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Trackstar Racing | News | Interviews | 2015 interviews | 2L Stock Cars | 304 Martyn Parker

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304 Martyn Parker

An interview with 2L Stock Car Driver 304 Martyn Parker by Mark Paulson which appeared in the 2 May programme

304

History near-enough repeated itself last weekend. Stock car racing is a sport full of family connections, be they brothers, fathers and sons, or cousins. Tonight’s Two-Litre Saloon Stock Car field features 499 David Aldous, son of Eddie Aldous, and 156 Darren Goudy, son of Ray Goudy, to name but two. Usually the son follows in his father’s wheel tracks. But when 304 Martyn Parker was crowned English Champion at Mildenhall last weekend, he was emulating the achievement of his son Daniel (306) two years earlier. Not only the same title, but at the same venue, and even the way it was won was strikingly similar.

Martyn himself takes up the story: “I haven’t really taken it all in yet,” he began, speaking the next day. “It’s a bit of a shock – well, it’s good really. I’ve just been looking at the trophy – it’s covered in shale at the moment! I’m just surprised I’m going to be on there.

“It’s very good for me. Daniel won it, and the circumstances crossing the line were nearly the same – I sort of came over the line sideways. If you look at where he was when he won the title, he was exactly the same as where I was – he was doing well in the track championship; he was in the yellow grade, same as me; pole position; I’ve started well, the best I’ve ever done at the start of a season, and my confidence was up. I was feeling very confident, and it was very similar to what Daniel was really.”

Those who were there two years ago will remember Daniel, just 17 at the time, winning the title in a mad scramble for the line, spinning as he crossed it, after 18 Jamie Clayton’s last bend lunge on the leading 149 Jamie Sampson had put them both in the fence. Having started from pole position, Parker had led, dropped back, and fought his way back into contention so that he was there to pick up the pieces. And while last weekend’s big race didn’t unfold in quite the same way, it couldn’t realistically have been much more similar – although this time, rain came before the main race to add further spice to proceedings.

“That last lap was the maddest lap I’ve ever raced,” said Parker Sr. “The one before the last lap, I came round the corner and I saw Carl Waterfield was sideways. I knew Carl Waterfield was winning the race; me and Darren Goudy, we were fighting for second and third – and so then we were fighting for the lead.

“I went over the line for the last lap – I don’t normally really see the person on the rostrum because I’m too busy trying to see where I’m going – but I actually saw him [signal] ‘you are first’ so I thought: ‘I’m in the lead.’

“I knew Darren Goudy was going to come in hard because I’d just pushed him wide on the corner before. I spoke to him afterwards and he said he came in so hard that he went in all the sloppy shale as well on the outside. He pushed me out wide, I didn’t actually go in the fence but I went in the wet shale – like mud by then, wasn’t it – and thought: ‘Don’t boot it,’ because that’s going to really spin the wheels up. I was expecting Darren just to nip up the inside and take it.

“So we went down the back straight together and Tommy Barnes was sideways with somebody else. I put in a hit and luckily I managed to get past and I was in front. On the last corner, I didn’t know who was coming in or what, so I thought: ‘Let’s go in hard.’ But I went in too hard, and when I came out I was sort of sideways.

“I think it was Carl Waterfield behind – he came from quite far back and just fired it in and hit me. I had a half spin and I thought I’d just slide across the line because if anyone hit me they’d push me over the line. I got over the line and I was a sitting duck, got a hit in the driver’s door but the race was over then,” and the English Championship was won.

“I think Waterfield was too far back,” to make a successful challenge, reasoned Parker. “I did speak to David Aldous afterwards and he said he didn’t think he was actually going to hit me – I was too far ahead. But somehow he got some speed from somewhere and just sort of cut across and hit me. I don’t know where he got the speed from or the grip from. It’s easy when you’re watching, but when you’re out there, is a bit different, isn’t it.”

With Waterfield taking himself into the fence with his do-or-die lunge, Goudy – who had come off worst then the leaders were confronted with a broadside Tommy Barnes – was able to nip back through for second, while Waterfield extracted himself for third.

“The lads who came second, third and fourth, they were congratulating me and a lot of people in the pits as well – a lot of people are very pleased for me really,” added the popular winner.

Some excellent results in the heats – a very comfortable looking second and first, followed by a crucial couple of points in his last heat – had qualified Parker on pole position, but with former ORC Champion 570 Simon Venni alongside, plus son Daniel and World and European Champion 499 David Aldous on row two, it was never going to be plain sailing for the 50-year-old veteran.

“I say, if the car likes the shale, you’re halfway there – you can drive it a lot easier. The first race, that was nice. I thought I’d won but the white top was in front, Marcus Skeels. He was driving very, very well. I knew I was second because I could see him on the rostrum giving me second and I kept looking and looking up the front and I couldn’t see who it was [leading]. He must have had a hell of a gap. So I was happy to get second – I thought: ‘Well, I’ve qualified.’ If you get second, you’re definitely in the race, aren’t you.

“Then the next race I ended up winning. The car was really hooked up. Then in the third race, they must have put extra water on the track or something, but the car just didn’t like it. It wasn’t so comfortable as the first two. I couldn’t get the car going as I wanted to, as I had in the first two races. In that race, David Aldous came past me, pushed me wide and got stuck on me and then I followed him round. Then [Shane] Davies caught us up again and on the top corner Davies spun David out. I think I was up to about third or fourth and then I got pushed wide by Darren Goudy and a train of four cars came through and by the end of the race, I was ninth. That’s how it goes. When you get on the outside there you’re dead in the water until you get back in again, especially at Mildenhall.”

After making a good start at the first attempt in the main race, it was called back and Parker must have been cursing his luck, until he saw that one of his biggest challengers had been eliminated. Not that he didn’t feel a pang of sympathy for Aldous, who almost seems fated never to become English Champion – but these drivers are all out there to win.

“I honestly thought David would win it,” admitted Parker. “I got a good start. As I got going I had a quick look in the mirror and I could see I was away and then the next thing, the red flags came out and the red lights came on. I stopped as I was coming near the rostrum – and I didn’t even know what car had turned over because the shale was on the car. I didn’t know who it was until I saw David get out and I knew what overalls he was wearing. I saw him on the track and I thought ‘David’s out,’ so your chances go up a bit, if you know what I mean.”

Parker can’t hide his respect and admiration for the World Champion though.

“If there’s one thing you can say about David Aldous, he’s in that garage every night looking after his car, making sure it’s right. If that car isn’t right, he won’t go out. He missed King’s Lynn the other Saturday because his engine went down. To be honest, I don’t think the engine he had in Saturday night was 100% – it was what he had quickly done up. I spoke to him in the middle of the week and he was only going to go and pick it up on the Friday. So he had a lot of work to do to get it to that standard.”

After travelling with son Daniel all over the country to over 50 meetings last year, Parker is more qualified than most to understand the dedication that’s required by the drivers and their support teams. It meant that Martyn focussed his own racing mainly on the local shale tracks, while tending to his son’s two cars – one for shale and one for tarmac. The effort that’s put in makes the rewards that come along all the sweeter.

“Yeah, he did 50 meetings last year and Daniel was doing the racing, but who’s driving the lorry and doing all the backing up? That’s me, isn’t it! You know, me and my brother [former racer, Nigel]. If I was racing, that would come down to my brother a bit more and obviously myself. I can’t personally keep driving the lorry and racing at the same time – like Saturday night, we had three races, then we had the final, and then after it all finished, I’m in the driving seat driving home, and my brother and Daniel are fast asleep!” he chuckled.

“A lot of people in the pits last night, they were very pleased for us, because they can see what you put it. Most people who do this racing, they know what you’ve got to put in to get the results.”

With new cars in build, the Parkers haven’t travelled quite so much so far in 2015, but they’ll be picking it up again once the new motors are on stream.

“I’ve got a new car coming out,” confirmed Martyn. “I've got the shell on the top of it; I’ve just got to stick the engine in it and get it painted and what have you. We’ll get that nice [St George’s] flag on the roof and that’ll be nice.

“We've been trying to do two cars because [Daniel’s] got a new car coming as well, which is his new tarmac car. So that’s been the problem really – the racing is so thick and fast, and the problem is if you’ve got a shale car, you need a tarmac car. We had a King’s Lynn and then we had a Skegness [a fortnight ago] – if you’ve got one car, you’ve got to change all the spring settings, you’ve got to change the car over from shale to tarmac, plus you’ve got to do the work on that car that Saturday night if you’ve got any damage. You just physically run out of time. That’s why last year Daniel did more tarmac racing because he had two cars. The car he’s using now is his tarmac car from last year. He’s obviously now stuck it on shale but he hopefully should be doing some more tarmac racing once we get his car done.

“If I did tarmac racing as well, that’s even more work. There’s only my brother, me and Daniel, so there’s three of us and that’s a lot of work. People don’t realise how much time you have to put into these cars. You can get away with a little bit on shale because it’s a bit unpredictable, but when you’re on tarmac, that car has got to be spot on. If you aren’t spot on with the springs and the set-up and the tyres, you might as well leave it on the trailer and don’t bother going. If you get a big meeting and have time to [prepare], you can do it. But when you’re racing on the Saturday night and then you’re racing on the Sunday, you just don’t get time.”

Don’t let that give you the impression that Parker doesn’t love the sport though. It’s that kind of dedication that proves just how much he does still enjoy it, more than 30 years after his first trophy finish in the English Championship. Following a long layoff when brother Nigel raced more regularly – winning the White & Yellow Grade Series Final here in 2005, among other things – the bug really came back for Martyn when Daniel had a spell on the sidelines during his English Championship reign, two years ago.

“The only reason I came back into stock car racing is because Daniel broke his foot,” he said. “My brother was sort of at a loose end, because he liked the racing. So I thought I’d go in it. I think there was one at Coventry and we like going there. So I thought I’d give it a go and I got hooked again!

“I do enjoy it. I said to Michael [Coventry] on Saturday night, that was the second time I’ve had a go at the English. 1983 when I was racing, they never did it; ’84 I came third; and then they didn’t do it in ‘85. And then, I think just before they had it in ’86, I finished. So my second chance of having a go at it was about 30 years down the line! So it isn’t too bad is it!

“I think the only other father and son on [the trophy] is Ray Goudy and Darren Goudy. But they did it the right way round! Ray Goudy won it first, then Darren Goudy, but for us, Daniel won it first then I won it – a bit unusual. I think Daniel was the youngest, but I don’t know if I’m the oldest. I asked Eddie Aldous in the bar but he couldn’t remember. Eddie, David’s dad, he was very chuffed – he was very excited. I remember him winning it at Wimbledon. I was down there that night. Me and my brother were down there. I can remember that, I was only little, but I can remember it, ‘75, down at Wimbledon. That was a long while ago...”

Now of course, Parker has to start races from the very back of the grid – beginning tonight. But after his excellent start to the season, he was set to be upgraded to red anyway, so it’s not so different. And a similar jump didn’t hold Daniel back two years ago. He’s looking forward to the challenge and plans to attend most of the other major championships.

“Things are going to start getting a bit harder for me because obviously I’m starting at the back now,” Martyn commented. “I’ve been speaking to Daniel about it and he would prefer just to start at the back anyway. If you start at the back, you can wait a couple of laps and let them sort themselves out.

“I am looking forward to it. I was going to go back to red anyway. Being in the front, I’ve had a good couple of months, which has got my confidence up. I will stick to shale mainly, but I might go down to Taunton for the British. I don’t think I’ll go to Cowdenbeath. I’m getting on in years now. It is a very hard track; I’ve been up there with Daniel – it is a hard track, you’ve got to be ‘on it’ there. I mean quite honestly, on the way back in the lorry, Daniel said to me: ‘I don’t want you to race at Cowdenbeath.’ He thinks I’m a bit too slow – I think he’s a bit a worried about me!

“You’ve got the National at King’s Lynn, and then obviously you’ve got the World Final [at Mildenhall]. Hopefully I’ll get in the World Final – I don’t know whether I’ll get enough points or not. I just basically do it for a bit of fun but it’s now getting a little bit serious,” he laughed.

Parker concluded by expressing his thanks to the close knit group that keep the Parkers Skip Hire team on the road, as well as the outside assistance that is gratefully received.

“The people who’ve helped me are obviously my brother, big thanks to my brother; and big thanks to Daniel as well for all the help he does. Actually now he’s taken over setting up the cars as my age is getting on and he can read the tape measure better than I can! I measured it once and I said: ‘Just measure that will you, Daniel, because I can’t really see it.’ I’d have to put my glasses on to read it. I’ve got Stevie in the workshop – he’s the man on the metal. If we get some serious damage, he’ll know what to do with the metal. And a big thanks to David Aldous and his crew for giving us a hand when we’re up against it sometimes. There’s two cars come off [the track] and it’s just my brother standing there. They all help, they all muck in and give us a hand so that’s nice – we appreciate the help.”

 

 

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