Classic Hot Rod Meeting Report. Hednesford. 5/5/14. English National Series Round 5.
A pleasant spring day was the setting for what was the best meeting so fat this season for the popular Classic Hot Rods. The meeting enjoyed the formula's largest attendance to date of twenty one cars and the drivers were delighted to realise that they would me racing today in front of bumper Bank Holiday crowd. Incarace had advertised for this meeting on local radio and from as early as 11 'o' clock in the morning the race fans were queing to get in.
The majority of drivers were early arrivals, they had to be because pit space was quite a premium today such was the excellent attendance from all formulae. The classics were allocated there pit area in the bottom road towards which caused an initial grumbling as that caused maximum driving/walking to the race track. But as a positive spin there was an excellent atmosphere in the pit area with plenty of banter flying about between drivers and pit crew and interestingly it was the CHRs parked up which the fans saw first as they entred the raceway. 24 Roger Wright was returning to racing for the first time this season in his Mk1 Escort, freshly repainted in his favourite yellow and red colours. The car looked absolutely immaculate and it was the first car many fans saw. What was pleasing was the comments heard from young fans as they clapped their eyes on Rogers car and others for the first time..."Corr Dad! Look at that!" Others young fans were eager to have their photographs taken in front of a car (like a wee young lad in batman costume who had his photograph taken in front of 444 Gary Andrews car) and others who had a sit in the cars themselves. All the drivers concerned were very welcoming and accomodating.
The drivers meeting took place at 12.45 where all the drivers listened to a refresher of the rules of the track and the Steward's announcement of his 'firm but fair' approach. A little harmless banter between the drivers added flavour to the drivers meeting and all in all the drivers were up for a good day's racing determined to put on a good show in front of this big Hednesford crowd.
The drivers parade followed at 1.15 which proved to be an excellent preamble to the meeting proper and all the classic hot rod drivers looked pleased to show off their cars to the crowd. Many a car in attendance today was indeed freshly painted. 275 Chris Caton hard worked extremely hard on his black and slver Mk2 Escort ho have it ready for today's meeting and was now proudly showing it off resplendent with its traditional signwork thanks to Gary Chapman Signs.The afore mentioned 24 car of Roger Wright looked absolutely stunning, and there were brand new cars (if you could class race cars with race cars in excess of 40 years old to be brand new!) from 192 Ken Marriott and 101 John Bowring. Ken had made the switch this season from National Hot Rods to Classics having executed a part ex deal with 2013 CHR National Champion 161 Dan Holden. Dan was now racing Ken's National. In the month before today's meeting Ken had stripped the Anglia made the necessary modifications for himself and to comply with 2014 rules, repaired all the bodywork and finished the car in his wonderfully lustrious red and white livery. Ken had raced Nationals with the no 2 but in Classics Colin Chambers has that, so when I asked him"why 192?" his reply was "It's the number of my house!" Perhaps Ken and Colin will arrange to swap numbers in time, we will have to see.
As for John Bowring, the former stock rod racer had spent the winter building what we saw today - an absolutely immaculate black and orange Anglia 105E. Aided by brother Jamie, it's perhaps ironic that Jamie Bowring currently has his classic hot rod up for sale, but perhaps John's new involvement in the class and fresh enthusiasm will inject a change of heart in Jamie. John did confirm to me that his father Paul Bowring will be racing again soon.
And so to heat one and all 21 cars roared out on track, the scream of the crossflow powered cars of 144 Tim Foxlow and 16 Pat Smith a particular pleasure. It was a delight to see the return of 333 Lee Wood and 222 Shane taylor amoungst the entry. Both Lee and Shane had been very busy away from racing so it was very pleasing to see the effort they had made to attend today. 333 Lee Wood's HN Vauxhall Viva looked as perfect as ever. Showroom condition is the formula's benchmark, put Lee's Viva simply looked concourse!Taylor was moving house in a week so to be here at all was amazing.Two warm up laps later to inject some heat into the Avons and the CHRs were ready for racing. on the drop of the green Shane Taylor soon drived to the inside of Gary Andrews to take up the lead but 22 Rob Montagner inhis first meeting of 2014 was on a flyer as was 88 Dave owen who had won last time out at Hednesford and was revelling in the power given bu his Toovey prepared 2 litre pinto. Montagner soon hit the front with Owen hot on his heals but just as 88 looked to be diving on the inside of 22 out of turn 2 everything happened all at once. Owen dived to the infield with yet another flat tyre due to Banger debri and and 20 dave Fry blew his engine big time throwing oil all the way round the race track! Into turn three Montagner hit the oil and careered into the wall on the crown of the west bend and 45 Craig Boyd, racing his dad's Austin A40 slew slap bang into Montagner! The crash was epically captured on video and on the lens of Darren Foster who has already linked a superb shot to this page!The folorn cars were pulled to the infield and a lot of cement was thrown down to absorb the oil. The race had seen a lot of retirees including 422, 88, 198, 22, 24 and 45 but on the restart 16 Pat Smith and 8 Darren Owen had profited. Both surged to the front in a very dusty restart. It looked for a moment that Smith would power away but electing a wide line through the dust Owen really got the power down tight on the inside and stole the lead. Now unasailable, Darren enjoyed a popular win infront of a bumper home crowd ahead of Smith, 275 Chris Caton and 121 Charlie Schembri. Owen announced his delight on winning infront of the big crowd and asked them all to be back next time to support their local race track!
Feverish activity was taking place in the pits to get as many cars as possible ready for heat two. 422 Ant Whorton-Eales had terminal diff failure and 20 Dave Fry was starting to strip a blown engine. 222 Shane Taylor had retired from the day's event with a knocking engine and 275 Chris Caton was attempting to fix a blown exhaust and petrol leaking from a float chamber. 24 Roger Wright was trying to cure a mis-fire and son Stuart Wright (924) was busy changing a shock absorber. 333 Lee Wood was trying to cure brake issues and Dave Owen was changing his tyre - happily confident that was the only issue he had to cure!
Heat two obviously had a smaller field of cars but still in the high teens and it made for a clean fast exciting race. Quite a remarkable entrant for heat two was 45 Craig Boyd. His team of mechanics had fixed the suspension and tracking and panel damage to be ready. A truely exceptional performance. 88 Dave Owen was pre race favourite from his B grade starting position and he made full use of it, powering past Caton and Andrews, Owen was never to be challenged but there was an exciting battle for second place between Stuart Wright,Pat Smith and Craig Boyd.Smith used his forceful but fair racing prowess to the max but the wiley Boyd knew how to handle this pressure with ease thanks to his Lightning Rod experience and was able to hold off the challenge. So it was an Owen double in the heats - local men were having quite a day of it!
Grand Final time and the 25 lap event started with the time honoured clutch start. 88 Dave owen made a terrible start. To his credit, 444 Gary Andrew made an excellent start and led for the first couple of laps despite pressure from 924 Stuart Wright. Into lap 3, and Wright took the lead with Caton trying to follow through. Boyd and Smith had made excellent starts but yellow flags were brought out because 24 Roger Wright had stopped the car on the entrance to turn 1. Fuel pump failure was the assumed problem. With the removal of car 24 from the track the field closed up: 924,444,45,275,88,16,31,8,144,333,121,6,192 and 2 being the race order. On the re-start, Pat Smith made a fantastic start out foxing Dave Owen and quickly getting the better of Gary Andrew. Caton retired at this point and 45 Craig Boyd took the lead from Stuart Wright. Now came the challenge from Pat Smith having hounded out Wright he threw himself into the challenge of chasing Boyd..but he could have done with a few more laps! It was still an excellent final and Boyd was a very popular winner and particularly deserving after being involved in that big smash in heat one.
Overall a superb days racing from the Classic Hot Rods but the body of evidence in the racing is that they do deserve more racing laps, say 25 lap heats and 35 lap finals? At the end of the day though both the drivers and the fans enjoyed the Classic Hot Rods today, the old cars putting on as good a racing today as hot rods did in the good old' days of the 1970s.