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Karting in the year 1972: a history

JANUARY 1972

One of the proposals for a British 125cc with gearbox class was that it should be a ‘Stock and Claiming’ class with a third party entitled to buy the winner’s kart and engine, as raced, for £300. The London KC staged a championship for kart clubs at Tilbury. 14 teams took part with victory going to Surbiton. John Mills provided technical information on the BM engine range and we took a look at a replica of Goldstein’s World Championship winning Taifun/Parilla.

FEBRUARY 1972

Front and rear bumpers were made compulsory by the RAC and changes to the specification tried to prevent the nose of one kart going under the rear of another. The RAC warned of the dangers of pre-heating tyres with a blow lamp! Roger Williamson, 1966 British class IV Special, won the £1000 Grovewood award as the most promising up and coming driver of the season.Sadly he would be killed a year later at the Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix.

MARCH 1972

There was said to be a crisis in 100cc, with the RAC considering the dropping of National and instead putting them in International, due to the Komet K77 selling for £90 when the class rule maximum was £80. Sydney Taylor, the principal figure behind the kart racing at Cadwell Park, created the short-lived British Kart Drivers Association with a subscription of just 50p. Tuning data for the 250cc Montesa King MX 5 speed resulted in a motor that could take on the Bultaco. Karting magazine declared Reg Gange Junior as Driver of the Year. The big money winners at the 5th Hong Kong Prix were Gary Emmick USA, Mickey Allen GB and Terry Fullerton GB.

APRIL 1972

Early in ‘72, Zip were the first to market a range of glass-fibre bodywork sections for karts and now, 30 years later, Martin Hines is promoting the Zip Formula single seater racing car with distinctive bodywork.

Paul Fletcher tested the Blow Gnat with a Corsair T70 motor for Karting magazine and found the drum brake more efficient than a disc unit. In the same issue Mason Minns tested the Blow Hustler with a 250cc Montesa and reported little sign of fade from the drum brakes on the tight Tilbury circuit.

MAY 1972

The Surbiton Kart Club’s diminutive track at Worcester Park was resurfaced and attracted 80 entries. Tal-Ko were creating some of the most powerful and successful Komet K77s and K88 motors of the period in the cave-like cellars beneath their East London premises. J.J.Blow Ltd, Bill Stokes, and the French manufacturer, Vacquand, introduced attractive new kart bodywork. We wondered whether organisers might reduce entry fees for karts with bodywork to enhance spectator appeal.

JUNE 1972

Tom Purnell, on a very fast 250cc Zip Ossa, won the RAC Lincolnshire County Championship at Cadwell. Subsequent to Carlheinz Peters emigrating from Europe to South Africa, he promptly went and won the 100 cc SA Champs.

Judged on the best two out of three British team selection meetings saw Steeds, Jackson and Deavin at the top of the points table. Mike Hodgins and Geoff Fivash won the Shenington 6 Hours with a Barlotti/Bultaco.

JULY 1972

300 drivers competed in the Player’s Number 10 sponsored World Cup at Morecambe which was plagued by what was to prove to be the worst weather in the history of the event. Using a Zip with a 250cc Merlin-tuned Montesa, Graham Liddle won the Cup for the fourth time in five years. It would take Sweden’s Lennart Bohlin eight years to match Graham’s score. Nan Livesa campaigned a 135cc FKE (Formula Karting Experimental) kart in the USA equipped with superb streamlined bodywork known as the Passionate Purple Mole. 30 years later, in 2002, Nan still keeps in touch with her former racing contemporaries. Despite being one man short, the British team put up a great performance in a match against Germany and Holland at Oberbergscher, losing to Germany by just 9 points.

AUGUST 1972

A significant statistic that would aid the future growth of British karting was that the 3000 karters had the use of 32 kart tracks but there were only 9 car race tracks for the 7000 car racers.

The 125cc class with gearbox raced for the first time at Debden and it was reported that despite the small number of entries the sound was fantastic. The winner was Roger Goff on a Zip Yamaha.

At last the uncertainty as to what was required in the way of bumper dimensions appeared to be resolved but it was not to be and every now and again further changes continue to be made.

 SEPTEMBER 1972

Jesolo near Venice staged the Euro-Kart Champs, with karts parading through the streets. The entry included future F1 driver Keke Rosberg. Winner of the enormous trophy was Gorini. The Shenington 6 Hours was won by Mark Steeds and Owen Jones. Brazilian karting was producing world class racing drivers. V. Orekhov won the 175cc class at the 10th Russian Kart Champs. Mechanical and noise troubles hit the GB team of Fletcher, Mills, Fullerton and Allen at the Euro Champs round in Germany but they came 2nd. World Champion Goldstein was disqualified for excess noise but GB manager Doug Jest got the other managers to join him in requesting the CIK Jury to reconsider. The penalty was changed to making him start from the back of the grid in the heats. He still won the ’A’ final!

OCTOBER 1972

Expertly organised by Bert Hesketh, the RAC Long Circuit Champs for gearbox machines attracted a record breaking 372 drivers at Oulton Park. Graham Liddle won the 250cc ‘A’ Final with a Zip Montesa and David Duffield the 210 class.

There was a surprise result at the Rye House International team race when Britain beat France. The Isle of Man Kart Week, consisting of the Southern 100 Bilown course, the Douglas G.P. and the Port Soderick hill climb events, was held on public roads. Both Mike Goy and Colin Oakden each  had two class wins.

NOVEMBER 1972

Coinciding with the Karting magazine 200th issue were many major events.The Snetterton 9 Hours race was won by Rushforth, Cooper and Mickleborough on a Bullitt kart at an average of 73.47mph. Goldstein, the brilliant Belgian driver, won his fourth consecutive 100cc World Championship at Kalmar in Sweden with a Taifun/ Parilla. Future F1 driver Riccardo Patrese finished 4th. Mickey Allen on a Sprint/Komet won 100 Int. at the Wombwell RAC Champs. Derek Bliss, Zip/ Komet, won the World Junior Champs at Vojens in Denmark.The GB team won the Nivelles round of the Euro Champs.

DECEMBER 1972

Nigel Mansell, racing at Shenington, showed promise in the 210 National heats. A Sports Editor on the Daily Mirror newspaper thought that most people would not consider karting to be motor racing. The British team of Allen, Fletcher, Fullerton, Mortara, Mills and Steeds, under the dedicated captainship of Doug Jest, clinched the CIK European Team Champs at Carpiquet, France. More delegates attended the Club Conference than in 1971 but the same three clubs raised the majority of items.The KARTING magazine race meeting at Crystal Palace was the last event to be held there. It was a great success, with the honours going to Gange and Wooldridge.