CLASSIC HOT ROD MEETING REPORT
The second round of the National Series of 2015 took place under blazing skies on Easter bank holiday Monday at the historic Brafield on the Green stadium Northampton.
Thirteen competitors were present at this meeting to enjoy racing in the bright sunshine in front of a large Bank Holiday crowd. Silver roofed National Points Champion 198 Andy Steward was present ready to wow the crowd and aim to maintain his dominating start to the season. 144 Tim Foxlow was present too, quietly imbued with confidence that his reconditioned Anderson Racing Xflow has given him as he seeks to take the challenge to Steward in 2015. It was a delight to see the return of the Gold Roofed National Champion 333 Lee Wood. Lee’s magnificent HM Viva tribute to seventies touring car legend Gerry Marshall has been competing on the CHR scene for four years, but was only given the all clear to return to racing by the promotion Spedeworth/Incararace close to the start of the season because of suspension rules. Impressive new season Novice 72 Gary Goodswen was back for more, and sure to rise through the grades this year, and 22 Rob Montagner was also making his return in his faithful Chevette. The CHR records were also broken on this day as it was the first time that two Austin A40s had competed. The Boyd family of Graham and son Craig brought their iconic BMC shelled racers together on the flat bed of their faithful Vintage Bedford truck. both cars and truck captured many admiring glances from the fans. Craig’s car is indeed the last word in Classic Hot Rod builds in the 21st century. Built by Polleysport, the car is indeed a work of art and was a star of the show at the Autosport show at the NEC in January. Legend George Polley was on hand to oversee the cars racing debut, and it was as well he was, as the car, typical of many a new racer, had some teething issues to overcome engine and oil pressure and pipe wise, and Polley was on hand to assist.
It was also pleasing to see two oval racers who had joined the ranks of Classic Hot Rods for 2015, have their cars ready for this meeting. Both 265 Ray Harding from Burgess Hill and 14 Steve Stallwood from Wallingham had arrived early to undertake their pre competition CHRS assessment which all drivers to the class are obliged to undergo irrespective of their previous race experience. Naturally, both drivers passed under observation from the meeting Steward and current driver assessors Foxlow and Steward. Harding, an experienced outlaw hot rod racer impressed by the growing popularity of Classic Hot Rod racing, had only purchased his Anglia race car from Jamie Bowring at the Wimbledon meeting and had worked hard to be ready for this day. This was also true of Stallwood, nicknamed The Stig (!), who had to undertake quite a few improvements the the Mk1 Escort that he had bought. It had last seen the light trackside back in 2012 in the hands of Dez Green.
Disaster was to befall Harding though just has he competed his test laps – the clutch failed on the Anglia! Harding instantly won the unofficial award of ‘Trier of the day’ though as he has his mechanics set to work on removing the clutch, never for one moment looking downhearted, and sent out a plea for anyone who has a clutch that they were willing to sell. As is typical in the close knit world of oval racing, the message got to former racer Richard Boulton, who drove quickly to Northampton to supply Ray with the replacement he needed. The 265 team proceeded to replace the clutch in the pits and the car was ready for the meeting final! Delight in the Harding team….but more about the final later.
Twelve cars made it to track for heat one, but this race perfectly illustrated the Classic Hot Rod knack of serving up quality over quantity. For all the close race action that was going on, the crowd completely forgot that there was a dozen cars on track! Yellow Grade 31 Steve Gooding, once again racing his faithful Hillman Avenger was the pole position starter, but his advantage was too quickly swallowed up by Blue Graders 121 Charlie Schembri and 20 Dave Fry and, in turn hot pursued by Boyd senior and junior, Foxlow, Steward and Wood. In the rush to the front, Gooding was quickly swallowed and Schembri received and erroneous tank slap from 22 Rob Montagner. The race was building up nicely. Boyd Senior was challenging Fry for the lead, Steward was forcing his way through and Wood, delighted in how the Viva was performing got the better of Foxlow to chase the Silver roofed 198 car. It was then that the unexpected kicked off as the 445 A40 of Graham Boyd died of the back straight with ignition failure and Wood, with not time to effectively evade, him him side on! Foxlow, immediately behind, missed the crash by a hairs breadth. Amazingly the race continued as the stricken Gold Roofed Viva nursed itself to the infield with a hefty blow beyond the B pillar and the rear axle knocked askew! Incredibly, Boyds A40 was not too badly damaged, being hit presidency where the rear offside tail lights would have once been. BMC made their shells strong back in the day! The race continued with 198 reeling in 20, a Dave upon receiving the blue flag, obediently maintained his inside racing line allowing Andy to pass him clean round the outside. Steward may be dominating CHRs at the present but this was another race win warmly received by an appreciative crowd, who knew they had seen a good race.
HEAT ONE RESULT
198 Andy Steward 20 144 45 22 72 121 14 NOF
In the pits an understandably disappointed Lee Wood was loading his Viva back on the trailer, his 1015 debut meeting experience all too tumultuous and brief. Both Boyd’s were working on their respective A40 issues, 101 John Bowring baffled over his Anglia’s evil handling and Ray Harding sill beavering away at his clutch replacement. The Stig was happy though! Steve Stallwood, the former banger driver who also competes in historic Stockcars at the wheel of a rare Consul Classic, was delighted that although he had the wrong spring rates, balance, and wrong diff, he was still on the lead lap at the end of his first ever competitive CHR race and was quite honestly buzzing with adrenaline.
Heat two with only nine cars competing when Boyd senior once again retired on the pace lap with continuing electrical trouble, was still an incredible race and a story of the race that Andy Steward won twice! Bowring and Fry led the initial charge past Gooding but the speed of Foxlow looked incredible, particularly at the end of each straight with the Xflow singing its high pitched scream of 9000 revs. As 144 got the better of Montagner and took his favoured outside line, poor Gooding got boxed by five cars all impatient to pass. Some went inside and some went outside. He hopelessly and unavoidably tripped up Steward on his outside just as the Points Champion sought to follow Foxlow in the outside lane and challenge 144 and 20 for the lead. As Foxlow got the better of Fry by again choosing the outside line to cleanly pass the blue flagged Fry for the lead, Steward found himself almost at the back and had a job to do all over again – which incredibly he did. In the laps that occurred with Foxlow battling Fry for the lead and Fry coming back at the Derbyshire based racer, Steward roared back into contention out racing the likes of Gary Goodswen, Montagner and Boyd junior. Tim enjoyed his lead for only two to three laps before Steward was on him and pinto power on this occasion out grunted the screaming Xflow.
HEAT TWO RESULT
198 Andy Steward 144 20 45 22 72 14 31 NOF
The scene was set of an enthralling final as Foxlow and Steward were set to battle again and with Craig Boyd junior getting A40 on the pace as well, anything could happen! The one thing that did happen was the last thing everyone expected. With Graham Boyd still experiencing reliability issues the Meeting Steward had instructed 445 to start at the back. However whether due to lack of full understanding or otherwise, Boyd decided on starting within grade. Despite repeated requests by the meeting Steward and the subsequent issuing of the black flag to 445 when racing got underway, he continued to race. As a consequence, the Steward felt he had not option with the remaining race time available to him, but to red flag the race and declare it null and void.
NULL AND VOID
A disappointing end to what had been a terrific days racing. You could hear the fans getting behind the race action in both heats. The promotion knows the bangers get the lay fans in through the turnstiles, but once inside its the CHR’s they remember.