Alan Wigmore

To talk about Alan Wigmore is to talk about the National Drag Racing Club.

In the late 1960s, a year or two after the formation of the British Drag Racing and Hot Rod Association, the original club at Santa Pod, a group of racers and marshals began to worry about the direction which the club seemed to be taking at the time. The sort of thing desired was not radical – better marshalling facilities, more transparency about club finances, a shorter period of office for officials and better PR for the sport. They formed a club within the BDR&HRA called the Drag Control & Timing Association. Following a series of meetings of the fifty-strong group at unusual locations such as the Jones Paper Mill in St Neots the group had made a tentative approach to the RAC to ask to gain racing recognition. While this was being granted, the group tried to air their grievances at the 1969 BDR & HRA Annual General Meeting but failed to elicit change and on 24 October 1969 the NDRC was formed with Alan Wigmore as Chairman. It became an independent organisation after the hundred members braved heavy snows and a flu epidemic to attend a meeting at the Matrix works in Coventry.

The first big challenge to the NDRC came when the RAC as governing body of British motorsport announced they were no longer allowing the word National in club titles. This came just as the NDRC had taken delivery of its letterhead and signage at a cost of £200. Although the Club appealed and won a dispensation to call itself National it had to commit itself to be a truly national club and run meetings at as many venues around the country as possible. After a couple of meetings at Santa Pod in 1970 an inaugural meeting at Blackbushe was run with help from the Santa Pod crew. The first truly independent meeting was at Martlesham Heath in Suffolk where on a summer’s day virtually every mobile Suffolk Police Unit was called out to police the 8,000 strong crowd along the country lanes.

In the early 1970s venues included Fulbeck near Newark in Nottingham; Dunkefwell in Devon; North Luffenham near Leicester and Elvington in the North Riding as it was called then. The Club co-promoted events at RAF Wroughton near Swindon and successful on-tour meets to venues like Silverstone, Snetterton, and, of course Blackbushe.

As well as leading the NDRC, Alan was the voice of drag racing at NDRC events in the 1970s and 1980s and, at the start of his career, a driver. His career as a racer was quite short but colourful. He drove the Itzaviva altered which was based on a Vauxhall Viva powered by a 288 cubic inch Chevy engine and ran in the elevens at 120 mph. This car was unfortunately written off in a racing accident at the 1971 August Bank Holiday International meeting, rolling five times at 120 mph, shearing off a wheel, shifting the motor in its mounts, and after getting out merely bruised Alan confined his energies to NDRC organisation. The Viva was painted by Alan’s father who ran Pop’s Paints in Stanmore, N. London. In an early instance of a passenger ride Alan once took Geof Hauser for a ride in this car at RAF North Luffenham.

In the late 1970s Alan spearheaded the NDRC’s hunt for a permanent track for its racing activities. Many of the on-tour venues were unsuitable for regular drag racing events, with other uses potentially clashing with racing; a new venue at Radlett near Watford ran into planning difficulties. At this stage Long Marston came into play having been used for eighth-mile races by the NDRC Midlands division since 1975. Alan entered into negotiations with the owners and by late 1979 an agreement was reached to refurbish the track and open it for quarter-mile action, which happened in May 1980 after months of hard work.

He died in November 1998 five months short of his sixtieth birthday having devoted his life to the sport he loved.