Smeatharpe Stadium - Monday 25th July 2022

The 500th meeting for BriSCA Formula Two Stock Cars at Smeatharpe Stadium paid tribute to the great Bill Batten in fitting style. BriSCA F2 Stock Cars, Saloon Stock Cars and Heritage Junior Stock Cars all provided thrilling racing action. The night began with the superb replica of Batten’s 1981 and ’82 World Championship-winning car being paraded around the track by his family and friends, with Bill’s granddaughter Mia, the current Ministox racer, at the wheel. Tributes were then paid by Martin Farrell, Dave Brown, Mike James and Graham Bunter before racing commenced.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

After a couple of cars didn’t make it beyond pre-meeting practice, there were 33 in action. The opening heat featured two early caution periods after 87 Paul Weekes went hard into the Honiton bend wall and then 667 Tommy Farrell, 890 Paul Rice and 676 Neil Hooper tangled on the home straight, with the latter pair left stranded. 321 Ed Neachell led away the resumption but 127 Matt Stoneman was making light work of his ascent from the back, with 126 Jamie Avery following in his wake. Stoneman nudged Neachell wide to take the lead just before half-distance and went on to win – scooping £167 for his efforts, as all the night’s race winners would – from Avery, with Neachell holding on to third. Having been shifted wide by 988 Charlie Lobb, 931 Rebecca Smith attempted to retaliate on the final bend but lost out to 315 Justin Fisher – making his first appearance of the season – as she got out of shape. 91 Harrison Bryant and 605 Richard Andrews tangled at the start of heat two. While Bryant retired with a puncture, Andrews rejoined just behind the leading 509 Jordan Butcher and proceeded to harry him for several laps before managing to unlap himself. By that time, 542 Steven Gilbert had risen to second and he passed Butcher in the closing stages to win. The white top held second, with 475 Leah Sealy third. 510 Matt Stone and 259 Daz Purdy got squeezed into the wall at the start of the consolation, with 915 Jamie Jones clipping the stationary cars as the yellow flags came out. 762 Mike Cocks led the resumption as the bumpers went flying in all around, especially among the populous yellow grade, with 528 Shane Hector managing to break free and move ahead. 935 Nathan Maidment and 676 Neil Hooper joined Hector in a three-car breakaway but they were unable to catch ‘Hannibal’, Maidment’s last-bend lunge failing to make contact with the leader.

Twenty-three of the 26 qualifiers made it out for the track’s 500th meeting final before which the Beatles’ Hey Jude, a favourite of Batten’s, was played in a poignant moment to remember The Master. Sole white top Butcher was quickly passed by Andrews for the lead as 27 Kieren Bradford made eye-catching early progress only to run wide and bring Avery onto his tail. Much of the star grade were delayed when 35 Charlie Fisher spun and was collected by Rice, while 689 Joe Marquand thundered into the Honiton bend wall. With his front-left heavily damaged, Marquand spotted a gap to cross the track to the safety of the infield, only to be unable to mount the kerb. His car stopped dead and kicked up, dropping oil onto the racing line in the fourth bend before he eventually escaped. That oil caused plenty of sideways moments for the rest of the race as 210 Tristan Claydon moved into the lead pursued by Neachell, Bradford and Avery. Neachell dropped out as Bradford and Avery nibbled into Clayton’s advantage. It was touch and go as to whether they could catch him, but Bradford just made up enough ground to enact a textbook last-bend lunge and nip inside for victory and the £667 prize money provided by generous sponsorship. Clayton was second ahead of Avery, Lobb, Farrell and Andrews. “I knew it was for a great cause so I just had to go for it, and the oil on that corner made it easier for me to go in,” said the victor. “Pleased with that one. Bill’s done a lot for me over time and I’m very grateful for it so it’s nice to have won that race.” A 23-car Grand National had action throughout the field as Butcher led until beyond half-distance before being knocked wide by Sealy. Hooper pushed past into second a lap later but he could not catch the local teenager who held on for a popular win.

Saloon Stock Cars

On the third consecutive day of racing in the southwest, there remained a pleasing entry of 18 cars, one of which failed to race. As well as 67 Eddie Darby completing his weekend return, there were further past stars racing in tribute to Bill Batten: 224 Mark Calvert, 382 Danny Hunt and 770 Rob Farrell. All proceeded to put on three tremendous races, none better than the first heat. After 10 Frank Little and 444 Kieran Bellringer spun out while disputing the lead, 27 Jason Kingwell took over before Farrell got inside to move ahead briefly. Farrell was shoved wide by Kingwell but hit back to lead for a second time, only to be pushed aside by 319 Richard Regan. That slowed them both down, and 902 Junior Buster nipped inside to become the sixth leader in the first half of the race. 364 Nathan Olden moved into second and tracked Junior Buster for several laps before making his move with a lap to go. That offered Junior Buster the chance to retaliate with a last-bend lunge but he only managed to make contact with the side of Olden’s car, which therefore spun across his nose. Darby, who had pushed Regan wide for third, was nearly able to go around the pair for victory, only for 277 Jack Grandon to get the better of him and climb from fourth to first on the final bend. Regan was second ahead of 84 Carl Boswell, with Junior Buster, Darby and Olden scrambling home fourth, fifth and sixth. Lone white top Bellringer built a lead in heat two as the bigger names fought tooth and nail among themselves. 677 Warren Darby escaped the warzone to take second soon after half-distance, then turned the magnets on as drew inexorably closer to the leader. He got ahead with a lap to go, but Bellringer held on to second from Little and Farrell, who escaped the last-bend fireworks ignited by Darby Sr and felt by Boswell, with Calvert also spinning in the mayhem. The final was similarly action-packed and followed a similar narrative as Bellringer escaped and attempted to hang on to his advantage. A big hit from Farrell on second-placed 97 Jonathan Kingwell allowed 33 Pete Hollett to become Bellringer’s chief chaser, while Olden hit Kingwell wide for third and Darby Sr moved into fourth. Olden overhauled Hollett with five laps to go and set about closing the gap to the leader. He managed to reel him in sufficiently for a last-bend lunge which spun Bellringer but also delayed himself. Hollett sniffed an opportunity and spun Olden as they approached the line. Hollett got the nod by mere inches as Olden crossed the line backwards to claim second in a spectacular finish. Darby was third, with Bellringer managing to get across the line fourth ahead of 199 Phil Powell and Buster Junior.

Heritage Junior Stock Cars

An excellent turnout of 20 cars, based on those that raced just prior to Smeatharpe Stadium’s opening nearly 50 years ago, made for a fine sight and some terrific racing. The opening heat began with a bang for 49 Keith Taylor in the borrowed Paul Ferguson car. Having clipped the inner kerb, Taylor two-wheeled high into the air and looked set to roll but got the car back to earth by steering away from it. Unfortunately that sent him in a head-first trajectory into the wall at high speed. Taylor’s car was left in a sorry state but commendably he sat tight for the duration of the race. While 342 Ross Taylor spun with a puncture, 7 Pete Fenton built a sizeable lead. But 135 Jim Cannon was making rapid progress from the back of the field. The Southampton racer relieved his Manchester counterpart of the lead with two and a half laps to go. 728 Graham Bunter and 537 Charlie Barnes came through to complete the top three as Fenton slipped back with a flat tyre. In a slightly quieter second heat, 23 John Clements quickly overhauled Fenton and built a big advantage that the chasing pack could not overcome. 580 John Perrett was second, with Cannon just making third from a full-lap handicap, getting the nod in what was almost a three-way dead heat with Bunter and 198 Alan Nicholson. Lincolnshire veteran Nicholson tangled with Taylor at the start of the final, with Barnes coming through to lead from Perrett and 59 Nigel Finnigan. While Bunter and Cannon once again appeared to be the quickest men on track, they could not catch the lead duo, as Perrett caught and passed Barnes for the lead with a lap to go. Cannon beat Bunter to third, with 763 Andy Bateman and 107 Dan Chiplen completing the top six. A thinner field returned for the allcomers that ended a busy two days of racing. 458 Tony Bevan led much of the way but was eventually chased down by Nicholson, who went on to win from Bunter and Bateman.

BriSCA F2s 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 127 126 321 988 315 931 35 728 first 8 to final
Heat 2 542 509 475 184 27 418 210 689 first 8 to final
Consolation 528 935 676 890 667 115 605 979 91 572
Final 27 210 126 988 667 605 475 184 542 676
Grand National 475 676 667 127 542 509 126 988 184 315
Grade Awards W 509 Y 210 B 27 R 667
Saloon Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 277 319 84 902 67 364 199 770 33 261
Heat 2 677 444 10 770 364 67 319 84 277 33
Final 33 364 67 444 199 902 84 319 97 224
Heritage Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 135 728 537 580 157 107 7 763 536 311
Heat 2 23 580 135 728 198 7 763 107 537 778
Final 580 537 135 728 763 107 59 458 198 28
Allcomers 198 728 763 135 580 458 537 778 536 28
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