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The Long Black Strip (Ipswich Spedeweekend 1968)

The Long Black Strip (Ipswich Spedeweekend 1968) 1

 The race that British stock car drivers strive to take part in more than any other, is the FII Super Stock Car British Championship. Just to earn a place on the grid for this race is an achievement, for every driver knows there are upwards of 700 other men throughout Britain with their eyes set on the same goal right from the start of the season. Thus, the numerous qualifying rounds staged between March and the big day itself, at the end of July, can always be guaranteed to produce fast and thrilling racing, not likely to be bettered until the thirty or more qualifiers, the finest drivers in the country, line up on the grid to decide who will be Champion of Britain for the following year. The 1968 British Championship for FII Superstox was decided at the Foxhall Heath Raceway, Ipswich on 27th and 28th July. It was won for the third successive year by 27 year old  Norfolk Electrical contractor, Derek Fiske. Like all the other competitors, Fiske was driving a car he has put together himself, and this of course is as much a part of the sport as is the driving of the finished car. It is surprising how few people really understand just what British stock car racing, and other "small oval" motor sport is all about. There is no better way to obtain a true picture than to attend a "Speed Weekend", and by far the best Speed Weekend to see is that which takes place at the Foxhall Heath Raceway, Ipswich, annually at the end of July. For there can be seen the Hot Rods, Midget Racers, Superstox and other classes of cars that are used by many of the World's finest drivers when they race on that never-ending "Long Black Strip".

Most big-time motor events these days are captured on film, usually at the request of commercially interested parties, thus, few people are completely without an idea of what takes place on and off the track in the field of conventional motor racing. For various reasons, however, nobody outside of the sport has ever thought it worth the trouble to make a film of stock car racing or its associated "small oval" motor sports. Nobody, that is apart from Les Eaton, Racing Controller, and top man in the Spedeworth International Motor Racing Organisation. Les started making simple 8mm films a few years back,and has devoted a great deal of his "close-season" time to giving film shows to Youth Clubs etc. Now he has produced something much more substantial with the aid of expert camera teams, some on loan from the BBC, and staff of his newly formed Film Unit. Some ten thousand feet of film was used to produce the four thousand feet film, three cameras rolled non-stop for the two day event. One hundred and fifty background tunes are used with ninety six hours of taped sound effects. No part of this production was 'faked' it was filmed as it happened using natural light. The costs of this major effort have rocketed since the first estimates were made, so that the film has now cost some thousands to prepare. This is all considered to be worthwhile, if only a true picture of British stock car racing today can be propagated. If you like what you see, you can help us by correcting any wrong impressions of the sport held by your friends and acquaintances.

The above text appeared on the reverse of the original publicity sheet for this early Spedeworth masterpiece. Written in 1968 when the film was made, slight exaggeration was the order of the day, however this full colour film with sound has scenes that will never be repeated. Ipswich with Armco, no Speedway track around the inside, illuminated Eiffel Tower and Windmill, 60's fashions, most spectators in suits and above all the utter history of our sport. Early Hot Rods with Martin Morris, Midget Cars, Motor Bikes & Sidecars and of course the Superstox. The cars were very different mechanically compared to today's machines. It's all here, see how Spedeweekends began with this unique film.

 67 mins