‘Greatest F1 driver ever designed my box cart on back of a fag packet’, reveals Northamptonshire man

Juan-Manuel Fangio in 1953
Juan-Manuel Fangio in 1953

A Northamptonshire man has recalled the time, as a boy, when Juan Fangio taught him how to race on the county’s roads and designed for him surely the best box cart in the county.

Stan Clark from Harpole, used to see the five-time world champion every year during the 1950s when the Argentinian stayed at Mr Clarke’s boyhood home in Camp Hill, Bugbrooke, during the British Grand Prix in order to avoid excessive media attention.

And he has revealed that the racing legend took such an interest in all aspects of racing, however small-scale, that one year he redesigned the ‘trolley’ that Stan and little brother Malcolm used to race.

Mr Clark said: “It consisted of a plank of wood that resembled a letter ‘T’, with a pair of old pram wheels fixed to it.

“If and when we tried to corner on it fast, the thing would just tip over, hence all our legs having cuts, grazes scars all over them, as well as our elbows, “All these wounds that we had from mucking about with this trolley would make him laugh, but by drawing on old fag packets or bits of cardboard, he set about showing us how to build a better and safer trolley.”

The brothers finished up using old tea chests to build them, following their hero’s advice.

They were able to fix the axel nearly half way up the back of it, thus lowering the centre of gravity with about two inches of ground clearance,

Rubber bands made from motorcycle tyre inner tubes also prevented over or understeer and there was even a braking mechanism with counter-levering wood,

Other boys in Bugbrooke would laugh at the Clarks’, odd-shaped, vehicle but the design made them the fastest around.

Mr Clark said: “Juan was to teach and tell us about slip-streaming one another to gain advantages, be it on our trolley or our bicycles,

“Malcolm and I would practice this hour of hour, mile after mile when out on our bikes for a ride, even when we grew older and started work we would race each other down to the work shop every morning,

“By building the trolley the way he told us to pleased him very much, it gave him great satisfaction one way or another.”