This week we start off with a visit to the Guinchard Performance HQ.
When I started watching the sport in the mid 70’s, one of the first drivers that caught my eye was Edgware’s Peter Guinchard(258). He was one of the hardest hitters on the track and action was guaranteed when Pete was about.
When Charlie came into Ministox it did’nt take long for the Guinchard racing genes to shine through in spectacular style. His ability to read a race in the early stages set up the finishes to perfection. Races were won with some quality last benders. The fact it wound the crowd up made it even better. Unfortunately, these days if a driver dares to use the front end with any force it results in boos and calls for a ban. With Jessica Smith and Charlie Sworder providing action aplenty in a similar style, these three warriors made for some memorable meetings and more often than not outshone the main formula that they were supporting. Rebecca Smith is now the sole guardian to uphold this honour and takes the battle to the rest in fine style.
In recognition of the entertainment that Pete and Charlie had given me over the years, I asked that most talented of artists Chris Binns, to put into paint their respective cars. I sent Chris a photo of Pete’s, and Charlie chose one of his own cars he wanted immortalising. After Chris had worked his magic i asked him to title it,”Perfection Through The Generations” as this it most certainly is.
I took the original and a print down to Hertfordshire for them both to sign. Pete met us there along with circuit racer son Tom, and karting grandson Daniel. A hugely enjoyable few hours were spent in fine company discussing all things racing. Pete has a lifetimes worth of stories to tell, and his tales of his battles with many incl. Wildcat were superb.
Daniel’s a winner in karts and this linked video showcases his extreme talent at a young age. There is even a couple of Guinchy moments where it’s evident that he has inherited the fire within.
Season 2019 sees Charlie take the next step in his rise through the sport. To the doubters who all said he won’t find it easy after Ministox, his performance in an F2 at Birmingham Gala night showed them how wrong they were. Two wins and a Final 3rd with plenty of front bumper dished out after only driving the car in the practice session was simply exceptional. I for one eagerly await the next chapter.
Roy Rawlins Testimonial at Arena Essex- Sat/Sun 9th/10th June
This two day event paid tribute to one of the best known contributors to Arena Essex and Promotasport over the years. Now aged 68, Roy has raced in a number of formulas, mostly the various banger classes but has had outings in the Lightning Rods and Hot Rods. On behalf of his transport company he was a prolific sponsor of meetings and events.
In his younger days football and fishing were his passions and racing came along later. It was in the early days of Roy Rawlins Transport that he became aware of the sport. He had two banger drivers working for him, one of which (Chris Whiteman) was the captain of the legendary Arena Essex team – the Suicide Squad. Chris kept telling Roy to have a go himself. Eventually he agreed and decided to use his wife’s old Golf which had been standing idle in the yard. Returning from a job one Friday night he found that the car had been stripped out ready to go. He drove it the 11 odd miles from the Isle of Dogs through the Blackwall Tunnel to a yard in Belverdere!! On the Sunday he took part in his first meeting at Arena. Wearing a pair of bright white decorator’s overalls which were the order of the day back then, his baptism came with the Golf being picked up by a Granada and put in backwards into a fence post. The back axle was virtually ripped out but he still tried to drive it on. His first words, ”Wow, I really liked that!” That was the beginning of Roy’s addiction.
Team racing brought the crowds in, but Roy was’nt a fan of physical violence and these team events were catalysts for some very unsavoury incidents, which more often than not continued in the pits. As he was in his late 30’s when he started, all the main headcases were significantly younger and respected him for having a go so he never got too much aggro directed at him, and managed to keep out of the really evil stuff.
After a couple of years Roy started sponsoring and having loads of vans as part of his business instigated the van bangers. Soon after this came the Rawlins 2000 which were the DD’s at the end of each meeting. Everyone put £2 in and the end of season race would be worth £2000.
Although as mentioned he was’nt a team racer, he was tasked with captaining a 30 man Arena team to go to Ringwood for an inter-promotional team meeting. He had his work cut out as the many teams that raced at Arena just did’nt get on or even look at each other. With the respect he held he put together a 30 man squad, and they all drove into the Ringwood pits together with Union Jacks and PRI banners. The racing was brutal but Arena came away victorious. A further 30 on 30 event at Warneton in Belgium was another highlight. He captained several more teams on away trips and because he was’nt involved in domestic team racing could speak to anyone on any side they were on. They looked upon him as being,” like their dad” and in fact used to call him Grandad.
Around the age of 60 Roy took a break from racing and turned his hand to boxing. He was in the gym doing a bit of sparring and the owner suggested he was fit enough to have a fight. Roy agreed providing it was for charity. He took part in one for “Help for Heroes” and two for “Meningitis”.
Racing was in the blood though and he felt he was missing it so came back. He featured in a BBC documentary which followed some of the old characters that had come out of retirement to race in the Olly Moran Memorial Granada meeting in 2013. I’ve put a link to this below. It is a really good documentary and even if you are massively anti banger racing this focuses on the people and rivalries of years past as they prepare to come together for one last time. The Condoms and Suicide Squad teams are featured as they prepare the cars and get ready for the big day. This event also raised funds for the Maya Meningitis Charity and was the biggest meeting Roy had taken part in.
He also qualified for the 2015 WF at Ipswich. He had Arena Essex Raceway in big letters down the side of the car to wind up the Spedeworth boys and especially Woody.
For the future, as he is now coming towards 70 he’s thinking of racing more in the Hot Rods as recovery time from banger injuries takes a lot longer.
For his testimonial meeting he had a Granada prepared for the Sat night. It came to him following a £50 a ticket raffle win. The drivers turned out in force to pay tribute. Roy played a big part during the Sunday afternoon, coming out for every race, despite getting wrecked in every one of them. A sterling effort by his pit crew somehow managed to straighten the car out each time. If the car is too damaged to continue during a race his trademark is to get out a newspaper and read it whilst the race goes on around him.
Saturday night was an all Granada event but the action was a little sparse with many wanting to race the following day. The night did end however with a massive follow in from the reigning World Champ over from NI into the pit bend fence, followed by him in turn being demolished by a monster hit from a visiting Dutchman.
Sunday saw the real action. The final saw the top teams who had largely avoided each other come together in destructive style. After two stoppages for massive crashes, the warfare kicked off big time with a continuous succession of follow ins into the pits bend fence. Just one car remained at the end.
A couple of allcomer’s races closed the meeting and Roy was still dishing out the hits until stopped by a huge hit.
I appreciate the majority of fans on here won’t entertain bangers, but if you went to a big championship meeting with loads of superbly presented and unusual cars it would change your outlook. The domestic scene can be rather lack lustre but these biggies definitely are not.
Pics in the gallery.
A few rarely seen F2’s from overseas at the Thurs Skeggy of Speedweek, an F1 star guesting in the V8’s at B’Ham(not Mat Newson, but this drivers number adds up to 16) and a look around the magnificent Nascar Hall of Fame.