Words & Pictures: Mike Humble
I often wonder how funny and evocative certain smells can be and how, sometimes even after many years, a certain whiff can bring back a thousand memories. As a youngster growing up in a town such as Darlington that had its roots in heavy engineering since the Victorian era, I tend to go misty eyed and nostalgic for the smell of hot metal.
My home town of old was blessed with many well known companies such as British Rail, Cummins Engines, Torrington Bearings and The Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Comapany, the latter designing and building the Humber Bridge, Thames Barrier and the huge arch on the Wembley Stadium.
For me though, my favourite smell has to be a hot, well-grafted engine. Fairly recently, my ever-patient other half had to peel me away from the power car of a GNER high speed train after we arrived at Kings Cross – I just stood there breathing in the smell of a hot V12 diesel engine. She wanted to sightsee while I was quite happy with the trains.
The smell of oil and metal must be in my blood, my late Grandfather worked on the railways, mainly in manufacturing, for over 45 years, so maybe I get it from him. However, I digress how, my favourite pastime of all as a child was my weekly trip to the stock car races.
The sound was deafening and your eyes would sting with the fumes of exhaust, petrol and burning rubber as your heroes would tear round the figure of 8 circuit at Aycliffe Stadium. Just like CB radio and computer games on C15 blank cassettes, it all seems so long ago.
Though the money and prizes were to be won in the Chevy V8 powered F1 stocks, my event was the banger racing with its demolition derby finale. Back in the mid-’80s, it was all early Granadas, Morris Oxfords, Princesses and Volvo 164s. We didn’t care if they were rare cars, we were there to see death and destruction. I will never forget seeing a Volvo Amazon T-bone a Citroen Ami at speed – that poor little Citroen was smashed like a wine glass.
So, going back to 1985, certain cars were pretty rare even then, let alone now. Imagine my surprise to see this motor tethered to the back of a C-reg Transit beavertail….
Readers will have to admit that these are a rare sight on the roads let alone on the track. The car is owned by Ian Hall who is an MoT tester from Hampshire, only a youngish chap too but a petrolhead none the less.
It was originally a fuel-injected car but now runs on carbs to fall in line with the rules and regulations of Banger racing. Although the car is a bit bashed, I can honestly say it’s got a shiny paint job and even sports its proper alloy wheels.