Earls Barton Stadium

Earls Barton Stadium provided various sports between the 1940s and
the early seventies. Greyhound racing lasting the longest, spanning the whole
time other sports used the facility

Greyhound Racing

Dog track can clearly be seen in this photo with Bangers on inner track.
The track was what is called in Dog Racing Circles  ''A Flapper Track''

Speech by Lord Donoughue to the House of Lords 9th February 2010

My Lords, I must declare and admit that I am currently a half owner of not just a
slow but an increasingly slower greyhound. I should add that although she is among
 my many loss-making investments, she is the most beautiful and much preferable
to any of the others. I should also declare that, when  a young teenager, I was an
assistant to the bookmaker at the old Earls Barton track, certainly a 'flapper track'
by any standards. I have never forgotten the occasion when he was driving me home
and he pulled a revolver from his pocket, showed it to me while driving and said simply,
''You get some dodgy people at the greyhounds''.
You get lots of nice ones too!

The owner of the track was Mr Alf Jones who run the dog racing.

Speedway at Earls Barton

Earliest mention of motorcycle racing in the stadium was grass-track in 1947 run by
Wellingborough Motorcycle Club although on a 1945 aerial image there was a definate outline
 of a circular track on the grass surface. I949 into 1950 there is mention of an Earls Barton team
although the 2 programmes covers below show that the Irthingborough Bats Speedway Club
certainly raced on the track. The track was built inside the Dog-track and measured only 280
yards long. Probable promotor was Wilf Plant with help from Norwich riders, Paddy Mills
and Paddy Hammond. At this time we cant find any photos from the venue at all.
 About this time a young speedway rider from Wellingborough was riding for
 the Cradley Heath Speedway team, one of the top teams in the league. He left them at
end of the 1948 season and then taught at the speedway training school at Earls Barton which
 he ran until he joined the Oxford  Speedway Team in 1950. It is pretty certain he left Cradley
 because his wife was ill at that time and he wanted to be closer to his home in Wellingborough.
No-ones sure if he carried on teaching at the track after he joined Oxford but the training school
 was open until 1957. After 2 years with Oxford he moved to ride for Wolverhampton for another
 2 seasons before retiring as a rider. Photo below shows him in his Cradley Heath Vest.
His name was Eric Irons and his name lives on in speedway history.

Eric Irons 1917-2012

br po

2 programmes from the 1949 season

Midget Racing

There are mentions of Midget Racing at the stadium in 1951 , if racing did
happen at that time its a good chance it was organised by Dave Hughes with
his mates Arch Hanscomb and Wilf Davies, Wilf was a big friend of
stockcar driver Aubrey Leighton who had a garage in Earls Barton.
Also the Brafield Foxes Speedway Team applied to race at the track but permission wasn't
forthcoming  mainly it is said because of Sunday laws in the early 50s.

Go Karting

In the records of the British Go-Kart Association in August 1960 there is an entry for
the Earls Barton Go-Kart Club with the Stadium as their registered address. By this time the
 cinder track had been laid with tarmac. In the photo below you can see the dog track and the
Grandstand beyond. At this time Aubrey Leighton, the famous stockcar driver, had his garage
in Earls Barton and had a brief from the Association to design and build Karts as none were
being constructed here and the cost of inporting from America was very high. Aubrey worked
on the prototype over the winter of 1958 and completed a demonstration run at Bradford
Stadium in June 1959, great interest was generated and the sport was born in the U.K. Once
 the  design was approved the project was taken over by the 'Aero Kart Company'. According to
the sign in the photos below, the garage was the Headquarters of the British Go-Kart Association.

bbc nnn

Aubrey trying out the Kart                                  Inspection of the new Kart

Race meeting at the Stadium in 1960

Bangers and Hot Rods

There seems to be mentions of two promotors of the Banger Racing at the stadium but
its not clear if they worked together or were 2 different organisations. Northants driver
Chris Butler was one and as ex-banger racer Pete Inns told me Geoff Gould was the other.
Racing went on for maybe two and a half years ex-driver Stanley Bond Jr told me covering the
late 60s until 1971. Stanley was the son of a 'showman' whose yard was opposite the track and
 he still lives there. Below is a programme from the last season. As can be seen the  track
was called 'Wildcat Raceway' at that time suggesting in was run in part by the local team of
 the same name from Rushden. Another of the teams that raced there was the London Outlaws .
Captain of the 'Outlaws' was Peter Dowdeswell who now has 365 entries in the Guinness
book of records for fast eating and drinking. Peter still lives in Earls Barton and organises
shows to help local charities. Peter told me the reason there was a van parked on the knoll
in the centre of the track was because drivers tried to jump a large hole using the bump to
take off over it. A driver got injured so from then on a van or car was always placed there.
This can be clearly seen in some photos below.
There was a regular car remover at the track called 'Curly' Bell, as soon as racing was over
he would transport any redundant cars off to the scrap-yard.


Death and Destruction Derby Winner Tankard won by Pete Inns 29-8-1971

The 'Time' team made various visits to the track, their captain was Reg Johnson
 Other regular teams were Luton, Bedford, The Rebels,  Avengers and the Kings Lynn Tearaways
The track was featured in an Anglia news item on the 24th of May 1971.



Programme from 26th June 1971

Poster Advertising Track


Photos from the Banger Racing








As can be seen from from these photos the track had the traditional post and wire fence
and the usual oil drums marking the inside of the bends. As the meetings started at
7.45 on a Saturday evenings they probaly had to rely on the dog track lights to finish racing.
The photos above were kindly loaned by Pete Inns who with his brother, Dave , raced
at Earls Barton as well as most other tracks around the area.

Dave Inns Photos





Stadium Today


Above is Stand as was left and used for the cricket club  
As can be seen from photos below the concrete base is now home for some porta-cabins
and field is used for cricket and football.



Any more info would be most welcome

Special thanks to Pete and Dave Inns, Peter Dowdeswell, Old British Programme Gallery,
Jackie Hodkinson (British Speedway Museum), Stanley Bond, Russell Thomas,
Mark (dalags, Oval Chat), John Somerville, David Kipling, The Quinsees
and Earls Barton Museum.