The country’s first dedicated rescue unit has marked its 50th anniversary.
David and Leslie Barraclough were spurred into action back in 1968 after they watched helplessly as a driver span off the track at the Croft Circuit, west of Yarm. Without a specialist rescue team on site, he died.
The Barracloughs, whose love of the sport had been forged on the speedway and stock car circuit at Odsal Stadium in Bradford, resolved never again to watch from the sidelines. They financed and set up the country’s first dedicated rescue unit.
Motor Sport Services Organisation was founded with a converted Fort Transit van and an old stretcher and now boasts a fleet of three customised rescue vehicles, two imported from the US containing first response medical facilities and cutting tools that are normally the province of the fire and rescue service.
“They’re clinical on the inside, greasy on the outside,” said Leslie’s grandson Karl Barraclough, who now runs the unit with his wife, Lexie, and father, Paul. Between them they attend around 60 events a year, from a base in Thornton.
Karl, who runs a coffee shop in Brighouse, has been a volunteer with the organisation all his adult life. He said: “There was nothing like this in the country when my grandfather and uncle created it. Nobody had even thought of doing anything like it.”