Growing up as young lad near the metropolitan borough of Wolverhampton, a city in the West Midlands of England, I was interested in cars from an early age. Indeed, my father had a couple of garage dealerships, one with Ford and the other with BMC, or British Leyland as it was to become. A local motor racing hero of mine was Peter Collins who came from nearby Kidderminster, and I was also a big fan of Mike Hawthorn and Stirling Moss too—all great British drivers. Of course, tragedy struck with Peter losing his life at the Nürburgring and Mike died just a few months later following a car accident on the Guildford bypass. Mike Hawthorn was the first British World Champion, some 60 years ago now—how time passes. With the loss of these two great heroes, I was left with Stirling Moss to follow, who has become a truly unique ambassador for motor racing the world over, despite not winning a Grand Prix World Championship. I made and kept a scrapbook of his racing career, which in later life I was able to get signed by him.
Upon leaving school, I did a “sandwich course” of study in automobile engineering, which consisted of half the course work being classroom based and the other half practical “hands on” experience in the workshop—hence the term sandwich course. As I grew older, I became aware of other racing drivers around my home, and of the Midland Racing Partnership (MRP). MRP was formed in 1961 as a racing team with five drivers, each with a new Formula Junior Cooper T56. The drivers were Richard Attwood, David Baker, Bill Bradley, Jeremy Cottrell and Alan Evans. Over the years the team grew, developed and matured, through Formula Junior and into the new 1000-cc Formula Two. In 1965, my father spoke to David Baker and asked if there were any vacancies for a young mechanic or “gofer” within MRP—my father and David having met through rallying in the early 1950s with the MG Car Club. I began working for the team part way through 1965 in my spare time, evenings and weekends, and gained some valuable experience. By the time I’d started to work for the team, Richard Attwood was the main driver, David Baker was the team manager, and the other partners stayed more in the background. Bill Bradley did the accounts but raced with David Prophet, Alan Evans worked for the family tool business, “Britool,” but I never met Jeremy Cottrell.