Charlie Fitzpatrick

We were saddened today to hear of the passing of Mr Betta – Charlie Fitzpatrick .

A friend for 50 years Dick Smith, remembers him thus :

With the sad passing of Charlie Fitzpatrick we have lost somebody who really was right there at the very beginning of our sport. He built the first really usable electric car racing circuit, a rail track for the Southport MEC, with Walkden Fisher and Colin Sinclair in 1955. This really lit the fuse for club racing in the UK which, being a canny Lancastrian and excellent model maker, Charlie quickly supported by founding his Classic glass fibre body concern in 1955. This was followed later by his Betta line of vac form bodies in the early ‘70’s, and there are some of us who can still remember the excitement of the smell of glass fibre resin on opening a parcel from Classic.

Although a man of few words, he moved with the times, developing his line of Betta vacuum formed bodies to meet the various demands of slot racers from recognisably scale, to out and out “handling”. There was a period when Charlie was the only supplier of bodies in the UK, and to describe him as one of the most important people in sustaining our sport over the years is no exaggeration.

Slot racing was not, however, his first enthusiasm, which could have been climbing or model aircraft. It was an honour carefully granted to be invited to view his collection of model aircraft engines, many of which had been obtained from Eastern Europe in the days of the “Iron Curtain” through the exchange of slot racing parts. So perhaps he even fostered the dominance of the Czechs!

He did have a quite dry sense of humour. After winning the Revival Rail Race at Brooklands in 2000 he was heard to remark :

”Now I remember why we switched to slot”

Charlie and his lovely wife Margaret were were presented with our trophy for long and excellent service to slot racing in 2015.

Everyone in our sport will miss him, and the Association offers its condolences to all his family.

Mark Witham
26 November 2017

Margaret Fitzpatrick

It is with great sadness that we have to report the passing of Margaret Fitzpatrick on 21st April 2017. She was one of the great stalwarts of the slot racing community having been an integral part of Betta and Classic since its formation about 60 years ago.

Margaret was, quite simply, lovely.

She was the effusive face and voice of Betta and Classic perfectly balancing Charlie’s more technical approach to their business.

Much of the pleasure of ordering bodies and parts from them was to talk to Margaret on the phone, especially if it was a clandestine call from work during a fraught day. Sending Margaret an e-mail was never an option.

She had the patience of a saint having to cope with a husband, a son and a son-in-law who were all slot racers as well as all those phone calls.

I’m sure we will all join in sending our Condolences to Charlie, Ian and all her family.

Ian Fitzpatrick gives the following funeral details:-

Service and cremation at Southport Crematorium Southport Rd, Scarisbrick, PR8 5JQ. Monday 8th May at 11.20am.

Family flowers only. Any donations to Dementia UK. All are welcome.

Following the service the family would like you to join them at the Richmond pub for refreshments. Please message if you are able to attend so we can estimate numbers

Best regards Ian

Chas Keeling

With great sadness I have to report Chas Keeling died on Wednesday 1st June 2016 having been taken ill the previous day.

So many of us will remember Chas as a friend we see at slot racing meetings. Indeed he’s been there since the beginning from the first slot racing Nats in 1964 (where he was second in concours)  through his second place in the Sports car final in 1966 and he’s been at most Nats since including the 2016 event a few weeks ago. Through his SCD business Chas has been making chassis, controllers, tyres, motor cans, jigs .... and supplying slot racers since the 1960s. Chas was always a keen racer right up to racing at the BSL in Scotland a few days before he passed away.  The high point must have been second in the Sports car final in 1966 at Bradford   See the BSCRA facebook page for more stories from those who remember him.

The funeral was on Friday 17th June at 2pm at St Paul’s C of E Church, Bradford Road, Birkenshaw, Bradford

Dick Birtles

Dick Birtles passed away  in February 2016.

Dick was one of the most successful racers from the north- west area in the late 1960s and early 1970s the high point was winning the National Sports/GT champion in 1970.  He will be remembered as one of teh ral characters of British racing.

Steve Walker

Steve Walker passed away overnight on 8/9 August 2014.  Sadly he lost his battle with cancer at the age of just 59.

His record in National level racing was unrivalled on his retirement from Nationals racing in 1981.  From his first Nationals win in 1976, he won at least one National championship every year till 1981 when he won all 3 classes and won the BOC for the 3rd year running - the first time either had been achieved.  His cars were beautifully built, winning the constructors championship in 4 of those years.  Also very impressive was his winning the Scalextric National championship  in 1978.    See the BSCRA facebook page for more stories from those who remember racing with him.

Ken Wallis

It was sad to hear that Ken Wallis passed away in 1st September 2013 at the age of 97.  Ken is best known for his work on Autogyros, and you can read more about this in his obituary on the Wallis Autogyros site.  It is perhaps less well known that Ken was a slot racing pioneer. Ken kept his scratch built slot cars from 1942 (see more details).  Slot racers will be interested to see this video of Ken with these 1942 cars and what may well be the worlds oldest surviving scratch built slot car track in action.

Ronnie Spencer

Sadly Ronnie Spencer, one of the old slot racers of the Hammersmith and Tottenham days who also visited many of the small tracks around the country has passed away and been laid to rest. Ronnie, who had just got back into slot racing, was a well respected racer in the early days winning many big races and open meetings.

We plan to run a Retro race, Tottenham rules, in memory of Ronnie on January 24th 2014 at Millstream Raceway to be rerun annually.

All welcome and if any one has any idea's would like to here from you. Mickey Graves (c/o

Derek Cooper

It was sad to hear Derek Cooper passed away.

His early days in slot racing might be best remembered for his Nationals wins in 1972 and 1985, plus the 1969 Club Team Championship as part of the Leicester team.   Those who were there could hardly have missed the flamboyant cloak and hat, plus of course the violin case for a car box.  Those of us who knew him better will remember how much fun we had, and how important a part of that Derek was.

More recently Derek has been one of the keenest retro racers both in the UK and abroad, and one of the major UK dealers retro slot car parts.   His enthusiasm and good humour was just as infectious in that branch of the slot racing hobby as it had been in ECRA / BSCRA racing in  his earlier years.

Recently he was diagnosed with illness, he fought the illness with good humour but sadly passed away on 13th July 2013.

Our thought are with his family.

The funeral was on Friday 26th July at 3pm at the Nuneaton Crematorium.

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