car driving under the number 233. This led to the purchase of a 179 Alan Barker built car for 1980 using 454 Chevy power but on this occasion the flirtation with F1s was all too brief. Instead, Ray decided to concentrate on the F2s for much of 1980 and throughout 1981.
It was in 1982 that he went full time into the F1s with a 199 Mike Close chassis and power from a big block Chevy. That car took him from yellow to star grade. In 1984 with a new self-built car he won his first Final at Crewe.
1985 saw another new car with a 95 John Lund Junior chassis. At the Benevolent Fund race at Belle Vue he was involved in a shunt and ended up hospitalised in intensive care. He was absent from the raceways for eight weeks recovering from an operation but when he returned, it was with a vengeance. In all he recorded four Final wins and was fourth in the Bradford staged World Final.
Two Final wins were secured in the 1986 season together with a fifth place finish in the National Points Championship and a further four Finals in 1987 and a fourth in the National Points.
In 1988 a new car appeared at the Skegness opener. It was another 95 John Lund Junior chassis with an aluminium body fabricated by the metal-working genius at the time, 12 Nigel Mellor. It was a beauty to behold and powered by a big block Chevy from the workshops of Mike Huddart. Ray recorded two Final wins that season and finished third in the National Points.
1989 was the pinnacle of Ray's F1 career. Always in search of extra speed and balance and prepared to invest in technical innovation, as he did in the F2s, he introduced a tarmac special for the new season - a car that had been under construction for some three years. It was another car designed and built by John Lund Junior who had also built Ray another shale car during that period. The chassis and body were the norm but the suspension system set it apart. It featured coil-overs, an inspiration from his F2 racing days. Five Finals were won including the biggest one of all. In front of a massive crowd at Coventry stadium on September 2nd, Mister Beef was dominant. The pre race favourite was 33 Peter Falding on row two with plenty of support for 422 Nigel Whorton on the outside of the front row alongside Ray. When the green flag dropped the expected first bend pile-up never materialised and the 85 car, benefitting from the inside dry line, took a lead that he never relinquished. It was the first World Championship won by a car that was not leaf sprung and the spax coil over suspension units on Ray's car quickly became the choice of other drivers. He again finished third in the National Points. Below is my model of Ray's 1989 World Championship winning car:
In 1990 he won just one Final in his gold top year but did start the World Final on the front row. Unfortunately he failed to finish. He was tenth in the National Points Championship.
Ray only raced briefly in 1991 but did take part in that classic World Final at Hednesford finishing fourth behind 53 John Lund, 55 Bert Finnikin and 33 Peter Falding. His cars were sold and he concentrated on his business activities.
The addiction of oval racing is difficult to shake off and it was perhaps no surprise that Ray went back to F2s for a short time and in 1997 was back out in F1 hire cars racing in seven meetings with a heat win and a respectable points tally to demonstrate 'when you've got it you never lose it'.
During his F1 stock car career Ray won 19 Finals and finished joint twenty-sixth in the All Time Top 50 BriSCA F1 Stock Car Drivers compiled for the Golden Jubilee Year in 2004.
He may not have had the most extensive racing CV of titles and Final victories but he brought to stock car racing those vital ingredients of skill, personality, dedication, innovation and a charisma endearing to so many fans. A big man for the big occasion, he could mix it with the very best drivers of his generation and never was that more evident than at Belle Vue on April 20th 1987 in the last event of the night. Malcolm Aylott, former Chairman of BriSCA and race reporter for Keith Barber's Stock Car magazine at the time, reported it eloquently. I too was there at that Bank Holiday Easter Monday meeting. 79 F1s in front of a packed house with 213 Des Chandler winning a heat, 100 Harry smith exchanging thumping bumpers with 309 Jayne Bean, 55 Bert Finnikin leading home 53 John Lund and 212 Frankie Wainman in the consolation and an in-form 175 Rob Pearce winning the Final. But it was the Grand National victory of 85 Mister Beef that remains the most vivid of memories ( and there have been a few over nearly 40 years of spectating). This one race summed Ray up better than mere words. Whatever he decided to devote his attention to, less than 100% effort was unacceptable. 354 Richard Ainsworth, 304 Dave Mellor, 53 John Lund, 422 Nigel Whorton and 212 Frankie Wainman all felt the force of Mister Beef's front bumper as he charged through to the chequered flag in a dominant display of driving associated with only the very best.
It was an indelible memory, unforgettable just like Ray Tyldesley himself. His place in stock car folklore is totally secure and I respectfully dedicate this feature to his memory and to his family.
199 MIKE CLOSE
In the winter of 1970/71, cousins Mike and Norman Close built their first F1 stock car at the Starbotton family farm in North Yorkshire. It was mini-bodied and powered by a 350 cubic inch Chrysler V8 and they shared it during the 1971 season. Mike carried the number 199 and Norman number 200. In those heady days it was difficult to get regular bookings and their appearances were infrequent but at Rochdale, Aycliffe, Belle Vue and Nelson they learned their track craft.
Early in the 1972 season, Norman won a Final at Nelson and both drivers were up to blue grade at the first grading period. But time constraints and the demands of their working lives coupled with the Chrysler V8 developing serious problems caused a fundamental re-evaluation - Mike became the only driver and Norman the mechanic. A 3.8 Jaguar power unit replaced the Chrysler and Mike continued to gain places and points and, above all, valuable experience. The promise he showed was undeniable and turning that into on-track success was not long in coming his way.
To say he hit the tracks in only his second full season at top speed, in top gear and regardless of track surface is no exaggeration. He comfortable rose to star grade, finished third in the Long Eaton World semi, seventh in the Harrigay World Final, notched up three Final wins, finished thirteenth in the National Points Championship and became British Champion at Nelson. If that wasn't enough, during the season, just before the Long Eaton semi, he replaced the Jaguar engine with a big block 454 cubic inch Chevrolet and the significant increase in power did not for one moment daunt him or halt his progress.
For 1974 a new self built car was introduced and the pale blue colour and distinctive shape were to become instantly recognisable as a Close trademark over the coming years. In that season Mike won three Finals and finished seventh in the National Points and in 1975 it was four Finals and fifth in the Points. When the superstar grade was rolled out in 1976, Mike was one of the first to carry the flashing amber lights and he won eight Finals and again finished fifth in the National Points.
The only way was up for his racing career and 1977 saw him finish second to Willie Harrison at the Rochdale World semi. It was Willie who was expected to take the World crown at Coventry but a certain 261 Johnny Goodhall had other ideas and when Willie was taken out, it became a shoot-out between 212 Frankie Wainman Senior and Mike Close. Mike was in a new car for the race and he managed to keep Frankie in his sights. As the race went into the closing laps, Mike closed up to push Frankie wide and take his first World Championship. It was a very popular victory on the terraces. Below is my model of Mike's 1977 World Championship winning car.
Another of Mike's strengths was his technical knowledge and a readiness to innovate in search of improved traction and speed. In 1980 and 1981 he found greater success on tarmac tracks recording twelve Final wins and nine Final wins respectively.
But it was 1982 and 1983 that his multitude of fans saw him at his peak. With a fresh sponsor and a different colour scheme of red and yellow he debuted a new car fitted with longer rear springs that helped with weight distribution. It wouldn't be the first Close initiative that other drivers copied. In 1982 he won twelve Finals including his second European Championship and claimed the National Points Title - the first driver to do so after Stu Smith Senior's thirteen consecutive Points Titles. In 1983, after a season long tussle with 55 Bert Finnikin, he lost out on retaining the silver stripes by just 53 points. In all, he won eighteen Finals including his third European Championship.
In 1984, Mike competed at fewer meetings but still managed ten Final wins and finished fourth in the National Points.
1985 was a modest seaon by his high standards with four Final wins that improved to nine Final wins in 1986 including his 100th Final victory at Skegness in the June and fourth in the National Points.
1987 was to be Mike's last season. He won two Finals at Belle Vue and Sheffield. boosting his overall career total to 109 Finals and with the minimum of fuss he decided to call it a day to concentrate on his business ventures. Nevertheless, his Close-built cars continued to win in the hands of other drivers.
Mike was tenth in the All Time Top 50 BriSCA F1 Stock Car Drivers compiled for the Golden Jubilee Year in 2004. For me he was the complete package as a stock car driver: a natural, seemingly born to harness the power of a big block Chevy. He had the technical know-how to build successful eye-catching cars for himself and others, he constantly pushed the boundaries seeking improvements in car handling and speed and his temperament was spot on. If aggression was required he could dish it out and take it without losing his temper.
Modest to a fault, Mike was never one to crave the limelight, he preferred to let his cars and his driving do his talking - and frankly they said it all! He brought so much pleasure to so many thousands of fans during his racing career and thoroughly deserves his place in the BriSCA F1 Hall of Fame.
293 GORDON SMITH
Gordon was known as the Halifax Hurricane and his relatively short career in BriSCA F1 Stockcar racing spanned the years 1971 to 1980. All his cars carried distinctive Mini bodyshells and were quality machines. This is my reason for featuring Gordon under the heading 'F1 Cars of Distinction'. But I could so easily have included him under 'Driver Characters' because he was certainly someone who left an indelible impression on everyone who watched him race, as well as the back bumpers of his fellow competitors!!
He captured the attention of many fans in his first season when at Rochdale he made sure that the legendary 391 Stu Smith would not pass without stubborn resistance from a determined low grader, and his flamboyant style of driving - all arms and elbows - was a joy to watch. As his confidence grew, so did his ability to mix it with the very best, and in his second season, it was no surprise that he became a star grade driver. His first Final win came at Aycliffe in 1972 and his second was at Nelson in 1973. But 1974 was to be his finest season. Powered by a top notch Chevy engine he won three Finals at Rochdale, three Finals at Nelson and a Final each at White City Manchester, Aycliffe and Wolverhampton. By now he had an army of fans and finished the year 5th in the National Points Championship. In 1975 he dropped back to three Final wins but in 1976 he won two Finals at Nelson and Finals at Rochdale, Belle Vue and Stoke. That year also saw him finish runner up in the World Final at White City Manchester to 3 Stuart Bamforth.
Below is a model of Gordon's 1976 car:
The last of his Final wins came at Rochdale in 1977 where he won three in all. Although Gordon raced again in 1978 and 1979 there were no more Final wins and after a brief appearance in 1980 he finally retired.
In the early 90s he could be seen supporting his son Eliott at Hot Stox meetings. Eliott certainly drove like a 'chip off the old block' and mirrored the racing style of his father, which he carried through in a hire car drive in a BriSCA F1 stock car. Unfortunately, the high cost of F1 racing precluded any long term commitment.
But returning to Gordon, one of my favourite stories happened at Nelson. It's fair to say that Gordon liked a drink at the end of a hectic stock car meeting - who can ever forget his '293 Powered by Booze' t-shirt, designed and produced by Keith Barber. This particular night he had won the Grand National and the meeting was running late. Off Gordon went, sat on the bonnet, for his lap of honour only to realise that 'last orders' were about to be called at the Alpine Bar. He made it to turn one before the thought of missing out got the better of him and he got off the car, told his mechanic to finish the lap and headed off over the fence for the quick dash to the bar!!
In all, 293 Gordon Smith, the Halifax Hurricane, won 22 Finals and was joint 47th in the All Time Top 50 BriSCA F1 Stockcar Drivers as compiled in Golden Jubilee Year 2004.
260 Dave 'Bezz' Berresford
Dave Berresford entered F1 Stock Car Racing in 1971 in a 7 Darkie Wright built car previously owned by 385 Wilf Hargreaves. Wilf had sold it in 1968 to 391 Stuart Smith, who wanted the 425 Buick Wildcat for his ex 178 Albert 'Tiger' Griffin car, and it was five years later that Bezz bought the rolling chassis of the ex Hargreaves car for less than £20. Powered by an American V8 engine, he debuted the car at the old Belle Vue and proceeded to make a name for himself with a complete 360 degree rollover. The resultant damage sidelined him until reappearance at a Christmas meeting the same year.
It was August 1972, at Aycliffe, when Bezz won his first race and, shortly after, at the same raceway, he was 2nd in his heat and 5th in the Final. On June 9th 1973, at Long Eaton, he unveiled a new self-built machine, powered by a 389 Pontiac - it was a classic in every respect, drawing a huge crowd of admirers. The chassis and rollcage were painted white and the Ford Popular bodyshell was light grey - it was a joy to behold. One of several innovations was a long steering arm which would be copied by many other car builders. The new machine went as good as it looked and Bezz recorded a 5th in his heat and 5th in the Final after leading the race for a considerable distance. He continued with this car for four further seasons, eventually achieving star grade at Bradford on May 6th 1976.
Bezz introduced a new self-built car for the 1977 season powered by a 428 Ford and won two Finals at Nelson. In 1978, he won Final victories at Blackburn, Nelson and Skegness. Over the following seasons he was consistently in the results as a star/superstar driver without actually winning many races and achieved a career best 5th in the National Points Championship in 1980. By now he had built up a substantial following of fans, all keen to see him take a major title in one of the many new cars he unveiled every couple of years.
It was his efforts to become World Champion that conjure up so many memories for his supporters. In 1982, at the old Belle Vue, the chances to move aside the drivers ahead were limited by the wet track and the danger of ending up in the fence as well!! The order at the end of lap one was 2 Willie Harrison, 199 Mike Close and 260 Dave Berresford and it was the same 24 laps later. What an emotionally charged night that was and even the diehard Close and Bezz supporters didn't begrudge Willie that long awaited World Title. At the same venue in 1987, Bezz started the World Final on the front row alongside 53 John Lund, after winning the semi at Sheffield, and during the race followed Lund and 212 Frankie Wainman waiting for an opportunity to make a move, but it never came and he finished 3rd again. In 1988, Hednesford hosted the World Final weekend and Bezz led the main event until a coming together with 53 John Lund and 33 Peter Falding put him out, but he did win the meeting Finals on both days!
Success in the shape of a major title did eventually come Dave's way in 1988 when he became British Champion at Bradford on May 30th. In all, seven Finals were won in 1988 which was to stand out as a high point in his racing career.
Below is a model of Dave's 1988 car:
The World Final frustrations returned in 1990. Having won the Long Eaton semi, Bezz started on the front row at Bradford. 53 John Lund led the first half of the race with Bezz shadowing him in 2nd place but as the track dried and Lundy encountered engine problems, it was 55 Bert Finnikin who seized the moment and won with Bezz finishing 2nd.
All his cars had been self-built until the one introduced in 1991 which had a chassis built by New Zealander 35 Graeme Barr in the Clive Lintern workshops. It took Bezz to 5th in the National Points. A model of this car is shown below:
The World Final gremlins were present again in 1994 when a win at the Stoke semi put Bezz on pole position at the Bradford staged World Final - a race track where, over the years, he had won many Finals. But 64 Kev Smith had other ideas when he pushed Bezz wide on the opening lap. When he got back up to racing speed and 4th place he was too far back to influence the result. 515 Junior Wainman led but stopped with cooling problems letting in 391 Andy Smith for his first World Title with 64 Kev Smith in 2nd and Bezz 3rd.
A neck injury sustained in 1996, resulting in two collapsed vertebrae, forced retirement on Bezz and left his vast array of fans with many wonderful memories but unable to believe that his undoubted talent and ability at the wheel of a BriSCA F1 stock car had never been truly rewarded. One British Championship and 49 Finals in his 25 year career justifiably placed him at 11th in the All Time Top 50 Drivers in Golden Jubilee Year but if only those World Title attempts had turned out differently..................but that's the unpredictability of F1 stock car racing and what makes it such compulsive viewing.
Dave has made the occasional appearance on track since his enforced retirement, demonstrating all his old skills and proving that the pull of the race track is as powerful as ever.
156 Graham Blundell
A former Mike Parker Promotions 'Hell Driver', Preston based Graham entered F1 Stockcar Racing in 1972 in a Chrysler powered car and immediately made his presence felt, rising through the grades and becoming a first time star in 1974.
In 1977 he introduced a trendy self designed and built car. It was the first of what was to be many such tidy cars. The chassis and axles were standard for stock cars at the time: the box chassis featured Morris LD axles front and rear mounted on LD springs - a set-up that was to be universally popular with drivers for the next twenty years. The big block Chevy power unit was also the accepted way to go. The roof came from a Ford Cortina Mk1, series two, the first to feature airflow ventilation and the front grille from a Vauxhall Victor - the Transcontinental.
But it was the body shape and design that caught the eye. Simple but stylish it made an immediate visual impact especially with the purple paint.
Here is my model of Graham's 1977 car:
Graham built his own cars except for the last one to carry the 156 number which was built by 212 Frankie Wainman Senior in 1988. With it Graham finally attained Superstar grade.
An injury sustained in 1990 led to a prolonged absence from racing and eventually Graham sold up and retired.
His oval career covered almost 20 years and in that time several immaculate Plumbs of Preston sponsored cars appeared from the Blundell Preston workshops. They were always a credit to the sport. Graham won seven Finals between 1973 and 1988.
Off track he spent many years as Chairman of the BSCDA.
In recent times he has been seen as a spectator at meetings around the country and has appeared in the annual Veteran's Race at Coventry demonstrating that he has lost none of his skills.
422 Nigel Whorton
At the end of the 1986 season, master stock car builder, Clive Lintern produced the red Arrow Mark 5 machine for driver Nigel Whorton.
Clive already had an enviable reputation for constructing stock cars that were bristling with technical innovations and, with each new creation, he continued to push the boundaries, seeking practical, workable solutions aimed at getting the maximum return from the car.
For example, on the Mark 5 rear suspension he used Bedford CF rear mono leaves, employing more of the spring length to give a more progessive spring rate. New ideas were used on the front and rear axles and under the bonnett two radiators were used to cool the high revving engine. The braking system featured split circuits and balance levers which provided front to back and inside-outside bias.
But for all that technical know-how and application, it was the visual impact that impressed so much when the Mark 5 Red Arrow appeared in 1987, particularly the huge bonnett scoop, the silver and red colour scheme and the protective pipe work. With its high-pitched, screaming engine, it sounded as mean as it looked.
This is a model of the 422 Red Arrow Mark 5.
Nigel had five Final wins with this car during 1987 and another three in 1988.
In 1989, Nigel was in yet another Lintern creation, the one remembered for its unusually scooped aerofoil. Below is a model of this car:
Nigel had four Final wins during 1989.
306 Mick Noden
Mick was born in Liverpool, the eldest of four children whose parents were farmers, and it was the purchase of a farm that brought Mick and the family to the Rugby area of Warwickshire.
His F1 stockcar debut was at the age of 19, midway through the 1962 season, at Coventry in a 3.4 litre Jaguar powered car complete with a Hillman Saloon bodyshell. For some time, racing was an occasional activity at tracks close to home. He continually experimented with the car and the Jaguar engine eventually gave way to a V8 Oldsmobile.
His first career final win came at Crayford Stadium in East London, closely followed by another at the same track, and very quickly he rose from yellow top to star grade finishing seventh overall in the National points chart.
A further final win came in 1970 and another in 1971 but they were just the prelude to what was to be an incredible 1972 season for Mick Noden. A brand new car, powered by a 394 cubic inch Oldsmobile, the culmination of all Mick's ideas, allowed him to challenge the domination of the legendary Stu Smith all year in a fierce struggle for the National Points Title. He ran Stu very close and ended the season with 18 Final victories and finished second to Stu in the World Championship race.
In 1973, a series of engine problems took their toll but Mick still finished a respectable 4th in the end of season Points chart. He had qualified in pole position for the World Final but on a point of principle didn't line up for the race. At an early season Harringay meeting, he had clipped a barrel which was, contrary to the regulations, half full of water. The incident severely damaged his best engine and led to a season plagued with difficulties. So by way of protest he stayed away from the World Final at Harringay. Ironically, this was the first of 252 Dave Chisholm's three WF's in succession. Who knows what might have happened if Mick had raced given his outstanding form.
In 1974 Mick won 7 Finals with a by now aging Oldsmobile engine competing against more modern power packs. He was 3rd in the WF at Coventry and finished 6th in the Points.
Mick purchased a big block Chevy engine for 1975 but the new car was never really to his liking. Nevertheless, he still won 10 Finals, but only two Finals the following year.
After 1976 he was in semi retirement with irregular appearances. However, he didn't lose his winning ways. There were two Final wins in 1977, four in 1978 and another two in 1979. He was racing even more infrequently at the start of the 80's mainly due to a health problem and didn't appear at all in 1982 or 1983. But he wasn't done yet!!
Mick returned to the raceways in 1984 with another new car, winning a Final at Northampton and two more at Leicester, one of which was the last ever at Blackbird Road. He went on to win eight other Finals before retiring completely in 1991.
Mick Noden was a huge favourite wherever he raced, an acknowledgement of what a skilful and successful driver he was, able to mix it with the very best of drivers. He will always be remembered fondly for that remarkable year in 1972 when he gave Stu Smith such a stiff challenge at race tracks all over the country - wonderful memories. Justifiably, Mick was joint 23rd along with 3 Ellis Ford and 244 Jim Esau in the top 50 BriSCA F1 drivers of all time - a list compiled for the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the sport in 2004.
Sadly, Mick passed away after losing his fight with cancer in December 2007.
Below is a model of Mick's 1972 Oldsmobile special, truly an F1 car of distinction.
384 John 'Jebby' Jebson
This new car of Jebby's first appeared at the Easter Saturday meeting at Nelson in 1978. An original bodied creation built around a 1934 Austin 10 by John and his team, it had an accurate replica Rolls Royce radiator grille and immediately stirred the imagination of young and old alike.
Its nickname, 'The Untouchable', conjured up images of the prohibition era in the USA which Jebby promoted with his gangster style racing suit and, of course, claiming to be untouchable in the world of contact oval racing was like a red rag to a bull. Suffice to say it didn't remain untouched for long!
Jebby's racing style was pure entertainment; foot hard down, no quarter asked, no quarter given. He raced between 1973 and 1991 and probably his best season was 1979 when he rose to red top driving 'The Untouchable' and won two meeting finals at Long Eaton and Sheffield.
John came from Denby Dale near Huddersfield in West Yorkshire.
Below is a model of Jebby's Untouchable car:
219/100 Harry Smith
Harry Smith was from Colne, Lancashire and built and introduced the unique looking Batmobile car for the 1977 season. Over subsequent years, all his cars had that special factor but this one was the ultimate.
At first the car was a handful especially with the big block Chevy power unit. Harry started the season as a blue top and the initial problems saw him drop to yellow for May. At this point it all came together - the car's full potential became evident and he stormed up to star grade for June, easily retaining that grade for the remainder of the 1977 season.
Harry drove a stock car as he lived his life - to the limit and beyond. He was a true entertainer using the front bumper for what it was intended for, mixing it and accepting the return hits with the unspoken promise of early retaliation. No wonder he had legions of loyal fans wherever he raced.
However, at the dawn of the 1978 season, his fans were disappointed to learn that he had sold the Batmobile to 345 Keith Jubb and retired. This was something he was to do many times during his racing career, retiring then returning after a short break, as good as ever!
In 1990 he was back racing again under the number 100, winning what turned out to be his last Meeting Final at Hednesford on May 13th. Between 1976 and 1990 he won 21 Finals. Shortly after he tragically lost his life in a motoring accident.
Of all his self-built cars it is the Batmobile that probably projected his audacious personality and love of life. Within the world of F1 Stock Car Racing he will always be remembered with great affection.
Below is a model of Harry's Batmobile. It is shown still in Harry's racing colours, only the name and number changed when Keith Jubb bought it. It became known as the 'Jubb Jubb Bird' and elevated Keith to star grade.
252 Dave Chisholm
The triple World Final winning car of 252 Dave Chisholm was originally built by ace stock car racer 396 Doug Cronshaw. Although this car took him to 3rd place in the 1972 World Final, he was never totally happy with it and sold it to the legendary Stu Smith when Smith's own car was having an engine rebuild.
It was bought by Dave Chisholm in 1973 for his entry into F1 racing. Dave was a former F2 World Champion but he took everyone by surprise by winning his World Championship semi final at Long Eaton and going on to win the World Title at Harringay. Stu Smith was the defending World Champion but having failed to survive his semi final he had to start from the back of the grid. It didn't stop him from finishing second.
In those years Stu Smith reigned supreme in Briscaland - he was the driver to beat. But the following year at the Coventry World Final, Dave Chisholm and Stu Smith were on the front row. Smith roared off at the start with Chisholm tracking him until the closing laps when he grabbed the opportunity and bumpered Superstu wide to take his second World Title.
In 1975, the World Final was on Stu Smith's home turf at Belle Vue Manchester. Again Chisholm and Smith occupied the front row but this time Smith was expected to make no mistake. He was again the early leader with Chisholm trying hard to stay in touch. But stay with him he did and towards the end of the race in went the bumper and Chissy drove past to win his third World Title in succession.
Unfortunately Dave sustained a serious back injury at the opening Northampton meeting in 1976 and it prevented him from defending his title and forced him to cut back on his racing. To the legions of Chissy fans on the terraces F1 Stock car racing would never quite be the same again.
This famous Cronshaw-built car was later bought and used as a Celebrity Special by 3 Stuart Bamforth, World Champion in 1976, when he reopened the Bradford track. What happened to it after that is unknown.
The engine in the car, a 454 Chevy, had been used by Doug Cronshaw in a different chassis and that car, nicknamed the Potent Mix, won him the World Championship in 1971.
Below is a model of Dave's car:
See the Multiple World Winners page for a pic showing the three WF winning cars.
501 Chris Elwell
For the 1986 World Final, New Zealander Peter Kuriger built a space frame car for his fellow countryman Russell Joblin to race. Constructed at the Elwell Transport workshops in Rugeley Staffs, the car became the property of Chris Elwell after the World Final and he competed in it during the 1987 season.
Below is a model of this car:
This car was powered by a big block Chevy and considered to be overweight. Just before the 1988 World Final, Chris introduced a new slimmer version. It was created with torsion bar suspension, an open tube coverted LD rear axle, a similar box tube front axle and a Sprint Car style aluminum small block Chevy engine (383 inch:500bhp) with a ratio change gearbox. The finished result was radical and very quick.
Below is a model of this car:
As a result of this car aluminum small block engines were banned and, even now, only iron blocks are permitted. Efforts to ban the ratio change gearbox failed. The car took Chris to 3rd place in the 1988 World Final and subsequently several meeting final wins.
For those who appreciate the distinctive space frame design this car was a joy to behold both stationary and at full chat around the raceway.