At the end of the ‘50s I made a sports car using a glass-fibre body-shell from the fledgling Ginetta company. It concealed a pre-war Morris 8 engine and chassis. Around 1962 I saw that the Yeovil Motor Club were to stage a night rally. They would let me have a go. I enlisted the help of a cyclist friend as my navigator. He knew about maps. We genned up on references and away we went. The rally started using tulip diagrams. What were they? We followed the next car away, but soon got well and truly lost. I entered their next rally but took one of their members as nav. We did a bit better, but was not fast enough.
But the bug had bitten me. I bought one or two local OS maps and started to plan routes around Bath. At that time I worked for a TV firm called Bristol Wireless, as manager of a repair workshop in Julian Road, Bath. We had a field engineer called Graham Dixon. We thought it would be fun to have our own car club. We combined our names and we had the Perdix Light Car Club, eureka.
Having essentially a Morris car, I was well in with some of the workshop staff at Bath Garages in James St. West. I soon had some potential entries for the night rallies that I was planning. Graham, with my brother and one or two others, would be marshals.
At this time we were friendly with Les Hukins. He had a hardware shop along the road from ours. He was keen to be in with our rallying plans. He marshalled, and entered some with his daughter as nav. The routes were about 50 miles long, with as many controls as we could muster.
Some of the Bath Garages lot were, shall I say good fun, but a bit irresponsible. More and more people were hearing about us and wanted to join in. Graham was a good helper, but didn’t want any responsibility. Things were beginning to get out of hand. For a start, the route sheets I printed by ball-pen and lots of sheets of carbon- paper. It was time to go public. I told Les of my plans, placed an ad in the Chronicle, printed a number of posters calling anyone interested in forming a Motor Club to attend a meeting at the pub at the bottom of St James Parade. It was June ‘63.
Wow! Some fifty people turned up. They were raring to go. We decided to call ourselves The Bath Motor Club. We immediately formed a committee. Les was made Chairman. I was Secretary. Ivan Holmes was Competitions Sec. We immediately got down to business, started to promote driving tests and rallies, both for novices, and tougher ones for the ‘experts’. Of necessity, the rally route sheets had to be secret. I had located a charming lady, Miss Weir, who ran a tiny concern called ‘We’ll Do It’ in Broad Street. She typed and copied all required by the Gestetner process. All at minimal cost.
The rest is history as they say.
In 1990 Bath Motor Club Autocross was voted the best in the UK. This resulted in us hosting the prestigious British Championship Autocross Finals at Great Cumberwell Farm (used for many of our championship rounds of this popular form of grass roots motor sport and now a Golf Club, North of Bradford on Avon) the following year. The event was sadly dropped from our calendar in 1994 due to lack of entries, with a subsequent downturn in competitors. However, as I write there seems to be a revival in certain local areas.
In the 70s, before the advent of the more lucrative Rallycross, which attracted TV companies to get involved (thus reaching a wider audience than Autocross ever could) Bath Motor Club had probably the greatest exponents of Autocross, with Peter Gould (Mini) Peter Maslen (Mini) and Roger Brunt (mini). Roger, who after a long lay off has recently made a comeback with a home built Vauxhall Corsa Special, has supported his son Marcus over the last couple of years in the ASWMC Autocross Championship.
Also making a comeback in recent years, not in grass roots sport, but in the highest level of F1 (as father of Jenson), is John Button.
John campaigned very successfully in a VW Beetle sponsored by Autoconti, a VW tuning company which John ran from a garage near Trowbridge, Wiltshire. And when rallycross came on the scene John moved on to a VW Golf, sponsored by Bose Hi-Fi. The Beetle is still to be seen competing at most local events by the Hoare Family from Bournemouth, still very competitively.”