Classic Hot Rods 4/8/13 Hednesford National Championship Race Report.
After what can only be described as a superb summer for the month of July, English weather returned in August to have the
ultimate impact on the inaugural National Championship for Classic Hot Rods in this the fiftieth year of Hot Rod racing in the
The qualifying races on the Saturday saw some incredible displays of driving in both wet and dry conditions. Jamie Bowring
took the first heat after 144 Tim Foxlow had a scare when his throttle stuck wide open. Quick thinking by Foxlow say the cut
off switch flicked and a dip of the clutch as we quickly escaped off the racing line to avoid damage. The driver with all the
exuberance and youthful enthusiasm to give CHRs a long term future – 445a Craig Boyd took his dad’s Austin A40 to a fine win
in heat two and the heat three belonged to arguably the fastest man currently on dry tarmac, 29 Stu Donald.
The Saturday points haul placed Donald on pole position for Sunday’s National Championship:
445 Craig Boyd 1 29 Stu Donald
30 Jamie Bowring 2 20 Dave Fry
22 Rob Montagner 3 161 Daniel Holden
247 Graham McCabe 4 16 Pat Smith
8 Daz Owen 5 333 Lee Wood
10 Paul Bowring 6 222 Shane Taylor
144 Tim Foxlow 7 24 Roger Wright
121 Charlie Schembri 8 172 Colin Hitch
924 Stuart Wright 9 444 Gary Andrews
As I took a straw pole of the drivers in the pits, most, apart from Donald, were looking favourably towards wet conditions,
believing that a dry track would result in the 29 pilot disappearing off into the distance. Foxlow was unsurprisingly
conducting his own rain dance in the main pit area and as the rain began to pour more earnestly, Rich Lowe, Tim’s mechanic
began shoeing up 144 with wellies! Up in the top of the pit area 24 Roger Wright declared that unless it was really raining
hard then slicks would still be the order of the day as the banked track allows the water to run off and a dry line develop.
As the big race drew near though I saw more and more drivers give in to wet weather doubt and jack the cars up and put the
treads on. Even Jamie Bowring borrowed some off this dad Paul!
So as the card lined up everyone looked to the cars. What was their set up? What was their tyre choice and on this a
thoroughly wet track, but with the rain having stopped, what was going to be their strategy?
The field was led away by the historic replica of Martin Morris’s original open wheel hot rod and the tension grew on the
slow roller. The green flag dropped as the first row starters just approached the home straight. What happened next was
afterwards described to me by Stu Donald. “I was expecting two rolling laps, like the Nationals had. We had only done what
felt like half a roller as we approached the home straight. We were only just out the bend and the green dropped. I admit I
just wasn’t ready and I was still in first gear. With the start of the race I felt a slam up the back end which came from
Dave Fry and I hit the accelerator! With the car kicking in in first on the wet track with a thump up the back I just spun!
It was game over for me in an instant!” So to gasps of amazement the hot favourite for the race was no more and Boyd
inherited the lead from Fry. Bowring got crossed up out of turn four and was passed by Fry, Montagner and 161 Dan Holden.
Holden was on a flyer already. Using the outside line and clearly having superior grip, Holden passed Fry and Montagner and
ate into Boyd’s lead. Within three laps Holden bore down on Boyd and when he drew along side Boyd had no answer. With tyres
biting Holden’s two litre powered Classic kicked in and broke away. It was a lead that simply got bigger and bigger. No one
else on track had an answer to The Golden Wonder’s speed and Dan put on what can only be described as a master class in wet
weather driving. In turn, Boyd had to give way to the hard charging 16 Pat Smith. Further back a good close but clean battle
look place for lower places as Owen diced with Wood and Foxlow. They were joined by 924 Stu Wright who from the ninth row of
the grid was the only driver with a pace that was similar to that of Holdens. In a superb display Wright raced round the
outside of 144, 333 and 8 as all four swamped the back marker 222 Shane Taylor. The pack bore down on third placed Boyd but
just as Wright was about to bid for a podium finish the car slowed and Wright retired. “A rocker broke in the engine!” a
forlorn Wright explained to me afterwards. Last lap and the all domineering Holden clearly had time for some show boating as
he as over half a lap ahead of Smith and he deliberately slowed and crawled across the finishing line to huge applause all
round. Dan was clearly elated and spoke to me in the pits afterwards. “It’s incredible,” he said, “Friday here in practice
and the car was handling strangely. It felt like the whole back end was loose. On inspection I and the team had loads of work
to do on the car as the axle locating bars had sheared from the car’s frame! It must have been after racing at Ipswich.
Thanks to Daz Owen we raided his scrap yard on Friday night for box metal and had to fabricate a section to locate the links
to again! The car handled well on Saturday but today we were in a quandary as to which tyres to use.We had the wets on and off
twice! At the last moment I chose slicks and it clearly was the right choice! That first lap was like ice but once the tyres
warmed and a line developed on the outside, I was away!”
And Away was how Holden completed an unstoppable afternoon as in the all comers last race of the day the newly crowned
National Champion started from the back of the field. Initial sterling progress was made by Scotsman 247 Graham McCabe from his pole position as he held off a challenge at one point from Montagner. But all eyes were on Holden as he simply ran rings
round the opposition! He ate up the stars ahead as Boyd tried to use every available inch of tarmac and with inches to spare
from the race wall Holden powered past all and sundry! In to the last lap and Holden, having passed Monty, erased McCabe’s
once comfortable lead. Dancing from outside to inside line, Holden out foxed McCabe and to great applause again from the West
Bend Grandstand, Holden snatched what was a superlative victory.
A great day racing in challenging conditions but the way 161 Daniel Holden drove on this day will rate with the very best
that’s ever been seen.