IPSWICH 17 03 2018-2018


IPSWICH 17/3/18



Sixteen were originally booked in, but in the end eleven hardy souls braved the Arctic conditions brought to bear on the UK as the ‘Beast from the East’ returned with vengeance to stamp down on any timid suggestion of spring to welcome in the Classic Hot Rod racing season of 2018.

Birmingham’s opening round and been cancelled due to snow and ice just a fortnight earlier, but as the Spedeworth officials inspected the track at 11am it was decided that the meeting could be run. The cars started to arrive by mid afternoon in continued snow flurries, zero temperatures and a bracing wind which brought the chill factor down to minus eight!

With defending champion Craig Boyd still away with career as a junior karting mentor, Team Boyd Motorsport was represented by BriSCA Formula Two Superstar David Polley driving the cream A40. Other pre race favourites, Andy Steward and Hugh Weaver were present along with Ely’s Classic Hot Rod stalwart Lee Wood still campaigning his faithful and popular HB Viva. Starting from the yellow grade this evening, #TheItalianStallion 121 Charlie Schembri with his Mk1 Escort, was going to be a driver to look out for, as would be #TheBromleyBomber 42 Dean Kitchen with his former John Hendy Anglia now transformed in the close season to become rechristened #TheWideBoy! Dean’s car has created a lot of interest and feedback over the close season with what seems to be considered it’s #CarlosFandango features, but as Kitchen explains “All within the rules. The maximum track for a Classic Hot Rod is sixty nine inches – something Thomas Dilly’s Mk2 Escort sports. My Anglia is sixty eight.” Cartoon exaggeration or not, the car is legal and complete with fresh paint and sign work, looks outrageous but attractive. “If it attracts interest in the Formula,” Dean’s dad Simon interjected, “what’s not to like?” Also sporting Anglia’s at this meeting, we welcomed back English Open Champion 555 Gavin Taber, who thoughtfully brought his dad along – not to support him, but to race! 116 Adrian Taber was making his Classic Hot Rod debut at the wheel of the former Russell Wilcox / Neal Smith / Pat Smith / Richard Boulton racer – yes this car certainly had a pedigree. Once thing about the car that as of no pedigree however was the engine that was in the Anglia. Adrian’s car was another new car to be powered by the Zetec engine, which was made legal for CHR last season. “I wanted Dad to get involved,” said Gavin, “but at a price that was sensible. Yes, we could have blown the budget on an all singing and dancing race Pinto, but what’s the point? Dad wants to go out and have some fun. It’s just down to the gearing, once we get that right, there’s no reason why dad can’t be as near as damn it on the pace. The Zetec is great value for money in that respect, and if it encourages more new drivers to join Classic Hot Rods, it can’t be wrong.” Also campaigning an Anglia, the former Tick Steward car to be precise, was former Superstox World Champion 376 Steve Jackson. Since retirement from the open wheelers, Steve had been one of Gary Goodswen’s chief spanner men, but here he was, as part of the Goodswen operation, getting trackside himself! Once he remembered to exit the Pit gate and turn left instead of right, there would be no reason why #ActionJackson wouldn’t settle into racing the pre-dialled in #RedDevil like a duck takes to water. Completing the eleven in attendance was 153 #Spam Sam Mitchell. Bringing along his all blue Mk2, Sam was a bit reticent about the weather, but he was here!

As a minor championship, normal graded order applied throughout the meeting, as as the snow continued to blizzard across the raceway, heat one rolled into action in front of the the small but hardy crowd. Caught out by the warm up lap melding into the rolling lap, Mitchell found himself out of place at the back of the grid, but the green flag dropped regardless. It just illustrated how difficult the night’s racing was going to be as lead man Kitchen spun right in front of the start marshall’s rostrum, but fortunately off the track. Into to turn one therefore, sole yellow grade starter Schembri was the leader, literally dancing on ice! Down the back straight for the first time 121 lead from 333, 210, 198 and 5. Lee Wood, a driver who normally likes to find a fast wide line at Ipswich, found his favoured line an instant no go area and within a lap, stuck on a treacherous outside line, slipped from second to sixth. Andy Steward really seemed to find a sweet spot and eased inside Hugh Weaver in the all red 210 machine, and began his campaign to reel in Schembri. Before the half way Schembri still led from the closing Steward, then Dave Polley with Weaver next having a real close battle which ultimately caused #TheMusicMan to spin out on the back straight, with 555 Gavin Taber and 72 Gary Goodswen close behind. Steward’s advance was inexorable and in catching Schembri, his move to pass out the outside was brace in the extreme but incredibly successful. Charlie attempted to replicate Steward’s but into turn three he spun helpless on the zero grip. Largely thanks to the meeting steward being able to alert the drivers through their Raceivers, 121 was thankfully not hit by the chasing pack, and he was able to recover and return to race. At the half way Andy was enjoying a big lead from 555, 72, 5 and 210 and that’s the way it stayed until the penultimate lap where Goodswen’s continual pressure finally showed and he succeeded in getting by Taber. 376 Steve Jackson had a superb debut race beating an unhappy Lee Wood to the and 116 Adrian Taber was last but drove a competent, smooth and damage free race.

198, 72, 555, 5, 376, 333, 121, 153

Heat Two: and 153 Sam Mitchell successes in not only starting the race in the right place on the grid, but also by leading it as the green flag dropped! He was closely followed by 42 Dean Kitchen and 121 Charlie Schembri. The immediate three way fight for the lead proved quite the focus as Kitchen bravely attempted the outside line with the #WideBoy skating. It was no go and for the moment Mitchell hung on. #ThePrinceOfPop 333 Lee Wood was having a tuneless evening, and the hardened fans, stiffened with cold as much as with resolve, saw Wood’s Viva again slip down the places as 198, 210 and 555 quickly passing. Up ahead Shembri was the man of the moment and showing a Latin daring, passed both Kitchen and then Mitchell with high side passes! This time the wheels stuck and he driver of #TheStallionEscort now led. Gathering up all his #Kitchen utensils, the 42 pilot knuckled down and chased Schembri hard. Up to the half way stage, Charlie could not afford to relax on this treacherous surface with Dean Kitchen right behind him. 198 Andy Steward was still a third of a lap behind as Polley spun out his A40 but executed a perfect 360 and recovered quickly. Be young half way and the battling 121 v 42 lapped the 116 car of Adrian Taber successfully, then came Steward with Taber junior and Goodswen still challenging hard behind. In one of the best moves of the night, Goodswen saw the gap and eased inside 555 Gavin Taber through turns three and four to take fourth place and in the final laps the star men came upon 116?and 153 as back markers, causing Steward to slow significantly and allow Goodswen to close in. In the final lap, as leader Schembri lapped the disconsolate Wood, #TheNorfolkBoy‘s battle with #Donut saw the former Points Champion fall foul of the current one, hit the evil black ice on turn one and slip helplessly into the fence and out of the race.

121, 42, 555, 72, 5, 210, 376, 333

The drivers took their places on the grid for the East Anglian Championship in ever worsening conditions. There was only ever going to be one racing line, the rest of the track was snow! One absentee from the race was Lee Wood – whose contact lenses were fogging up that badly in the Arctic conditions, they were freezing to his eyeballs! Sam Mitchell was the Pole driver on the ten car grid but summed up the challenging conditions for everybody, explaining how it was impossible to see in the blizzard conditions, exacerbated by the floodlights and all mirrors quickly becoming useless. The saving grace was the Racievers! Gamely, Mitchell led the competitors away for the first championship of the season. Racievers couldn’t help a driver out of control though, and into turn one for the first time, that was exactly what the 121 car of Charlie Schembri was! Racing into the corner very quickly, Schembri hit the snow covered black ice and hit the wall side on flat out causing the collapse of both the front suspension and the rear axle. The Mk1 looked very sorry for itself as Schembri struggled to move it firstly off the racing line and then ultimately onto the infield. One lap later and it was Kitchen’s turn to do the same, spinning helplessly into the wall rearwards. Game fully, Mitchell still led in 153 but was soon caught by lone blue grader Hugh Weaver in 210. As Kitchen dragged his car onto the field to join Schembri, Weaver caught and passed Mitchell on the outside down the back straight to take the lead. He was soon followed by Steward, but somehow Weaver stepped up his game from his heat performances and – for the conditions – looked incredibly quick in this final. Steward was trying everything to match Hugh’s pace, but still the 198 car remained up to a third of a lap in arrears. It was 210 from 198, 72, 555, 376, 153 and 5. Suddenly it was Jackson’s turn to hit first the black ice on turn one and then the wall with yet another sickening crunch with his off side front wing looking decidedly second best. That’s where Steve stayed for the remainder of the race when suddenly the leader himself hit the ice patch and just about held on as the red Mk1 went perilously wide to the wall. In those moments Andy Steward caught Weaver, just as the Sussex man recovered his composure and momentum. Andy tried and tried again to find or cause a gap, but the wily septuagenarian, held on and incredibly began to pull away again! In the final laps it was Goodswen’s turn to it the black ice and made contact with the wall close to where Jackson was parked up. He failed to finish. Indeed as Weaver crossed the line to win the East Anglian Title for the second time in three years, only five cars had completed the distance, with Steward and Taber the only other drivers on the lead lap!

210, 198, 555, 5, 116

Hugh Weaver had excelled in absolutely evil, treacherous, freezing conditions, and had the temerity to say he had enjoyed it when interviewed post race! Absolutely incredible – Weaver went on his lap of honour as I ran to the car and began to defrost on a six hour journey home to Liverpool. It snowed all the flippin’ way!

Rob Hughes

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