In the first of an occasional series spotlighting some of the many people who work tirelessly behind the scenes in stock car racing, we begin with Paul and Joan Jenkins from the Veterans Stock Car Association (VSCA) or “Vets” as it is often called.
Paul and Joan live in the Worcestershire town of Redditch, home to the late, legendary Albert “Tiger” Griffin and have been racing fans since the late sixties. If you have bought a copy of Stock Car Magazine from the SCM trailer you have probably met them as they look after magazine sales when Jack Barber is filming at meetings. I posed them both a few questions about how they became involved in the sport:
I know the VSCA was formed in 1978 and that Don Round and Al Henderson were the prime movers in getting the association going. You took on the role of secretary in 2005 I believe – were you involved in an official capacity before that and did you volunteer or were you pushed (in the nicest possible way)?
I had been Secretary and Chairman of the British Stock Car Racing Supporters Association previously and had known Don for years, often going to his home to help him. I had been asked before Don died about coming on board and so when he passed away I just had to see the VSCA continue.
You are now the association treasurer and Joan has the role of secretary. With all the work involved in running the membership, organising get-togethers and in your spare time, writing the Vets Newsletter I imagine this unpaid job is pretty much full time. Does it ever get in the way of actually attending meetings?
Well, there is some remuneration for committee members but Joan and myself do not take it. We have bought the odd tyre for lower graders with it. We both do every meeting for F1 and lots of others, it’s easier now we’re both retired but it does take a lot of time.
How long have Joan and you been stock car racing fans and do you have a favourite driver, past or present? I know Joan is a big FWJ fan! (Correction – John Lund fan!)
Our first meeting was the 1968 World Final at Coventry. We had no idea about stock car racing before then, annoyingly! As far as having favourite drivers goes, we supported Willie Harrison (2) for a long time and also Dave Chisholm (252), Jim Esau (244), Fred Skinner (228) and Hoss Fernihough (208).
Do you have a favourite track?
It has to be Coventry.
The network of members around the country: drivers past and present, mechanics, officials, photographers etc from not only F1 but F2, V8s and other formulae must be a valuable source of information when putting the newsletter together. Would you welcome more members into the VSCA (provided they meet the membership criteria) or has the association reached its capacity at the moment?
We certainly would welcome new blood. Sadly, the title VSCA means a number leave us every year.
What changes, if any, would you like to see made to either the cars or the racing format?
I think the problem with numbers on cars has now been addressed but drivers’ names should be more prominent – too many newcomers (new spectators that is) think everyone is named Davidson etc (no upset intended).
Have you ever had a go in a stock car of any sort?
Three times. Twice in F1, once F2 in 1978/9 I think. Thanks to Bob Boddington and Brian Holmes.
What has been the highlight of your involvement with the VSCA?
Making loads more friends and meeting lots of former drivers.
Any comments you would like to add?
Thanks for asking us. We feel very humble.
A bit about the VSCA…
You do not need to be drawing an old age pension to qualify for membership of the Veterans Association, neither do you still have to be involved with the sport. Qualification time has been reduced to prior to 1990 and membership is open to F1 and F2 drivers, officials and promoters as well as mechanics, fans and correspondents who have served stock car racing’s various publications over the years.
The original concept of the association remains the same – to put back together folks who have been separated since they retired from active participation and to give newer folks the chance to meet up with people they may have read about or heard of but never met.
Single membership is £10 per annum, joint is £15 per annum and reduced rates are available for 5 year membership. The VSCA organize a number of get-togethers during the racing season and members can get reduced admission at these meetings.
Outside of the normal season, the Vets have their annual Dinner Dance and AGM each January and a Northern Do in March. Newsletters are issued to each member and a “Special” is published every year – the latest special contains photographs and features on the Ormskirk Motorfest 2015, 1950s racing and the 2016 dinner dance complete with colour photos – a chance to put names to familiar faces. Talking of familiar faces, where else could you rub shoulders with a 1950s final winner and see Paul Harrison playing air guitar in the same room? People would pay good money for that…and they do!
On the subject of money the VSCA is always on the lookout for donations of old programmes, magazines, rule books, anything to do with stock car racing to sell on their stall and collection can be arranged.
I would like to thank Paul and Joan, not only for taking the time out to answer my questions but also for the unstinting work they and the other committee members and helpers put in to keep the Veterans Association buoyant, socially and financially. Finally, a personal thank you to Paul and Joan for their efforts in locating old Coventry programmes for me to aid research into a book I am writing about stock car racing at Brandon.
Words and photograph: Mick Jenkins (no relation)