Warton stock car champions have followed father’s lead

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​Like father, like sons…Gerald Hoggarth could not be any prouder of his two lads Dean and Stephen – even if they may have bettered his own exploits as racing drivers.

Gerald – who turns 80 this month – is a stalwart of Warton Stock Car Club near Carnforth.

​A co-founder of the establishment along with Brian Branson and Arthur Graves in the early 1970s, Gerald is now the honorary life president.

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He has watched the club grow from strength to strength over the past 50 years, and spent a lifetime devoted to the sport both on and off the track.

Stephen, left, and Dean HoggarthStephen, left, and Dean Hoggarth
Stephen, left, and Dean Hoggarth

That devotion almost led to his demise nearly 20 years ago when he was seriously injured in an accident at the club.

Officiating at a race meeting as a marshal, Gerald was rushed to hospital with severe injuries after a vehicle spun out of control, sending a steel gate crashing into him.

He suffered a serious leg injury but fortunately he lived to tell the tale and was back at the club doing what he loves best.

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In a further setback, last year, he was forced to think about his own mortality once again when he was diagnosed with cancer in his leg.

Warton Stock Car Club champion 2023 Stephen Hoggarth with his daughter SophiaWarton Stock Car Club champion 2023 Stephen Hoggarth with his daughter Sophia
Warton Stock Car Club champion 2023 Stephen Hoggarth with his daughter Sophia

Unfortunately he had to have the limb amputated but his disability refuses to dampen his spirits, particularly his love of racing.

And while his racing days are long gone, he retains a keen interest in his sons’ exploits behind the wheel

It was always going to be the case that his two lads would follow him and become racing drivers.

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In 1985, he became the club’s series champion – allowing him to paint the top of his car gold for the following year.

He had also won the club championship that same year which would have allowed him to paint the top of his vehicle silver.

However, he has witnessed both Dean and Stephen emulate his success and then some.

Both have won the club championships three times – with Stephen winning it as recently as last month.

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They have also been crowned overall series champion a couple of times each.

"It’s only the cars which are keeping me going,” said Gerald with a hint of dark humour.

"After racing for 40-odd years and not suffering as much as a scratch on me, I got cleaned up while watching.

"It was in 2005 when a car crashed through a gate and landed on top of me.

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"It took about 10 people to lift this gate off and so I ended up with a broken femur and multiple injuries.

"It wasn't even a stock car, it was an old banger which hit this gate with such force, it broke the hinges off the gate.

"It split my head wide open, my left arm was in a hell of a mess. They had to rebuild that and put a new knee on my left leg.

"I think it all stemmed from that because I ended up having to have my leg off because I got cancer in it.”

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Despite their father’s accident and subsequent health worries, Stephen and Dean have had no qualms about forging their own paths in the sport.

“It’s definitely a family affair,” said Gerald. “Both Stephen and Dean have won both silver and gold. They are fairly well up in the game of stock car racing.

“They have followed me into it but have actually gone on to do better.

“I won both silver and gold in 1985 but they have gone on to win both silver and gold a few times each.”

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Having helped set up the club in 1972, Gerald is thrilled to see the sport just as popular as it’s ever been.

As well as the main stock car racing, the club also caters for juniors as well as holding popular races involving “old bangers” and caravans.

“The club has come a long way,” said Gerald. “We still get a lot of people coming down to watch.

“For example, the caravan meeting we have got coming up, it will probably attract two or three thousand people.

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“It’s pretty popular because they will be coming along to watch these caravans get smashed up.

“You should see the track after the caravans have been on it.”

The stock car series championship is still to be decided with the race to be crowned overall champion hotting up.

There are two meetings left of the season with Martin Chadwick in pole position to claim the title.

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