Smeatharpe Stadium - Sunday 21st October 2012

Report by John Wyatt

Dull and overcast conditions greeted the large crowd of racegoers to Smeatharpe Stadium for the final bash of the 2012 season but it was not about the weather. It could have snowed but I doubt it would have put off anyone making the trip for this special meeting - the Dave Weare Memorial - and what a wonderful tribute to the great man it was too. There were some superb trophies on offer for the Autospeed Bangers, put up by work colleagues, friends and family - and all those that were lucky enough to win one I feel sure will treasure them. Also on the mammoth 18 race programme were Pre '68 National Bangers, BriSCA F2 Stock Cars - competing for the annual Ladies Trophy - and the 2 Litre Saloon Stock Cars in their final 2012 South West appearance. 

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

A slightly disappointing 25 BriSCA F2's arrived for their final Autospeed date of the year, but as has often been the case this season, you don't need a pit area full of cars to make a cracking meeting - and this certainly proved the case today. First casualty, even before the racing had started, was the unfortunate 526 Marc Rowe, terminally damaging his 'borrowed' car (belonging to brother Chris 76) when his throttle stuck open in pre-meeting practise. Joining the ranks, for the day at least, were brothers 770 Rob and 667 Tim Farrell using the Polley Sport hire cars, and it was good to see the boys mixing it with the stars of today - though I don't think either had quite realised how much things had changed in the formula since they last raced. Numbers meant a 'two-from-three' heats format was once more adopted and 14 cars lined up for heat 1 which included previous night's Coventry final winner and fastest man in pre-meeting practise 886 Chris Bradbury in his 'new' unpainted car. If Bradbury thought he was going to clean up in this one though he was wrong as 352 Dave Sansom drove a faultless race from the yellow grade, taking a comfortable win - his first since his return to the sport - though the Shoot Out Champion did open his account finishing 2nd. 605 Liam Rowe passed 991 Ryan Hoskin on the last lap to take 3rd. 16 cars took to the track for heat 2 which saw an absolutely faultless drive from 734 Glenn Sanders, taking a superb almost flag-to-flag victory, his lead never looking in any doubt. Once again 886 Chris Bradbury had to be content with 2nd, even he impressed with ex Stock Rod man Sanders' efforts. Another driver hugely impressive in this was 50 Ben Bowden, the white grader in his first Smeatharpe meeting holding on to 2nd past half-distance, eventually finishing in 9th. 116 Ashley Rundle, in his first Smeatharpe meeting in over a year, came home an excellent 3rd. 19 cars gridded for heat 3 and included both previous race winners with 734 Glenn Sanders making the early running - but 352 Dave Sansom was chasing him hard in 2nd. With 3 laps to go 352 Sansom went cleanly down the inside of 734 Sanders on turn 3 and that is how it finished, a good second win of the afternoon for the Plymouth man - and another excellent result for 734 Sanders, with super-star 676 Neil Hooper 3rd. The 'Lipson Vale Garage' sponsored Ladies Trophy final saw 23 cars out on track with the big question being did anyone have an answer to the 352/734 domination of things ? The short answer, in part at least, was 'no' as once more 734 Glenn Sanders powered away at the front from the white grade, joined in 2nd by 352 Sansom on lap 3. This situation continued through to half-distance, with 886 Bradbury already up into 7th - and 676 Hooper shadowing him closely in 8th. Next lap and Hooper passes Bradbury cleanly and sets off in persuit of the leaders, the 886 driver has no answer to this and has to be content to follow the Exmouth man as they close on 3rd place driver 116 Ashley Rundle - with leader 734 Sanders now carving his way calmly through the back markers, half a straight ahead of 2nd place man 352 Sansom. With 3 laps to go the gap between the two at the front hasn't changed and although 676 Hooper has passed 116 Rundle it seems a race stoppage is the only way the super-star driver is going to make any further progress - and that race stoppage never came. At the flag it was 734 Glenn Sanders that took a magnificent win, with 352 Sansom only managing to close the gap on him slightly, then came 676 Hooper, 886 Bradbury and 116 Rundle. But BriSCA F2 Stock Car racing can sometimes be cruel, although there was no doubt about the winner, the unfortunate Sansom's car failed post-race checks on a front axle infringement by the narrowest of margins and so both Hooper and Bradbury moved up a place to 2nd and 3rd. Respect to Sansom who made no complaint about the result but the afternoon belonged to Glenn Sanders, a remarkable heat and final double to finish his first season in the formula. The customery champagne celebration followed after the superb Ladies Trophy presentation. 20 cars made it out for the last F2 race of the 2012 season, with 'handicap' man 734 Sanders starting just ahead of his fellow white graders - and the 352 car of Dave Sansom sporting a fresh set of front wheels. There was a lot of incidents at the start of this one, involving 991 Ryan Hoskin, 476 Ryan Wadling, 667 Tim Farrell and 596 Ritchie Mead among others which brought out the waved yellows. 745 Lee Morgan led away the re-start but was soon passed by that man Sansom, as 676 Hooper tangled with 770 Rob Farrell on the main straight - with the 770 car seemingly pushing the 676 car of Hooper backwards toward the entry to turn 3. 126 Jamie Avery, who was having a miserable afternoon, then tangled with 50 Bowden on turn 3, both cars then hitting the fence hard and bringing out the waved yellows once more. Thankfully the race finished without further incident and it was Shoot Out Champion 886 Bradbury that claimed the victory, from the ladies favourite 302 Dale Moon who drove an excellent race for 2nd, just in front of 315 Justin Fisher, bringing down the curtain on not only an entertaining afternoon from the BriSCA F2's but a thoroughly enjoyable season.   

Saloon Stock Cars

After a hectic 2012 at Smeatharpe for the mighty Saloons,18 was still a good number of cars for the last encounter of what has been a superb season. 620 Aaryn Triggs was a welcome visitor from North of the border, lining up with most of the usual suspects. Heat 1 saw all 18 cars out on track but 184 Marty Colliver pulled off before the start with a fuel problem. 460 Cliff Friend made good use of his front row start, by lap 3 was on the same straight as both 120 Shane Brown and 1 Eddie Darby, the Torquay driver going on to record an excellent win, ahead of on-form man 995 Ben Goddard in 2nd. Excitement in the latter stages though when 916 Ross Thomas spins out on turn 4 just in front of the leaders, getting a stiff one on the nose from 2nd place man Goddard and then his car back-firing through the carb and sparking up - thankfully dealt with swiftly by the marshals. Some excellent work by the 916 Thomas crew saw the car back out with the other 17 cars for heat 2, though once again a Colliver, this time 698 Danny, failed to make the start after a problem. 460 Cliff Friend hit the front again at the start, followed once more by 995 Ben Goddard but a repeat of heat 1 was thwarted when the waved yellow flags came out for the dangerously parked 298 Ian Elms car - closing the pack up for the re-start. 1 Eddie Darby lined up 4th after the stoppage and at the green it was the World Champion who made the best of this opportunity, taking the lead after 916 Ross Thomas had pushed 995 Goddard into leader 460 Friend, unintentionally clearing a path for the gold roofed car, and it was the World Champion that took an easy win, with 916 Ross Thomas rewarded with 2nd after his hard work. Once again all 18 cars out on the raceway for the final, the last race in the West Country for the Saloons in 2012, and this time both Colliver boys made the start. 460 Cliff Friend hit the front on lap 2, once more followed closely by 995 Ben Goddard, but 298 Ian Elms had moved into 2nd by half-distance after pushing 995 Goddard wide into turn 3. Goddard's luck got no better either, a collapsed NSF wheel forcing his retirement as 1 Eddie Darby moved up into 3rd with 30 Barry Hollett now running 2nd. With 2 laps remaining it did look as though 460 Friend might just hang on for the win but 30 Hollett and 1 Darby were closing at speed and as the last-lap board came out it looked mighty close at the front. As the three cars came down the main straight for the final time, with Darby now past Hollett and at speed the World Champion went for the lunge on the unfortunate Friend, the impact taking both cars wide into the corner which almost allowed 30 Hollett through down the inside - but not quite. 460 spun just before the line, with 1 Darby recovering to snatch the win by the narrowest of margins from 30 Hollett and 120 Shane Brown - with poor 460 Cliff Friend failing to make the top ten. A spectacular end to what has been a mega season for the Saloon Stock Cars at Smeatharpe.     

Autospeed Bangers

Although a little under the expected number on the booking list a still excellent 70+ cars filled the pit area to remember a sadly missed fellow competitor, friend and comrade. The racing was excellent and the atmosphere superb - it was a wonderful thing to be a part of and the drivers did the promotion, the sport, the memory and most of all themselves proud. Seeing almost all the competing cars and drivers out for the grand parade, all smiling and happy, was quite an emotional sight and one that will be remembered. 32 cars lined up for heat 1 which was a fast but fairly tame affair, unluckiest man in this one had to be 28 Steve Linly who looked the fastest man on the track but a dangerously lose door plate rightly saw him receive the black flag - but his luck did improve as the afternoon went on. 194 Alistair Buchan took the win in his BMW Compact, the veteran driver continuing where he left off at St Day the previous week. 186 Leon Fasey did superbly to finish 2nd from the rear of the grid. 31 cars for heat 2 which was stopped early on after 293 Adrian Broadway's car sparked up. 242 Ben Ellacott was the star of this one, taking the lead on lap 4 in his very unusual and quick Mk1 Honda Prelude and never looking back, though that man 246 Ryan Sparks was very close behind at the finish. Heat 3 produced 26 starters and it was 28 Steve Linly who was definitely a cut above the rest, his Mondeo by far the quickest car on the track and a deserving winner after his earlier disqualification. 929 Sam Baker came home in 2nd. 28 cars lined up for heat 4 which included earlier race winners 194 Buchan and 242 Ellacott, but the Honda Prelude got spun at the start and 194 Buchan had no answer to the pace of the Honda Aerodeck of 372 Jay Matthews, the Torquay driver taking a convincing win from 438 Dan Rice. 31 starters for heat 5 which was probably the most entertaining of the afternoon with spins and incidents at both ends of the raceway, 991 Ben Hale kept his head throughout and took a deserved win, from 735 Wayne Flint. So, 5 races and 5 different winners - could this pattern continue ? As the 26 qualifiers for the 'B' final took their places on the raceway it just started to spit with rain. 938 Ashley Rice, who it has to be said had been driving well all afternoon, was an easy winner of what was a hectic race, the dampness catching out a few drivers with plenty of spinners. The 'A' final/Dave Weare Memorial Trophy race had 31 qualifiers line up on what was now quite a damp track, with the previous 5 heat winners starting from the back. As in the earlier 'B' final there were a lot of spinners, with pile-ups forming at each end of the track before a stoppage and eventual complete re-start was ordered for an incident on turn 3. 246 Ryan Sparks had been leading at the time of the stoppage but after the grid draw he found himself almost at the back of the 26 car field. At the green it was 735 Wayne Flint who made the most of his front row start and the Cullompton man drove a faultless race to take a deserved win - and the precious 'Dave Weare Memorial' trophy - just from the hard charging pair of 246 Ryan Sparks and 186 Leon Fasey in what was an excellent race. The beautiful silverware, and indeed all the day's banger awards, were presented by Dave Weare's wife and young family and I am sure the great man himself will have been looking down with great pride - and will have certainly enjoyed the afternoon's entertainment. Rest in peace, my friend.  

National Bangers Pre '68

Although to be honest not a great deal of support was expected from the Pre '68 National Bangers - it has afterall been a long season and these classic cars are hard to find - but nonetheless it was a real shame to see just 9 cars arrive for battle on such a special occassion, with this number down to 8 when 266 Ian 'Tiggy' Meaker's Austin A50 failed to make the start. But those that did make the effort treated the crowd to some nostalgic scenes, and the work put in by all was very much appreciated. The 8 cars that lined up for heat 1 were made up of an A60 for 452 'Lurch', a Wolseley 16/60 for 802 'Ringo', a well-used Riley 4/72 for 731 'Diabolical' Dyer, an Austin A40 for 801 Micky Plum, an A50 for 96 'Tank', a Singer Gazelle saloon for 270 'Slug', a super-smart later estate version for 28 Julian Coombes and an early Humber Sceptre for 154 Barry Pike. It has to be said that the race pace did not threaten any of the Smeatharpe lap records (!) but it was fun to see these classic 'old-skool' cars lurching around the raceway, 452 Anthony Sleeman in his immaculate but mis-firing Farina particularly good to watch. 731 Sean Dyer lost a wheel early on in the race, bringing out the waved yellows, and at the re-start it was come-back racer 28 Coombes that swept to an easy win from 270 Shaun Baker - with 452 'Lurch' deciding to liven things up by burying himself in the back of the 96 David Tancock A50, after 801 Micky Plum had ripped the rear wing off the vintage machine a lap earlier, as the race concluded. All 8 again made it out for heat 2 with 96 'Tank' again in the thick of things, giving 802 'Ringo' a serious rear-ender on turn 4 with 452 'Lurch' in the still mis-firing Farina then piling into the side of the stationery Wolseley, before getting spun himself by leader 28 Coombes. At the flag it was win number two for 28, with 154 Barry Pike a creditable 2nd in the Sceptre. The last race of the day, and indeed the season at Smeatharpe, was the 'Penfold Car Breakers' sponsored final-into-a-DD and raised 6 of the classic machines. 28 Julian Coombes was again the victor in the actual race, with 96 David 'Tank' Tancock once more doing his level best to entertain the willing crowd by giving and taking as much punishment as he could in his well battered Austin, waving any passing driver in ! The DD was surprisingly brutal, with even 28 Coombes using his once immaculate Singer to good effect as everyone to a man entered into the spirit of things. Finally it came down to the 28 Singer and the 154 Sceptre with the last action being a stonking head-on between the two on the start/finish straight, with the Sceptre the only one to back off afterwards - and then repeating the hit again ! So, kind of fittingly it was Dave Weare's good friend and team-mate 154 Barry Pike that took the win, and thoroughly deserved it was too. See you all next year !!            

BriSCA F2 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 A&B 352 886 605 991 596 254 302 745 830 770
Heat 2 B&C 734 886 116 676 991 476 315 667 50 167
Heat 3 C&A 352 734 676 315 116 126 189 605 302 667
Ladies Trophy 734 676 886 116 605 596 302 315 254 126
Grand National 886 302 315 352 167 990 734 189 667 476
Grade Awards W 734 Y 116 B 315 R 886
Saloon Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 460 995 100 314 298 1 120 698 56 94
Heat 2 1 916 103 56 30 184 199 995 2 314
Final 1 30 120 103 916 698 199 298 314 56
National Bangers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 28 270 801 nof
Heat 2 28 154 270 452 801 96 nof
Final 28 154 731 802 96 nof
Best Presented 28 801 802
Bangers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 194 186 133 10 154 134 19 176 99 83
Heat 2 242 246 438 235 247 372 775 452 333 320
Heat 3 28 929 38 991 10 778 881 60 58 845
Heat 4 372 438 186 320 246 100 113 154 175 134
Heat 5 991 735 715 741 881 700 668 816 452 743
B Final 938 743 183 331 556 744 333 999 185 845
A Final 735 246 186 372 113 28 715 668 134 235
Best Presented 56 154 182
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