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18

After a lively career racing bangers, Richy Ahern moved into big league stock cars in 1979, and embarked upon an equally lively career in F1.

The photo shows a white top Richy learning the ropes at Northampton, but he didn’t stay white top for long. A career first Final win came in his debut year, the venue being Harringay Stadium in London; probably the most local track to his home town of Romford, Essex.

Aided and abetted by star driver and close friend Bobby Burns, an Allan Barker built car was acquired and christened ‘Rat Trap,’ and Richy soon went up the grades.

It was clear from the start that he could drive, but if anything, the one obstacle he had was his own seemingly limitless enthusiasm. He quickly gained a repuation of being an entertainer, and seemed just as likely to be involved in some hair-raising incident as to win a race.

Within a few years, Richy had chalked up four finals and made it to red grade. He had the aptitude, he had the machinery, he had the means, and he had the will to win to go to the very top. But it was not to be.

At Coventry in November 1981, the number 18 car was involved in a multi-car racing incident and Richy suffered serious injuries. Sadly, he never recovered and suffered further complications.

Richy Ahern passed away on 11th June 1983.

Primarily as a result of Richy’s accident, car construction rules were re-written and from 1983 all cars had to feature six post roll cages.

One can only speculate on what greatness Richy would have gone on to achieve, and were it not for such a tragic accident, this piece would doubtless have been charting the rise of a driver now considered by many to be a legend.

Pick up any copy of Stock Car magazine from that period and there’s a good chance that there will be a photo or a reference to Richy’s on-track antics.

The most spectacular of these came at Leicester in June 1980. Richy was attacking the opposition with typical gusto and a massive hit put Steve Bateman into a spin. The 427 car dug into the track and rolled, with Richy driving over it and being launched high into the air. He cleared the safety fence easily and landed on the dog track next to the pit lane. Not even remotely fazed, he climbed out of the car and calmly walked back to the pits.

He may have only been around the sport for a short time, but in that time Richy Ahern made a massive impression.

Leicester Stadium, 21st June 1980, and Richy Ahern pulls off one of the most spectacular incidents ever caught on camera. The photo is by John Glover and taken from the centre pages of the July 1980 edition of Stock Car magazine. Reproduced by kind permission.

Leicester Stadium, 21st June 1980, and Richy Ahern pulls off one of the most spectacular incidents ever caught on camera. The photo is by John Glover and taken from the centre pages of the July 1980 edition of Stock Car magazine. Reproduced by kind permission.

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