CLASSIC HOT ROD REPORT. IPSWICH 19TH JULY 2014. ROUND 9 OF THE ENGLISH NATIONAL SERIES.
Sixteen classic hot rods were present at the premier Spedeworth Stadium to compete in round nine of this year’s competition. We were extremely lucky with the weather. Many drivers encountered severe rain and thunderstorms thanks to the Spanish Plume that enveloped the country in the hot and sultry weather that we encountered at this high point in summer.
Fortunately, Ipswich found itself by passed by the challenging weather and the the sun baked the pit lane dry and drivers sweltered in their overalls as they enjoyed some great banter and waited for 6pm to come around for practice.
A big feature in pit lane was the arrival of brand new classic hot rod driver 588 Steve Lumley. Steve, an experienced driver on the long circuits at the wheel in the MR2 series, is a long time friend of top CHR racer Andy Steward and has been heartily encouraged to join the coolest formula on the ovals. Steve did not need much persuasion as the local lad was brought up on was brought up on watching the likes of Lee, Collard and Polley in the super seventies. Steve revealed his steed as the former Glen Moore (ex32) Mk2 Escort which had been fully reworked in the Sonny Howard workshops. Complete with midnight blue bodywork and black roof, the Lumley ride certainly looked the part.
Much teasing was made of experienced Classic Hot Rod racer 333 Lee Wood , who, thanked to missing early season meetings found himself in the lower regions of the points chart. As a B grader for tonights racing, Lee, really a driver of Star ability, had the dubious honour of stating off pole in the first race of the night. “Try not to make it look too easy Lee!” was the cry. Everyone seriously expected at least one win from Wood tonight, and quietly, he was under pressure to meet fellow drivers and fans expectations!
But true to form, 333 Lee Wood delivered. Heat one was an expected 333 benefit. In a car tuned to perfection, with tyres still wet from wall paint and an exhaust system that sounded deliciously fruity, Wood roared to an expected but still emphatic victory in heat one, taking the flag half a lap clear of his nearest rival 22 Rob Montagner.
Heat 2 was the race of the night by a country mile! It was reverse starting positions within grade so pole position starter Lee was this time starting in P4 on the grid. Those in front of him, Bowring, Wright and Montagner were certainly know slouches and there was Gary Andrews starting just behind too. The race was truly magnificent and if there was ever a race that illustrated all that is utterly brilliant about classic hot rod racing, this was it. No quarter was given between 101, 924, 22, 333 and 444. Any one of these five classy drivers could have won this race that was full of door handle to door handle high speed racing but with total respect too. But it was Lee, with that extra bit of determination, making the moves on both the inside and outside who finally broke to the front with less than five laps to go and when he took the flag for the second time, it was to even louder applause.
But could Wood make it a hat trick? well he had five laps more to make it count and due to meeting retirees, the field only mustered eleven starters and Lee, receiving an upgrade to A grade, faced the prospect of chasing down the speedy 924 Stu Wright if he was going to go for the max. But from the off, the determination was clear to see. Eyes were momentarily peeled from the flying 333 as they saw 144 Tim Foxlow dive to the infield to douse an engine fire and to see quite a battle rage between 8 Daz Owen and 198 Andy Steward which saw the red Owen Escort tank slap the home straight plating but carry on regardless. Ahead the lead Wright enjoyed looked handsome but remarkably Wood ate away and ultimately eliminated it. “I had no answer to him.” Wright admitted afterwards, “I had to let him by.” And Lee Wood was on his way to most successful night of his long Classic Hot Rod career.
Rave and positive comments were heard as the stadium emptied at the end of the night, incredibly narrowly avoiding the sheet and fork lightning storms that were happening just a mile or two away. The Classic Hot Rods had put on some simply superb racing. Even World National Hot Rod Champion 115 Chris Haird thought so! Ever thought of taking up CHRs Chris?- the question cheekily ventured.” They are brilliant to watch, with lots of overtaking, and they look cool. I’m maybe a bit young for them at the moment, but never say never!”
Top Man Mr Haird! See you at the National Championships were the National Hot Rods and the Classic Hot Rods top the bill. Hot Rod Heaven!