STOCK CAR RACING AT GRIMLEY RACEWAY, WORCESTER.
The first car built by Lex mechanics was a 100E Ford Popular. April 1973.
Left, Clive un-roping the car, Right Tony Little standing next to him.
Back in 1973, I was a trainee motor mechanic at Layland Brothers Garage in Hayes Lane, Lye. On Thursday's I was sent on day release to Dudley Technical Collage to do my 5 year apprentership. Whilst at the Collage I met a chap called Clive Dawe, he was also from Stourbridge and he worked at a garage called Lex Motor Co in Hagley Road Stourbridge. One day Clive invited me to watch him race a stock car at a place called Grimley Gravel Pits at Worcester this race was happening on the following Sunday.
It was the 4th April 1973 when I went to my first Stock car race. Grimley Raceway was a dirt ovel which was either muddy when wet or dusty when dry. I was quit supprised of how many spectators turned up to watch the Stock cars race around. I had never seen anything like this at all, and was hooked from the start. They raced eaither on Sundays or Bank Holiday Monday, I turned up at most meetings and started thinking of building my own Stock car.
September 1973. My first stock car is finished....... A Triumph Herald 1200cc. (Reg No RAP 1D)
During the summer of 1973 I bought an old Trimph Herald for £10 after it had failed it's M.O.T. I spent most nights and weekends modifying the car to race. It was mainly strengthening of the chassis and bodywork. After taking all the glass out and welding the doors up I fitted a roll cage inside to protect myself. A large cow catcher was welded onto the front of the car, the rules said you must have a high bar welded on the N/S front of the Stockcar to prevent the car going inbetween the fence cables and running into the crowd of spectators!
I think there were about six cars in my fist ever race, I was a Virgin white top and was put on the front row. Well when the flag was dropped I hadden't reached the first bend
before a car wacked me in the rear and bashed me all the way around the track until I spun off in a cloud of dust, I think I survived 2 laps out of the 10 I should have done.
I loaded the Triumph onto it's trailer and took it back to the yard in Lye.
The Herald on the back of the Ford Transit ready for it's trip to Grimley. In the photo my Mother is just getting into the truck and Tony Little is going to follow us to the track in his Escort.
During the following weeks I spent down the yard in Lye repairing the back of the stock car, I decieded the rear of the car was to smashed up to put back together again, so I cut the complete rear boot section off, level with the rear window and filled the hole in the back with railway sleepers for protection. The Stock Car was loaded on the back of the works Ford Transit pick up truck and driven to Grimley Raceway for the next race. Tony Little came with us and helped out crewing on the car.
In my first race I came 8th out of 10 cars that raced, well at leased I finished the race
in one piece! The second race was a different matter. I started off okay but then had a big bang from the rear which pushed me into the fence, the impact had torn off the rear axle! After the race was over the tractor came over and put the chain around the roof which in turn ripped off the roof panal. So the poor old Triumph was a write off!
Steve stood by the wrecked Herald, Just after the tractor had ripped the roof off !
In December 1973 I left Layland Brothers and started working with Clive at Lex Motor
Company, Stourbridge as a motor mechanic. This also gave me chance to play with the Lex mechanic's stock car, so again working in our lunch times and some nights the new
car was ready to race at Easter 1974.
Clive (the driver) sat on the car after a few races. Les Martin leaning on the back and talking to Dave Ellis
Clive on his victory lap..........THE WINNER..........
If you win by the sword you will loose by the sword ! On his third race, Clive hit this R.S.J. Which he could not see because it was hidden by the tractor tyre ! But the car was a write off.
Notice the stock car in the background with the winning flag.
The end of a busy day, time to go home with a bent up car ! (left Clive Dawe, right Dave Ellis)
I was given this old Austin Cambridge off Jim Roden from Greyhound Lane, Stourbridge.
Again it failed it's M.O.T. The Austin was that heavy it would make an ideal Distruction Derby car. The only rules for this...You have to remove all the glass windows from the car and tie the doors together. You could have as many people in the car whilst in the race, but as long as everybody in the car has a crash helmet on their head, it did not matter about seat belts ! The last car running is declared the winner and I think we won that one out of the six cars that started. the trick was to reverse into the other cars so saving the radiator.
That's the Cambridge in the middle getting stuck in. I think 5 of use were in the car at the time !
Okay, that was the end of the Austin Cambridge. (left Steve, right Clive) I think the engine was still running after this.
The last car of the season, THE ANT HILL MOB was born ! (reg No SOL 1D)
This Ford Anglia was built realy Solid we even sooped up the 1600cc engine with a webber carborator. For added traction we welded on extra wheels on the back so it was the ultermate in four wheel drive ! This car lasted sevral races before it self destructed!
The first race, Mick (Batty) Whithouse was driving and came in second.
Well after around three race meetings thing's took it's toll on the old Anglia This was taken on the last meeting in 1974.
So a busy 1974 season had come to a close. The "Ant Hill Mob" Ford Anglia was no more and ended up down the scrap yard. This was to be the last time we were going to be involved in stock car racing as we thought we would be capable of better things rather than smashing cars up, mind you, it was great, cheap fun.
In 1975 we, mainly Clive Tony and myself attended sevral race meetings watching Hot Rod racing at Hendsford Hills Raceway in Cannock. We had thought we were going to build a Hot Rod ! And the thoughts of building a Mini with a 1500cc engine was on the cards.
I'm not quite sure what happend in 1975 but somehow our thoughts turned completly around, later on that year (I remember August Bank Holliday) All three of us went to
Santa-Pod-Raceway to watch DRAG RACING. this type of racing was fairly safe and is all about engine performance and NOT smashing into each other, and we were completly hooked on this type of racing, and so the next chapter in my life turned again.