United Downs Raceway - Sunday 6th November 2011

Hazy autumn sunshine greeted a good crowd and excellent turnout of competitors to the United Downs Raceway for the final meeting of the 2011 season. The programme featured the Stock Rods in their Grand National Championship, the Bangers in their Supreme Championship and the youngsters in the Ministox. As is traditional, the early November meeting has a 'Guy Fawkes' theme to it and although not quite T-shirt-and-shorts weather the racing in all formulas was HOT ! In the Bangers there was certainly the sparks flying - or flying Sparks, depending on which way you looked at it, and more than one Fire........ In the Stock Rods there were Fireworks (!).......and in the Ministox certainly a couple of real Sparklers - with some spirited and skilful drives particularly among the young female competitors.

The Grand Parade kicked things off and there were several entrants in the usual 'Best Decorated Guy' competition - an award that could easily have been won by at least one member of staff in Race Control, even without the need of a costume but eventually it was decided in favour of Ministox drivers 925 Amy Collett and 903 Adam Neville, with Banger man 10 Iain 'Sparky' Sparks in a very natty 'Guy Fawkes' outfit fitting of any fire-starting rascal from history - or was it simply the usual get-up for any well-to-do resident of Honiton on a Sunday afternoon in November........  

Stock Rods

The scene was set for some good racing from the non-contact boys with almost perfect conditions and double-points on offer for the Championship race. News was that the 'Bad Boy' himself - the charismatic 34 Glenn Sanders was racing for the final time before heading off to pastures new with a move to BriSCA F2's for next season - he's already had a trial in Saloon Stocks (too tame for the big man after Stock Rods !). But not quite heading off for anything at all was the unfortunate 40 Rick Cornell whose Stock Rod engine developed problems in practise and he was unable to take his place on the front row of the grid for the Championship race. Very sportingly 306 Neil Truran offered Rick the use of his beautifully prepared Toyota Starlet but after a short practise session Rick decided against using the RWD car. And so to the Championship race itself, 14 cars took to the raceway with the front row made up of top qualifier 181 Lindsey Jones on the inside with 151 Simon Vincent promoted to the outside in place of the missing Rick Cornell. From the rolling start it was 181 Jones that got away best, with 151 Vincent tucking in behind, on lap 2 one of the favourites and previous St Day double race winner 136 Stevie Gooch pulled off unexpectedly with what looked like a puncture. 34 Sanders quickly caught up the 151 Vincent car and thus began a race-long battle between these two, with Sanders trying everything in the book - and quite a lot that WASN'T - in an effort to pass the 151 Nova. 909 Justin Washer in the unusual Peugeot 106 was going like a train, passing everyone in front of him around the outside line, including both the  battling 151 Vincent and 34 Sanders, and by lap 11 was up to 2nd, but at the front 181 Jones was in complete control. 151 and 34 continued to trade paint in 3rd and 4th right up until the final corner of the last lap when a little over-enthusiastic driving by the Exeter man saw the two tangle and both come to rest on the infield just shy of the chequered flag, with neither recording a finish. So 181 Lindsey Jones it was that took the well deserved victory from 'outside line' man Washer, with a spirited drive from the veteran himself 37 Barry Trickey home in third. A fast and enjoyable race fitting for the Championship event. With the major race run, Heat 2 featured two-thirds of the competitors and saw another 14 cars line up this time in grade order, front row made up of ex-Ministox graduates 196 Phil Chapman on the inside and 286 Rich Crowther. As the green flag dropped it was the Corsa of 196 that made the early running but by lap 2 437 Lewis Trickey in a heavily smoking Nova had taken over at the front. Another ex-Ministox driver 853 Sam Matthews decided he had had enough of following the mobile smoke-screen and moved up into the lead but this was not to last as by halfway 49 Kev Lock decided he fancied a go at leading the race with 54 John Tait also getting in on the action and moving up to 2nd. Meanwhile 'outside line' man 909 Washer had moved up to 3rd. It was complete mayhem on lap 17 however as 437 Trickey encountered all sorts of problems through turns one and two, and with just a little help from the 354 car of Mark Sear ending up going across the track at the start of the main straight, finally coming to a stop and then rolling over courtesy of the hapless 286 Crowther bringing out the yellow flags. 49 Lock led the re-start from 54 Tait and 909 Washer and despite the Peugeot man trying all he could to pass the Nova of 54 it finished in that order, with 30 Rob Peters finishing in 4th for the second time in the afternoon. Heat 3 once again saw 196 and 286 share the front row, with 286 Crowther taking the early lead before being passed by fellow ex-Ministox pilot 853 Matthews. 34 Sanders' luck continued to be bad as he spun on turn two, but 136 Gooch was making up for his earlier problems by moving up to 2nd behind 853 and then powering into the lead just before half-distance, with 730 Brendon Sealy going well in 3rd. Unfortunately though for the Hoochie-Goochie man (!) this was as good as it was going to get as for the second time he was forced to retire, this time with mechanical problems, thus promoting the 'new-boy' 853 back into the lead from the 'old-hand' 730 up to 2nd and 286 Crowther into 3rd, and this is how it finished. A mention must go to 311 Neil Martin who managed a very creditable 4th place in his 'old skool' RWD Starlet - Martin being the last man to actually win a Stock Rod race in a RWD car at St Day a year or two ago. Fellow 'RWD' Starlet man 306 Neil Truran finished just behind in 5th, proving that there is life in these old Toyotas yet. (With rumours that the veteran Truran has a 'new' Starlet under construction for next season also). The Stock Rod final fielded 16 starters with 196 and 286 once again making up the front row, this race would also decide who would win the 2011 St Day track and Autospeed points titles. 286 Crowther it was that led from the green with 853 Matthews once again slotting in behind in 2nd, followed by 54 Tait, and this is how it remained until half-distance. On lap 13 49 Kev Lock passes the 54 car to take up 3rd but can make no further progress on the two ex-Ministox men at the front as they come home in the final Stock Rod race of the 2011 season. 909 Justin Washer despite a faultless drive only manages to finish in 6th, missing out on the Silver roof by just two points to 181 Lindsey Jones - who says the Stock Rods aren't competitive ?!!


A very good turn-out of cars for the Bangers in their Supreme Championship, with a number of 'fresh' and superbly turned out cars on show just going to prove how important an event this was for the 'nudge-and-spin brigade so late in the season - even 194 veteran Alistair Buchan had a clean pair of overalls.......!! First up was one of two 'Last Chance' qualifiers - with the first three going through to the main event. 14 starters lined up including 38 Kevin Styles in a beautifully turned out Rover - top marks to him ! 46 Dennis Richards led the field away from 45 Mike Reed and 881 Gary Emery, 862 Darryl Cock an early spinner and 38 Styles' pretty Rover also falling foul of the pit-bend wall. 46 Richards began to pull away at the front still persued by 45 and 881 and these positions remained as the leading trio began to carve their merry way through the back markers. With three laps to go 46 was well in command of things going on to record a flag-to-flag victory, but 881 Emery swapped positions with 45 Reed, these two continued their dice right up to the chequered flag, and it was indeed all three of these drivers who booked their places at the back of the grid for the Championship race, 134 Jarret Bond just failing to make the cut finishing in 4th. The second 'Last Chance' race fielded 15 starters with Cornish Champion 654 Mark Pope and 938 Ashley Rice front row starters, these two having a right old battle in the early stages before being joined and then separated by 406 Chris Bridger. 451 Mickey Reed then gets in on the action and moves up into 4th but all eyes are now on Bridger as he closes ever nearer on leader 938 Rice, with the lap boards out 938 Rice just hangs on to take the flag from 406. 451 Reed just missing out in 4th. The 'Supreme Championship' fielded an impressive line-up with the fresh and well turned out Honda Civics of 246 Ryan Sparks (inside) and 242 Ben Ellacott (outside) making up the front row, with the Civic of 415 Sean Gillett and Nissan Primera of 441 Dan Sutherland forming row two. In a fast and furious race it was defending champion 246 Sparks that was making the early running at the front, with 242 Ellacott matching the Paignton man for pace initially - indeed taking the lead briefly before getting held up by a back-marker - but as the laps passed it was Sparks that began to put distance between himself and the following pack, 441 Sutherland also going well in 3rd. At half-distance it was 246 from 242 and 441. Further back the veteran and all-round superstar 186 Leon Fasey was expertly carving his way through the field in his flying Mondeo and as the lap boards came and went looked a real threat to the leading trio but despite a pit-bend spinning 556 Pete Hollis threatening to disrupt the leaders progress it was the flying Sparks that ran out an easy winner from the recovering Ellacott. 441 Sutherland kept his Primera's nose in front of Uncle Leon to finish 3rd, with the van-man from Sampford Peverell showing his class to take 4th - just missing out on a trophy, much to his disgust ! So, 246 has the 'Supreme Championship' for another year to add to the Autospeed points and St Day points titles he already holds - and like him or not you cannot deny that he is certainly a worthy winner. Next up for the Bangers was the consolation, 24 cars making their way out for this one with the now not-so-pretty 38 Rover of Kevin Styles joined on the front row by 94 Adie Higman. 38 it was that made the initial running from 185 Richard Coaker but on lap 3 a stationery car in a dangerous position on the start/finish brought out the yellow flags but before anyone really had a chance to react 877 Josh Lovelock rolled his car at the end of the main straight ! 38 again led the re-start from 185 and 235 Tony Brooks, 185 then spins and a rapid 99 David Spooner makes his way towards the front. With 4 laps left to run 99 moves into the lead as 38 Styles pulls onto the infield, and it is Spooner that hangs on to a popular victory, even finding time to spin the 133 car on the final lap ! 158 Sean McCarthy did well to finish second, with 997 Cameron May doing equally well to come home in third. The 15 lap final saw the earlier 'Guy Fawkes' award winner 10 Iain Sparks joined on the front row by 235 Toby Brooks but it seems one award was enough for the Honiton driver as he fell by the wayside early-doors getting involved in a pit-bend pile-up. Meanwhile 235 was having more luck at the front, driving very well as he made his way through the back markers, followed briefly by 131 Stephen Cock but with 4 laps to go a big pile-up had formed on the pit-bend and as first 247 Richard Sparks and then 242 Ellacott closed in 235 Brooks somehow got sucked into the pile of crashed motors. Once again unseen from the back of the grid, that man Fasey was once more showing his class and with two laps to go had worked his way up into 4th behind 452 but no more progress was made by the veteran and as the chequered flag came out it finished 247 Sparks from 242 Ellacott, 452 and 186 - still no trophy for the Mondeo maestro !! Much was expected from the 'Allcomers' race if previous years were anything to go by but although there certainly was a fair amount of action it was a little tame compared to last year. 30 cars emerged from the pit area with 452 and 491 making up the front row, 452 made the early running before 675 Nash pulled on to the infield with flames visible from the front of his car - bringing out the yellow flags. 452 led the re-start from 235 Brooks and 491, lap 8 saw 242 up into 3rd and by half-way was up to 2nd and a good bet for the win. 452 then got caught up with 607 Gary Sillifant and 862 Cock on the start/finish straight and with 4 laps left to run 242 takes it up with 246 Sparks now up to 2nd. At the flag it is 242 that has the honour of winning the last Banger race of the 2011 season, with 246 Ryan Sparks ending a good day at the office in 2nd and 929 Sam Baker 3rd. As a fitting end to the day, 31 attempts to fence the 235 car of Brooks after the chequered flag, misses and then catches fire - well, it was almost November 5th !!


Another good showing from the youngsters in the Ministox promised an entertaining afternoon for the junior formula - and entertain and impress they did ! Heat 1 saw 997 Frankie Radmore line up on the front row next to fellow white grader 916 Keiran Brodie ahead of a 14 car field and as the green flag waved it was the young lady from Willand that made the early running with 916 hot on her heels. 986 the impressive Sophie Fasey (where have I heard that surname before.....?!!) quickly moved up into 3rd with the always entertaining 942 Steven Gilbert up to 4th from the back of the grid. 907 Ben Sillifant had a bit of a moment spinning in turn four but managed retrieve the situation well and carry on. Meanwhile 991 Ryan Hosking was shadowing Gilbert in 5th and as the lap boards came and went it was these five drivers that kept their respective cool finishing in that order. 997 taking an impressive win from 916 Brodie and 986 Fasey excellent value for 3rd - who says 'girl power' ended with the Spice Girls ?!! 12 starters for heat 2 and once again it was 916 and 997 that made up the front row and as the race got under way it was 997 Radmore that made the initial running. 991 Hoskin - whose family had generously sponsored the Ministox races for the afternoon - spun early on dropping him out of serious contention but 936 the talented Alfie Whitelegg was having better luck and had moved up to 2nd. With two laps to go 942 Gilbert moved into 3rd from 986 Fasey but in a effort to dis-lodge 936 Whitelegg on the last corner of the last lap, managed to push the youngster wide, this caused a chain reaction with the leading cars the result of which saw 942 Gilbert across the line first, with a recovering 936 Whitelegg in second, dis-placed leader 997 Radmore third and after crossing the line sdeways after being spun by 989 Joe Marquand 986 Sophie fasey managed fourth !! Entertaining stuff from the youngsters !! The final produced 12 starters and for the third time in the afternoon it was 997 Radmore and 916 Bodie that led the field away, with 997 once more making the early running and it looking like a re-run of heat 1. But a good start also by 916 Keiran Brodie saw the lad from Truro make a fight of it and the two youngsters traded 1st and 2nd places over the opening couple of laps.  Unfortunately on lap 3 under pressure Brodie made contact with the fence on turn 4 allowing 997 Radmore back into the lead, meanwhile 942 Gilbert and 932 Sam Moore tangled, and after clipping the fence on the exit of turn 4 932 came to a standstill bringing out the yellows in the interest of safety. With the stricken 932 car removed, there were six laps left at the re-start and once more it was the 997 Radmore car that led away the field, followed by 910 Tom Cadby and 936 Whitelegg. Radmore it was that made the better start as 986 Fasey spun the unfortunate Whitelegg and 991 Hoskin mounted the bank. The final lap once again finished in spectacular fashion with 997 Radmore leading into the final corner, 910 Cadby in 2nd getting the hurry-up from 903 Adam Neville (in an effort to improve his finishing in the overall track points championship) which saw the 903 driver then up into 2nd, 989 Marquand into 3rd, 907 Sillifant 4th and the unfortunate Cadby back down to 5th !! Once again, the talented youngsters in the Ministox were excellent value for money - as they have been throughout the 2011 season both at St day and Smeatharpe - and the future for oval sport in the South West looks in good hands. And in young Frankie Radmore, well she certainly seemed to have the 'x' factor today and I for one don't need Simon Cowell to tell me what a big future she has in racing !!

As a footnote, if young 936 Alfie Whitelegg asks Father Christmas for nothing else - perhaps he could ask for a racey new paint-job for his rather drab looking Mini to suit his superb style of driving ! See you ALL next year !!


Stock Rods 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
GNC 181 909 37 30 730 193 49 46 54 222
Heat 2 49 54 909 30 853 354 306 46 181 193
Heat 3 853 730 286 311 306 222 37 151 196 nof
Final 286 853 49 54 222 909 30 46 151 730
Ministox 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 997 916 986 942 991 903 989 936 935 966
Heat 2 942 936 997 986 989 903 932 935 916 907
Final 997 903 989 907 910 935 936 986 942 nof
Grade Awards W 997 Y 986 B 989 R 942
Bangers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
LC1 46 881 45 134 778 10 452 182 first 8 to final
LC2 938 406 654 451 804 131 100 847 first 8 to final
Supreme Championship 246 242 441 186 607 113 194 183 154 247
Consolation 99 158 60 677 235 862 929 133
Final 247 242 452 186 183 60 246 607 441 154
Allcomers 242 246 929 154 247 183 715 235 804 333
Best Presented 38 131 607
Grade Awards W 452, 881, 235 Y 99, 862, 100 B 183, 60, 929 R 242, 246, 247
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