Belle Vue, 26th May 2014 – meeting report and photo gallery

The second Bank Holiday meeting of the weekend took place at Belle Vue for the Mike Parker Celebration Trophy.

The Mike Parker Promotions meetings brings fond memories to fans of a certain age and Mike was instrumental in the huge growth and popularity of the sport in the North West in the 1970`s. Starting out his promoting at the legendary and fondly remembered rough and tumble track of Nelson in 1967 , he expanded to promote meetings at Rochdale, White City, Crewe, Blackburn, Norton Canes, and Salford, as well as Scottish and Southern circuits.

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Winner of the Mike Parker trophy was veteran driver Mal Brown, who started racing at the height of the MPP empire.

Sadly with the closure of the Nelson track the tide was turning in the North West and Mike sadly passed away in 1987; the tracks now all sadly long done to the developers and M65 motorway in Nelson’s case. Many remember the action packed meetings and huge crowds that attended these tracks and our current longest serving driver John Lund started out his career as a white top in the Silver 53 car in March 1976 at Rochdale after watching many a meeting from the trackside at Nelson.

A healthy attendance of 36 cars were at the meeting for an excellent afternoon/early evening`s racing in fine weather conditions the format being a two heat and consolation format.

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Former Mini-Stox champion Karl Roberts in the former Lee Mellor car.

Heat 1 saw a grid of 17 cars and it was regularr shale driver 330 Graham Wagstaff who made the early running and was leading by lap 5 when the yellows were out for 313 in the hire car stranded on turns 1 and 2. On the re-start it was Wagstaff from 183 Steve Whittle from Mal Brown with 515,150,318 and 55 behind. Wagstaff did well hanging on to the lead for 6 laps till 515 hit the front at lap 10 from Mal Brown and Finnikin.

Further back Rob Speak was on a mission dispatching both Mick Sworder and Whittle into the fence, both cars getting then going before the Speak car span out on turns 4 and 4 at the halfway stage before retiring. With three laps to go it was Frankie Wainman from Mal Brown and Craig Finnikin before Finnikin squeezed past Brown a lap later for second with the 150 car of Sworder recovering to fourth.

Heat 2 had a touch more cars with 21 gridding with newcomer 511 Jake Hall gridding at the back with the black cross on the rear of the car and the new 390 shale car of Stuart Smith gridding at its second shale meeting. The early laps were chaotic with 94 John Dowson out on turns 3/4 with Paul Hines also exiting on the pit gate fence. By lap 4 Dave Willis 337 was leading from Stuart Smith, Dan Johnson and Matt Newson, the 390 car going well till he overcooked it on turns 3/4 letting Johnson and Newson through.

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Mal Brown’s last three final wins have all been at Belle Vue.

Meanwhile the 212 car of Danny Wainman had come to a standstill on turn 2 and at the opposite end Dowson and Jake Hall were stranded leading to the yellows for the cars to be recovered. At the re-start and halfway it was Willis from Johnson, Newson, Smith and Tom Harris and it wasn`t long before Dan Johnson took the lead soon followed by Newson and Harris. On the last lap Harris pushed Newson aside on the pit entrance bend but Newson then re-took second from Harris on the final bend, the final result being Dan Johnson from Newson, Harris, Smith and Dave Wills holding on for fifth place.

The consolation saw 19 non qualifiers gridding and with early pile ups from the whites and yellows on turns 3 and 4 soon saw 259 Paul Hines in the lead from 318 Rob Speak in second from Joff Gibson and Danny Wainman. With a few laps of exchanging bumper taps between Hines and Speak, Speak took the lead at halfway from Hines with Danny Wainman in third spot.

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A different view of the new Stu Smith car.

Speak looked to heading for the win with the closing lap boards being shown but Hines was never far behind and on the last lap down the back straight Speak was delayed slightly by 45 Nigel Harrhy and this gave the chance for Hines who put in a last bend hit on the rear of the Speak car on the last bend giving Paul Hines the win from Speak second and Danny Wainman third.

The final had 26 cars gridded and was a fairly hectic race. Early spinner was 463 James Morris but by lap 2 there was a pile up on the pit fence exit involving 22 Will Yarroe, 276 Mark Poole, 335 Mark Woodhall and 249 Joff Gibson. At the opposite end of the track on turn 4 Sworder was fired into the fence by a combined effort from Dan Johnson and Paul Hines, Sworder getting going from the fence.

The racing continued but none of the cars showed any sign of moving so the yellows were thrown just before 16 Matt Newson and 53 John Lund has ended up in the same position. Lund retired but Newson was put back in grid order with 54 Hayley Parkinson leading off the pack at the re-start.

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Graham Wagstaff made a rare visit to Manchester, and was in the thick of it all evening.

The start was action packed with 45 Nigel Harrhy and 220 Will Hunter hooking up on turn 2 whilst Stuart Smith and Josh Smith did the same at the opposite end of the track. Up front 34 Mall Brown had avoided most of the early action and had now hit the front followed by Matt Newson, Paul Hines and a distant Craig Finnikin and Tom Harris, but the early action had meant the cars were interspersed with lap down cars including Joff Gibson who was now behind Brown. Brown who always goes well at the Belle Vue track looked to have a healthy lead but with the track and racing line drying the 55 Finnikin car was on a charge and dispatched the Hines car for third at the halfway stage and bumpered Newson aside for 2nd with three laps to go.

At the last lap board Mal Brown looked to have it in the bag with Finnikin far too distant or so it seemed but perhaps Mal thought Joff Gibson was in second and going into the last corner hauled on the brakes knowing what was coming, Finnikin sensing a chance of victory clattered the back of the 249 car going for the win but Gibson appeared to take ill at this and took himself and the 55 into the centre allowing Mal Brown the victory with Tom Harris to finish second from Newson and Hines, Finnikin still charging home for 5th but kicking up dust from the centre as he finished.

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Carnage in the GN.

The Grand National turned out to be the meeting of the night, Mal Brown leading off with the customary lap handicap. Early leader was 444 Paul Jay-Lemons but it was the star men who were on a charge in this race, Dan Johnson being in third by lap 3 and leading by lap 6, the cars of Sworder, Finnikin, Frankie Wainman and Dan Johnson all exchanging bumperwork with Tom Harris and Joff Gibson joining in the party when they had caught up. The crowd were entertained to some fine close racing by the sports top racers till the yellows came out at halfway for the stranded cars of Hayley Parkinson and James Morris.

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Something borrowed… Jonathan Gibson driving the borrowed Dylan Williams-Maynard car, with an aerofoil loaned from FWJ.

The 515 car had got to the front before the yellows and led of the re-start but on turn one, Finnikin in second gave the Wainman car a very well judged hit sending the car fencewards, the Wainamn car coming to standstill, looking more mechanical than due to the 55 front bumpers effort and remained there for the rest of the race. Finnikin being slightly delayed let through Sworder for the lead from Tom Harris and after a few more exchanges of bumpers the car of Mick Sworder held on to the lead to the end from Tom Harris, Craig Finnikin and Dan Johnson.

Words: Andy Armer
Photos: Colin Casserley

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