Race track tales

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Who’d be a racing driver?

Judging by the recently released James Hunt film it seems to involve a great deal of romping and rumpo.

And it’s a wonder he had the energy to drive to the shops, let alone go haring round a racetrack umpteen times.

And, of course, he had connections with this district, not only from having at one time owned the mansion at Tyringham but also through the James Hunt Racing Centre at Milton Keynes, to which his name was lent at its opening in 1990.

Not far away lies the world renowned Silverstone motor racing circuit, from where many of the competing drivers would stay at the former rectory at Wicken, which had been converted into a country hotel and restaurant by a former rector.

As for motor cycling, during the pioneering days of the sport, a former engineering apprentice at the Hayes boat works at Stony Stratford (who would found the London Road Garage on the site of the premises) took part in many national and international races and trials.

His garage business flourished but tragically he died in a motoring accident aged 72, while on his way to a holiday in Scotland.

During the 1930s, Dr Douglas Morris, of Tickford Abbey, Newport Pagnell, successfully competed in the Monte Carlo Rally as, during the 1960s, did the son of the owner of the River Garage at Old Stratford.

He was the co-driver and navigator of the Finnish driver Timo Makinen, who had stayed at the garage in preparation.

Their Mini Coooper was the only entry to complete the run without penalty points, but in the Rally the following year they were disqualified.

During my teens a highlight of the weekend was the ‘banger racing’ held at the track at Brafield on the Green, where clapped out family saloons were raced and crashed into each other by seemingly lunatic drivers.

In fact, this was perhaps an aspect in which the daredevil MrHunt might have been interested.