6 August 1999

LIFETIMESPASSION FOR RACING ABOUT

FLYING Farmer is a phrase designed for Cec Booth. Poultry and pigs have been his living but a racing car has been his passion. For the past 40 years hes owned a piece of motor racing history – a 50-year-old, 130-horsepower Frazer Nash that came third at Le Mans in 1949. Unbelievably, its owner at the time had never raced before but he did 1877 miles at an average 78mph.

Ten years later Cec took up the sport in a Healey Duncan. He won his first race at Aintree then, with a stiffer handicap, "almost frightened myself to death" by going too fast trying to repeat the success.

Wanting something nippier he set his mind on the unique Frazer Nash that belonged to a fellow Yorkshireman. "It wasnt for sale but I phoned him every month until he relented," said Cec, who saved for three months to scrape together the several hundred pounds needed.

Cec and the car became legends in the North, chalking up countless wins and fastest laps in races, hill climbs and sprints against more modern competition. He still holds the odd class record.

&#42 Fitted in

All his racing had to fit in with his farming. His main business was exporting breeding pigs to the Continent.

The rubber he burned on all this countrys major circuits is now a memory but he still has his priceless car. A flip round the country lanes at his home in Holmfirth, near Huddersfield, is enough of a "white knuckle ride" to demonstrate that at 79 he hasnt lost his touch on the straights and corners.

&#42 Le Mans visit

This summer he returned to Le Mans. Hes been invited for several years but now it was a special nostalgic wallow.

He headed the cavalcade that toured the circuit before the 24-hour race in honour of his cars remarkable feat 50 years ago. Maintained by Cec and his mechanic, Neil Haworth, the dark red Frazer Nash is still in starting grid condition. Its kept in an old piggery converted into a garage. Not only has it proved a good financial investment, owning it has been a life-enriching experience. "Pleasure, memories and friends, thats been its contribution to me," said Cec.

Tom Montgomery