Birmingham 04 10 14-14

Classic Hot Rod Meeting Report.

Birmingham. 4.10.14


A lowly nine Classics took part in round 14 of the CHR National Series of 2014 at Birmingham Wheels. This low figure was due to several contributing factors: poor fixture planning, (coming just one week after Hednesford) classing social engagements, engine damage and transportation problems. Several drivers were attending Dave Owens’ 40th Birthday celebrations, and 444 Gary Andrews took his car to Arena Essex on Friday for testing only to discover more gremlins after a significant engine rebuild. 121 Charlie Schembri was another unfortunate absentee due to his Citroen towing vehicle overboiling on the way to Hednesford last Sunday and the resulting engine swap taking far longer than expected!

Nevertheless nine hardly and committed CHR souls were present at an Autumn cool but sunny evening at Birmingham Wheels in support of the National Hot Rods at their World Championship Qualifying Round.

It was pleasing to see that 422 Ant Whorton-Eales and 198 Andy Steward had both worked hard on their cars in the days preceding the meeting to ensure their attendance. Ant’s car still looked pleasing to the eye in spite of remedial repairs to the drivers side front wing.

Andy and his team had had the engine out, sent for repair and was placed back in the car only hours prior to the meeting. Andy had suffered a loss of oil to the critical top of his engine at Hednesford due to an oil pump failure. Back in the car, Andy had taken 198 out in practice and was delighted to have been as quick as some of the fully space framed national Hot Rods on track! “Bit too soon to be racing again after just six days,” said Andy, “but I’m here because I want to show my support for the class. Is a great formula and I would encourage any experienced oval racer to take it up.”

Ant took time to chat as well prior to racing, explaining the reluctant need to sell the car in spite of the way in which he felt that oval racing was the very best way for him to keep his reflexes sharp for his Clio Cup campaign. “I really have to run oval racing on a very tight budget, and although my girlfriend Nicole and I adore this MK1 Classic Hot Rod, we have other things to consider like the house and cost of repair if god forgive, I did crash! It needs to go to a good home where another driver can get as much out of racing the car as I have done.” Ant has indeed been a boon for the CHR class in 2014, and it will be sad to see him leave, though he may have one more meeting in him when the CHRs go to Hednesford next month.

An other driver who was great to see at Birmingham was 12 Scott Chambers. Scott, a former mini stox and Rod racer at his local Buxton track is currently a competitor in the mighty BriSCA Formula One Stockcars, but with repairs and upgrades to do on the American engined contact racer, and the desire to check out the Anglia for his dad Colin, Scott had registered #12 this week with Incarace and took a hasty journey to Birmingham in the sunlit afternoon to dial the car in and get signed off by Andy Steward in the pre-race assessment that all new drivers have to do. With no time to check cross weights and axle alignment, Scott was in the deep end a little, but with the low car attendance, running off the back of the grid and his previous race experience standing him in good stead, Scott was feeling confident.

So, all nine racers took to the grid for the first heat of the evening, the Birmingham floodlights giving a great atmospheric presence to these fantastic looking race cars. With no C grade drivers present it was 24 Roger Wright and 31 Steve Gooding who dropped the hammer to this clutch started race. It was surprising that the heats were clutch start,which was also the case at Hednesford last week. Although it looks spectacular it places undue strain on differentials, clutches and gearboxes. Ant Whorton-Eales smelt the heat of his clutch as he lurched away and passed 31 and 24 with confidence. Although 192 Ken Marriott was quickly following through, Ant was looking good at the head of affairs and if Ken was going to lead he was going to have quite a challenge on his hands trying to get past the the younger man in 422. However the challenge unfortunately never took place as on lap four Ant dived for the infield. The bearing in the differential had collapsed and the drive in the axle locked. A dejected Whorton-Eales climbed out of the Red Arrow Mk1, the diff had only just been re-built prior to Hednesford..

This left Marriott out in front and clear by a healthy margin. He looked on for the win but could see Andy Steward in 198 relentlessly gaining ground. It was indeed very close at the finish but Ken had just done enough to hold on and take his fourth victory of the season at Wheels, making it perfectly clear that he enjoys the challenge of the smaller tracks.

RESULT : 192, 198, 22, 445, 24, 924, 31. DNF 422 and 12.
Scott Chambers failed to finish due to the battery in the Anglia going flat!

Heat Two saw Whorton-Eales naturally fail to grid as he unfortunately have no spare diff. The eight car race had a similar result to the first but the way Marriott won it was even more dominant. He was like a hot knife through butter as the green dropped an the clutch started race and swiftly cutting though Gooding and Wright, 192 led into the first turn and he was away and gone. Steward tried hard, but had no way of catching Marriott in this one. Behind, 22 Rob Montagner and 445 Graham Boyd had quite and exciting battle for third place.

RESULT: 192, 198, 22, 445, 924, 31, 12, 24.

Both Roger and Stuart Wright were experiencing below parr results when compared with their performance last month at Birmingham. In September their cars were dialled in perfectly but tonight, simply not so, such is the vagaries of racing.

The twenty lap Final was again clutch started and as expected, it was really was a question of whether the longer race would allow Andy to catch Ken. It was a question that was to be answered, but not before many were pleased at 31 Steve Goodings early lap performance were he kept ahead of Ken. By the time Marriott had negotiated Gooding, Steward was hot on the heals of both of them. It was a real pity that Gooding spun into turn one as the field swamped him but he recovered quickly and the race continued. The battle was on between Marriott and Steward for the lead and although he finally made it, Andy had to work really hard to get passed Ken , and even when he did, Ken was straight back at him looking to remind him that he was far from a spent force. Both men enjoyed the race because it was hotly contested. Equally the battle for third was hard fought between 22 and 445, this time with Boyd coming out on top.

RESULT: 198, 192, 445, 22, 924, 21, 31. DNF 12 (again with battery failure.)

A good nights racing despite the low attendance. We do look forward to more cars next time out at Wimbledon on 18th October and especially at Hednesford for our season finale on 2nd November.

Rob Hughes

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