Thursday, June 28, 2007

NPR - When Dad was a racer

A few years ago my Mom sent me a package, which included this article fron a local newspaper in Norfolk, England in 1954. We lived in England 1952-55 when Dad was station at Sculthorpe Air Force Base with the 47th Bomber Wing. I don't know what he did, he rarely spoke of his time in the service.

But while we were there we lived in 400 year old stone house on an estate, simply addressed "Bardon" outside of Garvestone Norfolk, England. The house didn't have electricity but had a fireplace in every room. Dad blocked off the top two floors and we lived on the main floor and the bedrooms on the second floor. He wired the first floor with electricity for electric floor heaters. My sister has a burn on the back of one leg from backing into one of them.

We later moved from Bardon into base housing. All I remember is that I didn't like it coming from the freedom of living in the country to living on base in a bunch of row housing units with all the families, kids and school. But that was a long time ago when I was young. Anyway, back to the story.

Being this was the 1950's when sports cars were just beginning to reappears on the automotive scene. It was the time of the rebirth of British sports car. My Dad decided he wanted to have one, so he ordered a 1954 Austin Healey 100/4, and met Donald Healey when he picked it up at the factory. It has the raked windshield and leather straps for the hood. He wanted to rally and race the car. I don't remember Mom's reaction but as you can see in the photo, she was there.

And so in the interest to do that he joined the Sporting Car Club of Norfolk and raced at the Snetterton racing circuit, occasionally alongside some of the international drivers of the day. He also rallied the car in local rallies, either driving his car or navigating for friends (in the photo). I don't know how well or badly he did, but I doubt it really mattered as the fun of it.

In the research I've done on the Internet I haven't found much or found anyone with information going back to the mid-1950's and for finding more information about the club, Dad's car or Dad racing. This is all I have of those days and times, but it's enough to remind me that our parents were young once, something we should cherish as our own. I'm only saddened my Dad passed away in 1994 and never spoke of those days.

And all I remember of the Healy was when we brought it back to the States in 1955 and Dad drove the Healey while Mom drove the brand new 1955 Ford Victoria sedan. The three of us kids shared riding with Dad, and I always thought it was the coolest thing going. But then I was only 5 years old.

Below is his membership booklet sent with the badge, which was never mounted. And if you have to ask, A.C. was his initials for being named Alva Clyde. Don't ask, it's bad enough for the name, but having your Mom forever call you that instead of Ace, his nickname, all his life is even worse.

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