Chairman Richard Wright started the meeting by welcoming two guests, Brian South (Mike’s brother) and Alex Jackson, a friend of the Speaker. Five apologies for absence had also been offered.
John Corby briefly took the floor to advise members about personal alarms and batteries but appeared to be the only one in possession of such an alarm.
Today’s Speaker, making his Forum debut, was Mr Bob Soper whose talk ” Motor Sport’s Golden Years — The Era of the Old F***s” would draw on his own personal experiences in the sport and also his time in the motor trade.
Bob took us through the period 1955 –76 when motor racing was really dangerous. We heard how he was taken out of Leeds Grammar School at the age of sixteen to work in the family’s back street garage when his main ambition back then was to be a journalist. He told us about his early car buying experiences, the vehicles bought and enhanced including an M.G. PA Midget and M.G. J2. Business boomed with resprays and the selling of “touch up ” paint sourced from I.C.I. which stopped when the company found out what was happening!!
Bob achieved a H.N.C. in Mechanical Engineering in 1959; served five years in the R.N.V.R. and was looking to do his National Service in the Navy but failed his medical. Tiring of repairing old cars for hit and miss payers he bought a shop on the Harrogate Road Leeds and whilst still motor trade linked diversified into more products. He became a stockist for racing driver Les Leston. The name of the shop was changed to “Rally and Speed” and Bob was advised to source products not stocked elsewhere. This also led to the development of his own customised products such as a “Toothed Belt Drive” and a “Hi Torque Ram Pipe”. In 1959 he was buying from big dealerships but by 1968 businesses/dealers all had an account with him.
We were then told of the various motor clubs Bob joined , becoming actively involved and ending up on various committees but also taking part in events as a competitor, enjoying the camaraderie and fun. He built a Lotus 7 from kit form and through the sixties took part in events such as B.A.R.L. ” All Fools” rally and was involved in the development of the Harewood Hill Climb site. He shared some stories of the characters and friends he made, with an odd one or two straying on the wrong side of the law!!. His journalistic ambitions were realised in 1966 when he became the editor of a motor magazine. He and his team’s progress in the Castrol Quiz was covered and in 1976 his era of motor sport came to an end due to the volume of cars and speed on the roads and the increasing amount of regulations.
As a postscript however 1993 saw old friends reuniting at a luncheon which morphed into the Old F***s Club still operating today.
Members were kept engaged and entertained by the talk; a number of questions and comments raised at its conclusion and the Vote of Thanks on behalf of thirty nine attendees was given by Roy Smith.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY.