The last month of 2015, the major dates and early dates and even some full fixtures are being made
public as we look forward to 2016. In general there is a lot to look forward for the New Year. Yes, some formulae are wandering down an alleyway, others are doing well and there are even one or two that are not doing well – but I did say
I even surprised myself when I added up that I had been to 57 oval racing meetings this year – and whilst I am not going to hit 60, I may add to that yet. My
record is 123 in season 1996. How on earth did I manage that number?! 1996 was the year when, as a teenager, I first took to the microphone at a race track and began my commentary career (at Ringwood) and there has been only one year since
then where I haven’t. In that time I have worked at many venues across the UK, and overseas too. That was expanded a little this year with the TV detailed on the blog entries below. First was the National Banger World Championship
highlights show, which was born from the initial plan to broadcast live and the second was essentially a pilot programme which included the first part of the Best in Britain (see below) However, we live in a commercial world and if the Spedeworth highlights
are to continue in the same way, then title sponsors need to be found. This is the norm with any TV show of course, outside of the (doomed) BBC.
The pilot and National Banger shows
were well received, but myself, Graham, Martin and Tom could expand and improve and we will see what lay ahead for the 2016 season. If you think you could help – and really what better and cost effective way to promote a brand or business than
on TV – then do give Dean Cox at Spedeworth a call.
I am looking forward once again to being the stage host for the oval and extreme motorsport part of Autosport International at the NEC on January 16/17. There is set to be a slight change in the
way the hall is laid out this time, with the main oval racing promoters aka the ORCi coming together as one with one stand under the direction of Paul Brown which will feature 40 cars from across the entire spectrum of the sport with the four ‘main’
World Champions – BriSCA F1 Rob Speak, BriSCA F2 Kelvyn Marshall, National Hot Rods Shane Murphy and Saloon Stock Cars Simon Welton at the head of the grid. Over the two days once again I will be conducting interviews, prize giving’s and
announcements as we collectively look forward to 2016 and back at 2015. There will of course be the live action arena too featuring F1, F2, Hot Rods and Autograss amongst various other disciplines and the stunts and action on two wheels and four,
naturally including Terry Grant doing what he has made himself world famous for.
At the end of January, I have been honoured to have been asked to be the MC at the BriSCA F2 Awards Night at the Royal Court Hotel in Coventry. This is always a great night, with trophies galore
being presented and/or re-presented to their winners. Kelvyn Marshall and George MacMillan, two drivers whom the 2015 season will be forever remembered for have already confirmed their presence. You do not have to be part of an F2 team or associated
with any driver to attend. It includes a three course meal and disco – tickets are available if you search ‘Ben Fund’ on Facebook, or you can purchase direct from Sharon Blood who will be on the ORCi/#watchitraceit stand at the NEC.
It has been a long time since an update, my “race commentary” season may have concluded
but I have not been sat at home watching X Factor (who is now anyway?!) On the back of the National Banger World Final coverage on Motors TV last month, another highlights programme from Spedeworth’s racing was commissioned and I was very grateful
to be asked back to provide interviews and links for the show. The first was filmed at Eastbourne’s Gala Night meeting, featuring Historic Stock Cars and back to basics Bangers and then the second at the first part of the Best in Britain meeting
at Wimbledon and it was shown earlier this week. The initial planned screening didn’t go ahead, owing to logistical issues surrounding the tragic events in Paris, which is where Motors TV is headquartered. Hopefully the missed screening
will be rescheduled and I/we are aware that many of you have not caught the two so far this week, which were on at 1.40pm and 2.15am respectively.
The first Best in Britain session at Wimbledon,
on a damp night in London produced a quartet of fantastic finals for all four formulae, with the 2 litre Hot Rods seeing numerous lead changes until Paul Wright emerged as the winner. The Lightning Rods featured controversy when the long time leader
was disqualified after failing to slow under yellow flags two laps from home. Roger Dormer had been applying the pressure and duly went on to win. The 1300 Stock Cars saw the drizzle turn to proper rain halfway through and this turned the race
into a bit of a wreck-fest, with the perpetrator of much of it, Luke Morphy winning. The Superstox, which concluded the evening really was a close one. Chris Bradbury simply ran away with the heats, but crashed out early in this one in his efforts
to come back at Jason Cooper. This accounted for both and it then came down to a battle between Matt Sole and Matt Carberry. To his credit, the yellow graded Sole sent European Champion Carberry into a spin and from then on it looked like Sole
was on his way to a surprise win. However, a yellow flag with five laps to go changed all that and put the rest back on to terms. It triggered off a big scrap for the lead with Carberry grabbing it back, then was passed by Nick Roots and then Jordan
Salmon joined in too. It was decided on the very last corner and the three of them crossed the line together. Good stuff.
On to the weekend just past, it was Birmingham
for what was the last instalment of BriSCA Stock Car action for 2015 and feast of the brand it was too for the Gala Night meeting with (possibly?) for the first time (and certainly at Wheels) that F1, F2, V8’s and Ministox were on the bill together.
I have to admit, on seeing the programme and then walking around the packed pits (which is a good thing of course) I did wonder for a time if there was simply too much on, and the inclusion of the V8’s for this year was pushing the boundaries
just a bit too far. But, no, despite it being a rainy evening on and off, it was a very slickly run meeting and 18 races finishes ahead of time. 18 Stock Car races in one evening!! There was a huge crowd on hand too, which I’m informed
was only just slightly down on the corresponding meeting in 2014 (which was dry) The damp and/or wet track conditions didn’t detract from what was served on track either, with excellent entries from all four formulae. No end of term
lethargy going on!
As is always the case for this meeting there were several guest drivers in the F1’s, notably National Banger unlimited World Champion Jack Overy
and several F2 drivers too. Various races and driver changes too, and as it was “out of season” the rule of one car per driver per meeting was relaxed too. Has there ever been a case of an F1 car having three different drivers during
the course of a meeting? The under 25’s Championship, held later than the norm this year was won by Danny Wainman and then the Diamond Jubilee Final – which had qualifying rounds throughout the year – saw Lee Fairhurst win.
Rob Speak did attempt an audacious last bend lunge but was simply too far back and spun on the slippery track. There was plenty of aggro and needle going on all evening from where I was watching, all giving plenty to talk about at the time and afterward.
The rain was actually at its heaviest for the Final, which was the very last race on the programme and it was newly crowned silver roof Dan Johnson who took the win. The F2’s also produced some great racing from star studded entries, even if two
of the main races were runaway wins. The £1000 Shoot Out saw Tim Bailey win by a distance for his biggest win to date and the meeting Final saw Matt Linfield win by a long way. It was the Wild Card race, featuring £1000 winner takes
all that was one of the races of the night. Gordon Moodie win, but had to overcome Kelvyn Marshall first and then a very spirted effort from Linfield. The Ministox Final was won by Lewis Evans and in the V8’s it was lady racer Hayley Williams
who took the flag. This was a great meeting and well worth the trip.
A quick turnaround, on Sunday it was back up the A3 to south London and the second part of the Best in Britain meeting,
this time featuring the return of the National Hot Rods to the capital for the first time in several years, to effectively resurrect the title for them (yes, I know a/the B in B has been run at Ipswich, but not quite the same) This may, or may
not be the last time for them at Wimbledon as the future of the stadium, or the lack of it is no secret, but equally nothing is certain either way. The return was the brainchild of Dick Hillard who managed to get many sponsors on board and a good entry
from across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland too. And there wasn’t an explosion of Kevlar against the post and wire fence either, so all good. After the two heats via draw and reverse grid had seen wins for Shane Bland and Jason Kew,
it was the latter who was on the front of the Final along with Adam Hylands. Kew got the lead until there was a yellow flag, and although he continued to lead at the resumption he was challenged by Bland. The clash from this ultimately saw
Bland receive a black cross. Billy Wood was the one to give chase then but Kew was clear. John Christie managed to find a way past Wood and chased Kew down over the second half of the race, but he was simply too far gone and he took the win for
his first major title. Christie was second on the road, but was penalised for his move on Wood and Bland was third on the road, but penalised for his clash with Kew at the re-start and this promoted Chris Haird and Hillard accordingly. The sights
and sounds of the Nationals around Wimbledon, and the large crowd on hand showed that the return definitely captured the imagination. They were backed up by the Classic Hot Rods who themselves put on some fast and furious racing. The Final
was won by Daz Owen but with due respect, all eyes were on Andy Steward as ‘Donut’ came back from an early clash and spin to grab third on the line having made up almost three quarters of a lap. Impressive stuff. The Historic Stock
Cars do not have championship races and titled races, but they concluded the programme with a win for Mark Simmonds – just as he did at Eastbourne two weeks earlier, and that is where we came in.
A bit of a busy time for November!
The BriSCA F1 Shoot Out reached
its penultimate round at King’s Lynn’s Adrian Flux Arena on Saturday and with the meeting paired with the BriSCA F2 Grand National Championship it was a meeting that looked too good to miss, even if after days of dry weather before (and then after)
there was rain in the forecast – and it did rain. Thankfully it did clear, just as forecast, albeit slower than some forecas had said.
Maybe I’m stuck in the past to an extent – although hopefully not to the level of some on Stoxnet - I do remain a little sceptical about the Shoot Out – based on the Nascar Chase of course – but there is no denying it adds
a twist to the end of the season and added interest. BUT, if it were being done the “old” way, there would currently be a shoot out amongst several drivers for the silver roof anyway. Gone are the days for now in F1 where a driver will romp away to the silver roof by September, but that said, see above and the Shoot Out isn’t going anywhere fast. It was close coming into this meeting after the last two tarmac rounds at Birmingham and Northampton the previous weekend and rather than someone emerge as a clear(er) favourite, quite the reverse
it is even closer going into this weekend’s last round at Sheffield. The track that some say is too tough to tame, it could well be that it won’t be for the feint
hearted but I’d also like to think some added respect would be the order of the day too. At KL in what were very tricky conditions at the start of the evening, Frankie
Wainman and Paul Harrison showed that experience counts for everything by taking a 1-2 whilst in heat two all bar one of the Shoot Out drivers managed to fall over each other on the opening lap. The one that got away was Dan Johnson and he won. This meant a star studded consolation race which featured a bit of tit for tat between Lee Fairhurst and Stuart
Smith and a rare win for Chris Brocksop, who just held off Rob Speak. So to the Final which was on a re-graded track which naturally would have pleased some, and not
others. It did mean that it was very slick to start with once again and several went spinning and/or tangled out, including 515.
Nigel Green was in the lead by the halfway stage but the one of the move was Mick Sworder, whose Shoot Out hopes went awry the previous weekend, but remains the master of Saddelbow Road in many ways. Fairhurst and Speak were battling a little way back, and the World Champion dumped the British Champion out on turns one and two. As the race entered its last quarter Green had kept Sworder in his sights and Speak was catching the pair of them. Sworder had it all covered and went on to win
whilst Green appeared to slide wide anticipating a bit Speak hit that didn’t actually come, but this allowed 318 into second with 16 Matt Newson third, Johnson fourth and Danny Wainman sixth. It always amazes me how many F1 fans literally throw themselves to the door at the drop of the chequered flag in the Final. The Allcomers also
features Shoot Out point’s folks and it proved to have what is/was or could be a significant moment in who wears the silver for 2016 too as Smith attacked Speak, the latter collected the stricken Austin Moore and Smith clapped into the plating square
on. This left him feeling groggy and requiring assistance – no word on whether he was k/o though…. (this would mean a 10 day stand down under BriSCA F1’s current rules, and thus he would miss Sheffield) Speak did re-start but the bumper
fouling his tyre after the crash ultimately resulted in his demise. Green went on to take the chequered flag, but failed to go to the scales for the weigh in and was disqualified
which promoted Fairhurst to a much needed win ahead of Johnson, D Wainman, Newson, Sworder and F Wainman – Shoot Out drivers all. The upshot of all of this leading
into the last round 217 on 271, 318 on 270, 4 on 269, 212 on 253, 390 on 249. The smart money is surely on one of these five taking the silver – but 2 and 515 on 238 are mathematically in with a shout, but would be relying on those ahead having days from hell in Steel City. Exciting prospects – I am unable to make the journey to South Yorkshire, but if you can, make sure you do!
Such is the popularity of Kings Lynn with the
F2 drivers, there are rarely “small” meetings there. The previous for the World of Shale saw what will be the biggest entry of 2015 anywhere and this one, for the GNC saw 55 cars race. As I have stated before in various media, the effect of the Outlaw Stock Cars on the BriSCA shale tracks is overplayed. That is not to say that they have not had an effect at all, though, however. What the F2’s have this year too is their very own Shoot Out for the points,
albeit a two way one between George MacMillan and Chris Burgoyne. For the first half of the year, whilst doing his stuff as one of the best World Champions in modern
history, it looked like MacMillan was going to be unchallenged. Burgoyne had said at the start of the year though that if, come the summer he was still in with a shout he
would go for it. MacMillan had a bit of a summer drought – basically as his “World Champion” commitments clashed with a silver roof campaign and by September,
all of a sudden it was game on between the two Scots. Saturday saw one at home and MacMillan away and on pole position for the Grand National Championship. Alongside him World and European Champion Kelvyn Marshall and on row two Rob Mitchell and southwest traveller Neil Hooper whilst on row three Sam Wagner and Tony Blackburn. The F1 heats that preceded the race really had created a two tier track and several fell foul on the opening lap and ended up rolling around in the deep.
MacMillan got the lead though with Wagner getting into second from Marshall, although the latter was the next to go wide and into the deep shale on the outside. Several others found trouble too, and after Wagner had passed MacMillan for the lead he spun too but was swiftly back in. As Wager looked like
he was settling in as much as he could do in what were hard racing conditions, the yellow flags were called with Courtney Finnikin stranded on the racing line on turns one and two. This closed everything up and whilst Wagner had a backmarker between himself and second place runner Mitchell this also brought into contention Andrew Palmer and Carl Issitt. The latter really was the man on the move after the re-start, he accounted for Palmer by sending him wide and then the same to Mitchell as he hunted down Wagner over the closing laps. However, the latter held on to win – another lap and 103 may have been closer to have a go, but this was Sam’s first BriSCA F2 title win. Michael Lund
was third. Earlier the heats had been won by Steve Wycherley (which also doubled up as the Trackstar White and Yellow grade Final) and Josh Coleman whilst the consolation
saw Jake Walker last bend lunge Blackburn, both went wide and Mitchell duly nipped through for the win. The 33 car Final saw Wagner experience the highs and lows of
life as he crashed, and later was diagnosed with a broken wrist and as consequence. Gary Ford opened out a good sized lead at the front but spun in the final quarter,
which saw the yellow flags come out at the same time after Marshall had collected the stranded car of Dennis Tresseler. Billy Webster assumed the lead from Ford and
went on to take a clear win from Blackburn and Tom Smart. Several drivers had fallen one or more laps down and so the race didn’t appear as it seemed on face value. MacMillan was one who had fallen a lap back, but was surely relieved to have made sixth place on a “double point” feature race, whilst Burgoyne had enjoyed a hat-trick of
wins at Cowdenbeath. The Allcomers was in the best conditions of the evening and a late yellow flag put MacMillan into play for the victory, and he grasped that
and it was his first win at Kings Lynn too . The BriSCA Ministox played their part in the meeting – with Charlie Sworder making it a family double in their Final. All in all, good evening with plenty to talk, think and write about so surely all good.
F2 point’s battle continued on to Barford the next day and then Belle Vue on Tuesday, where it appeared that the gloves came off and an inevitable clash of bumpers between Burgoyne and MacMillan, which also featured a fence post. I wasn’t there, I have only seen a video on social media so can’t and won’t comment, really. Five meetings to come for them, starting at
Skegness for another midweek session – the gap is 66 points, and when you consider that it is possible to take home 50 points at a meeting that is very slim indeed…. Which one am I going to be chatting to and having the trophy presented to at Autosport International in January?
Time for another update and technically the season is over for me with regards
to race meetings I have been booked to work at – but being a freelance and keen to work this could change! The last Stock Car meeting of the season in the southwest
was run at Smeatharpe/Taunton on Sunday and as has become the tradition, particularly for the BriSCA F2 Stock Cars, it was a spectacular affair with hard racing, action and yes some controversy too. The F2’s are seriously in the doldrums in some other parts of the country, but by no means all and they have had a good solid season in the southwest with Autospeed this year. With regard to the formula as a whole and the parts where they have suffered or even all but died off, I’m afraid there are more questions than answers….
Here is the report from the meeting;
A week prior, as per my previous entry I was at Ipswich for one of the biggest events of the year anywhere and that was the Unlimited National Banger World Championship at Ipswich.
A good meeting, even if Bangers are not normally your thing. It was a good race too for the gold roof, and it was one classed as a veteran Carl ‘Jack’ Overy who took the title. This now means he has won all the “major”
World Championships in his time, I often elude to Banger racing “being like Boxing” in my commentaries. Nothing to do with punches being thrown (obviously) but
the fact that there are many “world” titles up for grabs in each given year, but with this victory it does mean that Jack could, legitimately refer to himself as the “undisputed Banger World Champion”. And a very popular one too, it has been a long time since I head a Stadium erupt as a winner crossed the line. George
MacMillan’s F2 win at Cowdenbeath last year was one time, but this beat that – and it took some doing. I was there as part of the TV crew, performing interviews
for the TV highlights package that will be shown on Motors TV, with the date currently pencilled in for either November 1 or November 2. The filming went well, the editing
is currently going well, and we all look forward to the finished product.
On Saturday I paid a visit to Birmingham Wheels
as a punter to watch the latest round of the BriSCA F1 Stock Car Shoot Out, paired with National Hot Rods. A coupling that ought to work well (it does at Ipswich in June) under the atmospherric floodlights. But, the Rods appeared to struggle
for grip on the track surface of Wheels and it was not a classic evening from them. That said, hardly a disaster either and over 30 of them present shows that the 2015-16 World Series is going to be a very competitive one. The F1 Shoot Out is ticking
along nicely and looking to almost certainly go to the last round at Sheffield next month with several drivers still up for silver. It started getting a bit "teasy" as my southwest friends would say amongst some, with Lee Fairhurst and Tom Harris
inparticular swapping paint - and then again on Sunday at Northampton. The Final though had a little piece of history. Rob Cowley made the most of the big guns all battling it out for the Shoot Out points behind to just hold on for the win.
And in doing so, at 64 years of age become the oldest F1 feature race winner in history it is said. Good stuff!
2015 is drawing in. All the World Champions are now crowned, many points titles are wrapped up, whilst others will still run on. Look out for that battle for BriSCA F2 silver between George MacMillan and Chris
Burgoyne which certainly looks like it will have the legs to run into November.
I did say most World Champions crowd – the BIG National Banger World Final at Ipswich is still to come,
and I’m pleased to say I am going to be part of the presentation team for that, one of the biggest meetings anywhere all year. It was due to be live on Motors TV, but for a whole host of reasons this will no longer be the case. A shame, I
and the others involved were pumped up ready to be part of a five hour live broadcast, but, never the less a highlights show is still in the offing and any TV coverage is good – right? Some of the nonsense written on the social media and Banger
forum beggars belief, it really does – but should I/we be surprised?!
Between now and then though I am going to Spain for a short break, where I will be mulling over several opportunities
and offers for season 2016.
For now though, here is a link to Smeatharpe last Sunday. A lovely sunny Autumn afternoon and good entries of two type of Bangers which were very entertaining.
Goodness, has it really been almost a month since I
updated this little blog? Clearly it has, so to catch up I have attached the links to the official meeting reports from meetings I have covered and worked at.
Also, of course in this
time has been the BriSCA F2 World Championship weekend at Hednesford, which I thought exceeded expectations in many ways. Well, it did mine, anyway. It was probably always going to a race that featured an early mix up and then a runaway winner,
and this proved to be the case. Kelvyn Marshall was never headed after he bounced Micky Brennan into Chris Burgoyne at the end of the first lap and he literally disappeared into the sunset. He was a very humble winner too, and I do not doubt for
a minute that he will be a very good World Champion. My words on the weekend, combined with those Crispen Rosevear will appear in the October issues of unloaded 7.3 magazine. Do buy it folks as it may not be something that is around for
ever. (nothing is forever……) Some may have scoffed at the 1300 Stock Car World Final having a joint billing with the F2’s, but they were superb to watch, and complimented the F2’s nicely and on the Sunday the National Hot Rods
were on great form on one of the tracks that suit them so well.
I was also honoured to be asked by Spedeworth/Incarace be part of the presentation team for the weekend, joining Dave Goddard.
I enjoyed working with him, and them, and I am pleased that I will be doing so again in the future.
As for the BriSCA F1 World Final –
I was probably one of the few who wasn’t at the Adrian Flux Arena on Friday/Saturday. There were a whole host of reasons why and I was very sorry I missed it. Naturally, just as I tweeted as he crossed the line (yes, I was watching on periscope…)
well done to Rob Speak. Ten times a World Champion, and there are few people on the planet who can say that, in anything. Love him or loathe him – and much as his great (F2) rival Gordon Moodie it is in equal measures – there is no
denying his permanent legendary status in the sport of Stock Car racing. As for Moodie, it was another very short World Final for him, and at the end of last week he announced all of his F2 kit up for sale, stopped short of using the ‘R’
word, but it was certainly being implied with regard to his future in F2 on his Facebook page. There were totally wild rumours as to what he was to be doing next on the rounds at the weekend, but I’m sure all will become known in due course,
but at least Gordon isn’t going to be lost to oval racing.
And for the F2 future as a whole? What an air of despondency there is out there?! Or is it just me? Everyone
is off to race Outlaw’s? Really? There are issues with BriSCA F2 at present yes, I could probably write war and peace on what they may be, but I’m as much on the outside as most of you reading this are when it comes to sorting them.
I trust the correct decision will be made…
I will say fair play to The Outlaw Stock Cars this season, as they have grown from a mere handful to producing a near 50 car
entry for their “World Final” which they cheekily put on against the F2 World at Hednesford. A foolish move really, many would-be spectators were Scunthorpe were never going to miss the BriSCA World and yes, fair enough there were
some doing the vice versa, the fact that Scunthorpe’s crowd looked about 10% of what was at Hednesford (a large place to fill – and try and build an atmosphere in) said it all. As for Outlaws? I wish them all the success because
as I have said publicly before, when I was growing up watching the sport, there was Outlaw Stock Cars and many moved on into F2. But in this carnation, springing up from nothing will lead them to problems. It is a bit like building starting a new
settlement. To start with everyone mucks in and gets on to get things going. But then someone will naturally want this, and another will want that, someone won’t be happy with this and someone won’t be happy with that. Suddenly
there were will an air of familiarity about it all. Coupled with the fact that the way I read the Outlaw “driver’s contract” the drivers are racing without insurance, which to me is very foolish.
BriSCA/Spedeworth may have their ills, but at least they are the real deal on many levels.
It ended up being just/only Skegness for me at the weekend, for the BriSCA F2 Stock
Car Semi Finals. So much going on at the present time, there is a lot I would love to blog about. But, for now here is my official report from Sunday's meeting.
It was hard to believe how many weeks had passed since I had been to one of my more regular haunts, Taunton, and even harder to believe
that this was the first ‘domestic’ F2 date there since the end of May what with the British Championship weekend and then World Championship qualifying round having gone before. It was a decent meeting too, with a respectable entry of cars
which included three newcomers, plenty of drama, some good racing all in front of a large crowd.
Here is my official report from the meeting http://www.autospeed.co.uk/race-meetings/results/sunday-16th-august-2015.ashx
Elsewhere at the weekend the World Cup was staged at Venray
in the Netherlands. I was due to be there once upon a time, but, it was my Nan’s 90th birthday celebration on Saturday and suffice to say that took precedence. It appears that it rained and rained and rained on the continent
and also, despite what our Dutch colleagues have, or had announced, the result of the F2 World Cup is actually subject to confirmation at this stage. Well done to Frankie Wainman on winning the F1 World/Gold Cup, and well done too to Courtney Finnikin
who won the F2 meeting Final on the Sunday afternoon
For this weekend, it is time to get some Semi’s on – firstly the second F1 Semi Final at Birmingham,
where Rob Speak will start on pole position and then Skegness for F2 Semi Final day, where the same man will start on the outside of the second row for Semi 2. It promises to be an interesting day at Skegness in so many ways and one that I’m very
much looking forward to be part of.
Last Wednesday I took a trip to
Arlington Stadium, known to many as Eastbourne (although this is mainly down to it being home to the Eastbourne Eagles Speedway team) to watch the Superstox. I grew up watching racing here in my childhood and teens with my dad and uncle racing there,
and back in the 1980’s and to the mid-point of the 90’s the Supers’ were almost the staple diet of the summer mid-week meetings with them racing every other week. But times change, and this was the second of just two midweek meetings
for them this season at the track. The drivers want more, supporters are on the social media asking for more but equally I can understand why Spedeworth don’t and instead concentrate on focusing more on the pay to race formulae for these meetings.
Business, is business. But on a warm evening the crowd was good and the Superstox put on a good show. Plenty of bumper work, lots of action and three different race winners in Ben Majoram, Chris Bradbury and Nick Roots, so can’t ask for more
than that. A good evening out and I’ve said it before and will say it again, the Superstox are a good little formula.
On Saturday I gratefully accepted an invitation from Trackstar
to work the roving mic at Kings Lynn for what was the last BriSCA F1 Stock Car meeting ahead of next month’s World Final with Saloon Stock Cars and the BriSCA/National Ministox in support. It is a long jaunt to Norfolk but its well worth
it when you get there for the Adrian Flux Arena is one of the finest this country has to offer. Should the World of Outlaws ever pay a visit to our shores (one can dream) then KL would surely be one of the tracks that they could/would/should race at.
I digress. Plenty of interest from the F1’s and those who are expected to be front runners next month, with Rob Speak having a shocker of an evening and recording a nil score, Craig Finnikin had a poor evening with woes and others were in the wars
too. Heat wins for Frankie Wainman and Matt Newson and then a memorable, even emotional win for Billy Tom O'Conner in the consolation. The meeting Final came down to a chase between John Dowson Jnr and Stuart Smith Jnr and had there
not been a yellow flag it could, just could have been the case that 94 may have held on but. But, Smith nabbed him at the re-start, put him wide and knocked Dowson out of gear and he went on to win. He will be starting from the front row in the
World Final having won his Semi Final at Belle Vue two weeks earlier and remains the tip for gold for many. The was consternation, not least one or two drivers pushing the outside assistance rule to the extreme and then beyond during a red flag stoppage
– which understandably upset some others – and then the watering of the track during the yellow flag period. Stuart made his feelings clear on what he thought in his post-race interview, but, it is something that is always done at
the Norfolk Arena and when the World was staged there in 2013 the drivers were told that it would be the case if there were to be a yellow flag then. As it turned out, the yellow flag never came and Tom Harris went on to win convincingly. As for
this time, who knows, but it might get interesting?!
There were not as many Saloons as they are used to at Kings Lynn, with it coming off of the back of the National Championship
weekend a week earlier, it’s the midst of harvesting time in East Anglia and the World Championship is coming up too. On the subject of that – putting on a World Final on August Bank Holiday weekend – seriously bad planning by RDC at Mildenhall for I will have to give it a miss… Just as the previous weekend there were different winners. Former Banger star Wayne Cotterill Jnr won the white and yellow grade
race, he being the latest in a long line of Banger drivers to switch to the Saloons this season. Fresh from his National win the previous week David Aldous took heat one, Aaron Morris heat two and then Carl Waterfield the Final, after first across the
line Daniel Parker was docked two places for being judged to have jumped a re-start. That re-start came after a bad crash for Jake Banwell, who had been battling for the lead at the time. He has received a nasty back injury, so get well soon Jake.
As for the Ministox – just the one winner and that was Courtney Witts, who never really looked troubled all evening. Very confident she is too, but that is what wins her races and leaves the rest trailing.
It was very wet at Bristol on Sunday, probably the nastiest "summer" meeting since that infamous fogged
off meeting here in 2004 - and who remembers the Taunton Semi Final meetings of 1997 and 2001? Yes, it was along those lines.
Considering the two other tarmac meetings
on the day for the BriSCA F2 Stock Cars had 18 cars BETWEEN them, the 26 total was as good as could be expected.
Here is my report from the meeting.
“Speedweekend” season continued, although, I think I am correct in saying that
the traditional Northampton two-day affair has never actually been dubbed as such, more the ‘Euro Weekend’ because that is what it is. The European Championships for the BriSCA F1 and F2 Stock Cars and for the past 15 or so years now, the
It is easy to think “oh it should be somewhere else”, I was of that persuasion for a couple of years a few ago, many in the F2 fraternity think it should be and
last week I noted tweets and other social media posts from some F1 drivers and fans saying that it was time that theirs became more transient. That was largely brought about by the fact that there were only two drivers from mainland Europe over for the
F1’s this year. The tarmac scene in the Netherlands is not in that great shape, the shale and ‘field’ racing is quite the opposite and with a big meeting taking place at Texel over the weekend that is where the Dutch drivers and their
fans were. That coupled with all the crap going on at Dover and Calais (still far and away the cheapest route, in case you are thinking “but Calais is in France”) it was probably easier to not bother. Expect them in their hordes in
September though! On the other side of the coin, recall a few years ago when there was only token entries of F2’s, not the case this year with a healthy entry, many of whom had also taken in Skegness the weekend before and during the week.
With great weather over the two days, and a crowd that looked to be way up on last years to me (even with noticeably fewer from mainland Europe) and excellent racing this was probably the best ‘Euro’
weekend for a good few years. The F2’s did have a quiet Skegness weekend, yes, but oh weren’t they chastised for it by the haters on the social media?! Racing is what it is folks, sometimes you can put all the usual ingredients
in a cake bowl and it won’t rise as well as the previous. This weekend saw some of the hardest F2 tarmac racing I have seen for quite some time. Also, to those who say that they won’t touch Gordon Moodie – well, he was shoved about
a bit in Saturday evenings Final. Said Final was a poignant one, for the Steve Green Jnr Memorial and it was fitting that it was his younger brother Michael who took the victory. The European grid was set via the usual grid draw, conducted
on the steps of the pit office an hour before the start time. That in itself managed to produce a random bit of history and Dutch brothers Wesley and Robert Leenhouts drew the front row. Moodie had a good draw, but developed a puncture
and never really figured in the cut and thrust and was gone by the halfway stage, by which time Kelvyn Marshall had already got into the lead and was never headed, on his way to the title. This was a quiet race but the rest were highly entertaining stuff.
The meeting Final came down to a last bend move from Moodie on to Micky Brennan, who managed to let the #7 car outfox him and he knew it judging by the steering wheel punching as he crossed the line. The F1 action started on the first bend of their
first heat on Saturday evening, which was also their Trust Fund race. Michael Steward, who had a large crash at Skegness a week earlier ended up on the plating. The Final saw a career first feature race win for the experienced Dave Allen.
I can remember him being a loon in a Banger – in-fact he was once a “Suicide Squad” teammate of promoter Deane Wood – and now here he was winning an F1 Final. The European Championship came down to a battle with Ed
Neachell having headed the middle part of the race, slowly reeled in by defending title holder Frankie Wainman and Tom Harris. The three of them were together starting the penultimate lap, Harris, having bided his time sent 515 into 321 and was through
on the inside to win. Even those who are not fans of Harris had to admit it was a good drive and move. The meeting Final featured a huge pile up on what is becoming a fabled turn three for them, damaging the plating and the fence, and Colin Goodswen
probably came off the worse for it this time. When the race was re-started it looked like Dan Johnson was heading for a relatively comfortable win. However, the track became very oily – later detected to be coming from Neachell’s
car – and very slippery. Rob Speak, who was a good length of the straight behind the leader at the time noted it first and took to the outside and absolutely lunched Johnson’s lead. Mick Sworder then did the same and made up even more
ground. Despite a kamikaze attempt (I wouldn’t call it a lunge) from Johnson on the last corner, which didnt pay off, Speak held on for his first F1 Final of the year and a very popular one too going on the crowd reaction.
Excellent stuff on track all weekend!
Can it really be almost a week
since I set off for Skegness? Time flies and already plenty of time to reflect on what was a memorable weekend of Stock Car racing, more than that now as it has almost become a de facto four day or even more event, with Thursday evening beforehand.
The weather was far better than it was for that this year, but judging by the crowd, many more are making the longer trip of it as well as the drivers and likewise judging by the crowd over the weekend itself, the Skegness weekend really is the ultimate grandee
It was an honour to be asked to work as part of the Skegness Stadium team once again over the Thursday and the weekend. There is a huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes
that many do not realise or know about – and why should you really, you are there to enjoy yourself, the drivers and their teams want the racing to run smoothly and it did, and does just that with the very well organised staff always putting a lot of
thought and prep into the weekend. There were reports of some silliness with porta-loos and so on, but as I have written before, with that size of crowd, the Stadium takes on the population of a large village and naturally everything that goes
Car number wise, okay, the F2 entry was down on last year, which was down on the year before. It is something BriSCA F2 are aware of and looking in to, because, with fewer cars
the downward spiral escalates beyond whether there are two heats or three, 24 cars in a race or 28. It is not at that stage yet though, because on the flip side, the 73 car total was still the highest of 2015 so far (it may, possibly be beaten at Northampton
this weekend) and did include all of the current Superstar graded drivers on the July points chart (something which it appears the European Championship weekend will not be able to command) Add in some Superstars from mainland Europe and Northern Ireland and
a whole host of star men, it was an entry of massive quality. Ultimately it was a sixth UK Championship title for Gordon Moodie who, despite what some are saying, did not dominate the weekend. This – and if you include the Thursday Grand
National – were his only wins, but yes, he was the pick of that pile of star men. Saturday night Final winner James Riggall, who is far and away the most improved driver of the season so far gave him the closest run in the main race, and appeared
right up for a challenge at the three lap dash re-start only for his prop shaft to fail. Therefore it was ultimately Kelvyn Marshall second and Dutch National Points Champion Wim Peeters third. A pair not to be overlooked when gold is at stake
in a couple of months’ time.
The Saloon Stock Cars were once again top drawer from Thursday right through the weekend. 43 of them alone on Thursday and then another ten or so over
the weekend. A total actually down on 2014, but this is largely down to two factors. Firstly, the list of drivers either suspended or injured is standing at half a dozen and secondly, many of the new drivers in the southwest and Scotland probably
felt they were not up to the lion’s den that this weekend invariably is just yet. Hopefully next year guys…. After winning the Thursday evening Final it was Luke Grief, who is having his best season now for a while who took the UK
title and by some margin in the end ahead of a close battle for second which went in favour of Dean Mayes and Simon Welton, but could have been any of about eight drivers. The Raymond Gunn tribute race is always a poignant occasion where there much missed
Raymond is reflected on, but also this year, his brother Davy paid tribute to Steve Green Jnr and Keir Millar which was a nice touch. Keir’s brother Ewan presented the trophy afterwards. Then, after listening to “Dignity” by Deacon
Blue the Saloons set off on a typically rumbustious race which also featured crash of the weekend involving Shane Emerson, Lee Sampson and especially Scott Jamieson and Ryan Wright who rolled under the latter whose car literally stood on its nose. Welton
took the win. The Saloons really are set to boom in the next couple of year’s folks.
The F1’s have their UK Open Championship in May, and there have been times where
they have been quiet for this particular weekend. None of it this time, especially on the Saturday. Murray Jones, who was pulling off a double duty by racing Saloons too, almost won the Final, caught and passed by Lee Fairhurst in the closing stages.
The Grand National on Saturday featured one of the talking points of the whole weekend with Joe Booth absolutely burying Luke Davidson in their battle for the lead. Sunday was the 250th F1 meeting at Skegness Stadium and it was probably fitting
that one a day that saw Len Wolfenden, Willie Harrison and Frankie Wainman Snr present the heat trophies that it was Stuart Smith Jnr who took the Final, his first in his 2015 tarmac car. Again the Grand National saw a talking point, as this time it
was Rob Speak who was on the receiving end, this time from Danny Wainman.
All of which bodes well for the ‘Euro’ weekend at Northampton this weekend. The F1 British Championship
meeting in May was very quiet, but I don’t think this one will be, and ditto the F2’s whom many thought were quiet and/or below par at Skegness. We will see…
It is the height of the summer season now, almost ‘festival’ season if you like with the Speedweekends coming up, firstly the biggest one of the year for Stock Cars
at Skegness and then the “Euro” weekender at Northampton next weekend. Ipswich has been and gone and this past week/end for a few in the BriSCA F2 fraternity it was a mini-break in the southwest with the World Championship qualifying rounds
at St Day and Taunton strategically placed together, as has been the case for a long time now. Both were an interesting pair of meetings. St Day was good, although not a classic and will probably be remembered in time for a massive pile
up that happened before the green flag had even been shown in the Final which involved literally half the field. It was good that the green hadn’t been shown, as it would have been a depleted grid for the re-start if it had been. The
meeting was dominated by Gordon Moodie as he swept to a maximum score, having got into the lead on the fourth lap of the Final. This score, coupled with what he got at Buxton the previous evening was enough to convince him that just the remaining
Skegness round in two weeks time will be enough and he opted against Tuesday’s meeting at Taunton. Totally understandable, but it did disappoint many who were looking forward to an on track meeting between Gordon and Rob Speak for the first time
since last year’s World Final at Cowdenbeath. Speak’s aim and ambition is to win the F1 and F2 World’s in the same year and after scoring the vast majority of his points on shale, with the Semi Finals and Final being on tarmac
he naturally needs a competitive tarmac car and he was back with what appears to be a tie up with his long time F2 right hand man Terry George in a chassis owned by Chris Roots, and was straight on the pace, all of which bodes well for he and
his supporters. If St Day was far from a classic, Taunton – certainly the Final was simply epic. The first half of the race especially it was impossible to know just where to turn one’s head for the amount of action going on with places
swapping and changing and bumpers flying in and it culminated in a surprise winner too which is always good to see with Cornish blue grade Tom Clark duly turning himself into a Cornish star grade.
Here are my reports on the Autospeed webpage from both meetings;
But now, from heading west, it is time to head east and Skegness Stadium where I am honoured to be part of the team for the weekend, at the greatest Stock Car week of them all, for it is more than ‘just’
the weekend now with the Thursday evening session, then the day at the Fun Fair or beach on Friday, the official party at the Marine Boat House in the evening – which can get messy, and im not just talking about the “Man-v-Food” - and then
the serious business on Saturday and Sunday. The only time the F1’s, F2’s and Saloon Stock Cars appear on the same bill in the UK too. Don’t miss it!
A great 'old skool' Banger meeting at Mendips on Sunday. I said during commentary in one race that I had just reeled off some names that
I never would have thought I would, in 2015. It was a long day, but a good day, and I enjoyed being part of it. Here is my report on the official website.
It was a weekend that lived up to expectation, the British Championship double header had it all - action, controversy and
excellent racing. And in two title races that were wide open, a couple of well deserved winners too.
Here are my official reports for the Autospeed website:
Midweek meetings are relatively rare now, even at the “seaside”
tracks to an extent outside of the height of the summer/holiday season but there was a time that many not even in such areas that would be termed ‘holiday’ destinations had racing on what we call a ‘school night’. As a child Thursday evenings were at the old Aldershot, it was only in its final few years there that it moved to a Saturday. Eastbourne, but known to locals as Arlington (because much like ‘Taunton’ and ‘Bristol’ it is actually some way from the town/city in which it gets its name) has always been on a Wednesday night, apart from a few years ago
when Spedeworth and the Stadium owners tried a season of Saturday evenings and found that they were up against a million other things, not to mention Stock Car and Banger meetings across the country. So, on a sunny evening I battled the rush hour traffic - which included a man clearly not well in the head having a wander up the outside lane of the A23, and then a Fiesta embedded in the back of a Corsa on the A27 just past the
“American Express Community Stadium”, also known as Falmer, also known as Brighton and Hove Albion.
a somewhat random evening, with a lot of familiar faces (to me) in the crowd and familiar names racing in the Superstox. A trio of entertaining enough and competitive races,
including a large crash in the Final which F2 interloper Richie Mead may have had a hand in…. It was good to see veteran Dave ‘Squirrel’ Pike have a win
– he has been racing Supers since 1986 – and a convincing Final win for Nick Roots, who wasn’t even born in 1986. It was interesting, and good to see that
those running the Zetec engine were going well in the main too. It is happening folks, at Spedeworth, BriSCA and Saloons and not before time too, really. The Pinto is breathing its’ last, literally. There were not many 1300 Stock Cars, and of those who were there
several had up to a six hour round trip to be present. Where have all the south/local drivers gone in this class? By my observation only Wilf Bridges was what could be called a local, the like of Billy Smith (who was racing in Superstox too) Will Morphy, Pete Beldom etc were a long way from Norfolk.
Morphy ended up on the wrong end of a thundering fencing from Curtis Tebbenham, which also gave the Speedway pit gate a bruising. Morphy
will be sore today and Tebbenham perhaps ought to be thankful that the officials may be have been looking the other way at the time too, and he went on to win. On the whole I’ve seen far worse from 11 cars!
By in large all roads headed to East Anglia at the weekend. For the crash fans it was one of the biggest Banger meetings of the year at Kings Lynn, for the “Peewee” #Heingone meeting, or for speed/action it was Ipswich for the annual BriSCA F1 outing there and the National Hot
Rods ‘Thunder 500’, which is the traditional pre-World Championship event. Added to that, this year there was a race for BTCC drivers in the Hot Rods too.
I had not been to Foxhall Stadium in years, something I do regret, as it always has been one of the finest venues in Europe and this has been enhanced greatly in recent times by a huge
amount of investment that Deane Wood has put into the place. However, I cannot be everywhere as I am far more usually heading west rather than east but this meeting was simply
looking too good to miss this year. The entry in the F1’s was up on previous years and a good number of Hot Rods too with a decent number of the BriSCA Ministox (‘National
Ministox Club’ really doesn’t sound right to me, it never has, it sounds like an after school activity) A trio of great races though, including an epic second heat in which the top five went into the last corner together and Ben Chalkley moved
from fourth to first. The Final came down to a last bend lunge from Charlie Guinchard on Courtney Witts, who rode it out well.
The past couple of years have been vintage times for this particular junior formula.
There had been some concerns that after
the somewhat tame British Championship meeting at Northampton two weeks earlier, the F1’s would be more of the same here, given that Ipswich is a fast, no, make that very fast sweeping bowl. But this was not to be the case and it was actually very good, although alas the meeting will ultimately be remembered for a very unfortunate
accident in the Final. The three heats went the way of Frankie Wainman, Mick Sworder (with Tom Harris second in both) and then the third to Rob Speak. Rob was at the wheel of a brand new Harris built car from Team Davidson and this was actually his first ever chequered flag at Ipswich - not that he has raced there much. The Final got off to a spectacular start when the yellow grade managed to trip over each other and UK registered Dutchman
Daniel van Spijker rolled in a crash that also ended with Colin Goodswen’s car on Dave Allen’s. This meant a complete re-start and it was soon after the race
got going again that John Lund was sent into the wall on turns one and two. Obviously unconscious, or at least very dazed, the throttle then appeared to stick on the 53 car
and what happened next was extremely unfortunate and simply couldn’t be helped. I will not go into full detail of what happened next, it has been documented elsewhere
(and not all that accurately by the local BBC in Suffolk) The outcome of the incident was handled very professionally by the Spedeworth staff and the St John Ambulance
(especially so, considering it was members of their own teams that they were dealing with) and I wish those involved a speedy and full recovery. Thankfully Lund was none
the worse other than the obvious shock from what had happened and is now on the mandatory ten day stand down from BriSCA F1 (something that should be the case across ALL ORCi formulae) Suffice to say this caused a delay in proceedings and having lost all the
adrenalin it is hard for the drivers to pick up from where they left off. But, needless to say they did and it was actually former Saloon Stock Car star Shaun Webster who
took a lot of catching in the re-started race, now off of a yellow grade start. Harris and Sworder were the pick of the stars, but the former accounted for the latter and
Harris then set off after the leaders Webster and Will Hunter and took over with five to go. This race may be a turning point for Webster with second. There wasn’t time for a Grand National.
The mixing of the BTCC drivers with the National Hot Rods was a
great idea for the meeting, and certainly added to my decision to go. I’m not really convinced it had any real effect on the crowd though, which is a shame. The six present racing loaned cars were Tom Ingram, Aiden Moffatt, Rob Austin, Aaron Smith, Andrew Jordan and Rob Collard – the latter needing no introduction into Hot Rod racing
of course. They had timed laps at the start of the meeting, which were unfortunately blighted by drizzle. This then formed the grid for their own race, which was a 10 lap dash. Fears that they may have a game of plastic Bangers were unfounded and they all showed that
they knew how to drive these cars fast around an oval with little practice. Collard and Austin then went on to take part in the rest of the meeting too, where the entry
included drivers from Northern Ireland, Scotland and mainland Europe. Ipswich really does show the Nationals at their best, and it is easy to see why their World Final
has only ever been held here at this one venue. After Glenn Bell took heat one, the second heat saw a great battle for the lead between Billy Wood and John Christie
with the latter spending lap after lap on the outside until he made the move stick. Very fair driving from Wood too it must be said. Proper Hot Rod racing. This set up the grid for the Final, which by then was under the full floodlights and was an impressive sight. Chris Haird managed to get the jump on Christie at the start and the race was then all about these two with the 962 car unable to mount a challenge on the 115 car whilst Jason
Kew took a good third. Haird has won the Thunder 500 more than most and whether this is an omen for the big race (in just two weeks’ time) remains to be seen, but,
as Christie was quick to point out, different day at a different time of day, the World race could well be very another story.
I will not be able to be there to see that race, but
for me a busy summer run now – starting with what is shaping up to be an epic British Championship F2 and Saloon double header at Taunton. (Although, a cheeky trip to Eastbourne to watch Superstox on Wednesday evening first.)
Duty called for a ‘domestic’ meeting at Taunton on Sunday and on a lovely sunny afternoon (where
it was a shame to be shut in behind double glazing!) it was a good meeting. Lots of (Rookie) Bangers, 20 cars in attendance for a domestic
Saloon Stock Car date, 16 of which were south/south west based. We can include Cirencester based ‘newcomer’ Luke Dawson
as the latter, and yes that is the same “Spook” from National Bangers, the latest in a long line of Banger drivers this year alone who have crossed over into Saloon Stock Cars. 20 cars present for an ordinary date at Taunton would have been hard to achieve without coaxing a lot of travellers only 12 months ago, the turnaround of fortunes for the Saloons is very pleasing. And if a domestic can produce hard hitting and competitive racing such as this, wait until the British Championship weekend on the 20th and
21st, that promises to be very good indeed.
Here is my report on the Autospeed website from
the days racing.
A standout fixture when they were first published at the end of last year and/or the beginning
of this was the British Championship triple header at Northampton with the BriSCA F1 Stock Cars reaching the 60th staging of their event and they were joined by the V8
Hot Stox (or are they called V8 Stock Cars? Serious question) and ‘National’ Ministox to complete a full BSCDA line up in a meeting that was promoted/organised by the BMB.
The previous meeting for the F1’s at Pr1mo, when I was at Coventry, was said to be a thunderous affair and there was much talk that it would continue into this meeting. I was sceptical it would do, but I was part of the big crowd on hand
hoping that it would be a spectacular and memorable session. Northampton can and does produce the goods for the F1’s – see above, and of course last year’s European weekend, but, this was one where it just didn’t really come off.
I’m not going to go as far as some have on the social media (I have dared not go to Stoxnet yet…. Have barrels on the bends been mentioned?!) and deride it as total rubbish, there was some good racing to be had and it does show just how competitive
the F1’s are on the tarmac. I don’t really recall it being this way 20 years ago. Now so many of the cars are perfectly built and engineered and driven by highly capable drivers, and when the quick drivers are off the front of a closed
grid race, this is what can happen. Not only on the tarmac but the shale too. Kings Lynn in 2013 is one such race that springs to mind.
The British Championship
format was the usual of the drivers racing in three of the seven heats and the top 30 points scorers qualifying for the main race. It had been hoped that there were would be a 60 car entry, including several seldom seen on tarmac, but come the day there
were 51 in attendance. Still very good. Unfortunately for Paul Hines this became one less when he was injured in an incident in the pits pre-meeting. Get well soon Paul, because by the sounds of it he was fortunate not to receive worse injuries.
The meeting actually got off to a highly spectacular start when Joshua Smith was carted into the turn three plating by the pack and rolled. The heats went the way of Michael Scriven, a hat-trick of them for Joff Gibson, two for Lee Fairhurst and
the other to Will Hunter.
This left the grid as Gibson on pole, the yellow graded driver having had that trio of wins (in a car that is more a shale car) Alongside of him Dan
Johnson in his new car whilst row two had Fairhurst and Michael Sriven, Hunter on row three with Tom Harris, Micky Randall and the rapidly improving Jordan Falding on row four and then a very experienced row five in Frankie Wainman and Rob Speak with World
Champion Craig Finnikin just behind with another white grade Chad Evans with him. Earlier in the month in the BriSCA F2 World Championship qualifying round, Darren Clarke ended up having a big crash largely owing to be bulked by the pace car.
If Incarace wish to add to the show by using a pace car then okay, but it must get out of the way long before the front leading man or men hits the loud pedal. An Audi family saloon is no match for a Stock Car….. To my eye (and several
others, I note a tweet from outgoing champion Paul Harrison) Gibson found himself bulked by the pace car and in his natural efforts to avoid hitting it he and fellow front row starter Johnson tangled and crashed. It was fortunate that several others
following were not involved and huge crash wasn’t triggered. The upshot was that Gibson found himself going from first to last very swiftly, Johnson rode the home straight plating and popped out mid-pack and it was Fairhurst who led into the first
corner from Harris and a very good start from Wainman. That is how it started for the first 12 laps of the race, with the gaps remaining consistent between them, and lapping back marking traffic with relative ease. However, when Falding spun
backwards into the plating on turns one and two soon after and it brought about a yellow flag it allowed a chance for all the gaps to close. Having been between first and second at the time of the yellow, when Mark Gilbank un-lapped himself (and was
disqualified as a consequence) it allowed Harris a clear run at Fairhurst for the re-start, but 217 got away. In a classic case of yellow flags breeding yellow flags, another swiftly followed after Mark Woodhull found himself up on the plating on turns
one and two. It was the same at the resumption though, Fairhurst had Harris covered and soon opened out a safe distance again. It was Wainman who lost out this time, as Johnson had battled his way back up. But it was to be Fairhurst’s
British title once again and a very fine drive, and evening’s work that got him there. Harris had no answer for him in second and Johnson was perhaps left ruining what could have been with the other podium place. Wainman, Finnikin and Speak
rounded out the top six.
The other two feature races were even more dominant if anything with Kevin Stutchbury retaining his British title and Courtney Witts slaughtering the field in the
Hardly classic stuff, no. Will I remember it in 5 or 10 years time? I doubt it. But overall I enjoyed my evening out and at £22 that’s the main thing.
Bank Holiday weekend time (again) and off on my regular trip west.
Both meetings I was working at proved that you don't need an entry list as long as a supermarket till receipt to make a good meeting, in both the BriSCA F2 Stock Cars and National Bangers. Always better when it is in front of good crowd's too, which
Sunday was at Bristol whilst Monday at Taunton was massive.
Below are my official reports for both meetings on the promotion's respective websites.
This weekend sees the BriSCA F1 Stock Car British Championship come to Northampton, the 60th running of the event and there are 60 cars booked at the time of writing...
Amid the sadness and reflection of the passing of Keir Millar, the sport went into its next weekend of racing. Gold bumpers in tribute
to Keir's success as the World Cup title holder in Ninja Karts were seen far and wide this weekend, all over the United Kingdom on all surfaces from grass track to shale, in the Netherlands and even as far off as Australia.
I'll make no secret of it, I would have preferred to have been at Cowdenbeath but I wasnt able to make the trip on this occasion. So it was 'Plan B' and no, not a cockney rapper-cum-actor, but
off to Coventry Stadium. The old place, now the only one left that dates back to the beginning, is the holy grail to many a Stock Car fan, but, I guess being a southerner it is not quite as much to me. That said, what a travesty it will
be if/when it does get buried under housing. I found myself there this weekend though for the BriSCA F2 Stock Car World Championship qualifying round who shared the bill with a plethora of formulae, amid a 20 race programme that was done and dusted in
just over four hours. A shame that there was such a small crowd there to see it. I got to see some classes I seldom see, such as the UK Modifieds – which are now where Murray and Ryan Harrison hang it out and one I had never seen, being
the Skegness based GT Rods. I guess I still haven’t seen them at Skegness then, but they were on a dirty weekend away here. There was a good entry of FII Heritage, loads and loads of Stoxkarts (whom mostly had their racing pre-meeting) and
some nudge and spin Bangers too and even they had one or two faces and names I recognised from the southwest. See, if only the local council really knew the pull this venue has? The F2 entry was 53 cars, which is not as good as it has been
for this particular meeting, but mirrored the total at the meeting here in March and looks likely to be the highest attended shale qualifying round of the year. Birmingham’s 63 car total looks likely to be the highest of all. Amongst those
53 was Rob Speak, who surprisingly to some, opted to forgo the F1 meeting at Northampton on the same evening to look to add to his maximum score he took at Belle Vue on Mayday. Clear then that Rob does still have designs on being part
of the World Championship. He could end up with a busy weekend in August if he draws the Birmingham F1 Semi, which is scheduled for the evening before the F2 Semi Final meeting at Skegness. He tangled out in his heat and retired, so it wasn’t
to be a maximum score this time. Former World of Shale title holder Dave Massey could be considered under graded off blue and he duly took heat one and veteran Simon Farrington, ditto under graded off yellow took the second heat before Barry Clow
won the consolation. The latter was very much a race of attrition that saw only 11 last the distance. The 35 car Final featured no less than five Superstars and World Champion George MacMillan. It may sound a cliché, but
as little as under ten years ago this would have been unthinkable. Speak was the first star to show through the traffic, but was quickly hounded by Andrew Palmer who shifted the 218 car wide. The lower graded drivers looked like they could take
some catching on the fast Brandon shale, but Palmer almost made it look easy and passed Clow for the lead just prior to halfway. Simon Farrington found himself safe in second place in the last quarter the main battle was for third with Michael Schutter
refusing to bow down to Speak’s advances and this allowed Clow and Dave Harley to make it a four car scrap. Impressively, it was the Dutchman who got the better of it to make the third place, and a visibly rattled Speak administered some bumperwork
to Clow on the last corner. Palmer won by the length of one of the long straights on what was a dominant showing and his score has moved him to the top of the World Qualifying points table. A start towards the front of a Semi at Skegness is now
a certainty, ditto that of MacMillan and Dave Polley who didnt have the best of evenings score wise this time (good to see #1 ticking off another track on his plan to race at them all, though) The Grand National was another fast and furious race,
shale racing at its best and it was Luke Branston who took the chequered flag.
A thoroughly enjoyable meeting. With a busy summer diary ahead for myself, it could be
the World of Shale itself at Kings Lynn in September when I next see some F2’s on the loose…
I was going to go to Skegness. Then it was a weekend off doing "around the house" type stuff but ultimately I went off to support my local venue on Sunday, which is Aldershot. I hadnt seen the Spedeworth
V8 Stock Cars since as long as a care to remember, and whilst its hardly a secret that Banger racing isnt my first love (any more) the 'World Series' with all the big-guns in the house was worth a shot.
However, all was over shadowed with news of an incident that took place at Lochgelly on Saturday evening whic resulted in the passing of 11 year old Ministox driver Keir Millar. Words are simply not enough in situations
like this and I send my sincere condolences to his family and close friends in what is a unthinkably awful time for them.
Suffice to say the national media cottoned on
to it quickly (Police Scotland did not help the confused situation, but this is not a debate for now) But, if the BBC were looking for some sort of debate by featuring it on their Radio 2 lunchtime show fronted by Jeremy Vine they didn't really get one.
Studio guest Paul Hines very eloquently put across the facts of what the cars are, what the sport is and so on. The follow-up calls and emails, one of which was from Justin Cole who knows only too well of the awful situation, showed the oval racing community
united in grief and standing together as one and if the producers were looking for "appalled of Amersham" to be in touch, it didnt appear to happen and what they got were positive, reasoned comments.
Accidents happen. Not that it makes it any easier.
Let's see as many gold bumpers as possible this weekend.
a weekend off in Jersey – which is a very nice place for a long weekend by the way – it was the second Bank Holiday of the year and for me two meetings. There was quite a choice of options on Sunday, but I opted for the F2 World Championship
qualifying round at Northampton, along with a decent looking support programme and then I was back on commentary duties at Mendips Raceway on Monday.
It is easy to look back and reminisce,
but it really is not reminiscing that far that the Northampton qualifying round was one of the big ones of the year. Often paired with F1’s, on a Saturday evening, it would see 70+ cars and so on. Like I say, easy to look back but
even so, the 40 car entry this time was surely disappointing. Maybe being on a Bank Holiday weekend didn’t help, also although it was obviously an oversight it wasn’t great that not anywhere on the Spedeworth/Incarace fixture list, website,
preview or entry list in the preceding week did it mention that it was a World Championship qualifying round. Come on chaps, you can do a lot better than that.
For most, this was a first
go in a new grade be it going up, or down but much like we had seen in the opening months of the season there were quick yellow graded drivers who simply got away. Sheldon Wadsworth took his first win in many a year in heat one and Darren Clarke (who
looked good at Birmingham and Hednesford two weeks previous) won heat two by some margin. The consolation saw Andrew Palmer complete something of a unique treble of winning the said race at all three Midlands qualifying rounds. The full 30
car field for the Final and Clarke headed them off and pulled clear, and as the laps ticked off it looked like his lead would be unassailable. It would have been, but for a yellow flag and this came when Michael Green rolled after a coming together with
the turn one plating, and Andrew John Thompson after help from behind. This naturally eroded Clarke’s lead and gave those chasing a chance to get on terms. His pace was surely good enough for him to at least get a little break with five laps to
run, but he found himself badly baulked by the Pace Car, and Kelvyn Marshall who was fourth at the time bounded into Lee Dimmick who in turn did the same into Wadsworth who went into the luckless Clarke who went hard into the plating, where he rebounded and
collected the thus equally unlucky Dave Polley. All this this saw Marshall pull of a lead that looked impossible only a two laps earlier and he went on to hold on for the last quarter of the race to win. James Rygor made second with a last bend attack
on Dimmick. One did have to feel especially sorry for Darren. He stood no chance in getting away properly, he did everything right, went at totally the correct point only to find a dawdling Pace Car getting in the way and went from looking at a
maximum score to getting a whole load of damage. It was an issue that was raised by some onlookers, and drivers at the Birmingham and Hednesford meetings – not only in the F2’s but the Ministox too via social media I noted, but this
was the first time it had a definite outcome of the race. If a promotion wishes to utilise a Pace Car then fine, if it adds to the show (although I personally disagree that it does) but it absolutely must get out of the way not in the way. The
Grand National saw a second win of the day for Wadsworth, who just held off a last bend lunge from Luke Wrench.
Bristol the following day and alas another lower than hoped for
entry of cars, which became two less when one failed to negotiate pre-meeting practice and another didn’t pass the pre-meeting safety check. The latter is not something that happens too often. My official report on www.mendipsraceway.com can be found here http://www.mendipsraceway.com/news01/meeting-reports/980-report-4-may-2015.html including the Reliant Robins of course, which were great fun and even included the Final being decided
on a textbook last bend lunge!
It has now become the established first
big “BriSCA” tarmac weekend of the season, and that is the double header of World Championship qualifying rounds for the BriSCA F1’s and F2’s at Birmingham and Hednesford, and one that I look forward to each year as it is usually/often
the only F1/F2 date at the latter each year. Indeed it still is the only F1 meeting at the Cannock Chase bowl but for the F2’s this year it is of course the (slightly controversial) World Final venue and as such this was the first of three meetings
ahead of the big date there in September.
I arrived at Wheels Park 75 minutes before start time and the car park was long since already full, the pits were packed, the terraces were
suffice to say packed, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and there was a real feel good factor about pretty much everything. The racing did not disappoint. This was my first look at the F1’s this year and the first car I saw was the new
Stuart Smith car. Very interesting once again from him and his team, although it was ultimately not to be the best debut for him. There was also a pair of former Saloon Stock Car World Champions in the number in Steve Webster and Stuart Shevill
Jnr, both of whom debuted at Skegness on Good Friday. They have been graded red, which neither will keep, it is a whole new learning curve but once they get the handle on everything new a pair of committed drivers like these two could put some rockets
up some backsides…. Shevill plans to dovetail his F1 outings with his Saloon too. Like I say, that is commitment. This means that Paul Ford is no longer the lone Scot in the F1’s and by coincidence he picked up from where he
left off when the F1’s were last in the second city in November when he won the Gala Final by winning the first heat. Sean Willis doesn’t win too many but he took heat two and then it was Micky Randall, a fans favourite – an underdog
if you like – who took the consolation and then the Final too after a yellow flag whittled the good sized lead that Ben Riley had at one time. Many of the big and star names were struggling all evening such was the pace of the lower graded drivers.
The pick of them ended up being Mick Sworder who was second in the Final and then won the 36 car (yes!) Grand National, whilst Randall did take the handicap (it’s optional in the F1’s) and returned to eighth.
It was much the same story in the F2’s where, as is often the case that this point of a year, there are quick lower graded drivers, some of whom are set for imminent upgrades now simply getting away and the star men are left
to fight over the scraps. The 64 car entry of the F2’s was the best anywhere this year and back to the numbers we used to see and almost expect here in the tracks hay day circa 1997-2007. Sy Harraway kept up his record of winning his
heat at all three meetings here so far this year by taking heat one and then Steven Gilbert took his first win off the star grade in heat two. Andrew Palmer won the consolation and in the Final it was Harraway once again, this time for his career first
Final win and thus a maximum WQ score too. Michael Green was easily the pick of the star men early on, but crashed on the home straight which brought out the yellow flags. Darren Clarke made second and Chris Utley third to make it a rare star grade
lock out at Birmingham. Just as in the F1’s, many of the star men were fighting over the more minor places but impressively World Champion George MacMillan beat them all to come fourth and then in the Grand National he continued his little battle that
had been going on and simmering all evening with Chris Burgoyne. Green was the winner. The BriSCA Ministox put on some great racing too – what is with the turning left up the fence though? That is a no-no that even Saloon Stock
Car drivers get proverbial sore knuckles, or rather a black flag for. Amy Webster ended up the Final winner after Jessica Smith was first across the line but failed the post-race ride height check.
When I booked my overnight stop in Walsall I clearly chose well. The breakfast area was literally a who is who of BriSCA F1 – even Mark Sargent! Judging by the complaint that a patron was giving at reception as I was checking
out though, things clearly got a little jovial in the bar overnight. I cannot possibly believe that to be true ;-)
The spring weather from the previous evening was replaced by a
cold and grey morning and early afternoon on Cannock Chase, but it did brighten up. I am in too minds about Hednesford. It is a fine venue, one of the best we have in this country. It is superb for Hot Rod racing and for the F1’s
it gives them a rare – yes maybe even the only – chance to properly “open” up. But for the F2’s? For a one off, okay, but I have always been concerned about it as a World Championship venue and this weekend did little
to allay my fears. The way the track is shaped and banked, there are elements of a cycling velodrome in it. It is fast, very fast and the momentum carries and as such the races get faster as they go on. It is hard for the drivers to
“get on” each other to push them wide and if they do go for a big hit it invariably ends up being a seriously hard one. (Even Rob Speak will openly admit that the hit he gave Gordon Moodie in their battle for supremacy here in 2011 ended
up a lot harder, or rather the outcome, than intended). The fast track also puts a huge strain on the engines, and perhaps it was fortunate that there was one the one Pinto to pop its cork, but naturally this coated the track in oil and triggered
off a large pile up on the last lap of the consolation. This can happen anywhere of course, and does, but a big track like this does see the odds increase. Thankfully there was not too much damage done and hopefully Colin Thomson is now okay.
The Final was a yellow flag strewn affair with a trio of big crashes on the West Bend with particularly nasty ones for Ben Lockwood, then Ashley England and then especially Pete Bartram. Hopefully all are none the worse for these, but all had that immediate
“ouch” factor from just looking on. Had it not been for these yellow flags, or at least the last one it could have been another yellow grade victory as Lewis Geach was taking some catching but the last re-start with six laps to go saw Michael Green
make up for the misfortune the previous evening by moving past Geach to take the win with George MacMillan, Dave Polley and Neil Hooper almost then getting Geach in a last bend ambush. It is great that BriSCA F2 is the only formula in the
UK that gets the opportunity to race on such a wide range of venues, but, perhaps just that little bit of extra respect is going to be required at Hednesford when the big occasion comes its way. Easier said than done of course, when the chips will be
Hednesford has played host to several F1 World Championships, all of which have been good but as I say above, the big track is not quite so much of an issue for them. Once
again though, it was a day of lower graded success with them appearing just too fast from the front for the star men to catch them. Michael Scriven took heat one and then Roger Bromley led from flag to flag in the second and third heats from the white
grade in the former Ryan Harrison car. He was away and gone in the Final too, but slowly Micky Randall reeled him in and was in a position to attack on the penultimate lap. He couldn’t get the move done though, but, then in an almost extraordinary
outcome on the last lap Bromley appeared to opt for a bit of ‘cat and mouse’ with Randall – Scriven was right in the vicinity and seized the opportunity nicely and loaded both away on the last bend to take the win. To make that even
sweeter, brother Neil was second and Luke Davidson, the pick of the stars in third. There was not to be a star grade winner in the Grand National either as Dylan Williams-Maynard took the win.
The weekend after Easter and often a quiet one in many respects, but with the BriSCA F2's on a solo date for the 'Remembering
Rog' meeting there were hopes for a 50ish car entry, taking in mind that the season opener here last month produced 44. As it was, it didnt happen but 39 cars is still hardly to be sniffed at and it was a particularly ferocious affair with the pace being
so close now. When you have yellow graded drivers only 0.02 seconds off of the lap record in pre-meeting practice it is always going to be tough work for the star graded drivers to come through, not to menion those graded blue, and there are going to
be some proverbial punches as they do so.
Thus, every race went to drivers graded yellow - who will not be graded in said colour in three weeks time - but some good drives
from World Champion George MacMillan, Neil Hooper, Nathan Maidment - in the hired car of Dave Polley and of course Final winner Tom Clark. Smeatharpe is a proper Stock Car track, there is no doubting that..... Here is myfull meeting report;
lose sight of the well funded track championship this year too, with Terry George and Mike Edwards of Edwards Exhaust really putting up some great incentives, which, as you can see are not "winner takes all" either.
After the rain on Good Friday, the weather over the Easter weekend, particularly on Monday ended up being like in
a different world didn’t it? Easter Monday was the kind of day we all dream of in many ways, clear blue skies, sunshine on a Bank Holiday and also a great meeting of Stock Car and Banger racing! That is how it was at Taunton. My official
website report can be found here http://www.autospeed.co.uk/race-meetings/results/easter-monday-6th-april-2015.ashx. The F2 Final featured a
four car battle for the lead, ultimately won by Neil Hooper for his first feature race of the year and a significant one too as it was in the memory of Paul Oakley. Paul was a valued member of the Autospeed team and he sadly died last November.
Prior to this he was for a number of years Garry Hooper’s mechanic, 1986 World Champion and Garry donated the old Autospeed Rowsbowl trophy to be raced for in his memory each year from here on in and it was fitting that Neil took the win, and had the
trophy presented by his dad – who we don’t actually see around the tracks very often now. The Saloons were absolutely brutal in their first heat, which actually resulted in an early bath for the day for Greame Shevill whilst the unlimited
National Bangers in Old Skool format were just that – old skool – proving that sometimes, just sometimes looking back is the way forward and other promotions who have done what on the face of it is/was/is the correct thing by trying to look at
new ways forward have ended up wandering down a proverbial alleyway.
Before this it was the traditional Easter Sunday BriSCA F2 World Championship qualifying round at Bristol’s Mendips
Raceway. Whilst the entry itself was not so significantly up as such (yes on last year, but slightly less than 2013) what was present was of very high quality with 17 star grade drivers present. This was the largest number here for a long time,
and perhaps even the two upcoming tarmac qualifiers at Birmingham and Hednesford may not even match it. My report from the meeting can be found here. http://www.mendipsraceway.com/news01/meeting-reports/974-report-5-april-2015.html
And yes, there was the added little piece of history for the annals of BriSCA F2 in that this was the first feature race win for a Zetec engine car.
I almost had a guest appearance lined up for this coming weekend as I was set for a one off on the mic at Mildenhall. As many will know, Michael Coventry had stepped down as the PA and PR man at RDC but, it is pleasing
to note that he and they have resolved whatever their differences were and his role will be resumed as normal for Saturday’s meeting at West Row. Thus, Taunton it is for what looks to be a very good meeting – and once again a star studded
line up in the southwest for the F2’s. I will see you there…. http://www.autospeed.co.uk/race-meetings/previews/sunday-12th-april-2015.ashx http://www.autospeed.co.uk/content/news/kids-go-free-in-2015.ashx
It was a somewhat grey and then wet start to the Easter weekend,
with Autospeed's traditional Busmans Holiday to the Pr1mo International Raceway at Northampton. Alas the weather forecast did have an effect on the crowd, but car wise the entries held up nicely. Actually for the second time this year for Autospeed,
more F2's turned up than were actually booked. The Saloon racing was excellent in the wet and the National Hot Rods put on some good and close racing, after they all appeared to be on a mission in heat one which resulted in three yellow flags and a lot
of damage done.
It was a well driven and emotional win for Michael Green in the F2 Final, Andy Pridham won the Saloon Stock Car Final which was his first since September
1995 we believe (he did have a 18 year lay off from racing, however!) and Jason Kew held off in a late yellow flag to win in the National Hot Rods.
My full report for the
Autospeed website can be found here http://www.autospeed.co.uk/
Still plenty of Easter racing to come......
of a belated update this week for a variety of reasons, as this weekend looms. It will just be a quiet one as an armchair enthusiast coming up though, with the busy Easter weekend around the corner. But last weekend, after enjoying the opening
F2 meeting at Birmingham earlier in the month I decided to do another ‘round robin’ and take in the Saturday evening in the second city ahead of heading down the M5 for the Sunday, when I was on duty for the opening meeting of the season at Bristol’s
My official meeting report can be found here, on what was a long but thoroughly enjoyable meeting; http://www.mendipsraceway.com/news01/meeting-reports/971-report-22-march-2015.html
Birmingham was good too, and as well as the BriSCA
F2’s it was a relatively rare chance for me to catch the Rebels (yes, I confess I do watch them) and the UK Oval Legends, that I hadn’t actually seen for a few years and enjoyed. There was a huge rollover for 47 Kevin Hughes, which
he thankfully walked away from. A healthy entry of everything at Wheels saw the pits being busy from top to bottom, 15 races and the start time moved forward to accommodate which is all positive. The F2 heats were won by Sy Harrway, misfire
from the previous meeting cured and Lee Dimmick and then Ben Bate took the consolation. Harraway got away in the Final but was ultimately reeled in by Michael Green (who for those who are not aware, has taken on his late brother Steve’s #154 number)
with World Champion George MacMillan not too far back either, again having the #1 hooked up well around the track. It was a star studded field, from far and wide, including a healthy number of Scots once again. Many of the said stars finished
outside of the top ten in the fast paced race. Green was in a position to pounce on Harraway in the closing stages, but the hit sent the 83 car in into a half spin and momentarily held up 154. This was enough to allow MacMillan through to
take the win – on what I believe was his first Birmingham Final win. This followed on from a hat-trick at Skegness six days earlier and then another Final win at Birmingham the following afternoon. He – or any other –
has “officially” said that they are chasing the coveted silver roof for the National Points, but at this rate of scoring, Gordon Moodie could have a real challenge when he returns on June 28. There was a lot of mainly social media talk
about George switching back to a Pinto engine having initially campaigned a Zetec in his first two tarmac meetings. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, George for all of his good and best intentions probably shouldn’t have been the first really
big name to have gone for the new engine, given this is his World Championship year and the chance to add Silver does appear to be presenting itself too. There was talk and debate about the Zetec being too slow. The comparison lap times of
car #1 between the first and second meetings at Skegness show that really it isn’t, the driveability is the thing and for George, who as World Champion is almost expected to “do something” every time he steps on the track now, it is far better
to stick with what he knows rather than a season of development and so far he is having anything but “#1 Syndrome” …. Luke Wrench, who is a rapidly rising star on the tarmac tracks made second and then later won the Grand National.
Green was perhaps left ruing what might have been, but never the less a good third.
But as George put in his Facebook statement regarding his switch back to the Pinto, if and when
the latter is restricted, he will most likely switch back, being already in possession of the kit and so on. Restricting the Pinto you may ask? Well, tucked away on page 69 of the rule book – 230.11 – it perhaps may not be “ruled”
But for now, enough engine debate already and let’s enjoy what is shaping up to be a good season in the F2’s – and in
The second weekend of the national and/or BriSCA F2 season saw everything
move to the hard surfaces for the latter, and I decided on a bit of a road trip to take in Birmingham, as I was encouraged by the good entry list and the almost sudden onset of Spring and then down the M5 (well, actually through rural Worcestershire given
it was closed) to Smeatharpe for the opening south west meeting of the season.
Okay, the Birmingham entry was not the 60-70 cars that this meeting once would have commanded, but at a couple
shy of 50 cars in the pits (alas there were no less than four that went no further than practice) this was a good start to 2015 here. It was a very cosmopolitan entry too with no less than 11 from the southwest and six from Scotland, although for two
of them in John Hogg and newcomer Colin Thompson it was a nightmare as they were two of those who failed in practice. Or rather their cars did.
Whether the drivers who had gone missing
from practice didn’t inform the race organisers or not I don’t know, but there ended up being a huge discrepancy in numbers for the heats. 27 cars for a busy heat one which was headed until halfway by newcomer Sam Weston, until he spun.
Steve Gilbert then took over and went on to take the victory whilst Weston had a falling out with Dave Polley, after he took a couple of pop shots at the 38 car whilst being lapped. Weston was also to make friends the following afternoon at Taunton…..
The second heat saw Sy Harraway take the win but his engine developed the misfire to end all misfires in the Final and he burbled and banged to a stop. Lewis Geach was the winner of the consolation, in his Zetec powered new self-built car.
He crashed out in the Final however, which brought out the yellow flags and after Weston had been the initial leader Charlie Marriott took over and opened out a large lead. Mark Gibbs was the one to look most likely to catch him but even on starting
the last lap he didn’t look close enough to land a challenge. However, this is ‘Gibbo’ of course and he executed a huge last bend lunge on the 94 car. It wasn’t successful, but a fine effort, but too a fine win from Marriott.
A young driver in his second season of F2, he was well under the radar last year but his switch to the ex-Luke Wrench KWR chassis as brought him alive. A first win at Skegness on the 1st and now a first Final win. Geach came back
to win the Grand National and looked right at home on a track he (surprisingly) hadn’t raced at before and save for a couple of outings last year, he hasn’t raced full time since 2006. The GN was a particularly ferocious race with bumpers
flying in everywhere, no quarter expected and certainly none given. Whether this was just everyone battling for early season supremacy or what I don’t know, but as a paying punter it was great to watch on what was to me, the best Birmingham
I had seen for some time. Last time I went, for the Shoot Out in November I left early because I had had enough….
So to Sunday and after an almost stereotypical grey start
in the Blackdown Hills in Devon it ultimately came out bright and sunny and if anything, this surpassed Birmingham in terms of great racing for the F2’s. This came from a superb entry of 44 cars, without looking at the stats I’m fairly sure
this was the best entry for the opening meeting of the season for quite some time. This included an array of visiting interest and this all bodes well for the British Championship weekend in June. The Saloon Stock Cars too had plenty of new
interest and on the whole, and produced a trio of very watchable races – even in the damp conditions where they sometimes struggle here.
My full and official report can be found here
But, it is definitely a case of so far so good in 2015………..
So, the ‘national’ Stock Car season commenced at Kings Lynn, as is the now long held tradition.
Touted as a pivotal season in many ways it was the first BriSCA F2 Stock Car meeting of the year and a World Championship qualifying round all part of the tradition and the first for the Saloon Stock Cars too. What did do its best to spoil it was the
weather. It wasn’t as if it wasn’t forecast, I was undecided whether to make the six hour round trip to go and watch this knowing it would probably be wet. But this was the first of the year…… I couldn’t not be there,
could I ?!
It was not wet all evening. The track was in fine condition for the heats for the F2’s, although aside from the white and yellow grade heat the Saloons probably suffered
the worst of the weather and associated track conditions. Still there was some good racing and plenty of talking points. The F2’s saw ole ‘Heritage’ himself Mark Sargent score a heat and Final double of wins, the first
in his 22 year career. Not that this is going to propel him on a shot at going for gold, as ‘Sarge’ is quick to point out that he only plans a dozen or so F2 appearances this year as he is concentrating on F1 on both surfaces this year.
Never the less, 35 points consolidated with a couple of other reasonable scores at WQR’s ought to see him get on a Semi grid at his home track of Skegness? The Final saw a good battle for the lead between Mark and Andrew Palmer. The
former World of Shale multi-champion looked to have caught the 798 car at one stage, but when Rob Mitchell re-joined from a spin and inadvertently got between them it allowed Sargent to break away again and he took the victory. Others going well
were the vastly Mark Simpson and Sam Wagner, who then went even better at Stoke the following afternoon with the Final win there which has seen him lead the National Points after weekend one. George MacMillan Jnr has rounded out second after two
top ten’s at Kings Lynn and then a quartet of top four places at Skegness (the latter with the Zetec engine in). Kelvyn Marshall was the Final winner there whilst there were two first time winners in Charlie Marriott and Dan Birkin.
Still very early days of course, but for a pair of who barely registered when it was their chance in Novice of the Year this was actually a pleasant surprise, and on that kind of pace could well find themselves well up the grades for May.
It was a real shame that the Saloons suffered with the weather and the wet shale at the now rebranded Adrian Flux Arena (www.adrianflux.co.uk) as there was a great entry, lots of star names, lots of new cars, rebuilt cars and so on. Interest continues to grow in the Saloons, unlike many other
oval racing formulae their registrations are actually up on this point last year and that bodes well. The near 50 car entry included a few from Scotland, including Luke Grief who is now domiciled there and this was of course the Clive Grief Memorial.
It was won by Daniel Bullock with a very controlled drive in difficult conditions, finishing clear of Danny Colliver who debuted a new car. Earlier on in the evening, in the only dry race for them there was a great battle between two of the newcomers
this year in Max Stott and Wesley Starmer whilst the Final victory was Bullock’s first.
Yes, the F2 entry was well down on previous years. There were not many
"new" cars on track and even fewer "new" drivers. But, on the other side of the coin, no other open-wheeled Stock Car formula can produce a near 50 car entry, on a wet evening in what is still effectively the winter, so let’s not get too downbeat.
There is a long way to go in 2015 yet and a lot of water to flow under the proverbial bridge.
As a good friend said to me yesterday; “At least the season has started” Amen
It’s a sombre and reflective Stock Car racing community this week, with the news of the passing
of former BriSCA F2 Stock Car driver Steve Green Jnr. It is always sad when someone leaves us, but especially so when they are at a young age with a young family and so much more to give. I send my sincere condolences to his wife Claire and
the rest of the Green family at this time.
Steve only ever raced BriSCA F2, no other formulae, and they have released this fitting tribute to him which shows what a formidable competitor he
He was seldom if ever out of the star grade in his career (no mean feat when you consider the majority of his racing was at Birmingham, Northampton and Skegness, which at the height of his career
often commanded 50-60 car entries at the drop of a hat. Despite all his success though, one of my greatest memories of Steve was actually one of his first meetings at Arena Essex. The then World Champion Rob Speak had won the meeting Final and
started the Grand National from the statutory lap handicap. In true “Speaky” style he hung back on the rolling lap, to bunch the rest up and allow him to take off like the Millennium Falcon at the drop of the flag. Being a young, fearless
teenager Steve wasn’t having any of this, and spun Rob out and on to the inner kerb before he had even had chance. The upshot was one highly unimpressed World Champ, but here was a white top that had surely just done what countless others had only
ever dreamt of. Here was a young-gun destined for stardom, and so it turned out. RIP #154
The ‘main’ season is fast approaching, but as is written and said many times Spedeworth do not have such a thing, with regular (and points scoring) racing over the winter months at Wimbledon Stadium. The future
of this once grand place I have written about on this blog previously, but, for now it is a case of enjoying it whilst it is still there. Hence, with Superstox on the programme I headed to a very wet and cold London on Sunday evening – the benefits
of being able to sit inside. It was an interesting meeting once again, where the London Championship was up for grabs. The Roll of Honour in the programme showed that Chris Bradbury was the winner of said event in 2003, a year before he made
the move into BriSCA F2, where (to be fair to his exploits in the Supers’ prior) he made himself a “household” name in the sport. Whatever happens next, he is in the history books as one of the most successful ever in F2, maybe the
best driver never to have won the World Final. After being offered a drive in a Superstox once he announced his departure from the F2’s at the end of last season, this has now become a semi-permanent move, simply to keep his hand in whilst
perusing his new business interests. As those of us who have watched him dominate at some F2 meetings in the wet and the damp will know, Bradbury is formidable in the damp, greasy, wet. But were the Superstox guys really ready for this?!
It was a quality entry which included World Champion Steven Jackson, Jason Cooper and the returning Colin Aylward. On his way to a dominant hat-trick, commentator Graham Woodward summed it all up whilst he was on his way to winning the second heat
by half a lap; “The rest need to send out a search party to find Chris Bradbury”… Ominous for the rest most certainly, and whether the car he has will be a match for some of the others come the drier, warmer weather and different
and/or bigger venues remains to be seen. It wasn’t all about 886 though. Chris Roots is now one of the longest serving open-wheel racers in the land and he was easily the best of the rest whilst Jordan Salmon, who won the F2 Final at
Ipswich last year if you recall, came home a good third in the Final. This was a race in which Billy Smith, who appears to delight on playing the joker/villain dispatched both Aylward and Jackson fence ward, the latter’s RCE meeting a fence post
with quite a crack. Surely neither will let Smith get away with that in a hurry…
Valentines Day, the first shoots of spring, the birds are singing and I’m sounding like an old romantic…..
The main 2015 season is now just a fortnight away, starting as is the long held tradition at Kings Lynn, and to keep that going it will begin on February 28 this year. It will be an interesting year on so many levels.
Last weekend I was
at the Mendips Raceway dinner, dance and awards evening at the Webbington Hotel in Somerset. Another fine social evening looking back to the season past where the tracks points winners in everything from Hot Rods, Bangers, Junior Rods and Reliant
Robins even were celebrated. Unfortunately seven times F2 track champion Chris Bradbury was ill and unable to attend to accept his trophy, and special award of a piece of Mendips rock for breaking the record of seven consecutive track titles. Nobody
had done six, or five, or four either…. Thus with Chris announcing his sabbatical from BriSCA F2, there will be a new 2015 track champion at the venue. That will not be the only change either, as the somewhat unloved inner-Armco, which
was actually put in place at the bequest of the HSE in 2001, has been removed over the closed season and replaced with marker tyres and the infield levelled accordingly. Hopefully these will make the unique and spectacular track a little more driver
friendly and some of those drivers who appear to have stayed away may well return. The first F2 meeting of the year will be the World Championship qualifying round on Easter Sunday once again.
Bill Batten was guest of honour for the evening
and the video of the 1993 World Championship was played on the screen, which was without doubt one of his greatest drives (which ultimately resulted in nothing for him) To enhance the moment, Ian King, whom he battled with for lap after lap at Crewe
was also in attendance. Also on show was the magnificent recreation of Bill’s 1982 World Championship winning car. It was one of Bill’s most famous and dominant cars. As a child I had a poster of it on my bedroom wall, which
I pulled from one of my dad’s “Rods and Stocks” magazines. It was also Bill’s last F2 for a while, as after winning the World he took some time away from the sport (just as Rob Speak ultimately did and Bradbury is doing
now) The car was sold to Mike James, who raced it for a few seasons and yes, altered it to his own liking before he then put it to one side on his land in Cornwall and that is where it sat. It was there for 25+ years until his long time mechanic “Dougal”
set about restoring it to its former glory. It was an expensive and painstaking project that took half a decade to complete, but finally the car was ready to coincide with Bill’s testimonial – and farewell – meeting at Taunton
last summer. It is a magnificent piece of work, just as it was when Bill originally constructed it. Hopefully it will be on show at various points and places in the future as it is just so, so good. It will never race obviously,
it doesn’t comply to any set of rules or formula currently (yes folks, not even Daz Kitson’s Outlaw’s).
Other restoration projects of a similar nature are taking place up and down the country, it is amazing that so many Stock Cars
are still around to have said work done and it will be great to see these when they are finished, to join those already out there that we have seen. Equally it is sad that so many famous cars were scrapped, in some cases needlessly, but that’s
Never the less, we need to keep looking forward as well as back. With no tomorrow there will ultimately be no yesterday.