CHR Report. Hednesford. 4.11.13 The sun shines on the righteous! Having been denied it's originally scheduled meeting at the big Staffordshire Oval at the end of September, Incarace clearly recognized the popularity of the Classic Hot Rod formula amongst race fans and the dedication of its drivers by granting their inclusion in one of it's biggest domestic meetings of the year - the Annual Bonfire and Fireworks meeting. An excellent response came from the CHR men as 21 attended the penultimate meeting of the season and although, as a late addition formula, the old cars were directed to the distant pit area, the delight came from the respite of the wet autumn weather. It was cool but through out the whole afternoon it was sunny and into the early darkness the dry condition remained. The race programme was perhaps best described as unbalanced as the ol' boys didn't take to the tack for their first heat of the afternoon until 3pm and their second was held under the floodlights 2 hours later. However, it was pleasing to be there at this big meeting and the drivers were keen to show off their cars and racing prowess to the sizable crowd. The atmosphere in the pits was relaxed as all the drivers, having arrived in plenty of time, were able to test engines, undertake last minutes adjustments and ensure that tyres were at the right pressure. 79 Gary Winterton sat back, his car at the ready, shod in all new slicks. An observant 333 Lee Wood marvelled at this, smiling and ruefully commenting that his tyres were so much older, and harder, and thus less grippy! Nevertheless, by the end of the day, the man who considers Seb Vettel to have a keen sense of humour would agree, it's sometimes less to do with the tyres and more to do with the accurate setting of the panhard rod! So by 3pm, the retro pilots took their cars down the slope through the paddock and through the barrier gates to enter the arena for the first race of the day. Many eyes were focused on the two drivers at the back of the grid who were battling for points at the head of the National Series points chart, namely current leader 161 Daniel' Golden' Holden and the defending points champion 20 Dave Fry. Holden has been riding a high since his epic National Champion win back in August whereas Fry, a three time season points winner has been consistent all year and has even improved his performance in the second half of the year. But the story was all about those leading the grid when the green finally dropped. 31 Steve Gooding, yet to have scored a point this season, but to his credit, making that smart Avenger perform better and better every meeting, set the pace from his pole position. Winterton on his outside was outwitted into the turns by 275 local man Chris Caton (pronounced Cayton!) and Cheshire's 222 Shane Taylor. The early laps sure this low grade quartet door handle to door handle. Gooding kept it neat on the inside and made it clear that if others wanted to pass him, they would have to do it on the outside. Taylor shadowed tight on the inside but Caton read the signals well and the outside line was adopted. By lap four the speed on this line drew dividends and into the west bend 275 was the new leader, hotly followed by 121 Charlie Schembri who had made a storming start from the B grade. Other performances of note came from a quick 10 Paul Bowring and from the A grade an even quicker 8 Daz Owen. An intriguing battle was taking place between 172 Colin Hitch, who had performed miracles to rebuild The Bitch after last month's big crash, and the driver who has incredible pace and hard headedness to go for almost unbelievable gaps, 657 Neal Smith. But many eyes were focused on the lead two. It was a question of whether Schembri could reel in Caton before the storming Halesowen Harrier. Daz Owen arrived on the scene. But Caton kept his pace and his cool and his line, and the local man who to date has had limited track time and owes his current ride to Mr Owen, went on to record his first ever CHR race win. His family wand friends were there to see it and they certainly roared their approval. Under the atmospheric floodlights, the cars took to the tack again for heat two. The shining historic racers looked fantastic under the lights and at speed looked even faster. Maybe the pace was too fast for the jovial Winterton. On the drop of the green the C graders thundered up the home straight. Perhaps momentarily unsighted, Winterton braked a fraction sooner than Shane Taylor immediately on his tail. Contact was made into turn one. Taylor careered on through the turn with a damaged outside wing, whereas Winterton was left high and dry on the outside line - stopped! The rest of the field fortunately missed the 79 car and amazingly Gary got the car going again and yellow flags were avoided. Chris Caton took full advantage of the situation and grabbed a clear early lead. Schembri was also looking to repeat his heat one pace, but before he could really think of getting grips on tackling Caton, father and son racing team, 10 Paul Bowring and 30 Jamie Bowring got caught up in a race schnozzle down the back straight with Shane Taylor. Jamie got a flat and Paul steering damage but poor Shane ended up in the wall with significant front and tail damage. It was a race accident, end of, but the yellow flags allowed all the draw fogged breath under the steel white light. Caton's lead was eroded to nothing under caution. Schembri was waiting with Scotsman 247 Graham McCabe in close attendance, but so too was Owen! The re-start was fast but short lived as the battle for race space ran out between Hitch and Smith. Trying to race round the outside of Hitch, Smith ran out of space on the exit of turn two as both drivers sought exactly the same piece of track. The crash resulted in the retirement of both drivers and another course yellow. So far this race was far from the smooth speed chase that heat one was! Take three saw 275 awaiting the green ahead of 121, 8, 6, and 247. It was fast and it was frenetic as so many cars fought for the same piece of track and ultimately the lead. Two laps into the re-start and turn one claimed Caton, Faulker and McCabe. Schembri and Owen escaped and 20 Dave Fry took full advantage and sailed up the places to a crucial point scoring position. The race built up to a crescendo as Owen battled Schembri for the lead which allowed Fry to close them down hotly pursued by 333 Lee Wood and 161 Daniel Holden. The win could have gone to any of these five. the four over powered Schembri and the duel was down to four. The laps slipped by and Owen, Fry, Wood and Holden were a chain of flying historical hot rods, but even as they caught and dealt with the challenge the back markers Winterton and Gooding gave, Owen was not to be denied! "It's all the adjustment of the panhard rod!" Owen delightedly summed up. It was a cracking race with the exception of the race damage incurred those mentioned earlier. The final was a repeat performance, thankfully without the damage. If anything the pace was even faster but the result incredibly similar with Owen from Fry, Wood and Holden. Jamie Bowring was rewarded for his repairs after heat two with fifth and 144 Tim Foxlow too got on the score sheet with an improved handling car. Race damage for some aside, the meeting was a terrific success for the Classic Hot Rods, displaying some of the very best racing in front of the big crowd, many passing very favourable comments which the promotion should note for repeat consideration next season. Apart for Owen's purple performance the other story was that of Fry out scoring Holden in every race. The points gap between them will now be very small and will make the final show down at Birminham on 23rd November to be a mouth watering prospect. Rob Hughes.