Smeatharpe Stadium - Monday 17th May 2021

And we’re back! Racing in front of a crowd returned to Smeatharpe Stadium for the first time this year with a terrific entry of BriSCA Formula Two Stock Cars, Saloon Stock Cars and Old Skool Unlimited Bangers. Thankfully, despite many visitors from all directions driving through walls of water on their way to the venue, the stadium missed the worst of the weather and the rain held off all evening as racing returned with a bang.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

A superb 43 drivers were ready for some Monday night action, including a number of newcomers and returnees. After the traditional Autospeed grand parade, with cupcakes presented by Baker Sophie representing sponsor MDP Services, a slightly uneven heat split left 19 cars to contest a truly memorable opening heat. Two early stoppages were required in quick succession when first 315 Justin Fisher was turned heavily into the turn three wall, and then 605 Richard Andrews, the semi-professional speedway rider enjoying his first taste of four-wheeled short oval action, went in backwards on the pit bend and required some assistance. 194 Luke Johnson had taken over from 734 Glenn Sanders at the head of the field, with one-time English Champion in Saloon Stock Cars 27 Kieren Bradford looking threatening in third, followed by 689 Joe Marquand and leading star 418 Ben Borthwick. Bradford and Marquand quickly moved into second and third behind Johnson, as Borthwick, 542 Steven Gilbert, 127 Matt Stoneman and 606 Andrew Palmer hit lumps out of each other, letting the top three open a sizeable gap by half-distance. Marquand then picked off Bradford and Johnson to move in front, only to be delayed by backmarking traffic. Bradford seized the opportunity to move ahead, but Marquand hit straight back, hard. It nearly worked, but the battle had allowed Gilbert to close in, and he took advantage to charge through and take the flag, from Bradford, Marquand, Palmer and Stoneman. A pumped up Gilbert was quick to point to his British Champion aerofoil colours as he celebrated his success. “I’m number one,” was the indication. The 24 cars in heat two would always struggle to live up to that magnificent start, but still served up a good race. After plenty of early tangles, it was 398 Ian England, fresh from a heat win behind closed doors at Birmingham, who led when a caution was called after 915 Jamie Jones lost a wheel. While most of the star men’s progress had been limited, silver top 560 Luke Wrench was already in second. From there, Wrench took a comfortable victory at the scene of his Grand National Championship success at the end of last season. 24 Jon Palmer came through to second, and England impressed in third, making it a 1-2-3 for WRC machinery. Having been a casualty of the action in heat one, Borthwick rapidly cut through the 22-car consolation field to win from fellow Motorworld man Fisher. Superstar 783 James Rygor, who pulled off very early on in his heat, faced further trouble when he briefly hooked onto the spun car of 736 Josh Weare early in the race, leaving him cut adrift at the back. He did well to recover to seventh at the flag.

All 30 qualifiers took their places in the meeting final which was another spectacular race. England and Johnson again impressed, setting the frontrunning pace and continuing to head the field at half-distance as the star men scrapped for every inch while they battled through the pack. Marquand was again looking strong, and pushed his way into second behind England, closely followed by Jon Palmer and Wrench, and then shoved England wide for the lead. With plenty of traffic for the leaders to negotiate, Wrench sniffed an opportunity entering the pit bend with four laps to go. It didn’t matter that it was his own customer immediately in front, Wrench wouldn’t need asking twice to put the bumper in. He timed it perfectly, cannoning Palmer into England into Marquand, and managed to pass all three cars in one move. Palmer came off worst and slowed to retirement with a broken throttle cabe, while Marquand’s rear wheelguard broke, earning him a technical exclusion. Wrench wouldn’t relinquish the lead as he headed home Fisher, England, 581 Dan Fallows and Bradford, with the returning 667 Tommy Farrell completing the top six. Johnson lost out on a place in a clash with 438 Mike Rice on the final bend, but was still rewarded for his efforts as the top white top. “I thought this is the only chance I’m going to get,” said Wrench of his race winning hit.

A large field of 29 cars returned for the Grand National which began with 352 Dave Sansom being launched into a wild ride off a marker tyre, leading to red flags when the tyre ended up on track. Five cars failed to make the restart, and there was a further stoppage when 35 Charlie Fisher was collected exiting the fourth bend. That allowed Wrench onto the back of the pack from his full-lap handicap, and he continued to scythe his way through. With Stoneman hitting the front, chased by Borthwick, a maximum 50 pointer for Wrench didn’t look very likely, but he made a good fist of it, charging into third before picking off Borthwick with three laps to go. He couldn’t chase down Stoneman, however, so had to settle for second, while Fallows passed Borthwick for third.

Saloon Stock Cars

Ahead of their National Championship at the same venue the following weekend, Saloon Stock Car numbers hit an impressive 22 cars, including 14 Colin Savage from Scotland and a five-strong East Anglian contingent with World Champion 116 Diggy Smith among their number. Among the typically frantic action, it was a local novice who was making the biggest headlines. Eighteen-year-old 677 Warren Darby, whose father Eddie was one of the formula’s most successful drivers ever, was making his belated debut – and he certainly seemed to be making up for lost time. He led heat one from start to finish, expertly avoiding the chaos all around him. Returnee 489 Wayne Jarvis was almost able to keep Darby in sight, but no-one else was within half a lap of the teenager. 84 Carl Boswell was beaten to third by track champion 161 Billy Smith, as dad Diggy was shoved wide on the final bend by 902 Junior Buster for fifth. Heat two followed a similar script, with Darby again never really looking like being beaten. Behind him, Billy Smith had risen to third before being spun and then collected by the pack headed by 10 Frank Little. Rejoining a lap down, Smith spun 152 Levi Oughton from second and then continued his rampage. Junior Buster was spun from second by 447 Adam Hicks, as Diggy Smith came through for second from fellow East Anglian 399 Cole Atkins. 672 Simon Paris was on the receiving end of another trademark lunge from Billy Smith late on in this one.  Darby and Billy Smith were again at the centre of things in the final, this time together. After Smith was shoved into a parked car early on, he went on a mission. He spun Darby – who had just passed Jarvis for the lead in traffic – on the home straight, ending his hat-trick hopes. Jarvis then got caught up on the back straight, allowing Oughton to briefly head the field. Oughton got shuffled back in the closing stages though, as Hicks came through to win from 277 Jack Grandon. Third was Junior Buster who then faced the full force of Smith with a massive hit into the Honiton bend wall on the run-down lap.

Old Skool Unlimited cc Bangers

The big rear-wheel drive Bangers also attracted a strong turnout. With the bigger hits outlawed, the heats were never likely to be crash-fests, but plenty of bumps, spins and sideways action among the 20-odd cars kept things fairly lively. Heat wins went to the Lexus of 907 Cameron Bradford and 246 Ryan Sparks’s throaty E46 BMW, while 190 Steve Bailey carved his Mk2 Granada through from the back to third and fourth place finishes. 954 Jamie Beere set the pace in the final but lost out to 372 Jay Matthews’s Lexus estate with five laps to go. Matthews, Beere and 282 Steve Hunt were virtually as one as they entered the final lap, and Beere secured the win by spinning Matthews on the Honiton Bend. Hunt was second with 278 Shaun Brokenshire heading Bradford home in third and fourth.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 542 27 689 606 127 895 194 948 988 746
Heat 2 560 24 398 184 890 126 352 903 581 210
Consolation 418 315 438 667 720 915 783 734 320 828
Final 560 315 398 581 27 667 542 127 126 418
Grand National 127 560 581 418 184 126 915 890 194 667
Grade Awards W 194 Y 398 B 315 R 560
Saloon Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 677 489 161 84 902 116 399 277 172 364
Heat 2 677 116 399 389 277 489 672 281 161 340
Final 447 277 902 399 389 152 172 14 340 161
Old Skool unlimited cc Bangers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 907 2 190 246 954 185 282 278 133 272
Heat 2 246 278 372 190 954 907 185 133 714 341
Final 954 282 278 907 991 341 133 714 372 232
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