CLASSIC HOT ROD REPORT. NORTHAMPTON 25/4/15.
NATIONAL SERIES ROUND THREE. THE MIDLAND CHAMPIONSHIP.
Twelve competitors returned to the Northampton circuit to compete to this year’s Midland Championship. In gracious and timely manner, the meeting to place on a dry and reasonably sunny warm spring Saturday night just ahead of a cold front that was racing down from the north bringing rain!
It was a well run meeting by the incarace promotion with a good turn round of races and the meeting final itself being completed by 8.30pm.
Several of the drivers had arrived early in the afternoon including 144 Tim Foxlow and 192 Ken Marriott who enjoyed some quality practice laps in the afternoon sunshine. This was Ken’s first meeting of 2015 and was keen to try out his new Andrew Parker prepared two litre race engine.
Amongst the drivers competing there were other first time entries for the season. Displaying an absolutely gorgeously prepared Mk2 escort was former long circuit racer 58 Steve Lumley. Steve entered the sport of Classic Hot Rod racing in the summer of 2014 at the wheel of the former Glen Moore race car. Other the winter this was was overhauled at the workshops of Sonny Howard and the power unit converted from xflow to two litre pinto. The car was completed with a baby blue and black colour scheme to match the livery of the trucks he runs topped off with retro sign work from Dan Klyn signs. The 58 car looked a peach!
Also joining Classic Hot Rods at this meeting was current National Hot Rod Star driver 42 Shane Bland. Shane has always hankered a desire to have a race of the type of car that his dad Gordon enjoyed so much success with in the seventies and eighties and to contrast just how different an ‘original’ National Hot Rod of the day compared with the space frame specials that he races today. He was certainly looking forward to racing Darren Owen’s spare car.
Our third first time racer for 2015 was 275 Chris Caton. Chris, absolutely inundated with work this days had had no time to prepare his car this winter but realising that there was a meeting on and his presence appreciated, he cot the green light from understanding wife Donna to cancel a meal out they were going to take to go racing instead! “I will scrape the rust off the brake discs on the rolling lap!” Declared Caton.
Making his return for 2015 was defending champion 6 Graham Fulker from Oxfordshire. Graham’s Anglia and kit defies his budget approach. He is very much a one man band who over the winter had completely rebuilt his Anglia and race engine. He has devised the car to be much more maintenance friendly this season with a bespoke front end fabricated by Tim Barnes and detachable front wings that are bolted in place just like a Morris Minors were back in the day. Also Fulker has built a mould to make new fibre glass wheel arches for his Anglia. The completed car looked fresh and new and is a real credit to Fulker.
On track smartly before 6.30 in the evening bathed in spring sunshine, the drivers took their cars out for heat one. It was a race that turned the form book that had so for been established for 2015 on its head as the field, well spaced within grade, dispensed with the warm up laps and headed without no science in the opening laps of this twenty lap event. From this first time position as a white top C grader, Lumley wasted to time in getting into was smooth rhythm as establishing a comfortable lead. Indeed, such was the grade spacing that within a few laps, he had passed novice driver 265 Ray Harding and was within a few lengths of the star drivers at the rear of the field. It was refreshing to see such a different complexion to the race as to the first time in 2015, it was clear that National Points Champion 198 Andy Steward was not going to win this one. In fact it look Andy until three quarter distance to overcome an impressive drive from 31 Steve Gooding was racing from yellow grade. The man chasing valiantly the 58 car though was fellow B grader 275 Chris Caton. It was was the case of the home brew special chasing the factory prepared racer but Chris with rusty brakes and very second hand tyres did close the gap on Lumley.. But it was quite enough and Steve Lumley won a competent flag to flag career first CHR victory. “Even if I had caught him, I would never have had the grip to pass him!” Caton laughed in the pits afterwards.
RESULT. Ht 1 58 Steve Lumley 275 198 31 121 20 144 8 6 42
Heat two was almost and replay of heat one with Lumley once again taking the race from the front with Caton in pursuit. Andy Steward earmarked his intent for the championship by making sterner progress in this race overcoming other high grade opposition as the field swamped the hapless Gooding on this occasion. There was plenty of determined close racing as the top men impatiently sought for a way past the 31 car. Marriott dived and Foxlow took his favoured outside line. Charlie Schembri was put out of stride with some accidental contact from 8 Darren Owen with resulted in some clear kinks in Darren’s outside front wing, and although damage was less severe on the 121 car Schembri was a little displeased about the ‘rubbing’. As for Owen, Darren described the car as ‘more of a real hot rod’ with a few battle scars.
RESULT. Ht 2 58 Steve Lumley 275 198 192 144 8 6 121 265 42
The occasion took an atmospheric feel as the drivers came out for the twenty five lap Midland Championship Final in the post 8pm dusk. Bright paint jobs and polished sign work illuminated by the floodlights. The cars parked up against the fence to be summoned to their points order grid position. Naturally, as winner of both heats, 58 Steve Lumley lined up on pole position with second place finisher in the Heats 275 Chris Caton alongside. Row two was made up of 198 Andy Steward and 144 Tim Foxlow, and from this position it was clear that Steward would become favourite to take this title unless Foxlow could do something about it.
It was a false start but the field swiftly came under instruction from the steward and lined up again. No problems for the second time of asking and the twenty five lap title race was underway. Lumley took them away with Caton scrabbling from grip on the outside. Steward made his time honoured lunge, dived for second, followed by Foxlow and Caton was regard to fourth within two laps. As expected, Steward at the wheel of the other SHP prepared machine used his guile, experience and authority to pressure Lumley and found the gap through turn four and Steward look the lead. Tim Foxlow in 144 followed through and for the next five laps a remarkable power struggle took place as the screaming Anderson Xflow sought to out drive the grunt of Steward’s Toovey Pinto. On the shorter tracks like Northampton though, it’s always the grunt out the corners that counts and remorselessly Steward began to pull away. Tim found himself defending his second place from the increasingly confident Lumley who has invested well in his classic hot rod commitment and will certainly make quite an impression this season. That’s the way it stayed to the flag with 8 Daz Owen catching Caton to nab fourth place, defending champion Fulker getting more in the swing of things recording a seventh and Shane Bland really getting to grips with the Owen Classic in the final and collecting eighth.
RESULT. Midland Championship 198 Andy Steward 144 Tim Foxlow 58 Steve Lumley 8 275 192 6 42 20 121
So despite a small field it was again Classic Hot Rods doing what they do best. Good close racing, good atmosphere both on and off the track, banter amongst the drivers and cakes from Racey Tracy Killick! A perfect night.
CLASSIC HOT ROD RACE REPORT
IRISH SERIES ROUND ONE
the uncertainty of the Irish weather was fortunately kind at the opening round of the eagerly anticipated Irish Series for the CHRs for 2015. Five cars made the opening meeting. It was a delight to see that 777 Jackie Harris had made the long journey down from Portavogie in Northern Ireland with his fantastic looking Mk1 Escort.
All five cars made it out for Heat One. The Parade Lap saw Martin O’Keefe proudly use his Road’Rally Mk1 Escort as the pace car as the debuting drivers took the appreciative applause from the Tipperary crowd. The Open Draw for Grids saw 25 Trevor Cusack on Pole,ahead of 156 Gerry Rothwell, 100 Kevin Keeney, 777 Jackie Harris and 175 Andy O’Donnell. The drivers were glad of the 3 warm up laps they were afforded before the green dropped and Cusack in 25 lead the early laps until 175 Andy O’Donnell impressively took over the lead on the start of lap 3 until the finish. Harris in 777 moved up to 2nd but struggled for grip having gone out on wets but it looked very spectacular to the crowd. Kevin Feeney in 100 up got to 3rd befor race ended prematurely on reds and chequers as the 25 car of Trevor Cusack dramatically dropped coolant allover the raceway when his top rad hose bust.
RESULT: 175, 777, 100, 156, 25 DNF
Unfortunately Cusack was not ready for heat two so there were just 4 cars trackside. Rothwell in 156, currently the only Classic Hot Rod driver anywhere currently campaigning a Ford Anglia 100E, led them away before HARRIS, O’Donnell and Feeney swept by. A great battle developed between Harris and O’Donnell with 777 determinedly holding off 175’s efforts around the outside until fuel pump trouble terminated Andy’s race early leaving 777 with a comfortable win from 100 and 156.
RESULT: 777, 100 ,156, 175 DNF
Pleasingly Trevor Cusack has successfully repaired his former Austin Fitzgerald Mk2 Escort in time for the Final. Andy O’Donnell took a terrific start once again in his former Desie Howard Mk2 and was cruising with a big lead until once again the fuel pump gremlins struck again, leaving the fast moving Ulsterman Jackie Harris to enjoy a big lead and win from Kevin Feeney in his Mk2. Behind, 25 Trevor Cusack got the better of 156 Gerry Rothwell they enjoyed some close racing running side by side for several laps.
RESULT: 777, 100, 25, 156, 175 DNF
A small field to the opening round of the Irish Series from the Classic Hot Rods, but nevertheless they were evocative, colourful and entertaining and well received by the Tipperary crowd. Ulsterman Jackie Harris made his long journey very worthwhile with a warm reception to his visit and two race victories. Harris leads the points after the fist round. Round two takes place closer to home for Harris at the DMC run Tullyroan oval on Saturday 9th May, where those who raced today will hopefully be joined by fellow Ulstermen Kenny Wilson and Sammy McKendry as well as more drivers from the Republic and maybe even an English visitor.
PARAIC MCCORMACK AND ROB HUGHES
CLASSIC HOT ROD MEETING REPORT
The second round of the National Series of 2015 took place under blazing skies on Easter bank holiday Monday at the historic Brafield on the Green stadium Northampton.
Thirteen competitors were present at this meeting to enjoy racing in the bright sunshine in front of a large Bank Holiday crowd. Silver roofed National Points Champion 198 Andy Steward was present ready to wow the crowd and aim to maintain his dominating start to the season. 144 Tim Foxlow was present too, quietly imbued with confidence that his reconditioned Anderson Racing Xflow has given him as he seeks to take the challenge to Steward in 2015. It was a delight to see the return of the Gold Roofed National Champion 333 Lee Wood. Lee’s magnificent HM Viva tribute to seventies touring car legend Gerry Marshall has been competing on the CHR scene for four years, but was only given the all clear to return to racing by the promotion Spedeworth/Incararace close to the start of the season because of suspension rules. Impressive new season Novice 72 Gary Goodswen was back for more, and sure to rise through the grades this year, and 22 Rob Montagner was also making his return in his faithful Chevette. The CHR records were also broken on this day as it was the first time that two Austin A40s had competed. The Boyd family of Graham and son Craig brought their iconic BMC shelled racers together on the flat bed of their faithful Vintage Bedford truck. both cars and truck captured many admiring glances from the fans. Craig’s car is indeed the last word in Classic Hot Rod builds in the 21st century. Built by Polleysport, the car is indeed a work of art and was a star of the show at the Autosport show at the NEC in January. Legend George Polley was on hand to oversee the cars racing debut, and it was as well he was, as the car, typical of many a new racer, had some teething issues to overcome engine and oil pressure and pipe wise, and Polley was on hand to assist.
It was also pleasing to see two oval racers who had joined the ranks of Classic Hot Rods for 2015, have their cars ready for this meeting. Both 265 Ray Harding from Burgess Hill and 14 Steve Stallwood from Wallingham had arrived early to undertake their pre competition CHRS assessment which all drivers to the class are obliged to undergo irrespective of their previous race experience. Naturally, both drivers passed under observation from the meeting Steward and current driver assessors Foxlow and Steward. Harding, an experienced outlaw hot rod racer impressed by the growing popularity of Classic Hot Rod racing, had only purchased his Anglia race car from Jamie Bowring at the Wimbledon meeting and had worked hard to be ready for this day. This was also true of Stallwood, nicknamed The Stig (!), who had to undertake quite a few improvements the the Mk1 Escort that he had bought. It had last seen the light trackside back in 2012 in the hands of Dez Green.
Disaster was to befall Harding though just has he competed his test laps – the clutch failed on the Anglia! Harding instantly won the unofficial award of ‘Trier of the day’ though as he has his mechanics set to work on removing the clutch, never for one moment looking downhearted, and sent out a plea for anyone who has a clutch that they were willing to sell. As is typical in the close knit world of oval racing, the message got to former racer Richard Boulton, who drove quickly to Northampton to supply Ray with the replacement he needed. The 265 team proceeded to replace the clutch in the pits and the car was ready for the meeting final! Delight in the Harding team….but more about the final later.
Twelve cars made it to track for heat one, but this race perfectly illustrated the Classic Hot Rod knack of serving up quality over quantity. For all the close race action that was going on, the crowd completely forgot that there was a dozen cars on track! Yellow Grade 31 Steve Gooding, once again racing his faithful Hillman Avenger was the pole position starter, but his advantage was too quickly swallowed up by Blue Graders 121 Charlie Schembri and 20 Dave Fry and, in turn hot pursued by Boyd senior and junior, Foxlow, Steward and Wood. In the rush to the front, Gooding was quickly swallowed and Schembri received and erroneous tank slap from 22 Rob Montagner. The race was building up nicely. Boyd Senior was challenging Fry for the lead, Steward was forcing his way through and Wood, delighted in how the Viva was performing got the better of Foxlow to chase the Silver roofed 198 car. It was then that the unexpected kicked off as the 445 A40 of Graham Boyd died of the back straight with ignition failure and Wood, with not time to effectively evade, him him side on! Foxlow, immediately behind, missed the crash by a hairs breadth. Amazingly the race continued as the stricken Gold Roofed Viva nursed itself to the infield with a hefty blow beyond the B pillar and the rear axle knocked askew! Incredibly, Boyds A40 was not too badly damaged, being hit presidency where the rear offside tail lights would have once been. BMC made their shells strong back in the day! The race continued with 198 reeling in 20, a Dave upon receiving the blue flag, obediently maintained his inside racing line allowing Andy to pass him clean round the outside. Steward may be dominating CHRs at the present but this was another race win warmly received by an appreciative crowd, who knew they had seen a good race.
HEAT ONE RESULT
198 Andy Steward 20 144 45 22 72 121 14 NOF
In the pits an understandably disappointed Lee Wood was loading his Viva back on the trailer, his 1015 debut meeting experience all too tumultuous and brief. Both Boyd’s were working on their respective A40 issues, 101 John Bowring baffled over his Anglia’s evil handling and Ray Harding sill beavering away at his clutch replacement. The Stig was happy though! Steve Stallwood, the former banger driver who also competes in historic Stockcars at the wheel of a rare Consul Classic, was delighted that although he had the wrong spring rates, balance, and wrong diff, he was still on the lead lap at the end of his first ever competitive CHR race and was quite honestly buzzing with adrenaline.
Heat two with only nine cars competing when Boyd senior once again retired on the pace lap with continuing electrical trouble, was still an incredible race and a story of the race that Andy Steward won twice! Bowring and Fry led the initial charge past Gooding but the speed of Foxlow looked incredible, particularly at the end of each straight with the Xflow singing its high pitched scream of 9000 revs. As 144 got the better of Montagner and took his favoured outside line, poor Gooding got boxed by five cars all impatient to pass. Some went inside and some went outside. He hopelessly and unavoidably tripped up Steward on his outside just as the Points Champion sought to follow Foxlow in the outside lane and challenge 144 and 20 for the lead. As Foxlow got the better of Fry by again choosing the outside line to cleanly pass the blue flagged Fry for the lead, Steward found himself almost at the back and had a job to do all over again – which incredibly he did. In the laps that occurred with Foxlow battling Fry for the lead and Fry coming back at the Derbyshire based racer, Steward roared back into contention out racing the likes of Gary Goodswen, Montagner and Boyd junior. Tim enjoyed his lead for only two to three laps before Steward was on him and pinto power on this occasion out grunted the screaming Xflow.
HEAT TWO RESULT
198 Andy Steward 144 20 45 22 72 14 31 NOF
The scene was set of an enthralling final as Foxlow and Steward were set to battle again and with Craig Boyd junior getting A40 on the pace as well, anything could happen! The one thing that did happen was the last thing everyone expected. With Graham Boyd still experiencing reliability issues the Meeting Steward had instructed 445 to start at the back. However whether due to lack of full understanding or otherwise, Boyd decided on starting within grade. Despite repeated requests by the meeting Steward and the subsequent issuing of the black flag to 445 when racing got underway, he continued to race. As a consequence, the Steward felt he had not option with the remaining race time available to him, but to red flag the race and declare it null and void.
NULL AND VOID
A disappointing end to what had been a terrific days racing. You could hear the fans getting behind the race action in both heats. The promotion knows the bangers get the lay fans in through the turnstiles, but once inside its the CHR’s they remember.
CLASSIC HOT ROD REPORT
WIMBLEDON 22nd March. NATIONAL SERIES ROUND ONE
THE LONDON CHAMPIONSHIP.
Eleven drivers attended the opening meeting of the season in London. All drivers who had booked had honoured their booking. A bigger field would have been appreciated on this clear dry spring night in the capital, but what was missing in quantity was more offset by the excellent quality of the cars present and the showmanship and high driving standards of the drivers.
The first heat for the CHR’s had eleven carson track and after two warm up laps it was John Hendy who led them away. Just before the half way stage he had built up a length of a straight lead but with Andy Steward up to second and the 196 car sounding sick that lead vanished very rapidly and with six to go John pulled the 196 car onto the centre green. Tim Foxlow has matched Steward for the first few laps but had more problems getting through the field and although Tim went well for second place at the finish, he was never able to challenge. Behind Tim was Daz Owen who also came through well for third place after a good battle with John Bowring’s Anglia.
Heat two for the CHR’s was slightly delayed after the Historic Stock Cars had had a very bruising race which left the fence needing some TLC. Dave Fry was a nonstarter in this race which like the first was led away by John Hendy who had to give way to Andy Steward as they started lap 13. Hendy however was still going well and finished a clear second. Behind those two the battle in the early stages was between Charlie Schembri, John Bowring and Graham Boyd. That battle was in the process of being passed by the fast moving pair of Daz Owen and Tim Foxlow but Foxlow went out with what looked like engine problems. Owen went on to take third with Schembri in fourth.
The London Championship for the CHR’s was won by Andy Steward after he took the lead on lap seven. The real battle of the race was between Schembri, Boyd and Owen with Goodswen trying to join in for much of the race. The meeting steward decided that Schembri got a little too close to Hendy in 196 and after crossing the line in second was dropped to fourth which left Boyd in second and Owen third. Hendy had led the early laps but retired at the midway stage.
The Classic Hot Rods start what promises to be a fantastic series of racing in 2015 by starting off their campaign in the Big Smoke. Spedeworth’s grand old lady of racing still has that great atmosphere that takes the oval race enthusiast back to the heady days of yesteryear and with the sight and sound of the cars on track once more that brought such racing pleasure to those far off younger day, the sight of CLASSIC HOT ROD RACING at Wimbledon Stadium is one not to be missed. Look out for the racing introduction of the revamped SHP prepared Mk2 Escort of last year’s National Series Points Champion 198 Andrew Steward and the almighty howl of 144 Tim Foxlow’s painstakingly reconditioned 1700cc Crossflow. Also down from the North will be 192 Ken Marriott who will be laying down a serious challenge to Steward’s domination in 2015. With a whole host of other Hottest Stars in the Coolest Cars, be at Wimbledon on 22nd March for the Opening Round of this year’s CHR National Series – THE LONDON CHAMPIONSHIP!
This year’s Classic Hot Rod fixtures for England and Ireland. Not one date clashes either side of the Irish Sea and drivers from all countries have expressed an interest in racing at least once on the other side of the water in 2015. Expect a record breaking field for this year’s National Championship this June at Ipswich. 2015, the formula’s tenth anniversary, is going to be quite a season for the Classic Hot Rods! RH.