Sixteen out of the eighteen drivers booked in attended the cool spring evening meeting at Ipswich with the absentees being Dave Fry and Colin Chambers. Nevertheless, the number of cars present were sufficient to put on some excellent high speed racing over the three race schedule in front of the Ipswich crowd, which is always very appreciative whenever the Classic Hot Rods come to visit.

My journey as CHR reporter started early in the morning as I made the 260 mile journey from Liverpool. I was taken from Derbyshire by the Tim Foxlow team. This distance paled into insignificance when compared to the mammoth 500 mile journey that 247 Graham McCabe undertook to compete at this meeting. Leaving his home in Bo’ness near Edinburgh on Friday night, he stayed over near Darlington, before completing his journey on Saturday. “Us ol’ boys need to take it steady!” Graham quipped. “Years ago I’d do the journey in one go.”

A far more local man also making his debut tonight was former National Champion 161 Dan Holden. Dan, who won the title on a rain soaked afternoon at Hednesford in 2013, made the switch to National Hot Rods last year when he effective swapped cars with Ken Marriott. He was out at Ipswich as he still enjoys racing the older cars and because not to race what was his brother Lee’s old CHR on his local track would really be a missed opportunity. It would also allow the car to return to the public eye because Dan will sell the car if some one wants to buy it.

444 Gary Andrews was also to make his 2015 debut at Ipswich. Andrews had terrible luck this year when he brought his iconic Anglia to Ipswich for practice in Febuary, only for the car to receive severe damage when he was accidentally put in the wall by a young driver in a different class of Rod. To say Gary was upset was to put it mildly, but the work he had put into the car with re-jigging and new panel work was magnificent. The car was still waiting sign work but it still looked a beauty. To then take the old girl out in practice and suffer a broken differential really summed up Andrews’ luck so far this year. This ill luck is bound to change!

Only fourteen cars took to the track for heat one as another casualty in practice was 14 Steve Stallwood. The Stig was hoping for a busy night race wise as he had also brought his Historic Saloon Stockcar to race as well. Unfortunately, Steve came off track after practice claiming severe problems with his two litre Pinto. Hopefully this set back is something that Stallwood can overcome for his next meeting.

The green flag dropped on heat one after two warm up laps and McCabe went into an immediate dominant lead from his advantageous pole position. It was a position he was never to be caught from. The 247 car left his immediate pursuers of 271 Jamie Johnson and 31 Steve Gooding for dust. The most interest angle of the race came from the excellent battle between 198 Andy Steward, 58 Steve Lumley, 144 Tim Foxlow, 333 Lee Wood, who had worked hard on fixing his Viva after his horrible crash at Northampton at the beginning of April, and 45 Craig Boyd. All these drivers were very tightly matched and although the most successful driver out there, Steward’s eventual second place still had to be worked extremely hard for. In the distance, McCabe took his first ever victory in Classic Hot Rods and the delighted Scotsman felt his incredibly long journey was made very worthwhile indeed!

247, 198, 58, 144, 45, 333, 6, 271, 121, 22

Heat two saw McCabe fail to repeat his heat one feat as he retired to the infield with a loose exhaust manifold. Again the five drivers previously mentioned sought to better one another lap after lap in a very closely fought contest but Andy Steward saw the gaps and really went for them. Anyone, like National Champion Lee Wood who tried the outside line, soon found the pace too hot and the grip clearly insufficient at this meeting and found that strategy without dividend. After a really hard battle with 58 Steve Lumley, Steward got through to cross the line first, however the meeting Steward declared that Andy had used excessive contact and consequently docked the 2014 Points Champion two places, therefore giving Lumley his third race victory of the season. The former circuit racer has made quite in impact this season. He took two victories from white grade the previous week at Northampton and now this win from Blue grade. Steve’s next meeting will see him competing as a Star man amongst the Red Tops.

58, 333, 198, 45, 144, 121, 6, 271, 265, 31

McCabe had concocted a fix to his manifold issues for the East Anglian Championship Final. Only ten other cars made the grid as 161 Dan Holden and 6 Graham Fulker had called it a night with cars they declared to be evilly handling and 72 Gary Goodswen also saw his good fortune desert him as he had discovered that the rear suspension mountings had broken. With race underway McCabe again left yellow top starters Johnson and Gooding, both of whom also stated their cars not to be on the pace this night, but they still wanted to be out there. From the back, the lone novice in this race, competing from that position for the last time was 265 Ray Harding. Harding, very impressed with the formula he has joined has in turn made a positive impression on his fellow drivers who have remarked on how well Ray is settling in and progressing. Ray himself remarked that every race he has been in he has got smoother and faster. Indeed in this final Ray kept on the lead lap and was able to follow the Star men for a majority of the race. The Star men themselves once again battled for supremacy, but absent from that battle was non other than 198 Andy Steward who suffered his first mechanical failure for a very long time as a half shaft broke on lap one! This left the the remainder of the Stars to see which of them would catch MCabe. It was in face 45 Craig Boyd who did so, finding the outside line on a number of occasions in his bespoke two lite powered A40 built by Polleysport. As 45 passed 247, the Scotsman’s manifold began to come loose again, and Graham debated retirement as Boyd broke away but the car was still motoring well and no warning signal was issued by the start Marshall and McCabe resolutely held the inside line and defended his second place ahead of Lumley, Wood and Foxlow. and that’s how it stayed with the A40 winning ahead Vauxhall Chevette, Mk2 Escort, HB Viva and Mk2 Escort. An excellent variety of high speed Classics telling the story the Final at Ipswich.

45, 247, 58, 333, 144, 121, 271, 265, 31

A delighted Boyd to the Championship but the wee man from Scotland, 247 Graham McCabe drove away from the Stadium feeling he was William Wallace having his very own Bannockburn!

Rob Hughes

Comments are closed.