NOTTINGHAM AUTOGRASS CLUB - FORMERLY NOTTINGHAM GRASSTRACK CAR CLUB
Written by David Goode – Been in Nottingham Autograss Club since history began and a former Member, Driver, Chairman, and President of our beloved Club.
Probably due to the recent thirst for information on past Club champions young Simon Reeve has asked me to cast my mind back and put pen to paper so to speak about what I can remember about the Clubs history.
My involvement with the Nottingham Grasstrack Car Club began in 1971 when I used to go to help my brother Alan who was already racing a 1200cc VW Beetle, he had been introduced to the sport by helping a workmate, John Whitehead, father of Olympic hero Richard, who was already racing a Triumph Vitesse. I was soon to follow them into racing with my own Ford Anglia grasser.We raced at Langer on a field at the side of the John Deere Depot courtesy of Mr Barlow.
The Club was steered at that time by Chairwoman Sue Wright and it was affiliated to the GCRA, Grasstrack Car Racing Organisation, which also had Melton, Leicester and Grantham Grasstrack Clubs as members.At the time Melton raced at a track at Kinoulton, Leicester was at Launde Abbey and Grantham at Hougham, a track soon to be revisited by the Trent Club in 2013. Later on the GCRA was to include, the Pennine Club as well as Trent, Spalding and Barnsley clubs as members at various times but the latter three clubs moved on and out of the Association.
As well as the GCRA the CGTRO, Car Grass Track Racing Organisation, was running with the Sturton, Market Rasen, Sleaford and Scunthorpe clubs in Lincolnshire.
The club was a bit nomadic in its early years and moved away from Langar to Thieves Wood. It was in these early years when an article appeared in the HOT CAR magazine from the BJRA, British Jalopy Racing Association, trying to bring all the established clubs and leagues under the new banner of NASA.
Sue attended many meetings to bring about the inclusion of the East Midlands clubs in the formation of the new organisation. The GCRA was quite well organised with Log Books for each grasser, a licensing system and a drivers benefit fund to assist drivers who suffered hardship due to racing accidents. One of those early accidents was to befall Sue’s husband Mick who rolled his Mini and trapped his arm. Very soon after this it was compulsory to have mesh on the driver’s side window, there were not many rules regarding construction and the rule book ran to a whole 8 pages I seem to recall. One rule, which seemed to be policed rigidly, was the fitting of mud flaps to prevent stones flying up at the following cars.
There weren’t many classes in the early days with no specials at all until the GCRA became the East Midlands League of NASA.
With just FWD RWD small and large Hot Car and Ladies classes race meetings did not usually start until 2.00 pm and finished well before the pubs opened on a Sunday evening. FWD was for your Minis and Austin and Morris 1100’s, RWD up to 1200 was for your Anglias, Morris Minors and beetles etc. RWD large was for the MK2 Jags etc. the Hot car class was for the 1600 Anglias, twin cam escorts and your Cooper S Minis. Ladies raced all together.
After Thieves Wood the club had various tracks in the Brinsley and Jacksdale area as well as at Eastfield Farm Old Clipstone, this track was very dusty and in those days it wasn’t unusual to see the Fire Brigade on dust settling duty, on one occasion we hired a Redland Purle tanker with driver for track watering duties, it seemed a lot of money at the time at £70 but how much would a road tanker and driver on Sunday rate cost now?
At one stage the club was desperate for a track and the committee went door knocking at farms looking for a venue. We found a friendly farmer at Shelford who was a motor enthusiast with a barn full of cars including a Ferrari, he kindly allowed us to use the only bit of land that he had which was half suitable and this was between the flood bank and the River Trent, opposite the Ferry Boat pub, at Stoke Bardolph.
Race day came and so did the spectators, the river bank in front of the Ferry Boat pub was crammed with free spectators and not only was every last little bit of parking on the site taken so was every inch of the grass verges on the lane leading to the track used but Shelford village was also gridlocked. Obviously this could not be repeated so on we moved again.
We had a very brief foray to a parcel of land at the bottom of Greenwood Drive in Kirkby in collaboration with the fledgling Mansfield Grasstrack Club that lasted no longer than the Greenwood Drive track.
We had a couple of settled years rotating fields at Grives Farm Nuncargate located near the bottom of the Shoulder of Mutton Hill.
The club found a more permanent home courtesy of Ian and Steve Holmes at Amen Corner at Rufford, this was before the arrival of Centre Parcs, this again due to the location was a sandy soil base but was improved by the addition of many tons of brick clay. This site was to become well known nationally and well liked and had a lot of character, the site developed over the coming years and soon lost the dog racing track that it was used for prior to our arrival, the arrival of the karting circuit on the site did not fit in with the dust created on race days so reluctantly another venue was needed and so Moorgreen raceway was formed.This was the clubs home for many years and hosted the Ladies and Junior Championships in 1997 and 1999.
The proximity to the M1 motorway caused some concerns about dust but it wasn’t until the council planners became involved after about 10 years there, and a failed appeal did the club need to move once again, and from then until this day we have been at Oxton and with a lot of help from the dedicated members and committee a superb racing venue has been created.
As I mentioned at the beginning Sue Wright was the clubs chairwoman, Sue was followed by Mick Healey as chairman, then Dick Wightman who was followed by John Russell, who raced a futuristic shape Audi special as N177, Tony Reeves, class 10 and 7 under N8, Andy Reeve with a Piper twin cam converted 2ltr pinto under the number N28 that adorns his F600, then there was me in my class 8 N141 who passed the reins over to the one and only Mr Edward Shillitto, can it really be twenty five years ago?
The above history of our great Club was written by an even more amazing man. Nottingham Club lost a great asset and a great friend on 9th October 2016 when illness took Dave too early. Our thoughts are continually with Sarah and Hilary and the rest of his family and friends. Dave was a man that could always put a smile on anyones face, just by being himself. Very rarely could you attend a meeting at Nottingham without Dave being in attendance, to leave his mark on this club throughout all he has done. R.I.P Dave Goode.