TIPPERARY 24 03 2018-2018


TIPPERARY 24th March 2018


Under bright and fresh Spring skies, seven drivers were in attendance for the opening round of the Irish Series for 2018 at Tipperary, and it was something of a first in the history of CHR racing, as for the first time, it was a ‘one make formula.’ All drivers were competing with Two Litre Pinto powered Ford Escort Mk2s. It would be interesting therefore to prove if success or failure on the night was solely down to the driver.

The two Ulster Men, 966 #TheDungannonCannon Thomas Dilly and #TheDiggerMan 976 Clive Richardson travelled the two hundred miles south to support (and contest) the Irish Series. As all points championships are ‘open’ in Classic Hot Rods, both Thomas and Clive have as much right to compete in the Irish Series as they have to compete in the Northern Ireland Series. To add further interest in the racing in the Emerald Isle, the points of both series will be aggregated as well to see who will become the ‘All Ireland Champion.’ Things could prove very interesting…

Fortunes shone in contrasting ways for both men. Richardson’s new #WideBoy SHP built car was unveiled for competition for the first time after its engine warm up was broadcast on the Classic Hot Rod Facebook Page and literally went viral! Unfortunately for such a minor issue, it was just ‘one of those nights for Clive as one of his main team auto technicians Gary Fowler explains….”Clive’s new car had a faulty master switch that caused a few wires to fry themselves tonight. We tried to fix it, and he attempted to ‘run the car clear’ in the practice laps of heats one and two, but she wasn’t having it. Nevertheless, Clive is still over the moon with the car in practice even with the usual car teething troubles.”

No such trouble affected Thomas Dilly in heat one though he certainly had his work cut out as all five of his rivals from the Republic were all very fast and determined drivers. The man who led the field away as the only White graded driver present was 195 Adrian Boyle. Boyle was driving for the first time tonight the former Thomas Dilly built Mk2 which last season had been raced by 937 Kenny Wilson. With strenuous and speedy work coming from Gerry Rothwell, the head honcho at #TOP #TotalOvalPrep, the car had been repainted in the Boyle colours of green and black (maybe he ought to be sponsored by the chocolate bar company!) and fitted with a Pinto engine which was certainly no mean feat in the time available as a change from Crossflow to Pinto requires all new engine mounts and bulkhead.

At the drop of the green, Boyle set the pace with visible confidence and aplomb – visibly quicker than he ever had been in his previous Anglia ride, and for many laps held the lead ahead of 19 Anthony Morgan, racing at Tipperary for the first time in over eighteen months, 175 Andy O’Donnell, in contrast a Tipperary stalwart, and 464 Mike #TheHammer Meade, the convert from rallying who joined the formula and settled in so successfully last season. At the back, Dilly had got clear of fellow Silver Stripe racer 25 #TheIrishThoroughBred Trevor Cusack. Cusack didn’t look too worried though and appeared to be playing with set up on the spacious super-fast Tipperary Oval. In the first third of the race it was still 195 from 19, 175, 464, 966 and 25, with the middle order group battling closely. #CaptainMorgan relentlessly reeled in Boyle and as Boyle’s green and black Escort power-slid under pressure from Morgan out of turn four, the lead changed. The battle had allowed Dilly to close however, and using his speed and daring to use the outside line, passed Boyle with ease and two laps later successfully challenged and passed Morgan with a similar sweeping manoeuvre. Having lost momentum, Boyle slipped down the places to last position and the remaining laps saw Thomas Dilly confidently drive to victory ahead of Morgan (who did extremely well with the car insisting on jumping out of gear every corner) and O’Donnell in third.

966, 19, 175, 464, 25, 195

At the start of heat two 195 Adrian Boyle enjoyed a perfect start and the early laps saw him set a tremendous pace with the engine sounding incredibly sweet. Initially, #TheIrishWolfHound 175 Andy O’Donnell let the Blue grade pursuit but he was soon passed by Morgan in the green and white car 19, and indeed O’Donnell’s Mk2 did not look as happy in heat two and inexorably slipped to the tail of the chase. The race then settled in : 195 from 966, 464, 19, 25 and 175. Morgan and Meade in a real close battle for middle order supremacy while Dilly focused on closing down the flying Boyle. Eventually he succeeded in catching the 195 car, and in sweeping fast to the outside again took the lead using the move he has so often perfected. Adrian settled down, in what can only be described as his finest drive to date, to consolidate his second place, and as the laps fell away, he just succeeded because the constantly battling Morgan and Meade just arrived on the scene as the chequered flag fell.

966, 195, 19, 464, 25, 195

Dusk had fallen by the time the cars came out on track for the Final, and the five cars glittered under the floodlights as they revved their engines in earnest in readiness for the clutch start. The one non starter was 175 Andy O’Donnell. Dilly executed a magnificent start, leaving Cusack for dead. Up ahead Boyle was again going at a tremendous rate and he battle behind took on a familiar Meade/Morgan theme battle only this time Dilly joined in alot earlier! It was very hot racing indeed with Dilly again engaging the outside line go try and sweep past. It was 195 from 464, 966, 19 and then 25. For all of Meade’s clear determination, Dilly made it count and set off in pursuit of Boyle once again. Catching 195 going ‘off the Boyle’, Dilly took the lead in this twenty lap event for the third time in as many races, and it looked like the County Tyrone man was going to get his hat trick. However just behind, the heated battle between Meade, Morgan and Boyle resulted in the drivers of cars 19 and 195 coming off worst and following a clash of wheel arches out of turn two, both careered to the wall. Fortunately the damage was only light, but the immediate throwing of the caution brought everyone to a halt. Just three cars remained for the restart, but if one expected a canter to the flag, this final proved anything but! “I had a miss at the restart.” Thomas admits, “and I allowed Mike Meade to come up the inside of me to take the lead.” Thomas threw his whole effort into trying to wrest the lead back from the pilot of #RedRooster, but Meade #hammered the door shut. For two laps the went hell for leather side by side. 966 swept outside then undertook the switchback with the slightest of openings to drive inside into turn three. Onto turn four and 464 lent on 966, and 966 lent of 464 and began to career out of control on to the home straight. With cheers of excitement for the drivers from all sections, both fought to recover as, grabbing the opportunity presented to him with both hands, 25 Trevor Cusack shot underneath both of them! It was a three way fight into turn one, and through the scuffle of dust that fogged the lights, three cars went into the turn, but only two came out! In the melee, Dilly had received a flat tyre! One lap later and Cusack, a driver who all night had been fine tuning his car, had been in the right place at right time, and took the chequered flag to the audible delight of his fans! Meade, was the only other finisher. For a five car event, it had proved itself to be an astounding race!

25, 464

The damage will be fixed, and they will all be back for more, but as a certain commercial often says, “It left all feeling #EPIC!”

Rob Hughes

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