It would be a rare thing to meet a world champion side-car racer, professional trumpet player, motor-bike test rider, land speed record technician, gold prospector, pioneering business-man and inventor on the same day, but Juliet Platt meets a man who can chalk up these achievements.
Stan Dibben, 84, from Lechlade, right, published his autobiography Hold On in April 2008 but you would be pushed to find it.
“If you go into Waterstones it’s probably in the transport section; it should really be next to Michael Schumacher’s, under sporting autobiographies,” said Stan.
His is a fascinating tale of an intrepid side-car racer winning championships all over the world during the 1950s, as well as preparing the track for Donald Campbell’s Bluebird land speed record attempt in Australia in 1964. He also describes his efforts to transform the mundane supermarket shopping trolley from back-breakers to ones that steer ‘like a Ferrari,’ in the words of the BBC’s Jeremy Clarkson.
A glance through Stan’s book suggests it also should appear amongst inspirational titles. It certainly provides interesting historical insights into the working lives of men born between the wars. "Where adversity predominates, something will assert itself – probably me," Stan writes, reflecting on a career where one door closed another always opened. "My advice for life is that you need to win a race slowly not as quickly as you can.”
By knowing his own limits, by being self-disciplined and true to himself at every turn, Stan reckons he’s ‘had a good life.’ He began writing his memoirs after his son Mark, a business management professor at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, recommended he do something to keep his mind active. "He told me to make a note of any name or memory that came to mind, and to file it,” said Stan. “After about 6 months of doing this I had a book’s worth, so set about writing it while on holiday in Australia.”
Stan’s second book, a technical guide about selecting the right kind of spark plugs for classic engines, has just been published. Hold On and Sparkplugging the Classics are available from Waterstones and Amazon.
Stan also gives regular talks about his life experiences and book writing, and can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org