Classic Hot Rods Meeting report

Superb weather, demanding conditions, enforced variance of speed, car fires, multiple accidents and leading a classic hot rod driver a merry dance! And that wasn’t racing, that was just my journey down from Liverpool to Northampton!

Left home at 8.45, made good progress and encountered 222 Shaun Taylor on the M6 in the Cheshire area just as we encountered a low lowder taking some heavy machine at slow pace causing traffic mayhem around it! Flashing my lights at Shaun to allow him out to pass the huge vehicle, we both continued the journey south. Through thee Birmingham road works I was about to lead the 222 pilot onto the M1 when all the traffic snaked to the fast lane to steer clear of a poor Vauxhall Vectra engulfed in flames. Fortunately the cars occupants were safe and clear. Finally negotiating the motorway, I veered off at Junction 15 with Shaun Taylor still in my mirrors. To my embarrassment I took the wrong exit from the A45 and Shaun followed me! Fortunately we were soon back on the A428 and on to Brafield on the Green.

Once at the Pr1mo Raceway I apologised to Shaun for leading him a merry dance. “Thought you knew the way!” He said, “I’ve never been here before!”

Well there were plenty more Classic Hot Rod drivers who had. Over twenty cars graced the Northampton Raceway on a gloriously warm and sunny day…and true to form the guys topped the racing bill and put on some superlative racing.
But not before some pre-race serious challenges. Most notably poor 333 Lee Wood. His car was in pieces just half an hour before start time as practice had caused him to smash a diff and the engine sounded truely awful with timing and electrical issues. 44 Rich Lowe has heating trouble. The radiator thermostat was playing up and the new engine in 44 was running far too hot with water being lost.

Most drivers were pleased with practice however and heat one soon got underway and the CHRs race was the second race on the bill. Lee Wood and Rich Lowe failed to grid. To the sound of Kaiser Bills Batman 244 Fil Gambone and 222 Shane Taylor led them away. It was a clean fast race but at the front it was all about Gambone. The former banger driver was clearly under graded on the day as the superlative former Hendy car was handling superbly powered by the 1700 Crossflow and he simply stomed clear to a flag to flag victory. Such was his dominance Fil crawled coolly across the line as the chequred flag dropped! The story of the race was behind Gambone as father and son Paul and Jamie Bowring battled for supremacy dicing very closely indeed for second place. 39 Dean Hunt also was involved in the tussle late in the race after the early demise of 271 Jamie Johnson and 24 Roger Wright being swallowed by the pack. Further down the field places were fought epically between161 Dan Holden, 144 Tim Foxlow, 16 Pat Smith, 20 Dave Fry and 29 Stu Donald. All in all it was a great start to the day’s racing.

Heat two could be said t be an action replay but in the event equally as enjoyable to watch. Again 244 Fil Gambone stormed to another flag to flag victory but not before 333 Lee Wood attempted to actually race this time. He got on the grid only for electrical gremlins to once again interfere and he was promptly pushed onto the infield. 44 Rich Lowe featured in heat two and the Matlock man did indeed put in a good turn of speed, but again as he volunteered in the pits afterwards, the engine was really running too hot and he didn’t push it. It looked likes team Bowring were going to repeat their heat one battle till Jamie spun out. Fortunately no one hit him and he re joined the race. 271 Jamie Johnson battled well for second with 24 Roger Wright until a fire in the dizzy caused a fast escape to the infield on the penultimate lap. Wright took second and Paul Bowring in car 10 was third. The usual suspects of Holden, Foxlow, Smith, Fry and Donald took the minor places but interspersed in them was 6 Graham Faulker who car was fast but in the pits he was complaining of ill handling. He had adjusted the cross weight to as far as 54% to try and get it to handle!

Such was the display the Classic Hot Rods had put on so far at sunny Northampton that the Clerk of the Course announced that the Final was being increased from 25 to 30 laps and we eagerly anticipated a stunning race. Would Gambone make the triple or would the stars finally get him? Well the 244 driver had to start this race at the back of his grade thanks to his earlier victories so it was 222 Shaun Taylor that led them away. Soon Gambone stormed through to take the lead but in his battle with others veteran 24 Roger Wright was having his best ever race meeting of the season. In second place, seeing off 271 Jamie Johnson and 222 Shaun Taylor, Wright was in fact closing on the flying Gambone. Then suddenly CHAOS as place man 6 Graham Faulker’s engine blew big time in turn three and oil went everywhere. 444 Gary Andrews was a spinner and 29 Stu Donald hit the wall and others, but critically Gambone caught the oil too and was passed by Wright. At this point the yellows came out to deal with the mess. Incredibly all cars that wanted to continue did so including Stu Donald who car was displaying significant damage to both wings! Confusion reigned in race control as they sought to discover if 244 was in the lead before or after the yellows. Wright believed he was the leader and made his case on the in field. After a delay, Wright was right! The 24 driver led them away in the restart cushioned by the lap down Donald and Boyd. An issue of engines overheating was of concern but the cars got underway again. Could Gambone get back at Wright? The fate was taken away from 244 shortly into the restarted race as his engine cooked causing further yellow flags. Gambone’s car safely exstiguished 24 Roger Wright took the remaining laps confidently to victory ahead of 30 Jamie Bowring to capped of a good day ahead of a delighted 144 Tim Foxlow. Inspite of his damage, the lap down 29 Stu Donald was still racing hard and was rewarded with 10th.

An abridged version of a truely excellent day’s racing! For more detail check out the videos linked to the Classic Hot Rod site. Roll on the summer and more impressive racing from the Retro Heros! See you next time at Birmingham on Saturday 25th May.

Rob Hughes

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