Tribute to Bill Batten

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Image courtesy of Mugged-Off / Spikey Graphics.

 

BriSCA F2, the association of Formula 2 Stock Car Racing promoters in the UK, wishes to extend its sincere condolences to the family and friends of “The Master”, Bill Batten who has sadly passed away at the age of 74.

Widely regarded as one of the all-time greats, Bill was respected on both sides of the fence through a career spanning five separate decades. His influence on the sport cannot be overstated, where in addition to his driving exploits and technical innovations, he served his fellow competitors well for many years as the Chairman of the BSCDA F2 (British Stock Car Drivers Association).

The “legend” moniker is oft misused, but in the case of Bill it appears to have been made for him. The former four-time World Champion, and six-time National Points Champion, made his debut in a mechanics race in 1969, and from such humble beginnings went on to dominate the sport. After considerable success at all points north, south, east and west, his final retirement came at an emotional farewell in August 2014.

Bill’s early on-track exploits earned him the nickname “The Bumper King”. While his driving style undoubtedly entertained the crowds, it led to a series of disappointing World Championship near-misses in the early part of the 1970s. However, in 1977, the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, all that changed for good when on 4th September at Smeatharpe Stadium Bill captured the first of his gold crowns.

It would be another 4 years before Bill regained the World title at Northampton (Brafield Stadium as it was known back then), and in 1982 he was able to mount a successful defence at the scene of his first title victory. Sensationally, that closed season, Bill was to quit the sport as he felt it no longer offered him the challenge he craved.

As the eighties drew to a close, the lure of the track became too much to resist, and just a year into his comeback in 1989, with multiple final wins added to his already distinguished career, Bill clinched both the British and European titles.

The 2003 World Final had the makings of a perfect storm for the West Country challenge on the gold roof, with Bill leading the local charge from the front row. A false start and the ensuing chaos led to an iconic moment in World Final history when Bill took matters in to his own hands, jumped aboard a recovery tractor, and towed his own car back to the pits. The second attempt at the race, later in the meeting, saw Barry Goldin dominate proceedings and a fairy tale fourth title win on home soil was not to be. All was not lost however, and a year later, on his 57th birthday, Bill triumphed at Barford in County Durham to bring the gold roof back to the South West.

As a leader, not a follower, Bill received not one, but two “BriSCA F2 Salutes Bill Batten” meetings; the first in August 1983 on his initial retirement, and a second event some 31 years later on the occasion of his last racing appearance in August 2014.

Tributes have been paid to Bill from across the oval racing world, with drivers and fans at the Nutts Corner BriSCA F2 speed-weekend, and Sheffield WoSQR showing their gratitude for years of entertainment; many cars sporting gold bumpers in a mark of respect. A succession of further tributes is also planned at forthcoming meetings.

Champions come and go, but Legends live forever.

Bill Batten... The Master… Race in Peace.

 

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Drivers and Officials applaud The Master at Sheffield. Photo courtesy of Dave Bastock Photos.

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Gold bumpers were abundant in respect at Nutts Corner. Photo courtesy of Pete Shaw Race Pix.

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Photo courtesy of Dave Bastock Photos.

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Photo courtesy of Dave Bastock Photos.

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