Classic Hot Rod National Series Round 6 Northampton 16.6.13
Meeting Report

Twenty of our Classic Hot Rod brethren arrived at Northampton in dry but overcast weather to compete in what is coming the increasingly close National Series for season 2013.

Forecasters has initially predicted a wash out for today’s session but as the meeting approached it appeared that the gods had failed to answer Tim Foxlow’s war dance and accordingly all cars were shod in the slick Avon A10s in readiness for the day’s racing.

Of the day’s competitors it was particularly pleasing to see 29 Stu Donald, 16 Pat Smith and 6 Graham Fulker. Donald had worked hard to completely rebuild the 29 Mk1 Escort after the crash he was involved in at the last Northampton. A Complete new front end with fibre glass wings, and a rebuilt gearbox and Toovey 2 litre engine was the sum of Stu’s hard labour and vanquished bank balance! London’s Pat Smith was back after missing our last meeting at Birmingham, typically keeping cards close to his chest as to how felt he’d got his red and white liveried Anglia back on song in readiness for the day’s racing and Graham Fulker also had a new 2 litre race engine in his green/grey Anglia after was got into the block of the previous unit and knackered it. The dedication of all of Classic Hot Rod drivers almost know no bounds and the example that these three drivers shows is true testimony to that.

All cars looked immaculate as they made there way out of pit road ready for heat one and taking his place on pole position was another returnee, 22 Rob Montagner. Rob has had as season of ups and downs principally surrounding engine reliability. But there were no signs of engine reliability problems in heat one as he left 24 Roger Wright for dead and made his Chevette twice as wide with power sliding style to thwart the attentions and attempts to get by from 6 Graham Fulker. Monty took a popular win in the first race of the day. 445 Graham Boyd had a competitive but tidy drive to third ahead of Moore, Smith, Wood and Gambone.

Heat two was a great drive but climaxed in controversy. As Monty has won heat one he had to start at the rear of the B grade position. This allowed Fulker to forge way at the drop of the green. Fulker’s car was handling perfectly and in the first half of the race car 6’s lead seemed unassailable put the man on a mission was 16 Pat Smith whose Anglia was really flying. Pat tore clear of fellow higher graders Moore and Wood and reeled in Fulker who, as his tyres seemed to go ‘off’, was powerless to prevent Smith from powering around him on the outside. The race was close and exiting all the way. If Smith was there for the win the lower order places were still all up for grabs as Moore, Wood, Foxlow, Hitch and Fry were in an all out battle for third. Many individuals have there own point of view as to what happened in the final turn but Wood and Moore were neck and neck and went for the line, 333 on the inside, 32 on the out. Maybe oil was a factor thanks to Monty’s engine letting go again earlier in the race but A10 rode A10 and Lee’s HB Viva rose uncontrollably up the side of Moore’s Mk2. The resulting contact saw Moore go into the fence just feet from the line leaving Foxlow no where to go but into 32. Lee Wood escaped to take third behind Smith and Fulker. Moore and Foxlow had damage – Moore significant – but this was a racing incident, pure and simple. If these guys pilot race cars, they will race and that’s what they do. They love their cars, and each others and there is respect but if these guys race there will be regrettable incidents and crashes. They are unavoidable. We can only hope that they are kept to a minimum. Drivers know the risks and do accept them, for once they are in ‘the zone’ and the adrenaline is flowing, they all want to win. That is why they race – for the love of competing and winning.

And these same attributes came through once again in the Final. It was a challenging race in different conditions as light rain glazed the tarmac. Some drivers had chosen wet tyres, others had stayed on slicks. And it showed as pole starter 24 Roger Wright was a man transformed and strode away from his pole position start to have an almost leisurely Sunday afternoon drive to record his second Final on the trot at Brafield. Fulker’s car did not like the track surface at all and was the fastest man in reverse gear. Pat Smith in contrast was flying and looked at one stage that he would catch Wright. But the moment came and went as 24 appeared to pull away again in the final few laps. Boyd and Wood had a relatively uneventful race to third and forth but fifth placed 144 Tim Foxlow was disqualified after he spun 30 Jamie Bowring in the final few laps of the race. Again as in many things in life, drivers and fans will have differing views on the incident factoring tyre wear and lack of grip, late braking and whose racing line was who’s. Nevertheless the incident happened and the steward made a decision on what he saw.

That’s Hot Rod racing folks, the close racing, the door handle to door handle action, the adrenaline, the highs of victory, and the lows of loss, and the incidents and occasional controversy. But we love it and that’s what we do it. And we’ll be back for more next time!

Rob Hughes

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