DEEP IN THE FORREST! (Short Circuit Oct 84)

Last month's colour photo of the Ault and Wiborg sponsored Grand Prix Midget of Brian Forrest brought us many enquiries about the car, it's driver and the revival the formula has enjoyed this season. Who better to talk to about it all than pilot of that immaculate number 9 Midget but Brian himself.

Brian first became interested in Midget racing when he went along to Wimbledon in 1972.'I had always wanted to race a single-seater and Midget racing appeared to be the cheapest of doing so.'

He bought his first car in 1973-a Dastle in kit-form - which arrived on the scene just when his wife Lynn had given birth to their first son. 'She seriously wondered whether I perferred the Midget to the baby, ' quipped Brian.

Forrest joined the Midget racers at the end of the season and won the 'Most Promising Newcomer' award. Unfortuntely not long after, the family was involved in a serious car accident which left Lynn unable to walk for two years. Naturally Brian forewent his racing to assist her recovery. When he did return to the racing fold some three years later he came back out in the same car which had been stored in the garage. Quickly back on the pace Brian qualified for a trip to Germany, and whilst over there became impressed by the speed of the Dutch cars which he felt was partly due to being better-designed than the majority of English cars. So armed with a camera, he came back home with loads of shots of the cars and began in earnest the task of building his won car.

Since then Brian has put four cars out on the track, and over last winter built two - one for himself and the other for Rod McLaughlin which he says he built out of love for racing rather than anything else. 'I just want to see more cars out on the track, and instead of going along and charging people a small fortune to build a car I just ask them to supply the bits and I'll put it together for them.'

Brian's own car is powered by a full race 1300 Ford engine, has competition gearbox, Spax shock absorbers and is run on Avon tyres.

'It's totally home-built and took three months to complete.'

His greatest success to date is the East Anglian Championship which he won at Ipswich last year and which he was off to defend the day after I spoke to him. 'I like Ipswich but it always rains when we go there! ... I'd say my favourite is Northampton.'

A consistent season last year saw him finish fifth in the National Points and with a handful of meetings remaining currently lies 6th in this year's Points.

The revival in Midget racing this year has been a pleasant surprise and I asked Brian what he put it down to: 'It's still by far the cheapest single-seater formula - although the engines are getting a bit expensive. It has picked up a lot of this year and I think it's partly due to the fact we have been racing on far better tracks. Also, Alf Boarer has an awful lot to do with the growing interest. He has organised twenty-two meetings this year at more than reasonable tracks. He chases the drivers up and fires us all with enthusiams. Even my own two sons rate Alf highly - they support him rather than me!'

Brian who is the manger of a panel shop is lucky in having a family just as keen in Midget racing as he is himself. Lyn and sons Peter and James (who will, no doubt, be clamouring dad for a Ministox in the not too distant future? - Ed) travel to all the meetings and with a powerful V8 transit which they've turned into a camper can thoroughly enjoy many weekends away racing.

The mechanics on the car are looked after by Ray who has been a constant source of help: 'He's very appreciated ... Without his help I couldn't have done half the things I've done this season - It's all down to him.'

Tailnote: Sponsorship for Brian's car comes from the large Ault and Wiborg paint company, whilst additional backing is supplied by Bill Bridges who, living just down the road from Brian's Horley home, is a handy fella to have around!