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Ripping Yarns: Bartlett’s big surprise

V8 SLEUTH is celebrating the festive season with a series of great racing tales from the Motorsport News archives.

Today’s story was told by Kevin Bartlett for the 400th edition of MN in 2010.

Early in my open-wheeler motor racing career I raced a Lynx Formula Junior, fitted with a 1000cc Morris Minor engine; a great little car that I had a hand in constructing.

I worked at the LYNX factory as a test and race driver.

At that time in 1962 there began the Australian FJ Championship and one of the rounds was at the new Lakeside circuit in Queensland.

During the race I had the misfortune to break a front right wheel, which departed the scene, depositing me into an earthen bank at the left-hand corner behind the pits named Hungry. Named that, I guess, because it ate a lot of cars.

Well, as I am about to climb out of the car, unscathed even though we didn’t have seat belts in those days, I noticed the ambulance crew had arrived.

I shouted out not to bother as I wasn’t damaged. The reply from them was that the wheel had knocked over a woman holding a baby in her arms and they were there to attend them.

Naturally I felt pretty bad about the situation, but there was little I could do whilst they did their job. Luckily neither had serious injuries, but the incident made the Brisbane papers, with photographs to boot.

Many years later, in 1980 or ‘81, I came to Lakeside with the Channel Nine Camaro for a round of the ATCC.

Bartlett leads Peter Brock at Sandown in 1980. Pic: an1images.com / Ian Smith

During the day, between sessions, a rather pretty young women came to our pit location in the paddock and looked me in the eye and said, ‘you won’t remember me, but you may remember my mother’.

I took a step back with my mind running wild with all sorts of scenarios flashing into focus and hesitant at first but in a controlled manner, saying ‘what is mum’s name and where would I know her from?’

Thinking, of course, it might well have been a distant relative of my family, as some had been in Queensland on and off for many years.

She then produced a paper clipping of the wheel episode and the picture showed her as the baby my errant wheel had clobbered. Phew!

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