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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The bookies away to the side were kept busy with the fluctuating preferences of the hard-core gamblers. Gwladys, Idris and Eric all came through their heats to win with healthy margins, but some of the lads working their way up through the ranks and the consolation runs were beginning to get the hang of things. The newest cars were running lighter chassis made from circuit board, and some rather highly rated motors that should have been operating the points on the pit railway. The boys in the office had been busy developing their models while Eric had been trouble-shooting his Merc on the road. But Eric, Gwladys and Idris had the advantage of more track experience; they knew where it was safe to put on the power and lean on the rails, where you needed to feather the throttle and drift through the turns, and most importantly where the bad sections of track were. But their cars were already in danger of being out-classed.
The quarter finals were due. The tote boards had been wiped clean and rewritten so many times that the bookies were scrabbling about on the floor for stubs of chalk, and shredded betting slips were everywhere. The bookies were panicking, and one was seen to wind up the charger on the telephone box, and speak busily on an outside line. But then the shed doors slammed open, and a gang of colliers shouldered their way in. 'What's happening here?' demanded the biggest, Godwyn 'Huge' Hughes. 'What are you lot up to? We've seen Idris whittlin' away. We've heard the women folk talkin' about the race. While we're underground working our fingers to the bone, you pasty faced lummocks are up here playin' with toy cars!' Eric felt the blood drain from his face, but walked up to Huge nevertheless. 'Look here my man. I came to the pub and tried to invite you all, but all I got was muttering and abuse. I'm sorry if this has all been a misundersta…' 'Misunderstanding my arse,' said Huge. 'Whip 'em out lads!' At that, fourteen sturdy pit men shrugged off their jackets and advanced towards the track, each with a gleaming Mercedes in their hand. 'Our shift didn't finish 'till ten minutes ago. We got here as soon as we could. Any chance you could run a few more heats for us?'
Every chance, of course. The new entrants had the bookies tearing their hair and scrubbing the betting clean again, but the extra round of heats was enjoyed by all. It gave Eric, Gwladys and Idris a breather, time to take stock and watch the progress of the other racers. Useful information about tyre wear and momentum, gear ratios and adhesion seeped into their consciousness as if by osmosis. A giant battle between Huge Hugh and another face-worker whose enormous hands enveloped the dial resistors completely had the whole room breathless. Their two cars pulled easily away from the other two in the heat, but ran close, swapping the lead as one lane ran inside the other, then lost out because of the superior speed of the outer car in the broader radius. Twice Huge's car tipped over the rail and was rescued by a spectator, but three times his rival had to lift his car from the track and adjust the contact strips. The cars swept round corner after corner, lap after lap, tails swinging out in parallel, sparks flying from the rapidly wearing contacts, clicking rhythmically over the joints and sweeping past the slower cars on the outer rails. In the end, Huge nosed over the line a bare inch ahead, his blood red Maserati coasting another half lap to echoing cheers. And in the end, of course, it was Huge, Eric, Gwladys and Idris lined up for the final. A Maserati with a miniature Villoresi at the wheel, Eric's Merecedes piloted by Herman Lang, Dreyfus in Gwladys' Delahaye, and the great Nuvolari poised inside Idris' original D type Auto-Union. The man from the Llamenmad Clarion took several views of the start line for Thursday's edition, and Ralph stood poised over the starter switch. 'May the best man or woman win' he announced as the second interruption burst through the doors. It was the Government Pit Inspector. The man from the National Coal Board. A small man with a small moustache and a heavy briefcase. 'Ahem. I have reason to believe that certain articles of Coal Board property are being hereby misused, filched, and abused. To whit; forty feet of Coal Board plywood, several hundred yards of brazing rod, twenty low voltage electric motors, and numerous other items of electrical equipment. I therefore demand that proceedings here cease forthwith, all structures within this building be demolished, and the night shift return immediately to their positions at the coal face.'
The room fell silent. A single bookie waved a fistful of betting slips in the air, and smiling broadly (which was in the event a severe miscalculation) yelled 'All bets are forfeit! Meeting cancelled. I'm off.' 'Oh no you're not' said Huge, standing immovably between the bookie and the door. 'Do something! You can't let this happen. Show me you're my man now. Take care of me properly' said Gwladys urgently to Eric. He seized her hand firmly and raised his face to the roof for inspiration. 'So I'm hers now am I?' he thought. 'Is she mine, then? But does anybody own anyone or anything?' Then he spoke.
'Forgive me sir. You represent the National Coal Board, if I am not mistaken. The Board which has since 1947 taken over all the individual coal mines, taking them out of the hands of profit-mad businessmen, exploiters and entrepreneurs and returning them to the hands of the workers, am I not right? Llamenmad Colliery belongs now to the National Coal Board, and may God preserve it. And the National Coal Board belongs to the nation. The people who work the mines, pay the taxes and vote now share in the profits of their labour. And enjoy joint and shared ownership of this pit and all it's workings! This track, and all it's appurtenances was made by us and therefore belongs to us. You, sir, are a public servant. And we-', here Eric paused and looked around at his audience for dramatic effect, 'are the public. Your service is required marshalling at Coppice bend over in the far corner. The race is about to start, and you can leave your briefcase by the door.'
In the face of a very united force, the man from the Coal Board could only concede Eric's very eloquently stated case. He withdrew to Coppice bend, and soon was as absorbed in the racing as the rest of the folk. The tension was at cracking point. Gwladys turned and hugged Eric, ruffled his hair, and kissed him, hard, in full view of the whole assembled village. 'That was a wonderful speech, boyo. But I'm going to beat you now.' Eric felt his knees go, but kept his hand firmly on the resistor. Idris shuffled a few steps to his side, 'No more kissin, if you don't mind. I'm a family man. Or hope to be one day.' Huge Hughes laughed, scratched his armpit, and gave Ralph the signal to start the final. Gwladys meant what she said, and tore off the start line and into a three foot lead before Red Gate. But at the hairpin she uncharacteristically spun, and by the time the car was back on the rail, Idris, Eric and Huge had stormed past. Huge's car had great straight line speed and acceleration, and down Starkey's hill he drew up to the others and passed them, but he had to lose speed quicker than the others as well, and Eric and Idris slewed past him in the Melbourne loop. On lap four, Idris had to bring his car in to attend to the contacts, and re-entered in fourth place. But he was going like a bullet, until he came up to pass Gwladys' car as it was tail out round Mcleans. They tangled. The Delahaye pulled clear, relatively unaffected, but the Auto Union was limping. And at the end of heat one, Huge was clear of Eric, then Gwladys and last, Idris, his front wheels slightly out of line. The bookie tried to shout something about betting being on again, but he was effectively stifled by a large miner with a spade. Heat two ran a little like the first, with Gwladys making a fast start, but this time she was on an inner rail, and crept carefully round Red Gate, while the others poured on the power through Hollywood. This time Huge's Maserati had the advantage of the lane, and steamed off into the distance, leaning effectively against the rails to scrub off speed in the corners and lining up quickly onto the straights. Behind him, Eric and Idris swapped positions at virtually every turn. Idris had managed to straighten his front end before the start, and the two cars were locked together, rear wheels swishing from side to side but never touching each other, On the left turns Eric had the advantage, on the right turns Idris crept ahead. At the end of the heat Idris had the lead over Eric, with Huge ahead and Gwladys behind. The start of the third heat bode well for Huge, with a clear lead accumulated already, but his car was beginning to give off a strange acrid smell. His outright speed was dropping, but it kept him safe in the turns, and he was able to cruise round at a good but unspectacular average. All around him though, the race was frantic. Gwladys had calmed down, and was in good control, her rhythm coming naturally, and somewhat distractingly to some of the track marshals. Eric was beginning to find his pace too, but Idris was loosing traction. His car was beginning to bounce in left hand turns, and when he tried to apply the pressure to Eric, leapt of the track at Coppice, into the hands of the Coal Board man, who got a round of applause for his smart marshalling. But Idris brought the car round slowly, and removed the split tyre from the back axle. The heat ended with Eric in the lead, Gwladys second, Huge third, and Idris unable to finish.
Drinks were brought before the final heat. Gwladys and Eric downed theirs with arms entwined, but the fierce look on Gwladys' face was intact. She still meant business. With a second and two thirds she was low on the leader board, but not out of it yet. Idris sank his pint with his eyes firmly closed, working out what he needed to do to win. A first and two last places did not look good, but he was on the best rail for the final run. And he'd skimmed on a pair of brand new rear tyres. Huge laughed mightily and poured the beer over his head. He needed cooling down from the outside rather than the inside, he reckoned, and wanted a clear head for the final. A win and two third places put him in a strong position, but his motor was overheating badly. A few catcalls and cheers brought the finalists to the line for the dramatic finish of the first Llamenmad Grand Prix. 'I'll let you win if you'll marry me' Eric whispered to Gwladys. 'I'll not marry you if you don't put up a fight,' she said in reply. Ralph threw the switch, and the four cars careered off for the last time. High pitched voices called out for Gwladys. A low roar of support came for Huge. Idris and Eric pressed on regardless. The pace was tremendous, and Gwladys swayed imperiously, her skirts swishing as she followed her Delahaye in its loping motion round the track. She never missed a beat. Caressed it round the turns, eased it along the straights, never put her delicate leather-booted foot wrong. Somehow she kept clear of the struggle between the men, who were managing to slide into each other at every bend. All three had to be picked up off the floor at some stage in the race, and the two silver cars and the lone red Maserati began to show the wood more clearly beneath the paint. But by mid-way, Huge's car was smoking. There was a definite grey haze following it round the track, and his speed crept slowly down. These new motors ran fast, but hot and short. Idris and Eric were pulling clear, fighting their own duel between Mercedes and Auto Union. Then at Melbourne loop on the penultimate lap, Eric attempted to pass inside Idris. Their wheels touched. The back of the Mercedes ran up and over the Auto Union and flipped high. It bounced back on the track upside down, and cracked in two. Huge's smoking Maserati approached at slow speed, and nudged the wreckage to one side. But Gwladys had taken the flag already. Idris sped through into second, and Huge's car crossed the line in third and immediately burst into flame. The balsa wood body and thick enamel paint went up like a torch, but someone threw a pail of beer on it. Huge was laughing like a drain anyway, and slapped Eric and Idris simultaneously on the back, strongly enough to send them both halfway across the track.
The result, as any true romantic will already know, was a dead heat, with all four finalists finishing on forty two points. Idris and Huge were down at the coal face again the next day, Idris whittling more cars for the coming season, and Huge prising out more coal from the seam than he'd ever managed before. 'So this is our pit (crash), our colliery (crunch) and our coal (thud). Well I'm blowed (crash)'. Eric married Gwladys, of course, in the chapel and beneath a bower of Auto Unions hand carved by Idris. He became a union representative, and was promptly sent to work in an office in Southport. Where he and Gwladys met several like-minded people and lived happily ever after. The rest is History
 

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QUOTE Huge's car crossed the line in third and immediately burst into flame. The balsa wood body and thick enamel paint went up like a torch, but someone threw a pail of beer on it.

The fire that so nearly destroyed Huge's car has of course been the subject of much controversy down the years. Was the National Coal Board somehow involved? Had some mysterious flammable fluid secretly been used to soften the rear tyres? Did team orders come into play? The list of conspiracy theories is seemingly endless.

imho, the most credible explanation is that the enamel paint was damaged during an earlier "off" exposing the flammable cellulose balsa sanding sealer undercoat. The heat from that low volt motor was simply too much and... well, the conflagration that ensued is now firmly etched into the annals of history.

I believe that one of Jimmi Hendrix' cellulose finished stratocasters suffered a similar fate. However, at least this guitar survives to this day albeit in a rebuilt form. Sadly and despite the beer, I believe Huge's Maser is with us no more. Last I heard it had been stripped down and the parts used to build an early Vanwall Special rail car.
 

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John...

Just to clarify a few points. May I be the first to pour scorn and derision, not to mention a serious charge of treason, on your disgraceful and disrespectful miss-spelling of 'JimMi Hendrick's blessed name?

Secondly, I would draw a discreet veil over the reasons for Huge's Maserati conflagration. Officially the post-race report mentioned a seized and overheated rear axle bearing chafing on exposed wood splinters resulting, as you surmised, from an earlier 'Off'. Unofficially I can now add that Huge was seen cleaning the comm with Methylated Spirit before the start of the final heat. He was also seen by stewards to be drinking from the same bottle. You are, however mislead about the present whereabouts of the Maser. As we all now know, the legendary Huge carved his bodies out of solid Oak, as balsa tended to crumble beneath the crushing force of his two inch wide fingers. The charred remains were recycled to form a pit-prop in no.14 gallery on he western coal seam, which was exhausted in late 1970. Llamenmad Colliery is now a 'Mining Disaster Theme Park', and for the price of a £25 family day ticket with free parking, vistors can still make out the blackened form of the 8CTF just behind the waxwork of 'crushed and suffocated colliery worker no.12'.
 

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Firstly, I must profusely apologise for the mis-spelling of Mr Hendrick's's noble name - no treasonous intent was er.. intended.

As for Huge's Maser, I knew about the meths theory of course but had dismissed it on the basis that most of it would have umm.. how could I put it... vapourised due to the bottle being open for several minutes BEFORE he had an opportunity to clean the comm.

I do however bow to your superior knowledge here mr tx. As you say, time to draw a discreet veil over the whole sorry affair.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well I am sorry you are both wrong as I grew up in Llamenmad which is at the cross-roads of the Western Valley road and at the head of the Valley road and is 3178 ft above sea level and is the highest point in South Wales. Our house used to over look the pit which was one of the last to close in South Wales. Now as Huge was my uncle and their is no meths in Llamenmad and at the time of the rail race the only two places in the village had electricity, which were the coal mine and the pub.
Huge cleaned the comm in whiskey he told me so himself. Huge later when on like his friend and fellow rail racer Alban Adams to become Mayor of Wales's largest city.

RR
 

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Well RR, it would seem that I stand corrected yet again.

However, I would say that I believe my original source for the flammable cellulose balsa sanding sealer theory to be "highly reliable". For obvious reasons I cannot reveal names but, suffice to say, a "little bird" told me.

A minor bird in point of fact. All I can say is Delahaye hay hay
 

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Look, I'm sorry to tell you that none of this actually happened. Please don't believe everything you read here. Jimi's Strat was actually covered with a coat of asbestos based varnish which protected the original finish beneath the 'Ee-zee Flame Guitar Laquer' ™ which he applied in the dressing room for show-biz encore effects. The Strat is still well and happy, living in the small Hebridean farm where it has resided for the last 12 years, rearing sheep and playing with it's whang bar during the long winter nights.

Isn't Llamenmad an anagram for some thing rude, or have I been listening to too much Dylan?
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Richard gave it to me and I am not tell you, try writting it backwards. You still won't get it.

RR
 
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