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Brooks is barmy for bilge – 352 Stuart Brooks Interview

Stuart Brooks has been around the ovals for years, his ‘Mr Bilge’ nickname going hand in hand with his relaxed approach to racing. With tonight marking the Bilge Bonanza in tribute, it was only right to take the time out to get to know the man behind the meeting in more detail.

Stuart, like many, comes from a line of racers, albeit under varying formulas on the ovals. ‘My family started in the 1960s. My uncle with one arm raced Superstox and my cousin, John Snare, raced Bangers & 2L Stock Cars. My Dad, Jamie Brooks, raced Hot Rods in the 70s whilst another uncle, Paul Brooks did both Hot Rods and Bangers. It was in me from birth really,’ Stuart admits. ‘Before I was old enough to have a driving licence, I would drive myself to Mildenhall Stadium, and then eventually did my first meeting in a Renault 5 if I remember correctly. It was with the big cars so I was a little scared – that was around 1988 and that’s what got me started. I didn’t have any money, so that’s why I always raced bits of bilge; the cars the other banger boys didn’t want.’ And from there, the nickname was born.

That meeting in the Renault 5 blossomed in to what has been more than a 30 year span on the ovals. Stuart has many a story he can share about his racing, but has chose to mention only a few career highlights to keep it brief. ‘I finished my first race in 1990 driving a Datsun 120y at Swaffham. I did a Caravan car jump whilst having a broken arm, and somehow managed to win it.’ It may have taken a couple of years before Stu finished his first race, but from there it progressed nicely. ‘I climbed the grades through the 90s – reds, superstar and then got the silver roof in 1997.’

On top of the individual accolades, Stuart found himself part of some big teams across his time in Bangers. ‘I had raced with Damage Inc in the early 90s having been asked by Shaun Mason, so I did a few meetings with them. I won the PRI Team Championship in 2000 with The Condoms as well as the Suffolk Open Team Championship in 2002. My old boss used to be a mechanic for a member of The Condoms, and I sort of got in slowly through painting my cars in pink and then they let me in, but I did work hard to be part of team. I won the 2003 and 2006 Stansted Teams with The Allstars and then eventually began my own team with Team Bilge.’

The Team Bilge colours are what fans will have seen Stu in more frequently over the past few years, although he has been reliving his pink days also. The Bilge colours began from chance however. ‘We were doing the Micro Teams at Christmas time and didn’t have a name and the boys said about Team Bilge would be cool, and that made me humble.’

Having been a part of teams throughout his career, it was interesting to garner Stuart’s opinion on team battles. ‘In the 90s it was fun. Looking on it now, it’s like they are out to hurt one another and that I don’t like. I like to help teams get back out and we smash cars up, not people.’

Being a bilge man, you’d expect Stu’s favourite car to be something a little rogue to the normal. ‘A Rover 216, but not the one with the Honda engine in.’ For most, it would be a Granada or Jaguar perhaps, Stuart admitting that the latter is one on his list. ‘I’ve never raced a Jaguar; maybe next year!’ Going back to the Rover however, Stu has his reasons for choosing the car. ‘I had one at Skegness for all of the 97 season and lost count of how many times I won with it. I was track champion and Trackstar Points Champion – it was a good car! I got a little upset when it got scrapped.’

All of that leads us to the present, and tonight’s meeting. Stuart talks us through how the idea materialised. ‘I won a race at the 4×4 meeting last year and said to Matt that it was my first win at Kings Lynn since 2002 and he mentioned something then. I was going to stop racing at the end of last year, but people commented on Facebook saying that I needed a meeting before retiring which was nice that people viewed me as a somebody as I feel I was never viewed as much of a banger driver so that was really nice.’ With the meeting in general, Stu is trying to recreate that old, feel good feeling. ‘I would like people to have a race around in their first heat and then see what happens. Make it worth all the hard work so people can have fun like it was the old days. No need for loads of money to be spent, and catch up with old friends and drivers like 19 Joe Mullarkey, 47 Andrew Davies, 51 James Licquorice, 77 Steve Davies, 312 Tom Reynolds, 673 Darren Fendley, 747 Bradley Davies, 165 Ben Randell, 557 Paul Bowen, 552 Jordan Street, 566 Tony Pallett, 178 Kieran Bowman, 337 Ashley Garrod, 791 Nicky Young, 455 Rikki Finney and all the banger family.’

We know Stu is one for being different, so what will he be tooled up with for the night? ‘A Mk3 Cavalier in 2Litres, a new shape Mini in the 1600s and Vauxhall Agila in Micros.’ A vast variety which we are sure will be put to good use.

Once the dust settles on the meeting, Stu aims to have a little time off from it all. ‘I’m going to have a bit of a rest and then get ready for next year and do some BWS rounds I think, and then continue to have some fun at Lynn.’

Stuart has been part of some big teams, raced with the best of them along his 30+ years in the sport, but who would he have alongside himself in his dream 6 a side team. ‘19 Dove Toe Joe, 158 Shane, 47 Andrew and 77 Steve Davies, and 135 Donny Mann.’

Stuart would like to conclude the interview with several thank you’s. ‘Thank you to all my friends and family for all the work, especially Joe Mullarkey for his workshop and cars and to Queen Bilge for her help – if it was not for her it would not happen, I love her so much.’

We wish Stuart the best of luck and hope you all enjoy his Bilge Bonanza.

Credit to the individual photographers – Peter Barber, Eastcoast Stockcars, LeeLee’s Race Pics, AC Photos and others unknown

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