BIRMINGHAM 11.7.15-15



BIRMINGHAM. 11/7/15.


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.

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.

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!

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

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