The Fireball Midgets - From the book 'Mini - 30 Years On' by Rob Golding

Thanks to the Mini engine and a large dose of his own ingenuity, Frank Boyles can rank himself alongside such luminaries as Colin Chapman and Bruce McLaren. In the history of motor sport, there have been few men to design, build, drive and win with their own cars. Whereas Chapman of Lotus and McLaren performed their feats in the glare of world attention, Boyles achieved the same degree of success in the relative obscurity of Midget racing.

Up and down the country in the oval circuits used by stock cars, midget cars race to the Spedeworth rules - devised by journalist Tony Bostock in 1967 when he was editor of Popular Motoring. The wheelbase of the cars in the championship had to be no more than six feet and Boyles decided right from the start that the Mini engine, gearbox and driveshaft were the right choice for his cars. He built sixteen cars called Fireball, in four groups. The Marks 1, 11 and IV used a 1275cc Mini engine developing 120 bhp, while the Mark III was fitted with a Ford unit. It was not actually the power output that was important, and it was those who thought it was who never did any of the winning. For the oval circuits the vital attribute was low-down torque and this the Fireball had in plenty.

The drawback of using the Mini driver train - and an additional reason for optimising torque was that while competitors were able to change axle ratios to suit the various circuits, Fireball could not.

Apart from Fireball, there was only one series-built Midget racer and that was the Geoff Rumble-designed Ford-based Dastle. All other competitors used their own one-off machines and the only other Mini-based car was the Scorpion, built and raced by Mick Bonner. For two years, 1971 and 1972, Frank Boyles won every race in which the car finished and that was most of them. With thirty-five meetings a year and three races at each meeting, that made an extraordinary total of 200 events raced and won.

Boyles retired from racing in 1975 aged thirty three when the commitments of two children, an expanding business and ever increasing journey times to northern circuits began to take their toll. But he retained his Fireball racer and an unused kit Fireball which was the last to be made. The last race he took part in was a European championship event in Holland which he led but was forced to retire from when the engine overheated.

A couple of things in this article are wrong. The statement about winning every race finished in 1971 and 1972 is not correct. Also, Frank retired from Midget racing in 1976 not 1975.