Coventry Motofest, 30th May-1st June 2014

The inaugural Coventry Motofest was launched on the Friday (30th) evening at the Coventry University Engineering and Computing Building by Chris Barrie, star of Red Dwarf and the Brittas Empire. Chris gave a fascinating talk about the some of the vehicles he has featured on TV, many of them with Coventry connections. I asked Chris afterwards if he had ever seen Stock Car racing – he said he had been to a banger meeting but knew nothing about stock cars so I gave him a quick explanation and encouraged him to sample an F1 meeting. On to Saturday and a stroll through Coventry City centre revealed various displays of classic cars and bikes, plus dragsters from Santa Pod, before attention focussed on the Oval Racing Arena, a 200-metre circuit laid out on the Cox Street car park in the shadow of the Ring Road.

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Coventry’s Cox Street car park was transformed into a racetrack for the weekend.

F1s, V8s, Rebels, Modifieds and Heritage F1 and F2 cars featured in the demonstration races, which seemed very well received by the crowd and drew in a number of interested passers-by, no doubt attracted by the sound of V8 engines echoing around the area. There was a relaxed, ‘classic car rally’ feel to the whole event, interspersed with rubber burning, tyre squealing, power-sliding displays of raw power. One man who probably was anything but relaxed was Coventry Stadium promoter, Jeremy Heaver. The whole event must have been a logistical, and health and safety, nightmare and all credit must go to Jeremy and his team for pulling off this ambitious event. After a pint in the company of snappers (BriSCA photographers to the uninformed) I returned to Cox Street via the Coventry Transport Museum (well worth a visit) in time for the afternoon’s F1 race, which was brought to a halt on the first lap when Graham Wagstaff (330) got it wrong on the Elastic Inn bend and charged the barriers. A delay followed while the fence (big, water-filled plastic barriers) was repaired before racing could continue, without Waggy, who was sent to the sin bin! More fence damage later during the F1 Heritage race brought the afternoon’s session to an early close so that some serious thought could be given to repairs and improvements. Disappointing, maybe, but it gave some of us the chance to get to Northampton for the evening’s racing.

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Heritage cars joined their younger counterparts to show Coventry how the sport has evolved.

It is to be hoped that the Coventry Motofest becomes an annual event. The crowd at the next Coventry F1 session seemed to be up on previous months – I would like to think that the Motofest had something to do with it. We all know that the existing Coventry Stadium is on borrowed time – if events like the Motofest can keep Coventry City Council on our side, maybe, just maybe they would look kindly on plans for a replacement venue somewhere within the City boundaries.

Words: Michael Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley

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