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(AAS Arborfield 52A)


“Wokingham Revisited”



The following article appeared in the Wokingham Times and reading it brought back memories of the sights, sounds and smells of the race track at Little California as some knew it.  I seemed to remember Stock Car racing too but there may also have been the miniature race cars imported from America.



Copyright © Wokingham Times 2007.


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The Starting Gate at the Little California Speedway Track.      Copyright © John Skinner


If this picture brings back memories of the noise and smells of speedway racing at the Little California speedway track then Click on the Picture to visit a web site where you can indulge in more nostalgia.


Further information below added on the 1st December 2010.


Slough Observer

Published: Friday, 27th August, 2010 9:00am

Did you ride with these Berkshire biker babes?


by Anthony Smith


Beauties and the bike

Berkshire Bathing Beauty contestants pictured with California 'Poppies' and Brafield speedway teams at the track near Finchampstead in 1954.


A HISTORIAN and speedway enthusiast is appealing for information after unearthing an old photograph from Berkshire's past. Bryan Horsnell, from Tilehurst, discovered the picture while researching the California Poppies speedway team. It was taken during a Berkshire Bathing Beauty Contest held at the once-popular track, which was based in the California Country Park near Finchampstead. The picture dates from Sunday, August 29, 1954, and shows three young ladies sitting on a powerful speedway bike before the start of a match against Brafield.

"The event took place 56 years ago last weekend so I'm hoping the significance may jog someone's memory," said Mr Horsnell. "It would be interesting to find out if any of these young ladies are still living in the area, especially the one at the front who also won the Miss Reading contest two years earlier. "All these ladies must be in their mid-seventies now so if anyone has some information about them, I would love them to get in contact."

The swimsuit-clad ladies were battling to become Miss Berkshire, a contest sponsored by one of our own newspapers at the time, The Berkshire Chronicle. The title was won by Ann Johansen, nee Savage, a 20-year-old telephonist sitting on the front of the bike. She was no stranger to these competitions either, having been crowned Miss Reading in 1952. Sitting behind her in the photo are Allison Peachy and Janette Dean and the trio certainly grabbed the attention of the riders - especially California's own Bobby Andrews, who is standing on the far right.

"Bobby emigrated to New Zealand to race and he still lives there now," explained Mr Horsnell. "I contacted him recently and he remembered the day well. I think people can see he enjoyed the experience judging by the cheeky grin on his face!" The others riders are, from left, Vic Hall and Bryan Meredith (both Brafield), Peter Mould (California), Dave Hankins (Brafield), plus Gil Goldfinch and Andrews, who both raced for California.

Incidentally, while Johansen was crowned Berkshire's beauty queen, second and third prizes eventually went to Susan Price, 22, and Sula Freeman, 17, who both came from Caversham. And Mr Horsnell added: "These old photographs and stories are important items of social history and I would love to hear from anyone who has more information or maybe more old photographs from that period."

Mr Horsnell has already written a book on the subject, California Speedway - The Southern Area League years of The Poppies, 1954-1957. He would also like to hear from fellow enthusiasts who may possess old programmes, photos and souvenirs from 1932-1957.

Contact Bryan Horsnell at 275 Overdown Road, Tilehurst, RG31 6NX, call 0118 9424448 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              

or email beejaysocent@hotmail.com

Copyright © Slough & Langley Observer 2010.


The photo below has been contributed by Bryan Horsnell who features in the article above, reproduced  from the Slough & Langley Observer.  Bryan stands to the left of the group and he was a volunteer helper at the California Speedway race meetings in the 50s.

Speedway 2 6x4



First Published: 15thOctober 2007

Latest Update: 1st December 2010












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