Previous website http://markbanhamracing.tripod.com/index.html
My parents first took me to watch Stock Car racing at the relatively local Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich when I was very young.
Taking a keen interest in cars and racing, my parents took me to the very first meeting of the Foxhall Foxes Slotstox Club based at the Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich in 1984.
Slotstox racing is ‘Scalextric style’ plastic replica scale model racing based on the Superstox and Brisca F2 formulae that race on ‘real’ Stock Car tracks.
One of the top Superstox drivers at the time was 546 John Gray and my first Slotstox was a replica of John's car at that time. I also took on the number 546. John’s racing highlights included second place in each of the 1975 and 1982 Superstox World Championships.
|JOHN GRAY'S SUPERSTOX|
My Slotstox racing for a short while at the start was sponsored by Suffolk Lawnmowers (now Bosch) based in Stowmarket where I lived at the time and in the early seasons saw limited success due to inexperience and racing uncompetitive cars. My first trophy was actually won in the original version of Slot-Saloons (based on the 'real' Saloon Stock Cars formula) run by the Foxhall Foxes Slotstox Club (and even then that was painted as replica of a Banger - Warriors Carl Gallagher 113!) I spent most of these early Slotstox seasons in the Blue grade. My first period of Slotstox racing continued until 1992 and now racing competitive cars built by 'Chris Butcher Racing', the highlights were winning the 1989 Slotstox Novice Champion and finishing runner up in the 1992 Slotstox Foxhall Championship. In 1992, having gone on to achieve Superstar grade, I decided to take a break from Slotstox racing. This was due to several reasons including studies.
On a non-racing front the 'social' coach trips to Wimbledon Stadium (which sadly closed its doors in 2017) during the mid to late 1980's were a particular highlight during this time!
I returned in 1996 to a much changed Foxhall Foxes Slotstox Club and at the end of the season finished fourth at my first Slotstox World Championship again racing a 'Chris Butcher Racing' built Slotstox. Having been treasurer for a few years, I became chairman of the Foxhall Foxes Slotstox Club from the start of 2001 continuing in the role until the end of 2005.
In 2000 I assisted in the formation of another club in the Ipswich area - the Claydon Slotstox Club which, after a move to a neighbouring village, became the Great Blakenham Slotstox Club before merging with the Foxhall Foxes Slotstox Club from the beginning of the 2009 season. Alongside my membership of the Foxhall Foxes Slotstox Club, I was also a member of the Claydon/Great Blakenham Slotstox Club for a few seasons.
I spent most of these seasons established in the Superstar grade.
During this time, I enjoyed the highlight of my Slotstox racing to date in winning the 2001 Slotstox World Championship racing a car built by 'R.T.D'. I also won the Slot-Saloons Foxhall Points Championship in each of 1997 and 2004 racing a Slot-Saloon built by 'Chris Butcher Racing'.
Other success came away from the Foxhall Foxes Slotstox Club - winning the Wisbech Fen Tigers Slotstox 'Open' Team Championship in both 2004 and 2005 plus winning the final at the only meeting featuring visitors at the now defunct Ely Slotstox Club in 1997! Racing visits to the Aldershot Knights Slotstox Club were also a highlight at the end at the end of the 1990's and early 2000's.
From 2006 my appearances at the Foxhall Foxes Slotstox Club began to reduce and in mid-2008 I moved away from the Ipswich area and so my appearances are now limited to the odd occasion but I still run the Foxhall Foxes Slotstox Club website that I set up in 2006.
I made a winning return to the Ipswich area in the 2008 Slotstox British Championship at Great Blakenham also racing a car built by 'R.T.D' (and won in a raffle at the 2004 Slotstox British Championship!).
Now living in Hertfordshire: in 2010 I became a fully fledged member of the Arena Slotstox Club following a move by that Club to Cheshunt (now moved to two venues in each of Waltham Abbey and Hobbs Cross). Previously based at the Arena-Essex Raceway I had attended and thoroughly enjoyed (and still am!) a few of this Club's meetings in the early / mid 2000's. These were mainly 'Open' championships, borrowing the Club's Metal based Slotstox (referred to as Parmastox throughout this website for easy differential) as opposed to the Plastic based Slotstox I'd mainly raced previously, before acquiring my own.
I also took up the Club's other formulae winning the 2010 Arena Parma-Bangers (based on the real 'Bangers' formula) Points Championship in my first full season followed by the Parma-Mini's Points Championship in each of 2011 and 2012.
The Arena Slotstox Club also began racing Plastic Slotstox at the end of 2010 and I won the 2012 Arena Points Championship and Arena Gold Top Championship - my first Slotstox Points Championship at any club and my first Club Championship at any club and in any formulae! Further Arena Points Championship wins followed in 2015 and 2016 plus a further Arena Gold Championship win in 2016. I also played an instrumental part in the Arena Slotstox Club hosting the Plastic Slotstox World Championship for the first time in 2012 (something that would have seemed impossible just a few years earlier).
Continual improvement racing Parmastox saw me consistently qualifying for the Arena Gold Top Championship final, consistently finishing in the top 3 of the Arena Points Championship, finishing as runner-up in the 2011 Hertfordshire 'Open' Championship and winning the 2013 Kings of the Fens (Open) Championship at the Wisbech Metal Slotstox Club. 3rd in the 2015 British Championship Series followed before 2016 saw a perfect Arena season winning the Arena 'Open' (WACCy Races) and Arena Gold Top Championships after several previous final appearances in both plus the Arena Points Championship - the latter of which I went on to be the first person to win four in a row adding 2017, 2018 and 2019. I also added a second Arena Gold Top Championship in 2019.
Whilst my Slotstox number 546 has always stuck (I have raced Slotstox only once as a different number, 846, at the Aldershot Knights Slotstox Club hosted 1991 Slotstox British Championship as Aldershot chairman Mark Butler was also number 546), the paint schemes varied until the late 1990's since when my Slotstox / Parmastox have mainly been based on replicas of the 1984 car of John Gray.
In contrast, the other formulae - Slot-Saloons, Slot/Parma-Bangers, Slot-Rubbish Rally, Parma-Mini's and Parma-Libre's - have taken on a variety of numbers and paint schemes over the years - although my Slot-Parma Bangers raced at the Arena Slotstox Club have been in the Warriors colours of Carl Gallagher 113!
My current Parma-Libre is based on mine and my wife's wedding car!
Having watched Stock Car racing and raced model cars for many years, from 2006 to 2011 I had a go at 'real' racing. With limited time and mechanical know how (I am extremely grateful for all the mechanical assistance I received!), and having hired one in 2005, StockKarts was the ideal option - being 390cc Honda powered karts racing on oval tracks and, unlike traditional karts, a contact class. I raced against ex-drivers from Brisca F2's, Saloon Stock Cars, Rebels and Bangers...quite a step up considering my only previous racing experience of this type had been about half a dozen goes at go-karting and even then most of those were indoors!
The kart I bought was initially sign-written with the name of the then StockKarts World Cup sponsor and although adopting the number 546 and some paint scheme changes (thanks to 'Barry Keer Racing'), I agreed to keep this sponsor on my kart for a while as a goodwill gesture. This suited me fine, as it gave me time to gain experience in the formula before having new panels, paintwork, sign writing etc. (my crash through the fence at Rye House justifying this decision...although having learnt from this I achieved my only race win - the final at Stoke-on-Trent - a week later!)
During the 2008/09 close season the kart was re-panelled (thanks again to 'Chris Butcher Racing'), re-sprayed and re-signwritten. Like my first Slotstox and those since the late 1990's, the kart paint scheme was based on the John Gray Superstox from 1984.
Towards the end of 2009 StockKarts were taken over, rebranded as StoxKarts and was the fastest growing oval racing formula during 2010. The racing continued to go up a few levels and combined with advances in my career it became more difficult to race as much as I would have liked (and the kart deserved) although I did gain a heat runner-up finish at the Coventry Stadium, Brandon whilst tyre testing in 2011. Over the 2011/2012 I made the sad decision to sell the kart and it was sold on 3rd March 2012. When I bought the kart I only planned on racing for around ten seasons and in the end I managed six!
Highlights included reaching the Superstar grade, racing in the 2006 World Cup at Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich on August Bank Holiday Monday, my one and only race win in the final at Chesterton Stadium, Stoke-On-Trent in October 2007; 6th in the 2007 World Cup at the Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich; 5th in the 2008 World of Shale Championship at the Coventry Stadium, Brandon; 5th in the 2008 Scottish 'Open' Championship at Crimond in North Scotland and being part of the England team that won the 'Bannock Burn Bash' Trophy versus Scotland at Crimond in 2009.
I was also involved in the StockKart/StoxKart publicity duties with the responsibility of writing articles for publication.
In addition to having many good and exciting (plus a few frustrating!) times during my racing career to date I have met a lot of good friends along the way...
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