How did it all start? Well I guess it was Frances’ fault really, in answering an advert for a membership secretary to work from home. In those days she was working in our Fishing Tackle shop and as the children were at school, was looking for another interest. She was interviewed by some of the great names of the NDRC Committee and Drag Racing. Alan Wigmore, Cliff Jones and Chris Urlwin.
It wasn’t long before she was asked to be the race secretary as well. After attending a few meetings she asked if I would come along to. I agreed as long as I was found something to do … and was I found something to do!
Before long it was a family affair, some of you older racers might remember receiving your timing tickets from our children, Linda and Stephen. Stephen soon moved on to tinkering around with the cars, first I think for George Davie, then the Page Brothers and Ronnie Picardo, to name a few. Linda used to run the sales booth but secretly I just think she liked the drinking! Frances carried on in her secretarial role, whilst I ended up being a jack of all trades, starting on gate duty and ending up being the Vice-Chairman. Before we knew it the NDRC was taking up all our time, literally 24/7. Really we became involved seriously during the latter part of the Skilton era. As sponsors dried up it was decided, with some prompting from me, that we would organize and promote our own meetings which as everybody knows, included Blackbushe, Wroughton and Snetterton. We managed to survive doing this for a couple of seasons but financially the Club was struggling and it became obvious that the number of venues available around the Country were drying up and a permanent base was needed – hence the project of Long Marston Raceway. This turned out to be a mammoth task during the Winter of ’79-80 when the Club Members, volunteers, friends and families virtually lived on the site turning it from 1/8th mile strip with no facilities, to a fully Armco ¼ mile drag racing venue.
I with many others and with the help of Frances stayed on site for many weeks at a time fabricating, drilling and erecting until we were able to officially open the strip on May 10th 1980. It must be said that none of this could have been achieved without the huge amount of help from many, many members, the Committee and friends of Drag Racing.
We had many good years being involved with the racing, even receiving those phone calls after midnight because somebody had just managed to fix something and was asking for a late entry which used to make as laugh … most of the time.
We made many friends and had great times. We never really knew who would be waiting for us at home, drinking tea and eating biscuits with Frances while they sorted out their entries etc. Boys, we still have that biscuit tin if you are ever in the Doddinghurst area.
When we stopped racing, we did miss the people and the camaraderie. We didn’t miss relying on the Great British weather though!
Click here to view the Kaz Aston interview with Keith & Frances Parker at the 2013 Hall of Fame presentations http://youtu.be/lfQESqBeANg