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'American Midget Car Races' in London 1948


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#1 taylov

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 09:43

Many TNFers will be aware that Pathe News items have now been made available on the web. Here's a link to the "American Midget Car Races" held in London in 1948.

http://www.britishpa...rd.php?id=58278

Most of these scenes were shot at the Stamford Bridge Athletic and Football Ground, better known today as Chelsea FC. The crowds are enormous - the ground holding around 80,000 in those days and it appears to be full.

The American tour arrived in the UK on April 28th 1948 and consisted of around 20 cars divided up into phony "teams" - USA; Belgium; Great Britain and France, hence the parade at the end of the footage. The tour was promoted by Henry "Bob" Topping, brother of Dan, the owner of the New York Yankees. The manager of the teams was one Albert "Cubby" Broccoli who was to make his fortune elsewhere than in midgets.

The cars raced at Stamford Bridge, Walthamstow Stadium and the Valley, Charlton for a period of about 2 months before retuning to the USA.

Posted Image

Tony

Edited by taylov, 27 February 2010 - 09:47.


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#2 john winfield

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 12:56

The cars raced at Stamford Bridge, Walthamstow Stadium and the Valley, Charlton for a period of about 2 months before retuning to the USA.

Tony
[/quote]

Thanks Tony, interesting link.
Slightly OT, but I'm curious. I always associated midget racing with America and, having read Jack Brabham's first volume of autobiography when very young, Australia. I'm part way through David Gordon's superb book on Chevron and Derek Bennett and was surprised that one of DB's early designs was a basic midget racer. The author mentions the suspicions of the two-wheel speedway fraternity at these four-wheeled interlopers sharing their track.

I've just discovered an old thread:

http://forums.autosp...l=midget racing

Did British tracks run much midget racing throughout the 1950s and 1960s?

Edited by john winfield, 27 February 2010 - 12:57.


#3 thunder427

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 12:56

........judging by the ' finned head' protruding from the bonnet,that midget would be V8/60 powered !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!...........more imfo and photo's please...........regards427

#4 taylov

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 14:49

........judging by the ' finned head' protruding from the bonnet,that midget would be V8/60 powered !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!...........more imfo and photo's please...........regards427


Dick Wallen covers the 1948 London races in "Distant Thunder - When midgets were mighty" published in 2001. He devotes 4 pages to the tour with 10 photos. He states that the 20 cars/drivers came from the California "Red Circuit" and lists the drivers as -

USA - Byron Counts; Jack Stroud; Inky Ingram; Crist & Richardson.

"Great Britain" - Rosie Rousell (photographed in my original post) ; Frank Brewer; Noel Coath, Fletcher Pierce & Joe Kennison.

"France" - Billy Martin; Art George; Fred Hatfield; Barney Dana & Kelly Johnson

"Belgium" - Al Hendrix; Frank Armi; Speed Boardman; Danny Harrison & Sam Dockery.


In reply to John Winfield, there were several attempts to promote midget racing in the UK. Here's a programme from 1937 promoted by Car Speedways Ltd - Directors H and E Skirrow.

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Lea Bridge vs Coventry on Wednesday 25th August. The Lea Bridge side is captained by Spike Rhiando.
The cars have a maximum capacity of 1,500cc (Unlike the post-war American cars) and are described as a mixture of Skirrow Specials and Elto-JAP's. Remembering our recent thread on "disabled" drivers, the programme promoted the next week's feature races including "Harry Skirrow, the one-armed wonder who will challenge the fastest team driver to a special match race."

Teams also competed at the Crystal Palace and Belle Vue, Manchester. Here's a postcard taken in 1938 at Belle Vue showing Charlie Pashley, who had raced for Lea Bridge in 1937 - a man who looks happy in his work.

Posted Image

Tony








#5 john winfield

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 15:40


In reply to John Winfield, there were several attempts to promote midget racing in the UK. Here's a programme from 1937 promoted by Car Speedways Ltd - Directors H and E Skirrow.

Posted Image

Lea Bridge vs Coventry on Wednesday 25th August. The Lea Bridge side is captained by Spike Rhiando.
The cars have a maximum capacity of 1,500cc (Unlike the post-war American cars) and are described as a mixture of Skirrow Specials and Elto-JAP's. Remembering our recent thread on "disabled" drivers, the programme promoted the next week's feature races including "Harry Skirrow, the one-armed wonder who will challenge the fastest team driver to a special match race."

Teams also competed at the Crystal Palace and Belle Vue, Manchester. Here's a postcard taken in 1938 at Belle Vue showing Charlie Pashley, who had raced for Lea Bridge in 1937 - a man who looks happy in his work.

Posted Image

Tony
[/quote]

Thanks for the images and information Tony. It was Belle Vue I believe, presumably in the early 1950s, where Derek Bennett would have taken his PRM midgets.


#6 David McKinney

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 15:40

There was small-car racing on several British speedways in the 1930s - Greenford was an early venue, also Crystal Palace IIRC, and maybe a Midlands track. Meetings don't seem to have been much reported in "our" magazines though, and I don't know how long it continued after the war, or how much support it had

I believe racing on quarter-mile speedways started in California in 1933 (though I'm sure someone will quickly tell me if I'm wrong). It spread to Australia pretty quickly, and to New Zealand in 1938. I suspect the sport might also have had a following in South Africa from a fairly early date

#7 taylov

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 15:49

There was small-car racing on several British speedways in the 1930s - Greenford was an early venue, also Crystal Palace IIRC, and maybe a Midlands track. Meetings don't seem to have been much reported in "our" magazines though......


The one magazine of the period that seemed very keen was "Speed". It published several articles promoting Car speedway or "Buzz-bombs" as it referred to the cars. Rather unfortunate term (slang for flying bombs in 1944) :blush:

I recall being told that the cinder speedway tracks of the 1930s were not at all suitable for this form of racing.


Tony


#8 RAP

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Posted 28 February 2010 - 07:53

Massive crowd.
Surely this must have been financially succesful; if so why not a regular occurance ?

#9 Vitesse2

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Posted 28 February 2010 - 10:49

I recall being told that the cinder speedway tracks of the 1930s were not at all suitable for this form of racing.


Tony

That was the conclusion Cholmondeley-Tapper came to as well. See "Amateur Racing Driver" pp27-29 and also the Spike Rhiando thread:

http://forums.autosp...showtopic=36644

#10 ensign14

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Posted 28 February 2010 - 11:03

Massive crowd.
Surely this must have been financially succesful; if so why not a regular occurance ?

Crowds died off by 1939, that year the major meetings were all rained off, and then the war intervened. Plus the bikers complained about cars using the speedway tracks - it took longer to repair the damage, and given that the midgets only raced consistently out of a few tracks, the whole thing sort of vanished. The first championship in 1937 was essentially run out of Brandon and Lea Bridge alone, the second was never finished as Belle Vue, Lea Bridge, Crystal Palace and Wembley all gave up partway through the season because of the speedway lobby, although Coventry were declared champions. And by following the speedway bike model, what was the point? Same tracks, same audience, only for less close racing and more hassle.

The book "Midget Car Speedway: Following The Fortunes Of The Stoke Potters" by Derek Bridgett (Tempus) is a runthrough of the pre-war midget scene in the UK. Lots of interesting photographs.

#11 RStock

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Posted 28 February 2010 - 16:16

Adolph Rosenberger , who was involved early on with the P-wagen effort of Dr. Porsche , tried to start a post-war midget sprint circuit in Germany . He was going to use some sort of portable track , and nothing came from his effort from what I can find . But it occured around 1948 , same as a date given in the original post .

Rosenberger was using the name "Alan Roberts" by that time . If anyone finds either name assocciated with these post-war midget sprint endevors , I would greatly appreciate the information .

#12 Jim Thurman

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Posted 28 February 2010 - 19:17

And by following the speedway bike model, what was the point? Same tracks, same audience, only for less close racing and more hassle.

The book "Midget Car Speedway: Following The Fortunes Of The Stoke Potters" by Derek Bridgett (Tempus) is a runthrough of the pre-war midget scene in the UK. Lots of interesting photographs.

Interesting, in California, the opposite happened. The midgets pushed out and marginalized speedway bikes, which had been immensely popular. The bikers succeeded in holding on to Loyola Stadium in Los Angeles. The midgeteers simply moved to the newly opened Gilmore Stadium, and the rest is history...

Then again, midget racing didn't follow the speedway format stateside, at least not for long.

#13 ReWind

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Posted 28 February 2010 - 20:27

Rosenberger was using the name "Alan Roberts" by that time.

Just to be correct: His American name was Alan Arthur Robert, no "s" at the end.


#14 taylov

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 09:24

Thanks for the images and information Tony. It was Belle Vue I believe, presumably in the early 1950s, where Derek Bennett would have taken his PRM midgets.


Came across this programme from 1950.

Posted Image

Matchams Park, Ringwood, Hampshire has been a multi-use motorsport venue since the 1940s. This meeting featured JAP twin powered Skirrow specials of 996cc. The programme claimed that these were four wheel drive !! The cars were single geared and started with a rolling start.

The drivers listed include Spike Rhiando, yet again. The meeting consisted of 12 heats over 4 laps and three finals over 6 laps.

Tony

#15 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 21:31

........judging by the ' finned head' protruding from the bonnet,that midget would be V8/60 powered !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!...........more imfo and photo's please...........regards427

By the sound track on the clip there is at least a few V8/60s there. I did not think they were that popular as a midget engine.

#16 rodneypashley

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Posted 16 July 2010 - 21:27

The cars raced at Stamford Bridge, Walthamstow Stadium and the Valley, Charlton for a period of about 2 months before retuning to the USA.

Tony


Thanks Tony, interesting link.
Slightly OT, but I'm curious. I always associated midget racing with America and, having read Jack Brabham's first volume of autobiography when very young, Australia. I'm part way through David Gordon's superb book on Chevron and Derek Bennett and was surprised that one of DB's early designs was a basic midget racer. The author mentions the suspicions of the two-wheel speedway fraternity at these four-wheeled interlopers sharing their track.

I've just discovered an old thread:

http://forums.autosp...l=midget racing

Did British tracks run much midget racing throughout the 1950s and 1960s?

Atem of about a dozen Skirrow Midgets raced up and down the uk from about 1947or8, until about 1960ish Brafield stadium (Northampton) was built specifically for them, and the type of Midget Derek Bennett built raced in the latter half of the 1950s at tracks all around the UK. In the late 1960s, a version of Midgets was introduced, which are still active today, racing on quarter mile tarmac ovals.

#17 taylov

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 20:52

Came across the programme from the May 1948 midget car races at the Stamford Bridge Stadium, London (aka Chelsea FC) on eBay, and here's more Pathe news film complete with a rather anti-American soundtrack.

http://www.britishpa...rd.php?id=27307


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The evening consisted of a 3-lap trophy dash followed by 4 x 6 lap heats of four cars each, a 10 lapper of six cars and a 20-lap final of the eight fastest cars. That night the final was won by Sam Dockery of the "Belgium" team.

Tony

#18 Vitesse2

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 21:14

http://midgetcarpano...d...&thread=841

And a nice picture of Lana Turner - along for the ride with her husband Henry J. Topping Jr - in a Cadillac:

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Source: http://oldstox.com/theearlydays.htm

#19 taylov

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 15:02

There was small-car racing on several British speedways in the 1930s - Greenford was an early venue, also Crystal Palace IIRC, and maybe a Midlands track. Meetings don't seem to have been much reported in "our" magazines though, and I don't know how long it continued after the war, or how much support it had.


Here's the opening day programme from the Crystal Palace track on 6th August 1938 - cover and entry details.

Tony

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#20 longhorn

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 23:05

A little off topic in that this video features a midgets match race in Australia



but terrific to watch nonetheless

Edited by longhorn, 22 December 2011 - 23:06.