Hednesford 28 09 14-14



A respectable number of 18 Classic Hot Rods were in attendance at Hednesford for Round 13 of the CHR National Series of 2014.

Appearing in the pleasant climes of the early Autumn sunshine, it was a delight to see the return of 20 Dave Fry, making his first appearance sine the National Championships in August and 422 Ant Whorton Eales making his first appearance in his Classic Hot Rod since May due to his Clio Cup racing commitments. Hednesford also welcomed first time visitor 58 Steve Lumley making only his second CHR appearance since his debut at Ipswich in July. Joining the regulars like Irish open Champion 8 Darren Owen and National Champion 333 Lee Wood, Hednesford saw father and son team 24 Roger Wright and 924 Stuart Wright in attendance looking to emulate their recent excellent Birmingham form. It was pleasing to see 271 Jamie Johnson up from Chelmsford and 247 Graham McCabe from Bo’ness in Scotland too. Back for another go were 222 Shane Taylor and 2 Colin Chambers, and brothers 159 Mick Caton and 275 Chris Caton.

Plenty of the usual crew were present to enjoy the day, ice cream or light refreshment in hand, unless like Stu Kearsley, who was up to his armpits in tyres for his arrive and drive hot rod and banger driver Darren Owen, whilst avoiding water fights and fending off adulating groupies! Drivers Tim Foxlow and Dave Owen where present in a spectator capacity, wagering on the outcome of the days events and enjoying their fresh perspective on the racing – by watching it from the safe side of the fence!

By the time all 18 drivers had managed to get in the correct starting positions for heat one, much to meeting steward Paul Gerrard’s exasperation and Ant Whorton-Eales fits of laughter out on the circuit, everyone finally got their race face on. It was a race of fresh potential with Whorton -Eales finally getting his first race from the front of the grid accompanied by the budget racer with bags of talent, 159 Mick Caton.

The potential of a clean fast race however evaporated by the uncertainties and unpredictable nature of short oval racing. 422 Ant Whorton-Eales was making his bid for the lead challenging 79 Gary Winterton when it all kicked off. Winterton’s inside rear wheels actually broke and sheared, crashing across the front on the the red 422 car and clattering the plating at alarming speed. It impact was very serious and the stricken 79 car looked for all intents and purposes a complete right off. Gary has had absolutely no luck at all this season with nearly every outing he has partaken in at Hednesford resulting in some significant damage for the 79 car, which prior to racing, alway looks one of the very smartest classic hot rods on the scene. This crash now terminated Gary’s racing for the rest of the season. The damaged Whorton-Eales also retired to the infield. More damage painfully resulted from 271 Jamie Johnson’s Crossflow engine going bang in a very big way by throwing a conrod through the side of the engine and throwing oil liberally over the race track. 198 Andy Steward hit the oil and the plating but the biggest crash befell our long distance visitor 247 Graham McCabe. Graham himself explains: “It was the longest journey I’ve ever taken for a roll and a cup of tea! Three laps into the race Jamie Johnson’s engine threw a conrod and he spun. I tried to avoid him, but hit the oil that was all over the track, so I went side on into the barrier and Jamie kinda rolled back and collected me as I was against the barrier. I was just unlucky, but thats racing!”

The re-start saw the domination of the Brothers Caton. Released from the immediate 422 challenge, the experienced driver but relative new comer to Classic Hot Rods, 159 Mick Caton was left to put his stamp on the race from the front, but the crowd enjoyed the spectacle of none other driver but his younger brother Chris in 275 begin to close him down. It was a close call in the final laps but Mick held on in front of Chris to make heat one a Caton 1 – 2. The whole of the Caton family made the biggest noise at the track as Mick went on his lap of honour!

RESULT: 159, 275, 20, 333, 101, 924, 31, 58

Heat two was almost a sigh of relief as things returned to form. With the absence of Winterton and the Caton Brothers instigating handling adjustments which apparently made things worse not better, Whorton-Eales in his duct tape bandaged race car was left unmolested to storm away from the front. 198 Andy Steward made excellent progress in a hastily repaired race car, passing 8 Darren Owen early on and getting the better of 33 Lee Wood later in the race, but the real angle on the race came from 20 Dave Fry’s pursuit of Whorton-Eales. 422 survived as the lap ran out, but could he do the same in the longer distance clutch start Final?

RESULT: 422, 20, 198, 333, 275, 8, 222, 101

The question on everyones lips were to be answered as the green flag dropped and the roar and scream of the pintos and crossflows roared into life for the final. Whorton-Eales and Mick Caton again ruled from the front but the story played out as many had predicted as the laps dropped away. Having shaken off the attentions of Caton, Whorton-Eales was making a strong case for a heat and final double. The former mini-stox and incarod ace was really making his vast experience count despite his youth, and indeed drawing on his race car composure that he could take from his professional race car experience in the Clio Cup Championship, Ant remained cool and determined even though he could see the Silver Fox that is 20 Dave Fry begin to close him down.

The lap boards were out but Whorton-Eales continued to hold his line. Fry went to his out side and the race to the chequered flag wound up in earnest! The finish was a tremendous climax as Fry, using every inch of available tarmac and grip, powered through the final turns in his light former drag strip racer of a Mk1 Escort and beat Whorton-Eales to the flag by inches!

RESULT: 20, 422, 159, 333, 8, 924, 101, 24

All in all, an excellent days racing despite the damage incurred to 79, 247 and 271 at the beginning of the day. 198 Andy Steward took the car away needing attention if he is to make Birmingham this coming Saturday. The Caton Brothers took their cars home delighted. No damage, points and a trophy. Overall, there was good craic to be had in the pits amongst the drivers and most went home happy.

Rob Hughes

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