Smeatharpe Stadium - Sunday 20th October 2013

Report by Jon Wyatt

The final 'proper' meeting at Smeatharpe of the 2013 season certainly had everything. On the weather front we had torrential rain, hailstones, lightning and sunshine - but this was a meeting to remember a sadly lost member of our racing 'family' after all, Dave Weare (who used to work for the Met' Office) so we'll put that down to him ! God bless you Dave. On the racing front one driver won three races, two drivers won two, several won none - and one race had two winners! In the F2s there was drama, Les Palmer, but no 'Flying Farmer' - as 830 Andrew Bennett was among the 'no-shows'. With a current World Champion, a could-have-been World Champion and, perhaps, a future World Champion among the entry - with the 'Ladies Favourite' winning the Ladies Trophy on a day when the steward was kept nearly as busy as the turnstile staff........! Perhaps the crowd was a little sparse but the action certainly wasn't.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

'Ladies Trophy' day is the traditional end of season bash for the BriSCA F2s at Smeatharpe and despite the gloomy predictions from the BBC weather department although low the 35 car enrtry meant the promotion were able to run a 'normal' two heats, consolation and final format. The action though began even before the advertised one o'clock start time as 979 Paul Moss was promptly loaded by the steward for some distinctly iffy antics in pre-meeting practise which left the unfortunate 430 Simon Edwards with some extensive front-end repairs needed to his car. 'Rain Master' 254 Richard Beere had no such problems though recording the fastest lap time on a wet track making his intentions clear early. Among the entry was World Champion 783 James Rygor, returning to the Devon track for the first time since winning that prestigious title in September - and the thankfully now fully recovered 886 Chris Bradbury, also returning to the Devon track for the first time since he didn't.  As at St Day the previous week also among the entry were three temp' licenced drivers, 206 Matt Brewer, 542 Steven Gilbert and 828 Julian Coombes - whose places/points would not count should they finish in them because of their 'temp' status. The first race of the day was the White and Yellow grade final/heat 1 and 16 cars lined up on the rain-soaked track, and with very dark skies overhead the stadium lights were turned on giving the impression it was a night meeting rather than a Sunday afternoon event ! Front row starters 745 Lee Morgan and 734 Glen Sanders led away the field at the green but the race was almost stopped before it got started as 734 Sanders spun on the exit of turn 4, 602 James Horwell, 991 Ryan Hoskin and 686 Jay Scott tangled - with the latter losing a rear wheel - bringing out the waved yellows even before the cars had crossed the start/finish line for the first time ! After the debris was cleared but before there was a chance to line up the remaining cars the heavens opened and all hell broke lose in the weather department, with torrential rain, hailstones and even lightning breaking out, with the unfortunate drivers forced to see out the storm, strapped in their cars. After a delay of a good few minutes conditions did improve, a little, and after three rolling laps off we went again and with standing water on much of the track it was 745 Lee Morgan who took the early lead from 156 Pat Lines. Before long though 302 Dale Moon had powered his way to the front and with a clear track ahead of him began the serious business of putting distance between himself and those fighting their way through his spray in persuit. 4 laps in though and 254 Richard Beere was already up to 3rd, after initially starting at the back of the field among the blue grade and as the race progressed the veteran driver certainly looked the only serious threat to the flying Moon who really seemed to have mastered the awful conditions. By half-distance Beere had passed 476 Ryan Wadling to move into 2nd and the distance between him and leader Moon was shortening by each lap and before long he was right on the youngster's rear bumper - though he must have been driving by radar as I could not work out how he could see anything at all through the spray, though with the pair of them now up among the back-markers it was probably the same for both. Last lap and as the two cars storm down the start/finish straight for the final time 254 Beere goes for the lunge into turn 1, pushing Moon wide to take the advantage out of turn 2 but at turn 3 the cheeky Ladies Favourite is the one doing the pushing and it is Moon who exits turn 4 first and holds on to take a fine win, the White and Yellow grade trophy and 4 new Yokohama tyres - by no more than six inches from 254 Beere, superb stuff, and with 954 Jamie Beere coming through in 3rd, it was a great start to the afternoon for the family. The rain had almost ceased as the 17 cars lined up for heat 2 including 886 Bradbury - who had secured 3rd place on the shale at Coventry the previous evening in the English Open Championship Final - and World Champion 783 Rygor, and it was these 2 that were the stars in this one. Rygor chased Bradbury hard as they both carved their way through the field from the back of the grid - with the Winnersh man actually taking the lead on lap 3, which surely must rank as one of the quickest drives from the back of the grid to the front in a race. By half-distance 886 Bradbury was more than comfortable at the front, with 890 Paul Rice driving superbly to keep the charging Rygor behind him in 2nd, surviving several assaults from the World Champion before eventually being passed with 5 laps to go - with 676 Neil Hooper sneaking past the 890 car also. Last lap and with 886 Bradbury more than the length of a straight ahead of 2nd place man Rygor, 890 Rice takes a tighter line through turns 3 and 4 and manages to re-take 3rd from 676 Hooper.

With the rain now stopped the result of the consolation was quite bizarre. Among the 9 cars that took to the drying track were the three temp' drivers at the back of the line-up. At the green, after a couple of early spinners, it was 156 Pat Lines who took it up - while further back temp' 542 Steven Gilbert was getting to grips with his front bumper by spinning 83 Sy Harraway out of the way on turn 4, the ex' 522 Chris Mikulla car then getting collected by temp' 206 Matt Brewer. As the race neared half-distance it was obvious that 542 Gilbert was the quickest car on track, and before long had slotted in behind 2nd place man 651 Luke Sansom who was driving very well indeed in his first BriSCA F2 meeting. 542 Gilbert was soon past the 'new boy' and by the time the union-jack was shown was also past 156 Lines and heading the field ! Also going very well too was another of the temp' drivers, 206 Brewer, already up to 4th - but a lap later had moved into 2nd after 156 Lines had made a mistake going into turn 3 which also allowed 651 Sansom up into 3rd, or the lead if you discount the two leading temps' ! Before the chequerd flag 156 Lines did manage to re-pass Sansom but he could do nothing about the flying temps' and it was a 'win' for ex' Ministox star 542 Gilbert, closely followed by 206 Brewer. Obviously this 'result' didn't stand and therefore 156 Lines was presented with the chequered flag and the trophy, with a bemused 651 Sansom rewarded with the runner-up spot. Very sportingly the promotion also presented an un-inscribed trophy to 542 Gilbert in recognition of his maiden 'win' in the formula and he joined 156 Lines on the lap of honour. A big future in F2s awaits the Doublebois youngster methinks.

The annual 'Ladies Trophy' final, sponsored as always by Lipson Vale Garage, Plymouth, saw 26 qualifiers out on track, missing though was defending Champion 734 Glen Sanders who had sensationally won this event twelve months ago. After an initial false start, which saw the over-enthusiastic yellow grade up among the whites before the end of the main straight, we were away and there was action on the first corner as 156 Pat Lines, 328 Andy Walker and 891 Darren Wade tangled - with further drama when fancied runner 676 Neil Hooper pulled the car onto the infield and into retirement, closely followed by 890 Paul Rice. Suffering no drama at all though was 302 Dale Moon, who made short work of passing the white grade and taking the early lead, with 991 Ryan Hoskin giving chase and 602 James Horwell coming to grief on turn 2. Meanwhile further back 886 Bradbury had made another electric start, again shadowed by 783 Rygor, and once more these two stars began carving their way through the field, but they were really going to have to go some as leader Moon was storming through the back-markers already and looking more like the 'Ladies Trophy Favourite' - with Hoskin still keeping the leader in sight in 2nd. 886 Bradbury was soon looking menacing in 3rd but was still some way behind the leader though by half-distance had managed to replace Hoskin in 2nd, who now had 783 Rygor filling his mirror. With 4 laps to go leader Moon is about three-quarters of a straight ahead of the hard-charging Bradbury and knowing the phenomenal pace of the 886 car a close finish certainly looked very likely but to his credit 302 Moon just kept the right pedal to the floor, not looking at all phased by the chasing Superstar. 3 to go and the gap is down to two-thirds, so not as quick as was first thought, and as World Champion Rygor moved into 3rd a close finish for the win looked less than very likely and more an absolute certainty, but still 302 Moon kept on it. 2 laps from the end and Mooner's advantage is down to half-a-straight but with the youngster still cruising through the back-markers with skill suddenly it seems as if he might just be able to stay in front. As starter Alan Wilson shows the last-lap board to Moon the gap between the first two has stayed at half-a-straight and as I'm sure the idea of a suicidal last corner assault crossed the mind of Bradbury (and probably young Dale too !) as the two cars motored down the main straight for the final time it didn't happen and 302 Dale Moon, the Ladies Favourite, became the crowd's favourite also, taking a very popular win, his maiden final win too - and thoroughly deserved it was. Chris Bradbury was the first to congratulate the winner even saying that when he saw the 302 car ahead he knew he was going to have his work cut out to catch him. 783 Rygor finished four car-lengths behind Bradbury to secure 3rd. The new 'slim-line' Tim Farrell was on hand to help present the superb trophies and then all hell broke loose during the traditional champagne soaking of the winner - and anyone else within range !!

The last race of the excellent 2013 season for the F2s, the Grand National, had 23 runners-and-riders and with 302 Moon on the usual lap handicap it was going to be interesting to see if he could make it into a points scoring position. 832 Kane Moore emerged the early leader after the usual squabble at the start for the white graders, with 991 Ryan Hoskin soon up to speed and into 2nd, quickly followed by blue grader 605 Liam Rowe - with 676 Neil Hooper the best of the stars already up to 7th, just ahead of the World Champion. At half-distance it was still 832 Moore who led from now 605 Rowe, 991 Hoskin and 476 Ryan Wadling but a lap later 328 Andy Walker spun just in front of the leaders and this allowed 605 Rowe the opportunity to catch and pass Moore to move to the front - with 991 Hoskin also following him through into 2nd and 783 Rygor passing 676 Hooper for 5th. 3 to go and whilst 605 continued to lead, still tailed by 991 Hoskin, 783 Rygor was now up to 3rd and looking a threat - as 676 Hooper pulled his car onto the centre for the second time in the afternoon. Last lap and with 605 Rowe clear, 2nd place certainly looks in the balance but Rygor is just not close enough and 991 Hoskin hangs on for a good 2nd place finish, a car-length ahead of the World Champion. 302 Moon did equally well to climb into a points scoring position, 10th, and rightly claiming the yellow grade merit award. So, the curtain falls on the season for the BriSCA F2s, and what a season it has been with some amazing races and people still talking about the World Final. I heard on the grape-vine too that 218 Rob Speak was thinking about retiring from F2s at the end of this season but after the sensational battle between himself and a certain gentleman from North-of-the-border here at Smeatharpe in September has said that he 'can't possibly leave it there..............' !! Hmmm, roll on 2014.

Saloon Stock Cars

Only a little over half the booked-in entry actually bothered to turn up to race - but top marks, respect and credit to 620 Aaryn Triggs who made the long, long trek down from Larkhill in Scotland just to race at Smeatharpe, though with hindsight he might probably have stayed at home as Lady-Luck was certainly not smiling on the charismatic Scotsman today - but it was a completely different state affairs for another long distance traveller 2 Paul Tuppen, the popular Essex boy scoring a comprehensive clean-sweep in all three Saloon Stock races. With only 8 Saloons in attendance the action was never going to be heavy, although 995 Ben Goddard - fastest man in pre-race practise - was his usual lively self, with recently crowned European Champion 56 Georgie Boult also doing his best to entertain on his way to a brace of 2nd places, but to be honest the racing was a little processional but that is no reflection on any of the drivers it is just that 8 cars (or 7 as there were in the final) on such a big track just aren't enough to provide the action we are used to at Smeatharpe - and have indeed witnessed throughout the season. 2 Paul Tuppen himself is quite capable of putting a few cars away but today there simply wasn't anyone really to play with between himself and his 3 race victories, and believe me I am not being critical of any one of the drivers present, it was just one of those days. 199 Phil Powell picked up the other 2nd place, in heat 2, with himself and 56 Boulty sharing the 3rd places in the heats and final. Heat 1 had also been the White and Yellow grade final - so the result of that was 2 Tuppen, 199 Powell and 995 Goddard.

Autospeed Bangers

With this being the 'Dave Weare Trophy' date for the Autospeed Bangers this meeting was always going to be well supported - and rightly so. Even with one of the biggest National Banger meetings of the season being held at Arena Essex there were a lot of Banger men that still felt their place was at Smeatharpe to remember one of their own - and absolute respect to each and every one of them, Dave would surely have been humbled. Though not much to report on the unusual car front there were still some superb paint jobs to be admired. 30 cars lined up on a wet track for the first of five heats - with each driver getting three chances to qualify for the 'Dave Weare Trophy' final via points scored. Veteran driver 186 'Uncle' Leon Fasey - who has probably raced in most formulas staged on the ovals over the years - had said that this was going to be his last ever meeting as a driver was among the line-up. 113 Chris Jeanes and 235 Toby Brooks were the front row starters and both made good starts, with Jeanes taking the lead as the wet track caught a lot out with plenty of action all around the raceway, which eventually brought out the waved yellows for a problem with the 910 Katie Dawe car on turn 1. 113 Jeanes had built up a big lead before the incident but deservedly managed to get away well at the re-start, going on to take a convincing win. 26 cars took to the still wet track for a tamer heat 2, with earlier heat winner 113 Jeanes this time starting at the very back of the field. A feature of this heat was the almost race-long battle between front row starters 881 Gary Emery and the Focus of 715, these two chopped and changed at the front throughout - in fact right up until the last-lap board came out when suddenly 113 Jeanes appeared from nowhere ! Amazingly 113 Jeanes managed to pass both 715 and Emery, the latter cleanly down the main straight, to steal his second win of the day - superb stuff from the West Hatch star. 26 cars for heat 3 and with the track now almost dry the racing was fast and furious which certainly seemed to suit 247 Richard Sparks who stormed through the field to lead just after half-distance. By the time the chequered flag fell on the flying Sparks' Honda the Newton Abbot man was so far ahead that there was still 2 laps to be completed before all the places could be decided, and this almost caused the result to be changed as after taking the flag Sparks immediately pulled on to the infield in front of the starters rostrum and removed his crash helmet - as the still racing cars passed within a couple of feet. Eventual red flag and exit a stern looking steward from race control followed by some choice words to the race winner. In the end the result stood and the lesson hopefully learned but on a day when we remember what happened on that awful day at Hednesford two years ago removing your crash helmet before a race has fully concluded is never a sensible thing to do. Richard is a talented and sensible driver and I am sure this was an oversight on his part. Enough said. Veteran racer 406 Chris Bridger recorded his best result for a while finishing in 2nd, just ahead of 242 Ben Ellacott. 30 starters for heat 4 which was another excellent race with plenty of action from the start. 406 Bridger still pumped (!) after his earlier 2nd place finish was the long time leader before the equally fired-up 242 Ellacott caught and passed the Lifton man in his smart fresh Honda Estate, the ex' British Champion going on to take a deserved win - with Bridger adding a second runner-up finish.

The 'Dave Weare Trophy' final fielded 29 qualifiers and was another lively race which seemed fitting, with 246 Ryan Sparks an early casualty and previous race winner 242 Ellacott spinning on the exit of turn 4, coming to a stop facing the on-coming traffic against the fence a third of the way down the start/finish straight where he remained all race. 475 Ben Sealy made the most of his front-row start taking the lead early in his Rover, weaving his way through the pack and building up a useful advantage, even lapping earlier double-race winner 113 Chris Jeanes before half-distance ! As the action continued around the track it was clear that no one was going to catch the flying Sealy and as the 475 car took the chequered flag - and with it the 2013 Track Championship - 910 Katie Dawe piled into the side of the still stranded 242 Ellacott Honda hard but thankfully no harm done. 991 Ben Hale battled well throughout the race and was justly rewarded with 2nd, with earlier winner 247 Richard Sparks keeping his helmet on until the red flags a sensible 3rd. The promotion decided that there would be a twist to the allcomers race with the cars going anti-clockwise for once and 14 cars lined up and although I know of one-or-two among the Autospeed regulars that are a bit the other way (?) it would be interesting to see how the banger boys would get on ! At the green there were several early spinners as 912 Simon Rees took the lead, followed by 333 Craig Partridge. 246 Ryan Sparks was another that found the change in direction difficult to come to terms with, clobbering the wall unaided on turn 2, as 333 Partridge took over at the front and 475 Sealy moved into 3rd. 912 Rees then gets spun aside by Sealy on turn 2 but the 'Dave Weare Trophy' recipient is unable to get on terms with the leader and 333 Partridge simply pulls away at the front. Sealy then has a battling 247 Sparks to contend with and as Partridge starts his last lap the two star graders have a good dice for second position with Sparks managing to pass the Sealy Rover after pushing it wide through turn 1 but Sealy then half-spins the Sparks Honda as the two come round turn 3 for the final time, nipping through on the inside to snatch the runner-up spot. So it is Partridge that takes the win - with 247 Richard Sparks coming in 3rd to finish off a good day at the office. Next time how about starting half the field clockwise and the other half anti-clockwise ? Just a thought........!!

BriSCA F2 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
W&Y Final 302 254 954 476 845 575 991 627 745 602
Heat 2 886 783 890 676 891 935 126 832 116 605
Consolation 156 651 528 328 686 83 nof
Final 302 886 783 254 991 476 935 954 605 832
Grand National 605 991 783 254 476 886 935 627 302 890
Grade Awards W 845 Y 302 B 254 R 886
Saloon Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 2 56 199 620 995 460 315 710 nof
Heat 2 2 199 56 620 315 710 995 460 nof
Final 2 56 199 620 995 315 710 nof
Bangers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 113 941 235 247 715 912 991 406 735 121
Heat 2 113 881 715 735 247 154 165 910 194 941
Heat 3 247 406 242 475 134 320 154 246 881 183
Heat 4 242 406 941 735 113 991 475 938 134 881
Final 475 991 247 406 113 938 320 134 358 235
Allcomers 333 475 247 242 113 912 491 154 881 731
Grade Awards W none Y 320, 912, 165 B 113, 406, 735 R 247, 475, 991
Best Presented 538 735 941
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