HEDNESFORD 05 11 17-17




The last meeting of the Hednesford season has increasingly established itself as a climax to the Classic Hot Rod calendar over the last few years and it is a meeting that has continued to increase in popularity and stature. The opportunity to race under the lights in front of a big crowd drawn by the prospect of good racing and a grand fireworks display has always encouraged a good field. This year the meeting grew in importance further still with the staging of the Best In Britain Championship moving to the Staffordshire oval following the closure of Wimbledon Stadium. Largely fuelled by the status of the meeting and spiced by the season long campaign for International and National Series Points Championships which has captured the interest of drivers and fans alike, a record braking field of thirty Classic Hot Rods had booked in for this meeting. It could have easily have been more but for one or two last minute cancelations, but nevertheless this was unprecedented and further proved to under pin the ever increasing popularity of the Coolest Cars on the Ovals.

Among the large entry list we welcomed back Derbyshire’s Tim Foxlow who had taken a break from racing his Classic for 12 months to concentrate on racing in the Time Attack series on the big circuits, but of course the greatest attention focused on those drivers who were not only in a great chance of winning the B in B title, but also had the opportunity to stake their final claim to a Silver Roof or Silver Stripes. Competing in his twenty forth meeting, displaying gob smacking commitment to the formula in 2017, was Lanarksire’s #KingOfCarluke 17 Kenny Purdie. Kenny was entering the meeting 32 points clear of Northern Ireland’s #DungannonCannon 966 Thomas Dilly. Although highly probable of victory in the chase for the International Points Title of 2017, it was still mathematically possible for Thomas to draw, and the Ulsterman was present not only for this last chase to draw level but also seek to ensure his victory over #TheDiggerMan 976 Clive Richardson in the Northern Irish Points Series. There had been little to choose between both men all season as they had been almost inseparable on the track, and here they were parked next to year other in the English Pits! Of the English, just twenty points separated challenger 91 Tick Steward from current English Series Points leader #NorfolkBoy 72 Gary Goodswen. Tick has enjoyed flashes of brilliance all season whereas Gary had been phenomenally consistent. Just who would reign supreme today would be fascinating. The Irish Series still had its story to play out too. Although points leader #TheIrishThoroughBred 25 Trevor Cusack was unable to attend, his biggest challengers, 10 Podge #TheTallGuy McQuaid and #TheIrishWolfHound 175 Andy O’Donnell were only just a few points behind. Reasoning that they both had a firm chance of stealing the points series from under Trevor’s nose, they had both shown incredible resource and commitment to book in for this final meeting of the year.

In an expectedly chilly afternoon bathed in late Autumn brilliant sunshine, the incredible number of Classic Hot Rods present rolled out of the pits for Heat One. A delay to proceedings was caused when Clive Richardson’s Mk2 suffered a seized brake calliper on the installation lap, and due to the officials mis placing the drawn grid positions that had been determined by yours truly at the drivers meeting! Fortunately a copy of the grid was sent again to race control and a semblance of the grid came together as the rolling lap final finally got underway….

#TheGoodGuy 31 Steve Gooding and #TheItalianStallion 121 Charlie Schembri had drawn a row one start from the grid and as the green flag dropped Charlie was able to out accelerate Steve thrown the opening corner and down the home straight to lead. Charlie was followed at incredible pace by Tick Steward and #JJ 271 Jamie Johnson, though, as Jamie reported afterwards, he was far from happy as to how his car was handling on the cold Tarmac. Within a lap, row three starter, returnee Tim Foxlow was suffering a chronic case of motorised bad wind as his famous Mk2, known as #TheBelter was mis-firing badly and due to the serious electrical problems, Foxlow immediately retired to the infield. In the following laps Schembri continued to lead on this congested oval, but pre race favourite Tick Steward had powered past Johnson on the outside to move into second. A short distance behind, both 88 #DangerousDave Owen and #BromleyBomber 42 Dean Kitchen had also taken the high side to pass Gooding who was beginning to slip down the field in #TheGreyAvenger that he had worked miracles to re-build following his meeting with the Birmingham Wheels plating in August this year. On to the fourth lap and leaders Schembri was already beginning to lap some of the back markers including #TheGent 166 Dave Stevens. However Charlie was now under distinct pressure from Tick Steward and up the back straight, the Essex based star saw his opportunity to challenge for the inside line and moving through the West Bend, the 91 car took the lead. Behind, Dave Owen in his battered Mk2, affectionately called #TheOldNail and described by Owen as a #FastBanger, was able to pass the ill handling Johnson, and brought the Bromley based Anglia pilot Dean Kitchen with him. Amongst the following pack an exciting tussle was taking place between a whole host of Mk2 Escorts with both Irishmen Andy O’Donnell and Podge McQuaid sensing that if they could maintain this momentum then the opportunity to win the Irish Points Series could become a reality. However right behind them came Scotsman #BraveHeart 232 Brett Sneddon, 8 #DeadlyDaz Owen and an incredibly quick looking 198 Andy #Donut Steward in only his second meeting of the year since returning from a serious work related injury. #PrinceOfPop 333 Lee Wood was in the mix as well in his much liked HB Viva which looked as dazzling as ever though perhaps not quite as bright as he had not been permitted to add he neon headlights this year. As the top three of 91, 121 and 88 broke away from 42 Dean Kitchen who was experiencing something of a lonely race on this ironically congested track, the Mk2 pack traded placed with the Scots and Irish succumbing to the English challenge. Into the latter half of the race and Tick maintained control to take an expected but deserved victory. The battle for second still raged till the end with Dave Owen successfully passing Charlie Schembri to take second place. Across the line closely following Dean Kitchen came Andy Steward with Jamie Johnson feeling pleased and relieved to have held on for sixth.

91, 88, 121, 42, 198, 271, 333, 175, 232, 10

Dusk was expectedly gathering as the cars made it out for Heat Two. The cold and greasy track reflected starkly in the warming Hednesford Hills Raceway floodlights following the usual debris of the preceding Banger race. Competitors spun the it tyres in a vain effort to inject some heat and adhesion, though all knew that the quest for grip in this race was going to be a real challenge!

The grid came together correctly this time with the man who failed to start heat one, 976 Clive Richardson now sitting alone on pole position. The man who was due to line up along side was his arch rival on the Ulster scene, 966 Thomas Dilly. Thomas however had again experienced engine problems in heat one and for the second meeting in succession had to retire early from the meeting. Clive controlled the rolling lap to his advantage, keeping it deliberately slow so when he dropped the hammer, it would be a time of his choosing to get the drop on his fellow competitors. However this caused the field to concertina with those at the back racing away to close in fast on those ahead. In the inevitable sandwich of space, brake lights flashed and so very narrow escapes occurred. However #LittleMissBoydy 44 Kara Boyd wasn’t so lucky as 88 Dave Owen slammed into the back of her (much to her post race fury) bursting his radiator and 17 Kenny Purdie rode high to the plating. As the race thundered away, Kara was forced to bring her damaged Wolseley to a halt on the West Bend and joining her with damage or spins due the slippy surface was 419 #TheFamilyGuy Dave Murphy and 42 Dean Kitchen. Richardson as expected led, bringing 555 Gavin Taber with him and #TheNorfolkBoy 72 Gary Goodswen who had made a storming start from the second group. Goodswen had the bit between his teeth, armed with the knowledge that as Tick Steward has earned eight points by winning heat one, the difference in the English Points Series was now down to twelve. Gary knew he had to earn fourth place or better if he was to assure himself of the Silver Stripes with Red Border in this race. However amidst Gary’s numerical concentration, all sorts was happening to other competitors as 445 Graham Boyd slew wide, narrowly avoiding crashing into his daughter’s stationary car and 144 Tim Foxlow again retired with engine problems. Suddenly, Dave Murphy and 210 #TheMusicMan Hugh Weaver found themselves joining Kara stricken on the West Bend as 10 Podge McQuaid and 257 Andrew Willis in #ThePocketRocket careered towards them and into them with Willis worst off with a shredded fibre glass wing. Jamie Johnson had also spun backwards into the infield plating. Graham Boyd had slipped down the places, but in spite of such chaos the race continued with 976 continuing to lead 555 and 72. Then came an extremely impressive looking Ulster man 925 Gary O’Neill in his #YellowPeril Anglia and returnee 924 Stuart Wright in his Black and Silver AngleBox. Immediately behind #Donut was again on a charge with 333 Lee Wood hanging on to his tail. The race began to settle somewhat with back marker McQuaid matching the pace of the leaders. Gary O’Neill continued to impress passing McQuaid on his inside and not only kept clear of Steward and Wood but also succeeded in closing the gap on the close battle for second between Taber and Goodswen. As the battle for second became a three way contest, Richardson was able to open the lead and continue to a comfortable win. However surprise and drama were to follow Clive’s victory lap as race control had apparently issued Clive with an instruction to go for a post race weigh in and he failed to do so. Clearly a break down in post race communication had taken place, but in spite of Clive’s genuine protests, he was removed from the result.

555, 72, 925, 445, 198, 333, 924, 236, 91, 232

In the chilling cold crystal clear night, the with the floodlights and grandstand lights creating an ambience and superb atmosphere, the setting for the 2017 Best In Britain Championship Final was set. The engines roared, screamed and spat and the tyres screeched as each qualifier to the big race emerged on track from pit lane. Lining up in a, this time, well organised manner, the grid was efficiently put together on the direction of race control and after the performances put down in the Qualifying Heats, the line up for the B in B Championship Final looked like this:

198. 91
555. 72
121. 333
232. 925

88. 445
175. 236
42. 271

8. 924
153. 10
166. 31
257. n/s 17

210. 419
966 n/s. 57
976. 144

The was drama at the start of the big race with all competitors edgy on their throttles. The second block of driver lead by Graham Boyd and Dave Owen jumped the start and suddenly found themselves having to anchor up sharply and meekly return to their starting blocks. At the second time of asking we were away and as Tick Steward got the clean start he needed, brother Andy was not so quick, as his legs are still recovering from injury. This allowed Taber to elbow in to the inside line and as they rushed shoulder to shoulder into the first turn, #Donut was held wide and 72Gary Goodswen was able to follow through into third as they charged up the back straight. A clean fast pace was being set but already into the second lap, Tick Steward was opening up a gap. With the car handling perfectly the 91 driver was already on his way to start picking his way through the back markers on this busy oval in as clean and efficient manner as possible. Initially a three way battle for second continued with Taber, Goodswen and Andy Steward nose to tail….then followed 925, 121, 333, 232, 445, 88 and 42. The race was a thunderous procession, but an exciting one at that as the garishly bright and varied race machine continued their high speed dance under the floodlit brilliance. It was a matter of who was going to make their way through the back markers most effectively. Half way through the race and Ticks lead looked substantial but with only five laps to go the distance came down markedly as he diced his way through 57 Mike Oliver, 44 Kara Boyd, 257 Andrew Willis and 153 Sammy Mitchell. The race for second that had now become a five car train with 925 Gary O’Neill and 121 Charlie Schembri changing positions between themselves in the middle of a wider scrap, rapidly closed in on Steward. However the final lap was now only remaining and the gap was still there. Roaring through the final bends for the last time a triumphant Tick Steward celebrated with donuts. More pantomime drama followed post race as the Steward brothers faced off each other on the rostrum ramp in a spectacular burn out!

91, 555, 72, 198, 925, 121, 232, 445, 88, 42

So concluded a highly successful and very entertaining final meeting of the season. Tick Steward drove with speed and determination in what could well prove to be his swan song Classic Hot Rod career before he returns to supporting is son Harry’s potential on the BriSCA F1 scene. It was a title he had never won before and he was naturally delighted. Gavin Taber was also very pleased in second, again cementing what had proven to be a very solid opening season in CHR in which he took the English OpenTitle. Third placed Gary Goodswen also had reason to be pleased as he had done more than enough to hold off Tick’s points challenge and so although he surrendered the B in B title to Tick, he gained the stripes that were on the 91 car which Tick’s son won last season. In further celebration, Neil #Nelly Edwin of NJE Couriers continued to support his former racing formula in a most generous way, not only giving all competitors a commemorative trophy for the day, but also awarding 257 Andrew Willis his prestigious Merit Award Trophy for all the dedication his has put into his racing this season.

It was a fine way to sign off season 2017 and with more new drivers and cars set up appear in 2018 in all four countries that stage CHR, the future looks bright for #TheHottestStarsInTheCoolestCars!


Comments are closed.