Earls Barton Stadium
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
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
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
2 programmes from the 1949 season
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.
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.
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
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
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
Jackie Hodkinson (British Speedway Museum), Stanley Bond, Russell
Mark (dalags, Oval Chat), John Somerville, David Kipling, The
and Earls Barton Museum.