The #29 Stuart Donald Profile
Age : 59
Home Town : Scunthorpe Lincolnshire
Occupation : Garage Proprietor
Stuart Donald have been racing more years than he cares to remember. He started out on the Lincolnshire autograss club fields in his early twenties. He’s been involved with cars and bikes all his life and by his own admission once he’s finished his days work on cars of bikes he starts up again after tea tinkers with his race machines. Mr Donald declares himself to be a complete petrolhead!
Upon watching the legendary Barry Lee and George Polley in World of Sport in the 1970’s, Stu’s desire to do what they did became apparent. Emulating their oval glory on the local grass ovals Stu went through a fair share of Ford Anglias and Escorts before the expense of being competitive on the grass started to become rather significant. A chance seeing of the Super Rod Formula at his local stadium track of Cleethorpes woke Stuart’s mind to becoming a stadium oval racer. On closer inspection it was realised that this track class was indeed affordable and Stu got a Mk1 Capri shell from Super Rod driver Paul Conde in 1983. Stu’s considerable racing experience on the grass paid well and he made an immediate impression on the tarmac. One binding memory of those early years was a door handle to door handle race over twenty laps with top star of the day Richard Chilton at Buxton in 83 for the Northern and Midland Championship. Richard beat Stu on the very last lap but the memory of that epic race stays fresh courtesy of it being on Youtube! Stu watches it over and over again but much to his chagrin the result is always the same!
Stu enjoyed ten successful years in National Super Rods winning many Championships when the formula was at the height of it’s popularity. Deciding to call it a day in 93 due to what Stu describes as certain elements getting far too aggressive with a win at all costs mentality, he moved across to National Hot Rods having purchased a Toyota Starlet National off Dave Fry – the very same Dave Fry who is the Points Champion in Classic Hot Rods today and who Stu bought his current Mk1 Escort Classic Hot Rod from. Stu did a season in Nationals in the mid nineties and enjoyed it though he felt that the crossflow engine was a little under powered compared with the engines that Nationals were running at the time. He qualified for the eighth row in the World Final only to be put in the fence very hard on the first bend effectively righting off the chassis. After that Stu raced an outlaw class at Peterborough but engine rules not being effectively enforced resulted in Stu deciding to call it a day on this oval career at the time.
A change of direction was called for and Stu went into racing Drag bikes. A chance visit to York drag strip resulted in Stu competing in ‘Race wot yer brung.’ A top ten finish gave Stu the impetus to compete regularly and bike upgrades mean that now Stu still competes on the drag strip in a just about road legal (!) Susuki GSXR 1000 turbo! It pumps out 240BHP and the acceleration is phenomenal. Last season he was second in the Championship class. The fastest Stu has ever been on a drag bike is 208mph! He achieved this last year 2012 at Elvington.
Stu’s return to oval racing occurred last year – 2012. He was almost dragged kicking and screaming into Classic Hot Rod racing by the persuasive powers of long time Super Rod rival and friend Tim Foxlow. “He actually rang me when I was on a day out seeing an air display of World War Two aircraft. I think he’d had one of two Stellas at the time! He was on to me about buying this car ….. using his powers of persuasion, you know, when an hour two he rang back and said ‘I’ve bought that car it’s yours!” (Laughter!) So I had to pay for it!
Stu has always been a Rod man. He has always preferred the clean racing of non-contact formula as opposed to the clash of stockcars or the bash n crash of bangers. He also appreciates real cars as opposed to the tube and box on open wheel stockers. He likes to race what people can identify with. As it was then, Classic Hot Rods met Stu’s preferences perfectly!
Since his return to oval racing in Classic Hot Rods Stu Donald hasn’t looked back and seems to enjoy it more and more every time he races. In less than twelve months Stu Donald has become one of the scene’s most prolific race winners. Indeed in 2013, the all blue Mk1 Escort 29 car has been the one to beat having chalked up heat and final doubles at both Wimbledon and Hednesford. Stu admits that when he initially got behind the wheel again that he was a little concerned that he may have forgotten how to do it. But those fears were soon put aside. Since the car benefitted from a new 2 litre Pinto courtesy of John Toovey, Stu has not looked back. He’s still seeking at improving the handling of the car, so although already a proven winner, Donald still seeks to go faster yet!
Although Tim played the pivotal roll in Stu’s return to the ovals in CHRs, he admits that he did take a look at them when the formula was first introduced in 2005. He was dissuaded at the time because the class was Crossflow only, and Stu considered those engines cost prohibitive. Now that 2 litre engines with restrictive chokes are allowed Stu was delighted to join as the cost of a Pinto in Donald’s eyes are half as much as a Crossflow.
Enjoyment is the key and Stu is certainly getting that. When he came off track after the first race at Hednesford in March he was still pumped with adrenalin after a superb battle with old sparring partner Tim Foxlow. It was clean close and extremely fast – just the way Stu loves it. “I was shaking!” Stu declared, “so it must be good!”