NORTHAMPTON 16 08 2015-2015



Summer time came in the best of flavours at Northampton with warm temperatures, and sunshine a plenty. Time for racing fans to sit back on the grassy banks of the Midlands oval and take in some of the best hot rod action an afternoon could bring.

Fourteen Classics were in attendance for Round nine of the National Series of 2015 and the CHR drivers were present in support of the National Hot Rods who ever competing for their second qualifying round for their world championship. All drivers are were present in plenty of time allowing Carl Checkley good opportunity to scrutineer the cars. Carl, a former CHR racer himself, volunteers his time to scrutineer freely and has a good rapport with the drivers. Without volunteers like Carl, a meeting would not function the same.

265 Ray Harding had made the long trip north from his Burgess Hill base bringing with him his newly acquired purchase, the former Graham Fulker car. Harding’s painter Nigel Izzard had just had time to paint the car in a uniform white and put numbers on the Anglia. On questioning Ray as to the finished livery Ray said, “I’m looking to complete with the same fresh green and white livery that I had on the ex Bowring car, but the boys are hankering after something different…so we will have to see!”

Fellow Southerner 721 Steve Kite arrived with Ray after they made their way north in convoy. Steve was clearly looking forward to the day having done over eighty practice laps at Brafield just a fortnight ago after putting a new engine in the Anglia. In this his third and final meeting at the mandatory Novice grade, Kite was looking for a change in fortune as his two previous meetings had been be-set with reliability problems.

Another driver worthy of note with his presence was former CHR National Champion 161 Dan Holden. Dan was bringing the Mk2 Escort that his brother had last raced in 2012. Holden had last attempted to race the car at Ipswich in May but the car had been ‘race rusty’ to say the least and the evening had come to a premature end. Now set up and shod with old Avons of a very second hand nature from Tim Foxlow, Dan had part painted the Escort in his familiar blue colour with bright ‘161’ numbers, so the car looked more the part. On questioned on more of a ‘comeback’ in Classics, the National Hot Rod racer declined. “Got to get it sold Rob,” Dan explained, “and the best way of advertising it is racing her – and get her featured on the Classic Hot Rod Page!” Dan’s dad Dave also contributed, “With these old tyres on today, Dan can’t expect to be on the pace, but the car has got it, a perfect first complete car for anyone interested in joining CHR. It’s got a brand new Toovey engine in her. If Dan had good tyres on today, he would be on the pace.”

Balcombe’s 166 Dave Stevens was the man one pole position for Heat one. This was Dave’s first time from C grade having now completed his required three meetings from the Novice grade. Another twelve cars lines up behind him. The one absentee was 444 Gary Andrews. Gary, a man who had enjoyed a real purple patch in 2014, had had absolutely no luck at all so far in 2015. In the previous two meetings he had had to put the car back on the trailer only after practice with engine or axle or gearbox failure, and today it happened again! “I feel I’m at my wits end!” Andrews declared, “I suppose it’s because I haven’t had enough time to put in on the car as I’ve been concentrating oh helping son Ryan with his racing at Arena Essex. Ah well, time for a burger and ice cream! Let’s watch some racing in the sun!”

Racing over twenty laps, the green flag dropped on heat one with the ever popular clutch starts! Stevens led them away and although Harding had declared that today was very much a test session, he immediately looked on the pace going clear of fellow B grade starter 31 Syeve Gooding. The story of the pursuit of Stevens was one of Harding keeping ahead of 445 Graham Boyd and a VERY fast approaching 210 Hughie Weaver. With the lap boards out Stevens was swallowed. momentarily Harding took the lead as Weaver powered round the outside of Boyd. With two to go, Weaver pressured Harding and was through, the power and handling of the SHP Motorsports car looking clearly apparent and Hughie, who, only days ago was an uncertainty for this meeting because of a bad back, took a clear victory. Harding, racing the ex Fulker car for the first time (he had not even practiced in it!) went way beyond ‘bedding the car in’ and resolutely held on for second ahead of Boyd, Steward and Wood.

Heat one. 210 265 445 198 333 121 144 166 20 161

Prior to heat two, a mandatory weigh in session got underway, checking the first three cars across the line for overall and inside weight. Weaver and Boyd passed but Harding was dismayed to be a judged to be 0.1 above the 52% inside weight limit.

265 was absent from the grid for heat two but the race was again quite a cliff hanger. Whilst mid pack Gold Roofed 333 Lee Wood again duelled with Silver 198 Andy Steward after battling bast 121 Charlie Schembri, up ahead it was the Boyd and Weaver per suit of Stevens. The 166 pilot looked faster than heat one. Dave explained prior to heat two that he had received good car set up advice from Darren Owen and Hughie Weaver and was grateful to them. With lap boards out though, despite his advice, Weaver was out to beat Stevens. Boyd was also in the mix and with two to all three dived three wide down the home straight! Something had to give and Dave, keeping that tight inside line, went in too tight, leapt the kerb and glanced Boyd fenceward! Boyd anchored up viciously but still made contact with the fence, fortunately not as badly as first feared. Meanwhile, Weaver powered up the inside of Stevens and took his second victory of the day. Dave Stevens was delighted with second ahead of the closely matched Steward and Wood.

Heat two. 210 166 198 333 121 144 20 161 31

The Afternoons speedy proceedings came to an early conclusion and eleven cars came out on track for the CHR final by 3:40pm! The absentees were Harding and Kite, both regrettably with engine problems. The question was could Weaver make the triple? The answer was a definite yes, and with a clean and speedy display, 210 had the pace that even Steward had no chance of matching. As Hughie Weaver raced off into the distance to take his first Final trophy in Classic Hot Rods, a great scrap for supremacy again took place between Wood and Steward with the National Champion this time prevailing over the Points Champion.

FINAL. 210 445 333 198 166 144 20 121 31 35

An entertaining afternoons racing in support of the excellent National Hot Rods in front of a crowd relaxing in the sunshine made for a good day. The meeting was slickly run at it was pleasing to hear of such positive comments about the formula. With such a positive air, we look forward to racing again at Hednesford on Bank Holiday Monday.

Rob Hughes

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