NATIONAL SERIES ROUND TEN.
Ahh….the English Bank Holiday, you can’t beat it, with the vagaries of the weather guaranteed for the end of Summer. Yep it was a wet one! But as will be seen, the unpredictable nature of the good old British Summer meant that a different variable was thrown into today’s meeting and with a damp and greasy track, it wasn’t necessarily all about full on power and more to do with the precise setting of the car and the driver’s ability to handle the wet conditions. To the delight of the Classic Hot Rod fans present at Hednesford this damp afternoon, the standard of racing put on by the fourteen drivers present was very high.
Booked in Graham Boyd and Lee Wood were unable to attend this meeting due to other commitments but with the weather being what it was, fourteen cars round the big track was plenty.
With the conditions at their dampest when the finest rain fizzes around and you don’t realise just how soaking it is, all fourteen made it out for Heat One.
From the drop of the green it was CHR returnee 24 Roger Wright that led them away. Roger has been concentrating on racing his Slick Car whilst pacing a rebuild of his Pinto engine for his mk1 Escort and in the early laps Roger revelled in the conditions which clearly was taking the edge off the pace of some of the opposition. Whilst some revelled, others struggled. The first to miscalculate his grip was 275 Chris Caton who got it wrong going through the East bend, half spinning. In doing so he was collected by 222 Shane Taylor and 8 Daz Owen who found he had no time to avoid the back of Taylor’s car. As Taylor retired to the infield and Caton and Owen got underway again, two others were getting at cross purposes on the West Bend with 444 Gary Andrews and 31 Steve Gooding falling fowl of each other. Andrews, whose Ill fortune has continued all season, joined Taylor on the infield. In contrast to the strugglers, Wright, 121 Charlie Schembri and 198 Andy Steward were the revellers. The pace of Schembri and Steward were particularly exceptional. As the both shot past Wright, Roger gamely defended his third place from 20 Dave Fry and 57 Mike Oliver, but up ahead, the battle for the lead was on a knife edge. Schembri but up a superb performance to hold out Steward for lap after lap only to succumb to the pressure from the powerful SHP built car in the final laps.
HEAT ONE RESULT
198, 121, 24, 20, 57, 247, 144, 8
Twelve cars made it out for Heat two, with 31 Steve Gooding and 159 Mick Caton remaining in the pits. Caton and his mechanic Shaun Blakemore were feverishly working away trying to repair the steering on the 159 Mk1 Escort that broke in Heat one. Despite Shaun’s best efforts in bending back the steering arm and re-welding it, Caton ran out of time to make the gate for Heat two…but he would be ready for the Final.
Roger Wright led the cars away once again from the White Grade, followed by Gary Andrews from yellow. Aghast, despite the practice so favourably put in at Arena Essex on Saturday, the Andrews engine went sick again, and Gary let the field go by and retired to the infield. Wright himself was soon to join Andrews which left Dave Fry and Charlie Schembri to put on a show of clean close racing in these challenging conditions as they battled for the lead. This time it was Charlie on the attack as he tried to find a way past Dave, but Fry with forty years of racing experience behind him, held his line, and despite a closing challenge coming from 57 Mike Oliver and the ever present 198 Andy Steward, Fry held on for the win ahead of Schembri.
HEAT TWO RESULT
20, 121, 57, 198, 247, 222, 144, 8
In drying conditions the clutch start 25 lapFinal made for faster racing and drop the drop of the hammer, it was the repaired 159 Mick Caton that looked the man of the moment. Making short work of passing Roger Wright, Caton was, not to put too finer point on it, absolutely flying! Behind a fascinating battle once again developed between Schembri and Fry. This time 121 was defending from 20, with 57 Mike Oliver reeling in the two of them. Interestingly, 198 Andy Steward, although successfully passing Blue Graders 222 Shane Taylor and 247 Graham McCabe, as well as shaking off the initial attentions of 8 Daz Owen and 144 Tim Foxlow, was unable to make any further impression on the race. Foxlow was looking below par and it came as no surprise after he was to fall off the pace in the second half of the race to see the 144 car retire with apparent engine problems. Ignorant of the issues behind, Mick Caton careered to his second Final victory in Classic Hot Rods ahead of Schembri and Fry, thus making it a Mk1 Escort 1-2-3.
159, 121, 20, 57, 198, 8, 222, 275
Naturally, Caton was delighted. “After snapping the steering arm in Heat one and me and Shaun fixing it in the p***ing rain, I was really pleased how she handled in the final. She was turning in like a good’un! Yeah, really pleased.”
The day’s runner up man 121 Charlie Schembri was equally delighted.”It was a good battle with Andy in Heat one,” Charlie declared. “All my efforts in my garage have paid off. All my years of racing dirt have paid off as well when racing in wet slippery conditions! I enjoy these conditions. Overall it was a good meeting. I’m very pleased with the car and looking forward to the next meeting at Hednesford.”
So all in all yet again another good days racing from the Hottest Stars in the Coolest Cars. We now look forward to one of the major championships of the year as several drivers from England, Wales and Scotland travel the Irish Sea as the CHRs contest the Irish Grand Prix raking on the ever quickening Irish boys on their home turf! We will see you there on Saturday 12th September.