CLASSIC HOT ROD MEETING REPORT
English Series Round Eight
The Bill Morris Memorial English Open Championship
With the pinnacle meeting of the year, the National Championship and the chase for the Gold, just a week away, we were delighted to achieve an excellent field of twenty one cars at Hednesford to compete for the meeting in second only to the Status of the National Championship itself – The Bill Morris Memorial English Open.
The Bill Morris Memorial has been contested by the Classics since the inception of the formula as the drivers who race cars of the golden era of Hot Rod racing race in the memory of the man who not only built Hednesford Hills Raceway, the spiritual home of Hot Rod racing, but created the formula of Hot Rods itself.
Racing in memory of this fine man for the honour of a highly desired trophy is motivation itself for many a competitor but as the status of CHRs rising year on year and the creation of championships of notable status such as the Scottish Open, it was felt only fitting for England to have the comparable championship in the green and pleasant land – hence the Bill Morris Memorial English Open!
It was extremely pleasing to see such a quality entry with #TheTheRev 12 Trevor Harris and #OorBrett 232 Brett Sneddon took the four hour trip down from Scotland, once again the southerners impressed with their preparedness to travel too. #Harold and #Donut: Harry and Andy Steward took the long trip from deepest Essex and #TheFamilyGuy 419 Dave Murphy had left incredibly early from Southampton. Travelling even further from Northern Ireland came #TheDungannonCannon 966 Thomas Dilly and #TheDiggerMan 976 Clive Richardson. Both men were looking forward to compete for the status of the English Championship but equally seek to dial in their cars for the big English tracks and tune in to competing in a larger field of cars to be prepared for the National Championship. Both Ulstermen, being former National Hot Rod Stars, have the ability to take on the best and both will be serious Irish contestants for top honours. The most notable entrant of all was one of the more local men, 144 Tim Foxlow, who had unveiled his new race machine in a blaze of publicity. Now owning the SHP Mk2 which has brought Andy Steward so much success in the previous two seasons, Foxlow had brought a fresh newly invigorated image to himself and the race car with a patriotic red white and blue scheme. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Foxlow had earned the tag #TheAquaFreshman!
Prior to the first race of the day, Scotsman Brett Sneddon played down his chances despite his proven ability in years of racing Stock Rods and his C grade starting slot. However the the twenty lap opening heat saw a terrific race which Brett wasted no time in hitting the front. #TheGoodGuy 31 Steve Gooding impressed with the turn of speed his Hillman Hunter had. Gooding appeared to have quite a renaissance thanks to a new Pinto engine and he game-fully sought to keep close to the leading Scotsman. Fellow White Tops #PenelopePitstop 44 Kara Boyd and 12 Trevor Harris soon found the pace too hot but it was heartening to see Kara going faster than she had done before and hold here racing line on the inside. If drivers were going to pass, they would have to do it on the high side! It was indeed a red top train that developed to make the first heat a fascinating one. Once again #TheCowboy 445 Graham Boyd, in his penultimate meeting before a knee op forces a termination to his racing season, displayed how he is one of the most determined racers on the oval and one of the most difficult to pass. Lap after lap he held his racing line as #TheSilverFox 20 Dave Fry, #Deadly Darren Owen in car 8, 45 #TheKartingKid Craig Boyd, 911 #Harold in the #RedDevil and 198 #Donut queued up behind. Drama ensued as black cross was issued to Craig Boyd due to concern for blue smoke emitting from the 45 car however but something was lost in translation and it was Graham Boyd who swiftly retired to the infield! In the laps the red top train caught the valiant Gooding and there was a real scrum for the line, but it was Sneddon who enjoyed both the 31 pilot and the irascible Boyd senior who had ridden ‘shotgun’ throughout the race. The Scotsman won his first ever Classic Hot Rod race and finally shook off the flu he had been suffering with.
HEAT ONE RESULT: 232, 20, 8, 31, 911, 210, 976, 333, 144, 198
Heat two saw the surprising absence of double Points Champion 198 Andy #Donut Steward. Following his enforced absence from our previous meeting at Aldershot thanks to his house flood, Andy’s poor luck continued. A way below par heat one tenth was due to the engine being way down on power with the petrol mix being considered way too ‘lean.’ No wanting to force any further problems from the power house, team Steward elected an early bath to ensure the he car was going to be A1 for Ipswich. Also missing from heat two was 419 Dave Murphy with carburettor linkage issues which was a shame because Dave declared the car seemed to feel pretty good in the early laps of heat one.
Nonetheless, the eighteen car field provided excellent knife edge racing in heat two. Gooding impressed once again by leading the early laps ahead of Sneddon and late arrival to the meeting 2 Colin Chambers who was racing for the first time in over twelve months. The heat two wild card was 222 Shane Taylor who was racing on the limit and seemed to be prepared to take on the challenge of racing everyone out on track. #TheKartingKid raced hard to take the high line on Taylor and once passed raced flat out to aim on reeling in the 31 and 232 cars. With #TheOutlaw in 222 going high and low, the pack queued up but #TheAquaFreshman 144 Tim Foxlow found his way passed and pleased and perhaps surprised himself in the process. With the valiant Gooding slipping down the field after Sneddon took the lead, Foxlow was up to third chasing Boyd but very shortly came under pressure from #Harold and #Deadly. Changes in position continued right to the flag. Boyd got passed Sneddon as both Steward Junior and Owen got on the inside of Foxlow. Continuing their late charge, 911 and 8 got by 232 but #TheKartingKid 45 Craig Boyd was clear for the win.
HEAT TWO RESULT: 45, 911, 8, 232, 210, 144, 976, 966, 20, 101
The Bill Morris Memorial English Open Final grid was determined by the points accumulated in the qualifying heats. Thanks to his heat win and fourth in heat two, Scotsman 232 Brett Sneddon earned pole position. Thanks to his consistent performance of two third places, in form but infrequent racer, 8 Darren Owen, the Best in Britain and Scottish Open Champion, lined up on Brett’s outside.
The Bill Morris Memorial Trophy Grid
Inside 232 911 210 976 144 333 101 257
Outside 8 445 45 966 44 222 2
Non starters 20 419 198
With rain beginning to fall, the clutch start was dismissed in favour of the rolling and as the pace car started for the infield, the most successful driver in CHRs to have raced at Hednesford over the years, #DeadlyDaz got the drop immediately and smoothly out accelerated Sneddon into the first corner. From there date of the race was sealed. Daz was away and gone never to be challenged. The notable chasers were Harry Steward, Craig Boyd, and Hugh Weaver who battled and changed places among themselves but aside from Owen’s dominance, the most impressive driver out there was Irishman 966 Thomas Dilly. #TheDungannonCannon, racing Foxlow’s previous ride, #TheSpanker, was really in the groove, feathering the screaming Crossflow to great effect. Clearly displaying his preference to the greasy conditions compared to young Harry, #TheSpanker got the inside line on #TheRedDevil. After the blue smoke concerns of the heats, the hard charging Craig Boyd, retired from the final with engine concerns.
With the chequered flag falling a remarkable replication of the Scottish Open Final occurred with Owen taking the English Open commemorating Bill Morris’s memory ahead of #TheMusicMan 210 Hughie Weaver and #TheDungannonCannon 966 Thomas Dilly.
BILL MORRIS MEMORIAL ENGLISH OPEN FINAL RESULT:
8, 210, 966, 911, 976, 232, 445, 101, 333, 222.
The meeting was a great pre-curser to the National Championship at Ipswich, but whether it highlights the potential winner of the Gold Stripes is open to question. The hot favourite Owen will be absent and #Donut Steward has doubts over his fortune and reliability. Foxlow showed a flash of brilliance for a few laps in heat two and defending National Champion #ThePrinceOfPop 333 Lee Wood appears still yet to show that his rebuilt Viva is dialled in ready to truly mix it. So will the Gold pass to a new driver? Can #Harold have it in him to take #TheRedDevil to the flag? Will 210 Hughie Weaver show he still has the pace and experience to deliver on the day or will Thomas Dilly show that the Irish are as successful in Classics as they have proven to be in Nationals?
Let’s see shall we???