Taking stock of town’s car race circuit history

Not quite  the old Longridge track!
Not quite the old Longridge track!

Traffic on the roads through Longridge is bound to increase with the developments planned for the locality.

But they were a different sets of wheels the urban district council was discussing 40 years ago – those for stock car racing.

Older residents will remember that a precursor to the stock car was karting which was held regularly on the track which had been laid out around the old quarry area above Tanyard.

It was known as the Longridge Entertainments Centre Circuit and is featured in the photo taken for The News in April, 1972, and reproduced above.

It shows Maurice Newsham, 15) of Carnforth, and Ken Jones, of Bolton, fighting for placings during that month’s kart meeting at the circuit.

Circuit owner Mr Robson had applied to the council to start stock car racing at the site.

The planning committee, needing to confirm safety issues and other needs, agreed stock cars could be raced at the centre, but not that year.

One major need was for more safety barriers, so the committee asked Mr Robson to withdraw his planning application and then meet it to discuss details about when the meetings could be held.

In the October, Mr Robson had asked to hold stock car events on nine days, making a total of 25 meetings at the track including karts and sprint cars.

He also said he was prepared not to run stock car events on Sundays and would erect additional safety barriers.

The council had been advised by the county council that planning permission to race stock cars was not necessary “as this does not amount to a material change of use of the track”.

For permission to be required, the clerk was told, “the change would have to be more injurious to the community and there was no evidence that this would be so.”

There were quite strong divisions among Longridge UDC councillors as to the benefit or otherwise of the sport locally.

But in the same edition of The News, a bumper Easter Monday crowd of 4,000 had watched exciting karting at the Longridge circuit, when there was a record field of 150 entries.

Stock car racing did take off in Longridge eventually and also worldwide. It is now a form of automobile racing found mainly in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Great Britain, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

Traditionally, races are run on oval tracks measuring approximately 0.25 to 2.66 miles. NASCAR is the world’s largest governing body for stock car racing, and its Sprint Cup Series is the de facto premier series of stock car racing.

Top level races are 200 to 600 miles (322 to 966 km) in length.

l Look out in Memory Lane for more on the sport locally as it became very popular throughout the area.