Every week through the close season i’ll be putting some pics in an off season gallery. They were all taken throughout 2017 and a variety of places/events are featured. There is non F.1 stuff as it’s out of season and it gives an opportunity to have a look at something different. For the diehard fans there will be some F.1 related things of interest as well. I’ll put an update on this post weekly with a bit of info relating to that weeks pics.
So, we start this week with a trip to the last ever Wimbledon back on March 26th, billed as “The Final Farewell” . For me the loss of this track is equally as devastating as Coventry going. It gave people an oval fix throughout the winter months. I was chatting to a chap in his 80’s who lived 5 mins away from the track and had religiously attended every meeting for years. His knowledge of all formulae that had raced there was encyclopedic. It got him out of the house to meet up with his racing pals and gave him something to look forward to. He said to me, “What do I do now, i’ve got nothing left?” I felt so sorry for him. Like many there were tears in his eyes that night.
A standout memory for me was watching the Hot Rods “Big 3” of Barry Lee, George Polley and Mick Collard racing on the shale inches from the fence. The first time I saw the big league was here on New Year’s Day 1976 when the SCOTA F.1’s were racing. For aficionados of all things oval there have been some monumental events here. In the saloons Deane Wood had a war with the Colliver’s which ended up with him continually ramming Terry Colliver’s car until there was nothing left of it. It was dragged off in bits minus it’s roof. Then the infamous Colliver Cartwheel crash where all 3 saloons went airborne simultaneously going almost as high as the scoreboard was another not to be forgotten incident.
A tradition was to dim the stadium lights when the race started. The rolling lap would be accompanied by Mouldy Old Dough, Swingin’ Safari, Nut Rocker etc, depending on which formula was on. At 5 laps to go the starters rostrum would then illuminate. Great days.
Anyway, on with this last days events. For the early arrivals a track walk was possible before the evening began. Mick Sworder was out in a Hot Rod and ex 497 Roger Warnes in an Old School Superstox. Alan Wardropper was in attendance but unfortunately a car was not available for him. 1300 Saloons and Superstox completed the bill. Mick did’nt record a top 10 in the Rods but had a good time nonetheless. Billy Smith won the 1300’s Final. After the meeting the track was opened up for a walk around. A spare fence post made its way home with a couple of fans. Within 48hrs pit gate and fence had been removed from Plough Lane. As of this week nothing further has occurred at the stadium and rumours are circulating about the redevelopment funds may not be forthcoming. Typical!
It would be great to read any anecdotes, memories etc of this iconic venue so please add to this post.
Next time we take a look at the Classic Hot Rods at Northampton, Keir Millar’s Memorial meeting at Barford and Pistol Pete Winter’s, “One Last Shot” at King’s Lynn.