CLASSIC HOT ROD RACE REPORT.
ROUND THREE OF THE ENGLISH NATIONAL SERIES
A disappointing eleven cars attended the third round of the 2014 series as five drivers original scheduled to attend were unable to do so for various reasons. Nevertheless the rain that had been forecast to threaten all day never truly materialised and although the track conditions were greasy due to the combined effects of the atmospherics and the post race slurry left by our banger brethren, the racing was still very exciting for all sorts of reasons.
The pre-meeting banter in the pits between drivers was convivial and all were looking forward to racing. All cars seemed ready. Only Dave Fry in car 20 seemed to be having trouble as his mechanics were busy changing a driver’s side strut which seemed loose.
For heat one, our lone C grader 31 Steve Gooding led the field away but with two laps his lead was eaten away by 271 Jamie Johnson. The Chelmsford man quickly swept round the outside of Gooding and soon established a healthy lead. A grade starters 445 Graham Boyd and 121 Charlie Schembri enjoyed a good battle that was to last all race. The fastest charge of all came from 657 Neal Smith and 198 Andy Steward. Both drivers, currently leading the English national Series points chart were as fast as scalded cats from the drop of the green, easily leaving 144 Tim Foxlow and sweeping aside 30 Jamie Bowring and 8 Daz Owen. Initially, Smith had the advantage but Donut found his car turning into the bends faster than Smith and before half distance 198 had powered inside 657 to take the initiative. Fry retired, not happy with the handling of car 20, and Bowring Jnr spun somewhat inexplicably on the turn two to go a lap down and ultimately join Fry on the infield. The battling Boyd and Schembri were caught by the titanic duo of Steward and Smith and gave way to the faster men in the last five laps. But the time to overcome the lead that Johnson had built up in a superbly handling 271 machine was too much and JJ came home to a popular victory.
Heat 1 271 Jamie Johnson 198 657 445 121 8 144 31 10
Heat two gave all drivers, with the possible exception of Jamie Johnson the opportunity to improve. Ironically it resulted in JJ matching his best whereas others were to reflect somewhat on how the fortunes of their race went! Within two laps Johnson had repeated his heat one feat of quickly overcoming Gooding and was wasting no time in setting off into the distance. Schembri and Boyd resumed their enjoyable heat one battle but from the stars Own and Bowring Jnr were seeking to hold out the charge of Smith and Donut for as long as they could. The now extensively talked about clash between Donut and Smith happened on the back straight of lap two. Both 657 and 198 were quickly into the groove of this race chasing down Owen and Bowring. Smith left the smallest of gaps entering turn one and Donut wasted no time in filling it. Both powered out of turn two together, Steward on the inside gaining a half car’s length advantage up the back straight. At high speed the nearside front of Smith’s Anglia caught the rear offside of Steward’s Escort and the 198 car was flicked fence wards causing significant front end damage to the 198 car. Momentum lost slightly, Smith continued in pursuit of the leaders whereas Steward’s Mk2 limped onto the infield. The race continued with Johnson on his high speed Sunday drive, the Boyd/Schembri battle continuing without a break and Owen and Jamie Bowring working hard to chase down the A graders. Then came Smith and Foxlow and Paul Bowring as Dave Fry once again retired to the infield. In the last laps the star men caught the A graders and it was a good five way battle for second place. Boyd held on for second in spite of strong pressure. Bowring did well to squeeze past Owen at the death. Neal Smith recorded sixth but was disqualified for the incident involving Steward and took no further part in the day’s proceedings.
Heat 2 271 Jamie Johnson 445 121 30 8 144 10 31 nof
The 25 lap Final only had nine cars with the absence of Fry and Smith. Steward and his mechanics had worked hard in the pits to repair the 198 car and was out to compete. Despite the low number this race had controversy and a turn up for the books. 271 Jamie Johnson had taken his meeting upgrade to start the final in the company of Schembri and Boyd. This meant that C grader 31 Steve Gooding was starting the Final with a healthy advantage. At the drop of the green to was enjoyable to see Gooding have the lead and hold it for the early laps. So often the Avenger pilot’s leads have been only too brief! But with the three way battle between 445, 271 and 121 being constantly fought and the stars of 30, 8, 198 and 144 seeking to chase them down, Gooding continued to maintain that lead, and although clearly not the fastest on the track, the handicap system played its part on the dynamic of this race. Gooding was still leading and going as fast as he had ever done in a CHR…..how much longer could he hold on? The laps went by, the stars caught the A graders and an almighty six car scrap commenced for second. Steward and Bowring Jnr seemed particularly ‘in the zone’ as piled on the pressure. Boyd enjoyed a slight buffer as Johnson defended third from an increasingly impatient Bowring and Steward and it culminated in the heat double winner being unceimoniously being spun out on the home straight, but fortunately onto the infield whilst under pressure of Andy Steward. As the pack continued to erode Gooding’s lead, Bowring tank slapped his way past Boyd under relentless pressure from Steward. Now on the last lap they were onto Gooding! 198 went to pressure on the inside, 30 went for speed on the outside. Gooding for all his hard work, looked swamped on the final bend! Incredibly, the pressure applied by Steward was too much and yards from the chequered he spun Gooding! Bowring on the outside crossed the line first but the meeting Steward declared the illegality of Steward’s move on Gooding invalidated the final lap and the results stood from the places on lap 24! Steward was excluded from the result and Gooding won his first ever Classic Hot Rod race, and a final to boot! It was truly hard luck on Jamie Bowring and he felt harshly treated by the decision made having been docked two places for contact but sometimes racing fortunes are cruel and it is hoped he will bounce back from this.
Final 31 Stephen Gooding 8 Darren Owen 445 Graham Boyd 30 144 121 10 271