Derek Warwick vs The World & David Pierce

Before Derek Warwick's exploits in F1, BTCC and Le Mans, a teenage Superstox sensation from Hants was learning his trade the hard way...

Derek Warwick and Dave Pierce in Superstox

Derek Warwick alongside Dave Pierce, no320

Dave Baldwin

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I’ve had so many great rivals but I’m going back to my Formula 2 Superstox days from 1971 to ’74, racing with my dad and my Uncle Stan. It was three Warwicks against the world. It was very tough but we had so much fun and they were so proud when I made it to Formula 1.

We’d be welding our Warwick trailers all day, racing three or four nights a week around the country, building the cars from scratch, repairing them, prepping the engines, the whole thing.

The racing was very aggressive, angry even. You’d come out with battle scars and there were fights in the paddock. I was just a 17-year-old squirt, a welder from Alresford, but I won the English Championship in 1971 and the World Championship in ’73. Superstox taught me many lessons that helped me when I got to Formula Ford and we were about ten abreast going into a corner.

Dave Pierce, car no320, was my biggest rival, not the only one, but an amazing driver. There were the tough guys from Reading we called the ‘Reading mafia’ but more about them shortly. Dave Pierce was super-quick, a multiple European champion, a world champion, and he taught me how to race more calmly in a field of 40 or 50 cars on a short oval. He taught me how to slow my brain down, relax more in the car, how to win nicely, look after the car and win without being super- aggressive. I learnt to race with my eyes shut as well. On the shale tracks you’d get so much mud and dirt chucked at you. I’d be caked in the stuff on a wet night.

Derry Warwick in Superstox

Derek’s father Derry, no40, in a Superstox melée

Dave Baldwin

My other big rival was Tony May from the Reading mafia. I taught him a lesson early on. For nine races on the trot I got put in the post – we didn’t have barriers, just posts like railway sleepers – while I was leading on the last lap. One night, I was leading the final on the last lap and Tony came up behind me, shoved me into the post, and went on to win. So, I backed out, waited for him to come round on his victory lap, drove across the central reservation, hit him in the side and barrel-rolled him over the fence. I was banned for three months but when I came back nobody would touch me. They knew that we were serious, there to win.

Great rivalries make a driver even more selfish, more driven to win. My dad beat me in a race at Aldershot, and that was unusual. His engine was just so powerful, so my mechanic and I worked all night, took his engine out, put it in my car, and put my engine in his car. The next race we went out and slaughtered everyone. How selfish was that? And people ask me about skullduggery in Formula 1…”