Derek Johnson

Derek originally raced in 'new formula' Stock Cars in 1968, winning a heat at Brands Hatch that year. He moved into Midgets with a self built car in 1971. In 1973 he bought one of the new Fireball mk3s from Frank Boyles and raced in the colours of Auto Enthusiast magazine. Derek's first major championship win came in the 1973 British Championship at White City.

When the Midget Club was formed in 1975 Derek copied the Fireball design to race overseas.

Derek Johnson from Short Circuit Magazine, October 1977

A native of the 'Royal Wells', Derek became interested in motor racing "as long ago as I can remember," and started circuit racing, which as usual robbed Derek of much loot. "One day, whilst gallivanting around Eastbourne, I saw this old Anglia Estate with ads for Stock Cars at some place called Arlington. I went and had a look, and that was it."

Five years in the then new Stock Saloons followed and red grade was reached. "I went through a patch of being a bit fed up, and started to build a Superstock, using a Triumph Herald chassis and engine. Well then the Midgets appeared, and it sort of changed half way!"

A series of hogged out Triumph engines began to confound the experts, as Derek got quicker and quicker, until two years ago, when Spedeworth lost interest in the Midget circus and Derek transferred to the Autospeedway Weeze Club of Nettetal, Germany. "I'd made a lot of friends racing abroad and I speak enough German to get by so we took it from there."

In the bigger engine Euro Midget formula the Triumph just wasn't up to it, so Derek uses the 1600TC Lotus lump, full race and all-steel, where it counts, to propel his own designed Midget missile. Derek has also built a couple of formula fords for the big tracks so has the technology you might say.

Derek speaks well of his neighbours, Weller Wheels, whose products are shod with Goodyear racing rubber to stop his bot dragging the tarmac. Suspension is fully rose-jointed. Gearboxes are always Mk1 Cortina, surprisingly "Quite strong enough".

Last year Derek did about 32 meetings in Germany where the Midgets are ultra popular. What of future plans? "Don't know yet, we'll see what the rest of the season brings." He reckons it"s quicker to get to Germany than the West Country on a Bank Holiday.

Derek runs a small but well equipped car repair business in Tunbridge Wells, specializing in the classier sort of machinery and is increasingly finding business clashing with racing but we hope he'll be on the scene a while yet.

 

1971 National Championship



1972 - Ipswich


1973 - practice at Ipswich


1973 Wimbledon


Late 70s at Posterholt