HOWARD STRAWFORD: 60 YEARS IN MOTORSPORT
Howard's first introduction to motorsport was in 1952 via the Welsh Motor Racing Club, which ran events at Fairwood. He had recently left school and started an apprenticeship working with his father in a café in Wales. One of the regular customers was a great enthusiast and talked him into volunteering to help lay the circuit out.
He soon started competing in sprints and hillclimbs, in a Morgan 4/4. Howard took a blind date, Pat, to his first competitive event at Castel Farm and they were together from that day forward enjoying almost 54 years of marriage. Howard’s next move was to start organising events for the Swansea Motor Club, where he later became chairman.
Howard was a founder member of the Welsh Association of Motor Clubs and became an RAC Steward, often at the Llandow circuit. Back in 1959, he had been instrumental in opening up motorsport at the former RAF airfield near Cardiff.
In 1967, his business career took him to work in Bristol for Kraft Foods and he soon started visiting Castle Combe where he quickly became an RAC and club steward at race meetings.
By the end of the 1960’s Howard was increasingly involved in the running of Castle Combe as competition secretary of our South Western Centre. Unfortunately, the circuit was struggling and it seemed its days of hosting motor racing were ending, with the 1971 season scheduled to be the last. However, Howard had other thoughts and took up the challenge, setting about plans to keep the circuit open. These were successful and Howard eventually took full control of the venue in 1976.
In the ensuing 38 years, Howard, ably assisted by Pat and their team, took Castle Combe from a venue on the brink of closure with a turnover of £15,000 a year to an operation, which employs 20 people full time and in excess of 100 part-time, with a turnover for the group of more than £1.5 million.
As well as working tirelessly to secure the future of Castle Combe, Howard also spent nearly two decades as chairman of the BRSCC and in 2006 created the Castle Combe Racing Club. He also served on many committees as well as the Motorsport Safety Fund, of which he was still a Trustee, until his death.
Current BRSCC Chairman, Bernard Cottrell, paid tribute to Howard saying. “Howard will be sorely missed. He made a tremendous contribution to the BRSCC over his lifetime. Our thoughts are with Pat, Karen and Emma. It is fitting that the first meeting at Combe since Howard passed away will be the meeting that marks the BRSCC’s return to the circuit after an absence of 8 years. I’m sure it will be a very emotional occasion”.