• SEASON REVIEW 2015-2015

    image CLASSIC HOT RODS SEASON REVIEW 2015 There was a lot to be pleased about the way the Classic Hot Rod formula progressed in 2015. There was great racing that took place at a sensible spectrum of tracks, and on balance those occurred in favourable weather. It was pleasing to see new drivers join the formula and they were made most welcome. The camaraderie which the formula has got increasingly well known for continued and the new drivers appreciated this a great deal. The formula continued its climb in popularity via social media and in the four years the Classic Hot Rod Page has operated on Facebook, the following has grown to over 11,250 with the page's ability to reach over 70,000 people. With the awareness of the formula's popularity and its ability to appeal not only to oval race fans young and old but also in a wider reaching capacity to the car owning public who can relate to older cars in general, we were delighted to be included this year's National Hot Rod World Final Speedweekend held at Ipswich at the end of June. This was the first time that the Classics had been included on the bill of the premier Rod weekend of the year as a fully competitive formula. The CHRS raced for their National Championship and in a race full of knife edge action and controversy, defending champion 333 Lee Wood retained the title and thus continued to display the gold roof on his famous HB Viva. The other major championship honour was for that of the Silver Roof for the CHR National Series Points Championship. After competing in all of the fourteen rounds, (a feat only matched by the commitment of the Nation's number two, 144 Tim Foxlow) this year's winner by an astounding margin of over 120 points was 198 Andy Steward. Incredible consistency and committed driving at every meeting awarding Donut eight heat wins and four finals. Included in those wins were the London Championship in March at Wimbledon and the Midland Championship at Northampton in April. THE CLASSIC HOT ROD ROLL OF HONOUR 2015 GOLD ROOF. National Champion 333 Lee Wood SILVER ROOF. National Series Points Champion 198 Andy Steward SILVER STRIPES. Irish Points Champion. 25 Trevor Cusack ST GEORGE CROSS. Bill Morris Memorial English Champion 45 Craig Boyd GREEN/GOLD CHEQUERS. Irish Grand Prix Champion 57 Mike Oliver Others Titles Best of Britain. 8 Darren Owen Midland Champion. 198 Andy Steward London Champion. 198 Andy Steward East Anglian Champion. 45 Craig Boyd (Craig also won the CHR Page most liked car of the car competition as voted by you fans after a closely fought season long contest with 162 Keith Chesher!) MEETING HIGHLIGHTS Wimbledon opened the CHR season on 22/3/15 with the London Championship. 11 cars attended including new drivers for 2015; 72 Gary Goodswen and 166 Dave Stephens. Northampton's CHR opener on 6/4/15 was remembered for all the wrong reasons when the final was voided due to 445 Graham Boyd misunderstanding steward instructions! 13 cars were present including first timers 265 Ray Harding and 14 Steve Stallwood. 275 Chris Caton put in an excellent performance in an ill set up car and the meeting was also remembered for two A40's racing with son Craig joining dad Graham with his all new Polleysport built car that had been shown off at the NEC in January. Northampton played host again just a fortnight later on 25/4 as 12 cars competed for the Midland Championship under the Saturday night floodlights. A meeting noted for National Hot Rod racer Shane Bland's CHR debut and a double race win for 58 Steve Lumley from C Grade. Attendance was up to 16 cars for Ipswich on the 2/5/15 for the Eat Anglian Championship. 161 Dan Holden returned to racing in a quest to re-advertise his Classic for sale and 247 Graham McCabe made his long long journey down from Scotland worthwhile due to his heat win. Hednesford finally opened up its CHR season on 25/5/15. Again 16 cars attended with returnees 57 Mike Oliver, 88 Dave Owen and 222 Shane Taylor amongst them. Oliver and Owen wasted no time in reacquainting themselves resulting in a crash that look out 192 Ken Marriott. 45 Craig Boyd continued in his rich vain of fortune that started at Ipswich and took his second final on the trot. Into the busy summer schedule the formula went as the drivers returned to the Hednesford Hills on 21/6/15 for the Bill Morris Memorial English Championship. Attendance shot up to 24 cars for this event with numbers boosted by Irish visitors 156 Gerry Rothwell, 100 Kevin Feeney and 175 Andt O'Donnell. New English faces were also welcomed in the shape of 721 Steve Kite and 210 Hughie Weaver whereas from Scotland came 3 Graeme Alister. 222 Shane Taylor had his best ever meeting to date with two heat wins and 45 Craig Boyd made history by taking his third final on the trot and this became Champion. Just a week later and it was the eager anticipated National Championship at Ipswich on a blazing hot Saturday afternoon and evening. 25 cars including the three Irishmen and first timer 48 Gary Farrington and one off returnee 16 Pat Smith. The huge crowd enjoyed fantastic racing all round and 265 Ray Harding had a meeting to remember winning his heat at this prestigious meeting just before his birthday! What a present! 333 Lee Wood retained Gold to popular acclaim. After the big attendances of high summer the numbers racing hit a low immediately after with just 8 at Birmingham on 11/7/15. But low numbers did not mean low quality racing. Again 275 Chris Caton was consistently good but the final stood out for the high speed crash of 144 Tim Foxlow with 45 Craig Boyd. Fortunately both cars could be repaired for the next meeting. 14 cars were at Northampton on the 16/8/15 which saw 210 Hughie Weaver whitewash the results with some incredible speed taking all three race wins. Again 14 at Hednesford on 31/8/15 for the first wet meeting of the year. It certainly put a different slant on things with 121 Charlie Schembri having his best meeting of the year with three 2nd place finishers. The meeting saw the long over due return of 24 Roger Wright but it was 159 Mick Caton who got it all together for an impressive final victory. Six visitors from the mainland, including first time CHR racer 162 Keith Chesher in a replica of his late father Malcolm's car, joined the seven Irish regulars for the Irish GP on 12/9/15. A fantastic meeting not only for the racing but also for the craic afterwards! The low point was visitor 159 Mick Catons crash in heat one, the high point 57 Mike Oliver's determined drive to win the Championship. The most notable car was the completed machine of 362 Austin Fitzgerald which looked to die for in its white livery with black highlights. Jamie Johnson (271) had a fantastic day at Hednesford on 27/9/15 getting the better of 17 other racers to win both heats. Heat couldn't catch wiley ol' 24 Roger Wright in the final though! 11 were at Birmingham on 10/10/15, a meeting which saw the debut of yet another new driver, 419 Dave Murphy. Low on numbers but high on action with a regrettable crash this time involving 58 Steve Lumley and 121 Charlie Schembri. Steward polished off another final victory. 18 were at the Fireworks meeting at Hednesford on the 1/11/15. 924 Stuart Wright made his long over due return at this meeting and 911 Harry Steward made his debut in one of the most stunning CHRs ever at the tender age of 16, duet with a very old head on young shoulders. Harry rounded the night with an incredible final sixth and showmanship reigned supreme with Lee Wood's neon headlights blazing! And final to the last mainland meeting of the year, the Best of Britain at Wimbledon on 15/11/15. Again 18 cars all looking magnificent under the powerful floodlights. Lee wood made the crowd wince in agony with his back straight crash in the B o B final and cheer with delight at Darren Owen's emphatic win. But what a drive from the back by Donut! 42 CHR drivers competed in England in 2015. The average attendance wax 14 cars. IRELAND Ireland was quite a success story of the CHR formula in 2015. Still at its fledgling stage, the formula got the support of SORA in the South and DMC in the north to put on three meetings a piece. The core of Irish drivers were incredibly committed with five of the six ROI drivers attending every meeting. The points championship was very close all year and it went to the wire at Aghadowey in October when it was decided on the last lap of the last race and 25 Trevor Cusack beat 175 Andy O'Donnell by just two points. 8 Irish drivers competed in 2015. The average attendance wax 6. I want to thank every driver who has competed in 2015. Your hard work, dedication, persistence, resilience and attention to detail in maintaining these old cars for racing throughout the season does not go unnoticed by Classic Hot Rods increasing number of fans. Steward and Foxlow maintained a 100% attendance all season, as did many an Irishman in their season. Schembri, Boyd Snr and Gooding also put in a high attendance. Spare a thought for 444 Gary Andrews who had an abysmal season but would not be knocked down only to come back for more. TOWARDS 2016 With more drivers either purchasing or building cars in England, Ireland and Scotland, the upwards potential for Classic Hot Rods continues. With an excellent working relationship with the Incarace/Spedeworth organisation the publicity factor will continue to be built. This year we had excellent publicity via displays at the NEC, Coventry Motofest and the Legends Day at Cowdenbeath Scotland as well as plenty of coverage on Downforce UK internet radio and via Classic Hot Rod TV which will enhance its Periscope Broadcasts and continue its YouTube Channel. This will continue for 2016 with two CHRs booked in for the Autosports Show in January and plans for Motofest and the Legends Day well in hand. We look forward also to a new Track for CHR next season as Lochgelly Raceway in Fife Scotland will host the CHR Scottish Open on 9th and 10th April in support of the National Hot Rod European. On top of the Downforce Radio and CHR TV coverage, the coolest cars on the ovals will also enjoy regular coverage in the high street newsagents thanks to Retro Ford Magazine, so get your subscription in now! 2015 was fantastic. 2016 is going to be awesome. It's going to be a Classic season! Rob Hughes CHR PR.
  • IRISH SERIES ROUND THREE

    image CLASSIC HOT RODS MEETING REPORT TIPPERARY 18/7/15 IRISH SERIES ROUND THREE The typical seeds of the Irish summer blew in on an inclement breeze over the mountains of Tipperary and down to the lush fields of Rosegreen where the fastest oval in the Emerald Isle is found. Six of the drivers competing in classic hot rods made their way to the heart of Ireland for a Saturday evening of racing hoping to keep a step ahead of the beckoning darker clouds that promised the treat of rain. Three competitors were unable make it to the third round of competition for 2015; Portavgie's 777 Jackie Harris was unable to make the long drive down from Northern Ireland as his engine was being rebuilt and 228 Sammy McKendry was in a similar position with his Anglia. It had been hoped that 57 Mike Oliver was going to make his trip over the Irish Sea from Wales to compete but unfortunately plans fell through. On the bright side however, the six competing drivers still made the best singularly Irish representation in the fledgling formula so far in the Republic. Regulars 25 Trevor Cusack, 100 Kevin Feeny, 156 Gerry Rothwell and 175 Andy O'Donnell were joined by 937 Kenny Wilson from Ballymena in Northern Ireland and 362 Austin Fitzgerald from Cork. Every driver needs his commendation for the commitment he has shown to the formula. Feeny. Rothwell and O'Donnell had survived their baptism of racing of racing in England when they competed at Hednesford and a week later at the National Championship at Ipswich in June. Both the 175 and 100 pilots had both suffered significant damage and had worked extremely hard between meetings to have the cars ready. On the return to Ireland, both Escorts had to be prepped again. Rothwell had exercised a full bench test on his two litre race engine prior to his trip down the M7 from Co.Meath as well. Gerry helps Kevin maintain his Mk2 from his garage in Meath. Kevin shows his commitment by flying back to Ireland from his work base in the South east of England and has not missed an Irish CHR meeting yet! As mentioned the two drivers joining the regulars were Fitzgerald and Wilson. The Ulsterman Eilson had attended the first meeting that was staged at Tullyroan in May but his engine had let him down. Kenny had taken his time to rebuild his own 1700 Crossflow Screamer and it was a delight to see Kenny in attendance down south. As for Fitzgerald, the 2015 debut of his brand new Classic Hot Rod had been eagerly anticipated with. Stage by stage build photos had been provided to the Classic Hot Rod Facebook page and although a livery and sign job was still outstanding, the completed race car looked every inch the pedigree it should be. It is a real credit to the Cork engineer - all is self built including the engine. Heat one saw all six out on track ahead of the looming rain and after some installation laps it was a clutch start. Unfortunately, the field was soon down to four as Cusack retired with a broken differential and Feeny pulled off with s loose starter motor. However the quartet that remained put on a good run, particularly Wilson and O'Donnell. Blue grade starter O'Donnell started extremely quickly and within five laps had got the inside line on the Ulsterman. What was remarkable though was the way Wilson pulled the deficit back and in the latter half of the sixteen lap affair and really got into the groove screaming his Crossflow round the big Tarmac oval. 937 challenged 175 hard but the local man held on for his first win of the night. The reaction from the crowd clearly showed they appreciated a good close race. Heat one: 175, 937, 156, 362. NOF. Heat two was held,remarkably, still in dry conditions. Cusack was again an early retiree still with drive train issues but five racers still held sway for s closer race. Rothwell in 156 was clearly showing that his engine prep was showing dividends as his 100e Anglia, the oldest body currently racing, was going quicker than ever before. However, the fact that the car is way heavier the the opposition, and at the tail end of the car as well, resulted in his lead being eroded. Rothwell wisely gave way to the faster Escorts and Fenny in 100 took over. In the laps that followed O'Donnell found his rhythm and powered his way past Wilson then Fenny. With O'Donnell away and clear the battle for second was an exciting one between Wilson and Feeny. Kevin beat Kenny by s matter of yards. Fitzgerald retired with a misfiring engine. Heat two: 175, 100, 937, 25, 156, NOF. Austin gave some insight on his first night of racing for 2015. "The car went okay on its first night out. Had a few problems as it was miss firing but one will have that with a new build. It ran very well but as when the rain came down prior to the final all drivers was asked 2 go out for 3 laps and then state if we wanted to race as there was oil on track..." As a debutant, Fitz did not want to risk damage but the others joined IDIOTS (I Dared It Out There Society)!! In a fine example of drivers helping each other out both Austin and Gerry helped Trevor in repairing the drive train on the 25 car. Gerry gave Trevor a replacement differential and in the teaming rain providence held sway for Cusack. Feathering the throttle all the way and controlling power slides Cusack hit the front and held it, using every once of control and technique he had learnt on the grass ovals and rallying. In contrast, the previously dominant O'Donnell did not come to grips with the difficult conditions and made no impact on this race and Cusack took a popular win. FINAL : 25, 100, 937, 175, 156. All in all a good night. The lads put on some good racing for an appreciative crowd and we hope for a good field of drivers again when the Classics go North once again on the 9th August to compete in Round Four of the Irish Series at Tullyroan. Rob Hughes CHR PR.
  • BIRMINGHAM 11.7.15-15

    image CLASSIC HOT ROD MEETING REPORT BIRMINGHAM. 11/7/15. NATIONAL SERIES ROUND EIGHT. After the maximum effort put in for the big two meetings of June, it was perhaps expected that there was to be a downturn in attendance for this meeting, though it has to be said that the combination of work commitments, holidays, each damage and engine rebuilds did have a bigger negative impact than expected. Only eight cars were in attendance at Birmingham for a dry if muggy evenings racing on a slick track. Nevertheless, the effort put in by all eight drivers meant that the meeting punched above its weight for close entertaining racing which displayed the highs and lows of racing in a sweeping two and a half hours. The atmosphere in the pits on this summers evening was relaxed as those present discussed the attendance of drivers and generally agreed on issues surrounding the poor attendance but in equal measure where determined to put on a good show. Foxlow and Steward were present, the only two drivers now who have managed a one hundred percent attendance throughout the season. Graham Boyd was back, eager to put the disappointment of a poorly car at Ipswich behind him. Darren Owen has purposely rearranged his holidays so he could support this meeting and the Caton brothers, Mick and Chris were here. Although local Cannock men, neither had ever raced his CHR before at Wheels. Derbyshires Steve Gooding brought his Avenger and has nearly as good as an attendance record as Tim and Donut. The eighth man was a newcomer to the sport; 135 Mick Cushion. Mick, an easy going man of senior years had never competed in any class of racing prior to his investment in Classic Hot Rods. But, a long time follower of oval racing, these stunning Classic Hot Rods were the cars of Mick's era..and he wanted one! After checking out several cars for sale, Mick settled on the clean and straight Anglia 105E originally built by Stu Pedley, from Gary Winterton earlier this year. Powered by a Burton prepared two litre Pinto, this resplendent Anglia, painted all black with gold trim looked an evocation of a John Player Special. Mick wasn't looking to set the world on fire, just end wanted some fun behind the wheel of a race car he has always wanted. So all eight lined up for Heat one with 31 Steve Gooding on pole with 159 Mick Caton on his outside. cushion took his obligatory start as a novice from the back. It was a clutch start session at this meeting and the roar of the engines was a delight to behold. All drivers struggled for grip as the abrasive Tarmac ar Birmingham is regularly used by drift car drivers who hire out the track and purportedly put deselect on the track to enhance their ability to skid. This is exactly the opposite to what CHR drivers want, but battling with the conditions, Caton drove hard and worked the outside line on Gooding. By the third lap he had made it stick and look the lead. The top men immediately set in motion a high speed train round the little Wheels oval, with 198 Andy Steward making his trade mark late braking count as he moved up the places from the back. As his avons degraded, Mick Caton gave second best to brother Chris but the 275 pilot enjoyed his lead only look briefly and was helped to prevent Donut from powering round the outside to take his first win of the night. HEAT ONE RESULT: 198 275 445 8 144 31 Nof Heat two was very much an action reply with Foxlow this time getting the bit really between his teeth and following Steward's every move. Mick had slipped down the field more quickly in this race and Gooding held on for longer before Chris Caton took over only to be once again swallowed by Donut's speed. Foxlow followed Steward past Caton, but 198's win at the end of 16 laps was comfortable. HEAT TWO RESULT 198 144 275 8 445 159 31 nof The twenty lap final was as dramatic as an eight car race could be and if the train of cars could go any faster and tighter on this greasy Tarmac, then these guys certainly achieved it! Although Steward was scything through in his customary manner, Foxlow was hanging onto his shirt tails closer and more determined than ever before. The battle as 198, 144, 445 and 8 swept forward looked as epic as any seen at previous meeting with bigger fields of cars. Once again, Chris Caton was the fox to the Star Grade hounds but as the top men battled and forced their way past Gooding, had Caton done enough this time not to be swallowed by the pack? The lap board were out and we were set for a climatic finish, not not the one we were given! Into turn three and out of four, Caton was desperate to stay ahead. Donut was snapping at his heals and Foxlow right there too on the inside line, door handle to door handle with 445 Graham Boyd on the outside. In a bat of an eye it all went horribly wrong as the wheels of Foxlow's Mk2 Escort locked with those of Boyd's A40 after it appeared that Graham took evasive action millimetres from the fence. Coming together at top speed, the steering wheels were whipped from the drivers hands and both men became a passenger on a roller coaster ride down the home straight! 144 slewed I front of 445 and both clattered the home straight fence with a sickening crunch! The two felorn cars were removed from the track under caution and the re-start saw five remaining cars all on the lead lap with 198 Andy Steward ready to pounce on Caton. Who Andy makes it stick time after time is a remarkable credit to driver, set up and car build as the SHP motor sports Mk2 derived outside line through turns one and two and switched to an inside dive through turns three and four with the momentum he had built. A luckless Caton was powerless to stop Steward and as Andy celebrated a trio of wins Chris was once again the bridesmaid.....275 has had more second places per outing than any other driver this season. A mention must also be made of novice Mick Cushion. Keeping it on the tar with no damage after twenty laps merited Mick a princely eight points! FINAL RESULT: 198 275 8 31 135 Boyd had already departed by the time Foxlow dragged his badly damaged car back to the trailer in the pits and was grateful for the help received from mechanics and fans in enabling the wrecked car get in the trailer. Tim's mechanics Rick and Josh Lowe worked on the car as necessary to get it on four wheels and into the trailer and although gutted about how the night ended Tim and crew were still adamant that it was a good night with plenty of banter in the pits amongst the drivers between races. All the 144 crew were clear they were determined to fix the car and be back for more at Northampton on the 16th August for Round Nine of the National Series for the Classic Hot Rods. Rob Hughes CHR PR
  • THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

    image CLASSIC HOT RODS MEETING REPORT IPSWICH 27.6.15. National series Round Seven THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. "Viva Lee Wood!" Twenty five Classic Hot Rods arrived early at Foxhall Stadium Ipswich early on Saturday morning eager and ready to be part of what was going to be the most anticipated meeting in the ten year history of Classic Hot Rod racing. Blessed with summer heat in and basking in glorious sunshine, the drivers were allotted to their pit space area in the leafy wooded pit area with the sun shining through the glades. It had been a long time in coming, but after patiently waiting and courting the eye of Spedeworth International with their steadily increasing number of registered drivers and putting on plenty of spectacular racing up and down the country, CHR were finally to take their place in the biggest Speedweekend in the oval racing world - the National Hot Rod World Championship. True, the classics had been there before back in 2006, when as an embryonic demonstration formula, sixteen old style rods had brought a wave of nostalgia to the racing public. But now, as a matured fully fledged competition class, the best old school drivers were at Ipswich to take on the challenge of racing for the third running of the Classic Hot Rod National Championship Final. As the sun blazed, the heat of the day rose, the sound of cans being opened could be heard amongst drivers chatting and socialising before getting down to the business of giving their iconic classic race cars their final once over. Many drivers had worked supremely hard to be there, particularly following damage received just the previous weekend at Hednesford. The stories of continual late nights came from 72 Gary Goodswen, 57 Mike Oliver, 247 Graham McCabe and 333 Lee Wood. Their commitment and dedication to the formula has been truly remarkable. But the biggest example of the pure hard work put in to be able to be at Ipswich on Saturday came from out trio of Irish visitors, 156 Gerry Rothwell, 100 Kevin Feeney and 175 Andy O'Donnell. Away from home and faced with significant damage to the Feeney and O'Donnell machines, support to the drivers was made clear by their fellow English racers. Fortunately, the lads were able to use Feeney's English work base. Replacement parts literally came at the last minute and every night was a late one! The Boys had no time for seeing the sights when they were on 'holiday' in England! But the feedback they received from so many fans that morning at Ipswich made them realise that the effort they had put in had been so worth it. The new drivers, 721 Steve Kite and 210 Hughie Weaver, who had debuted to contrasting fortunes at Hednesford the previous Sunday were here, together with the affable 166 Dave Stevens who was making his third and final novice grade appearance. Choosing the Speedweekend to make his debut to the formula - jumping in at the deep end - was local man 48 Gary Farrington. It had been a long journey for Gary to get his car finally ready, but with the lustrous looking black, green and orange Mk2 Escort, displaying its deep shine in the gorgeous sunlight, it has certainly been worth the wait. At the other end of the scale, seasoned top men 144 Tim Foxlow, 198 Andy Steward and defending champion 333 Lee Wood were there hoping to realise their chances. 271 Jamie Johnson was placing his faith in his Crossflow and it was good to see 192 Ken Marriott back with the formula after missing Hednesford and wondering weather to sell up or not. Delightfully, the Marriott Anglia, damaged at the May Hednesford session had been fully repaired and made resplendent once again in block red and shiny black wheels. Also making his return was 16 Pat Smith. Obviously, all the competitors were looking forward to the days racing. Nervous, and waiting for the thrilling surge of adrenaline that all race car drivers get so addicted to, everyone was looking forward to putting on a good show in front of the traditional bumper Speedweekend crowd. On schedule, all twenty five classics came out on track for heat one. The format for the National Championship was to be two clutch start heats, raced from graded order and the accumulated points scored would make the grid for a 25 lap final, rolling lap start, with the top point scorers at the front. To inject the essential heat into the Avon racing tyres, the drivers set out on two installation laps. Drama ensued immediately as Kevin Feeney found that the luck of the Irish had deserted him! His offside rear wheel was cast adrift as the studs sheared and the surprised and disappointed driver of the 100 car had no option but to retire to the infield. The actual green flag saw the Crossflow and pinto powered machines lift the clutch and drop the hammer. From his first ever CHR white grade starting slot, new driver for 2015, 265 Ray Harding, immediately took the advantage round the outside of Co Meath's 156 Gerry Rothwell. It was a story of a clean fast race on the hot Tarmac. Anglias held sway as Harding led from yellow grade starters 16 Pat Smith and 6 Graham Fulker. Further back 198 Andy Donut Steward was making his famed progress from superstar and defending National Champion 333 Lee Wood was eating up the laps in his famous HB Viva. Smith was to pass Harding but all credit to the man from Burgess Hill as he maintained a fast pace and a tidy line to stay clear of third placed Fulker. Kite, Farrington and ODonnell were retirees in this race with engine problems but on the Tarmac, the positions were maintained right towards the end. Wood got into the grove and found the pace on the outside to pass and in the last laps got by Fulker and Harding to nab second. Smith took the first race of the day. Heat 1 - 16 Patrick Smith Jnr, 333, 265, 6, 72, 198, 22, 247, 210, 144 Heat two appeared a lot more feisty in the boiling late afternoon sunshine. Harding repeated his feat of an early lead but Smith seemed to appear out of nowhere at the drop of the green and by the third lap 16 was ahead of 265. Irishman 175 Andy O'Donnell had mad a solid start in this race. 31 Steve Gooding was going a million time better than he had done in his last visit to Ipswich in May, but of the yellow graders perusing Pat Smith and Ray Harding, it was 271 Jamie Johnson who looked the most impressive. The higher graded drivers were in the midst of a real tough battle further back and the likes of Foxlow, Wood and Steward were certainly not finding things going all their own way in heat two. This allowed Johnson to maintain his momentum, and with his home built Crossflow doing a barn dance, 271 got by Harding and started to eat into Smith's lead. Now catching is one thing and passing is quite another, but the what ifs went flying out the window as the Jamie's over energetic dancers decided to leave through the barn door! With a con rod bursting through the side of the block, oil was everywhere on turn one! Johnson was stewn across the turn, 22 Rob Montagner had spun too after some sparing with Andy Steward and 58 Steve Lumley glanced the racewall. The chequered flag dropped in that climatic moment but Smith was soon not declared the winner! The meeting steward had judged that on this occasion Smith had jumped the start and was docked two places. This resulted in 265 Ray Harding being rewarded with his first ever Classic Hot Rod race win. To say Ray was delighted was a huge understatement and with his fiftieth birthday just two days away, this race win was his perfect present! Heat 2 - 265 Raymond Harding, 57, 16, 6, 198, 144, 8, 210, 156, 333 And so to the big event for Classic Hot Rods in 2015: the National Championship Final. The stage was set by Spedeworth with a fantastic party atmosphere. Terry Newell was spinning the tunes and as Tony Christie continued to bellow out 'Amerillo' and the shirtless party goers on turn three really got into the occasion, the line up for the race for the Gold Roof was completed. Naturally, 16 Pat Smith and 265 Ray Harding were on row one thanks to their heat wins and third places finishes. Row two saw 6 Graham Fulker and 198 Andy Steward. Row three was made up of defending Champion 333 Lee Wood and 57 Mike Oliver and row four featured 144 Tim Foxlow and 210 Hughie Weaver. Position and form surely indicated the winner would likely to come from these first four rows. With all respect to Harding, clearly it was a question of which of the big guns, Foxlow, Wood and Steward would be the main challenger to Smith's lead. The tension mounted as the pace cars led the field on their way with the Ipswich CHR rolling lap tune of Spanish Flea coming over loudly on the PA. The field got away first time and it was clear that the boys were really going for it in this one! Harding did well just to keep up the way as Steward launched his challenge on Smith's lead and Smith did everything he could to stay ahead. Both drivers used every inch of track - and more - as they fought tooth and nail for the lead. Crunch time came as both drivers went wide for the same piece to track on lap four out of turn two. 198 tank slapped the wall and broke a rear axle link. Still at high speed and truely at the limit of adhesion, Donut sought to drive out of turn four for the infield - only to be just glanced by the HB Viva of Lee Wood who was going at absolute break neck speed on defence of his title himself. So, as one favourite's chances were extinguished, another sought to bring his challenge to bear on the leader Smith, and thus developed on of the most iconic of Hot Rod races as the challenger did everything he could to out race and force a mistake from the leader. As Wood challenged Smith, the attack and defend manoeuvres allowed 57 Mike Oliver and 144 Tim Foxlow close up and the race for Gold developed into to a four way chase. As battles raged down the places with 210 Hughie Weaver going door handle sparing with 8 Darren Owen and 192 Ken Marriott wanting to take his CHR shale racing, the laps were ticking away! Classics don't have the luxury of 75 laps to allow the pick of race manoeuvres and in the few that remained, Wood tried every trick up his sleeve. His late breaking move on the outside line giving the momentum to sweep up the inside oh so very nearly paid off but Smith resolutely stood his ground and at the death, 16 crossed the line half a cars length ahead of the defending champion. With stewards instructions singing in their ears over the race receivers, no permission was granted for celebratory donuts and the first four were quickly brought to the infield. It was immediately announced that there would be some adjudication into the result and after several minutes made light by the continual party music and a Mexican wave from the sun drenched crowd, it was announced that the man first across the line was to be docked two places for contact with Steward. Ultimately, Smith was removed from the results altogether for post race conduct. That aside, Lee Wood was naturally delighted to have been awarded the win, so defending his National Title successfully after all. With Oliver promoted to second and Foxlow third, all three drivers lapped up a popular reception on the lap of honour - a clear endorsement from the Speedweekend crowd as to just how much they had enjoyed the spectacular racing the Hottest Stars in the Coolest Cars had put on for them. Final - 333 Lee Wood, 57 Mike Oliver, 144 Tim Foxlow, 210, 8, 6, 22, 265, 247, 192 With such feedback and accolade still ringing in the CHR collective ears, this formula sincerely looks forward to becoming a regular addition to the biggest and most successful oval race weekend of them all at Ipswich! Rob Hughes CHR PR.