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Racing event held in memory of late driver and former track

Spirit of old Spedeworth Tongham track and late driver Jeff Woolford alive as racers meet for a special event

Michael Burnage
Spedeworth's owner Deane Wood is on the receiving end from stalwart Keith Reynolds

A celebratory race meeting was held in Aldershot on Sunday (August 24) in memory of late racing driver Jeff Woolford and the Tongham racing track.

"Twenty years ago, was a sad period for the people of Aldershot, in particular for its sporting public", writes Michael Burnage. "Having lost their stock car racing track at Tongham in 1992, to make way for the A331, two years later one of the most popular and talented drivers ever to grace the track, Jeff Woolford, sadly passed away at a terribly young age.

"On Sunday, the spirit of the old Spedeworth Headquarters and the memory of Jeff, were both honoured with a celebratory race meeting at the town’s new modern track at Rushmoor.

"Over 50 former drivers that used to race with Jeff at the old HQ, in the 1980s and 1990s, came out of retirement for one last spin around an oval raceway, and more importantly one last crash.

"Such is the love and respect for their former friend and rival, that not only drivers who had not raced for many a year took part in the event, but also several who had travelled from foreign shores, including two from Australia, the Weldon brothers Mark and Gary."

 

Today's drivers, from the Brighton Bears and Hampshire's Post Wash team also took part in the event which attracted racing fans from across the country.

Classic cars, such as Rover P4s and MKll Ford Granadas hit the track at the Rushmoor Arena and one of Jeff's former teammates Mark 'Tombo' Thomas raced a Rover P5 that had belonged to his late friend and had been in his barn for 20 years.

Driver Dave ‘Kingy’ King, who also took part, said: "I had a tear in my eye racing again with the guys from the old HQ.

"I was just an up and coming young driver then, racing against these stalwarts. To be back out there again amongst them was a real privilege."

A minute's silence was also held in tribute to Jeff and to former driver, Mike 'Tiny' Baverstock, who died from a hart attack in the weeks leading up to the event.

Current Spedeworth owner, Deane Wood, made a surprise appearance and, had no idea he was going to don the overalls again after a 15-year absence, until former World Champion Jason Jackson arrived with a car for him to use.

As he rolled back the years, it was clear that he had not lost any of his old skills as he won the first race of the day with a master class of driving.

Michael added: "At the end of the day, suitable homage and respect was paid by spectators and drivers. A whole day’s top entertainment was such a fitting way to remember the memory of Jeff, a racing legend, but more importantly an all-round decent bloke."

 

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