Meeting Report. Northampton 26.8.13
Round nine of the National Series for the Classic Hot Rods saw 18 cars attend at a superbly sunny Bank Holiday afternoon at Brafield on the Green and the guys had the pleasure of racing in front of a huge crowd.
Today saw some debutantes in the class and some refreshed race cars. We were delighted to see that former Trackstar Mondeo Rod Champ 75 Colin Gilbert had decided on the step up to Classic hot rods. Colin has joined the sport racing a self built Anglia powered by a self built crossflow. It looks resplendent in the period paint work and although it would have been a little too much to have expected Colin to be on the pace today it was wonderful to see new metal out there and we wish Colin well for future meetings. Today was a running in session essentially and although he completed heat one Colin subsequently retired from the meeting due to low oil pressure. “going fit an oil cooler.” He quipped as he loaded up.
The 198 car of former National Hot Rod ace Andy Steward caused a lot of attention in the pits as his Sonny Howard built Mk2 Escort now looked simply pristine with it’s completed sign work. Everything, and I mean simply everything is immaculate about this car and it deserves the attention it receives. Andy as expected was on the pace today and looked every bit as quick a the established star men but engine reliability issues did rear their head and not every race was completed..
After celebrating his 60th birthday at the weekend, 79 Garry Winterton brought the Castrol sponsored car back out again after the completion of a comprehensive engine and body re-build that it required following its big crash at Hednesford in March. Winterton has had his red Mk1 to fall back on mid season and although plagued by bad luck and ill fortune, the jovial Cheshire man was looking to get it all together at the June Hednesford meeting. He had a heat place before a crash in the second heat resulted in cracked ribs. Now with both car and driver fully recovered, Garry was looking forward to today for some better fortune. Little did Garry realise that he would play a big part in the day’s racing again…but for the reasons he would want!
The meeting also saw the return of the Legend that is The Driver 306 George Polley with the replica of his famous Anglia that he won the World Final with way back in 1976! The 70 year old was looking as spritely as ever,so it was a shame that George’s car was another plagued with engine issues and he seemed to suffer all time with the electrics and fuel management .George struggled all day with the car to gamely get it out on track for the meeting final, only for the car to complete only one lap after the drop of the green. It was a pity but we do hope that George will be back with us again before the season is complete as he still has the ability to act as a draw for many race fans.
Heat one got underway in front of the packed crowd with the Avenger of 31 Steve Gooding leading them off with Winterton for company. 10 Paul Bowring started from the B grade position and the wily old campaigner wasted no time in reeling in the C grade drivers in front and within three laps Bowring was in the lead. In these early laps from his blue grade start came Midland Champion 244 Fil Gambone and the red grade charge was led by 33 Lee Wood.As is typical we were witnessing a high speed train from the sport’s top men. Gambone had dealt with Winterton and Gooding and the reds were soon seeking to follow suit. Winterton was fast but his line not quite as precise. 30 Jamie Bowring went for the inside, Wood thinking “Oh Oh, I’m keeping out of this!” went for the outside and Fowlow sought for the space he thought would appear somewhere in the middle. Out of turn two under immense pressure Winterton kicked out of the bend a little too sharply and crossed up. Wood was out of there double quick as both Bowring and Foxlow sought evasive action and 144 took a sideways belt from the 30 front end. Foxlow got slapped one way and then the other as the train thundered down the back straight and how Tim ever corrected the car before slapping full on in to the turn three plating I will never know but incredibly all drivers carried on racing. Foxlow had lost momentum and and some places but continued to circulate at speed. It later transpired the the rear cross-member had cracked and the torsion bar holding the rear axle in place was therefore moving. The rear axle moved out of line with Foxlow suffering handling issues. Meanwhile up front it was all about Boring’s superb lead and whether Gambone could reel him him. The Italian Stallion did just that as he in turn was caught by Lee Wood (in spite of a worn shocker which made the 333 car handle like a Sherpa van!) The higher graded men simply ran out of laps and Bowring took a rare but deserved victory in heat one.
Heat two was another keenly fought race but one which this time see Bowring fail to make the brake as it was all about the battle from the word go between Gambone and 445a Craig Boyd. The 2013 Lightning Rod National Champion was driving his dad’s superb A40 and the combination of youth exuberant flair and speed was an attractive one. Boyd and Gambone were right on it, 445a on the inside and 244 on the outside as each fought for race supremacy. Gooding lead for two laps before being swallowed by both A graded drivers. As they motored away Bowring senior on being caught by Wood and the rest of the star men was in turn bulked by Gooding. Steve, who admits that he is not the quickest of the drivers out there, sought to hold the inside line and allow the fast men to power round the outside of him. It however cracked off this time into turn one. Woods, wily again on the outside got clean away but Jamie Bowring tried to nip in on the inside of his dad, got slightly out of shape in doing so and got slapped sideways by Pat Smith immediately behind. Bowring half spun straight into the path of the hapless Gooding as the rest of the field tore into the distance.The action allowed Wood to concentrate on closing in on Gambone and Pat Smith found himself in third and really gaining some momentum and picked off young Boyd. This was settling down into a great race as Wood closed on Gambone and Smith closed on both in front and it proved to be a close three way scrap for the win. In the end 244 held it just from Wood’s determined attempt at the outside line and Smith holding tight on the inside.Fil proceeded to celebrate with a series of donuts on the infield. Some great showboating! The only change behind was Foxlow gratefully picking up fourth place and his first points for a number of meetings after Craig Boyd inexplicably retired towards the end. “The fuel tap was turned off!” Craig explained to me in the pits afterwards!
The Final saw Polley’s game attempt to actually have a race come to nothing but of those on form today it was all about whether the Star Men could catch the speeding men at the front. 172 Colin Hitch riding the Bitch was the star man leading the train. Up ahead 445a again battled with 244 but the lead man – this time making no early mistakes was today’s yellow grade starter 10 Paul Bowring. It was a great race and really it should have been Paul Bowring’s. He never put a wheel wrong all the race and was keeping well clear of those pursuing him…..when he pulled off! Clearly engine issues and I hope for Paul it wasn’t something too serious. So Gambone inherited the lead and again it proved to be a splendid cliff hanger finish as Boyd and Hitch sought every which way but loose to get passed the Wolverhampton Man. But it was to no avail and the flamboyant Midlander was there to celebrate in style once again taking the heat and final double.
So it was clearly excellent racing today in front of a massive crowd….I reckon the crowd really enjoyed the driver’s performance and I hope they will be back for more.