6th & 7th August 1983, Brafield, European Championship
Report from Motoring News 10th August 1983 by Graham Brown

There was something for everybody at Northampton's annual televised 'Festival of Speed' meeting last weekend; Stock Cars and Bangers to keep the contact element of the crowd happy, Hot Rods and Midgets for the non-contact fans, and even truck racing to help frighten the casual onlooker!

The Midgets were racing for their European Championship, and this was probably the race of the day, at least as far as the TV audience was concerned. Despite the non-arrival of World Champion Wilfried Hofer, it was still a powerful line-up that turned out to do battle for the title. The home-based drivers always looked like being up against it, with the continentals enjoying their usual capacity advantage. The timed practice (to determine grid positions) confirmed this state of affairs.

European Champion from 1977 to '81 (he didn't contest the race in '82!) Jan van Rengs took his powerful VW-powered Dastle onto pole position, with seasoned British campaigner Mick Bonner alongside. Defending champion Henk Hanssen (also VW-powered) was right up there with them, as was the immaculate Lotus Holbay motivated Fireball of Jan Litjens. There were three Dutchmen and only one English driver in the first two rows then, but another home-based front runner, Alf Boarer, was close by too and ready to make a fight of it should traffic delay the faster continental cars to any extent.

The Grid:

Jan van Rengs (43)
Mick Bonner (24)
Hen Hanssen (11)
Jan Litjens (48)
Alf Boarer (69)
Dan Hornby (16)
Henk van Rengs (47)
Geoff Hughes (10)
Brian Forrest (9)
Dave Cox (31)
Tony Brewer (44)
Gary Pollard (23)
Malcolm Goodman (28)
Franz Peters (182)
Duncan Reed (15)
Dermott McGivern (96)
Dieter Schutz (168)
John Smith (14)
Dave Wesbroom (40)
Mick Fowler (17)
Mick Clements (32)
John Seamark (22)
George Gimbol (82)
Dave Scott (7)
Mick Eason (37)
Rod McLaughlin
Ross Butler (74)
Jerry Pinny (87)

The Race - 30 laps

The drivers all seemed to be under the impression that they were to have two warm-up laps, but they certainly didn't get them and the green flag was suddenly waved to send them away, some still frantically trying to find first gat. One who never made it off the grid was German Franz Peters who desperately tried to push his car out of the way, but only succeeded in getting it hit by the passing Henk van Rengs. The pair were joined near the fence a short time later by Litjens, his right front suspension broken, and the two prettiest cars in the race were both lying amidst a collection of broken chrome suspension parts - a great shame.

The rest were hard at it right from the word go however. Jan van Rengs did all the early leading, with Hanssen right on his tail followed by Bonner and Dan Hornby, though the latter was trailing smoke and soon began to drop down the order. Boarer was one of those caught napping at the start, but he was soon cutting through after the leaders. It wasn't long before he had Bonner's third position under pressure, at which point the leading four hit the first big traffic jam and it was all change. Hanssen took van Rengs briefly before van Rengs re-established the status quo, whilst Boarer passed Bonner for good and closed in on the leading pair. Van Rengs and Hanssen swapped places a couple of times, but somehow van Rengs emerged from the traffic still in the lead and once on open road again, proceeded to make his power tell by pulling quickly clear.

At half distance the leader was in traffic again, which suited his pursuers nicely, Hanssen and Boarer catching up once more. The trio remained locked in combat throughout the closing stages, but despite some hairy wheelclimbing (followed by aerobatics from Van Rengs!) no one could change the order, van Rengs winning the title he seems to have made his own again, from Hanssen, Boarer, Bonner, Gary Pollard and Brian Forrest.


van Rengs leads Hanssen

Northampton action

Northampton woes for Henk van Rengs