Belle Vue – November 1st 2009 Meeting Report

The 2009 National Series Championship came to a conclusion on November 1st, with Stu Smith offering a virtuoso performance to secure the title and the coveted silver roof. Smith was quite simply a class apart from the opposition, and made light work of racing to a heat and final double.

Andy Smith could do nothing to stop his brother and finished the series as runner up, while third placed Frankie Wainman had little return from a massive effort made over the weeked. The 515 car had blown the engine in the opening heat at King’s Lynn the night before, and the Wainman team managed to remove the engines from both Frankie’s and Danny’s cars, put Danny’s engine into Frankie’s car, and get the 515 car back out in time for the Final. A flat tyre meant a non-finish, and then almost against all odds, the replacement engine also blew up in the GN. Undeterred, Wainman went back home to Silsden and spent the night converting his tarmac car for shale racing.

Photo Colin Casserley.

Photo Colin Casserley.

Mike Heywood (424), with a Good Year Eagle on the outside rear, was away first in Heat One, while Andy Smith (1) launched Stu Smith (390) into Tom Harris (84) and Mark Gilbank (21). Stu’s response came on the next bend, but without any cars in front of him to cushion the blow, the number 1 hit the wires and stopped dead against a fence post. Andy reversed out and rejoined, but was already half a lap in arrears on his brother. Mike Williamson (111) had a brief spell at the front before Heywood retook the lead, before Heywood hit one of the infield marker tyres and crashed out. Smith (390) and John Lund (53) both eased past Williamson as the lap boards came out, with Smith taking the win to further increase his lead in the Shoot Out.

Photo Colin Casserley.

Photo Colin Casserley.

Heat Two started with a four car pile up when Mark Poole (276), Tony Smith (91), Hayley Parkinson (54), and Andy Ford (13) all got in each other’s way on the first turn and all ended up in the fence. Smith (390) got past Wainman early on, but the quickest car in the early laps looked to be Joe Booth (446). Booth was soon up the order and up to second place, but Paul Hines (259) was never far behind. As Hines started to close, Booth overcooked it in turn three and Hines was through. The 259 car bumpered Heywood wide for the lead at about the halfway, with Heywood them coming under attack from Booth. Heywood held off a big hit from Booth, but a perfectly timed nudge from Smith put the 446 and 424 car wide. Smith didn’t make much inroad into Hines’ lead, but crucially finished ahead of Wainman and thus extended his lead in the Shoot Out.

The third heat was a quiet race until the last couple of laps when it suddenly came alive. Williamson led a few laps before tangling with Scott Chambers (457), leaving Poole in front. Poole led until three laps to go, when Booth edged past. Poole threw the bumper at Booth but just bounced off, with Smith (1) diving through for second. Into the last last, and Smith eased up the inside of Booth as they came around turn two. Booth held his line, and they raced down the back straight side by side. Each anticipated the other’s move, and both braked early for the final bend. Smith was into the turn first, but inside of following him around, Booth drove across the apex of the turn and hit the number 1 car squarely on the nerf rail. This put Smith into the parked James Clement car, while Booth moved ahead to take the win.

Photo Colin Casserley.

Photo Colin Casserley.

The Shoot Out points situation was now that for Andy Smith to stand any chance of winning, he needed to finish in a high place while Stu Smith failed to score. Likewise, Wainman could claim second place if he scored well and Andy Smith didn’t. As for Stu Smith, a high finish would give him an unassailable points total and victory in the National Series Shoot Out. Heywood was again the first away, but all eyes were on the Shoot Out trio at the other end of the grid. Wainman was the first to make a move, with what could be described as a kamikaze attack on Andy Smith as they entered the pit turn. Both went into the fence, Smith backwards, and in his haste to get back into the race Smith drove into, and almost over, an infield marker tyre and pushed it onto the track. Ford was leading when the yellows came out to remove it a few laps later, after Heywood and Clement had led early on.

On the restart, it was Ford, from Clement, Poole, Booth, Smith (390), and lap-down Smith (1) at the front, with Wainman bringing up the rear. The 390 car made his intentions clear as soon as the green dropped, firing Booth and Poole wide with one big hit, and then bumpering Clement wide to take second place. Smith (390) was bearing down on leader Ford, but before the bumper came into play, Ford ran wide and Smith was through. There was a second lot of waved yellows when Poole crashed into the home straight fence. This closed the field up again, the race order being 390, 13, 259, 446, 53, 21, and 515, the latter having made up a lot of ground after his early race skirmish. Hines passed Ford without any drama, with the number 13 car then dropping out of the order. Hines was denied a second place finish when Gilbank fired backmarker Chambers into him; the 259 car then spinning out of contention. Smith (1) was close enough to Wainman for a last bend challenge, and threw the car into the bend up the inside of Wainman, and squeezed the 515 car wide onto the fence, recovering to sprint to the line just ahead of Tom Harris (84). Stu Smith took the win, and with it the 2009 National Series title.

Photo Colin Casserley.

Photo Colin Casserley.

The GN gridded 16 cars, including Stu Smith now sporting Frankie Wainman’s silver aerofoil that had been hastily renumbered. When the green dropped, Smith (1), Wainman, and Harris were three abreast around turn three and down the home straight. But the tight Belle Vue track isn’t wide enough for that sort of thing, and almost inevitably it ended with someone through the wires; Harris being the one to run out of room. As it was the opening lap, a complete restart was called, and at the second time of asking Chambers was away first. But the 457 car span early on, with Ford inheriting the lead. Ford lasted until about the halfway when Booth stormed through. Booth led until the lapboards, when Paul Harrison took over with Lund up to second, and closing. After a quiet meeting up to that point, Harrison looked to have come to terms with the Belle Vue circuit and was lapping like he was a regular, rather than an infrequent visitor. Lund made up some ground over the last few laps, but going into the last bend Harrison looked to be too far ahead to make a challenge. Lund went for it anyway, and missed the number 2 car by a mile, the 53 car then bouncing off the wires and finishing second.

Stuart Smith 390 the 2009 National Series Shootout Champion.

Stuart Smith 390 the 2009 National Series Shootout Champion.

Carl Hesketh

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