When I was searching through the archives the other day (Carol says I spend too much time in those filing cabinets!), I came across a dusty file with a faded label on it. I thought it was just another collection of tat but a closer look revealed the words ‘Brands Hatch beach buggy race 1971’.

Hurrah. I have been looking for that file for years – clearly, I must still learn to replace stuff from whence it came in the filing system. I moan at everyone else for that misdemeanour! That folder could have been lost forever in a miscellaneous pile of junk or worse still, recycled!

I also found a folder that Peter Filby had given me recently which just happened to have the programme from that very race meeting within it. Thanks, Peter!

I read the programme recently though and I smiled at the news that (a pre-Knighted) Stirling Moss acted as race starter for the meeting dressed in a Father Christmas suit.

Organised by former Brands Hatch boss, the brilliant and iconic John Webb, there were some decent drivers of the day across the various races on the card despite it taking place on December 27. Webb was the master of smoke and mirrors regarding race cards.

I wonder how many times people turned up and while unpacking their sandwiches on South Bank seeing with glee that a couple of well-known Grand Prix drivers of the day were entered in a lowly clubman’s race. I guess they’d call it ‘clickbait’ now as the punters often found out they were miraculously withdrawn pre-race.

Then there were the Celebrity Saloon races that seemed to appear on every card, particularly in the late seventies/early eighties. A friend of mine worked at Brands Hatch in the eighties and he has told me some brilliant tales.

It sometimes seemed that half the casts of Crossroads or Coronation Street were entered, like Kevin Webster from the garage in Corrie or David Hunter from Crossroads (obviously I don’t watch those programmes, someone told me the names!).

My ex-Brands Hatch pressman, who’ll remain nameless (hope to see you soon, Rodney!) would have me in fits telling me about the famous celebrities he was supposed to be for those celeb races. He reckons he was John Thaw on about fifteen occasions.

He and his marketing colleagues were often pressed into service most weeks acting as celebrities. As soon as the race was over thought they’d scarper quickly with their crash helmets in place until they were well out of sight. However, there were plenty of famous people racing. I remember Henry Cooper was in one race and also a few famous footballers of the day.

Back to the beach buggy race. 1971 was the height of the beach buggy boom in the UK and this caught the attention of Car magazine which sponsored the Brands Hatch race. It was a seven-lapper that took to the grid in the murk at 3.15pm. Must have been almost dark by then, given the time of day.

Car magazine journalist, Carol Brown, even wrote a nice history of beach buggies in the UK, in the programme, albeit a slightly incorrect one, but more on that shortly.

There were twelve entries for the race with most of the major buggy manufacturers of the day represented, with a strong entry from GP Speedshop, a three-prong attack with directors, John Jobber and Pierre du Plessis alongside their chief mechanic Les Smith in a third GP Buggy.

Madcap journalist, decent driver and show organiser, Nick Brittan was in the race as was saloon car great, the brilliant David ‘The Brode’ Brodie. Well, that’s what the programme said, anyway and he was listed on the entry list.

I asked him about that one day and he told me he didn’t take part in that event. Another of John Webb’s publicity stunts? Maybe. This probably explains why many years ago, GP boss John Jobber told me all about that race and how he, du Plessis and Smith had walked it for a 1-2-3 finish. Not quite Le Mans but a 1-2-3 finish is a 1-2-3 finish!

Even though it was meant to be for Beetle engines up to 1600cc i.e. stock air-cooled motors; Jobber reckoned that of the twelve starters, only three weren’t ‘bent’. The trio of GP Buggies!

“Everyone was cheating, with big bore engines and the like. Our three cars were probably the only 1600s,” he recalled.

Sadly, that race for beach buggies remained a one-off.