Belle Vue – April 5th 2010 Meeting Report

Easter Monday saw James Morris take a career first Final win, in what emerged as an absolutely epic stock car race. On a cold but dry night, the track was in superb condition, and with enough cars present for decent grids in all five races, this was a prime example of why Belle Vue is such a great venue.

Photo Paul Tully

Heat One gridded 19 cars, with Lee Smith (76) edging in front of Joshua Smith (191) when the green dropped. Smith (191) sat on Smithi(76)’s back bumper for two laps before moving the 76 car wide, and with that, Josh Smith took up a lead that he would not relinquish. Lee Smith held Mike Williamson (111) at bay for a few laps before he too got past, with the very smart 76 car then slowly dropping back. From the back of the field, Andy Smith (1), Dan Johnson (4), and John Lund (53), were moving through the pack as one, before Mat Newson (16) closed up and attempted to get up the inside of Johnson, who himself was on the inside of Lund. That made them three abreast as they came out of turn two, and they all appeared to think better of it and eased off a little, letting Smith (1) pull clear. Joe Booth (446) span into the turn four fence as Johnson span Newson around. Smith (1) was now rapidly closing on Mark Poole
(276) and Neil Shenton (35), who were second and third respectively. Shenton lunged at Poole going into turn one, with Williamson getting caught up as they rounded turn two. As they exited the turn, the 111 car was turned sideways and Smith (1) couldn’t avoid piling straight in.
Williamson was then hit hard by John Frost (351), bringing out the waved yellows, which were quickly changed to red and chequered, and a first ever F1 win for Josh Smith.

Photo Colin Casserely

The second heat also fielded 19, with Garry Fox (48) the first away and Ricky Wilson (502) right behind him. Wilson landed a big hit on the first bend, before taking the lead on the next bend with an even bigger hit. Behind them, there was a big push down the back straight, which saw Tony Smith (91) and Garry Townsend (223) run out of room and come to a dead stop against the turn three fence. The waved yellows came out for attention to both Townsend and the fence, and on the restart Frankie Wainman (515) was quickly past Criag Finnikin (55), and then smacked Tom Harris (84) out of the way. There were more waved yellows when Frost got it sideways down the home straight and hit a fence post at high speed. The post snapped clean in half and the 351 car rolled. The top six now read 502,48,463,158,321, and 515. On the restart, Ed Neachell (321), Wainman, and Newson, barged past James Clement (158), and as they went down the home straight the entire field was bumper to bumper. Newson got it sideways in turn two and was collected by Danny Wainman (212), as Wainman (515) nudged Neachell (321) wide. Wainman then lunged at James Morris (463) and put both wide, which let Neachell (321) back through. Neachell was then passed by brother James (322). As the race passed half distance, Wilson had a narrow lead, with the 515,322,321,55, and 212 cars all nose to tail. Wainman quickly closed up to Wilson, and in an audacious move he took the lead by passing Wilson on the outside down the back straight. Neachell (322) then challenged Wilson for second, but managed to put himself into a half spin. Finnikin then shoved Neachell (322) wide on the next bend, and then deposed Wilson for second place with two laps to go.

Photo Colin Casserley

The third heat was delayed when Scott Davids (462) realised just before the start that he had a flat tyre, and parked up on the back straight as his team rapidly fetched a spare wheel. However, the officials had other ideas, and ordered the 462 car off the track, presumably on the grounds that the race was just about to start. It turned into a farce when the tractor took longer to tow the car off than it would have taken the 462 crew to change the wheel. When the race did get underway, Smith (76) led early on before Wilson and Fox went past. Further back, Smith (1) went past Wainman (515) early on, and Wainman had no answer. When the lap boards came out, Wilson still led by a few lengths from Fox, with Poole a similar distance behind. But Smith and Wainman were still gaining ground, and with three to go Smith went past Poole, with Wainman following a lap later. Smith seemed unable to close up to Fox over the remaining laps, and as they went down the back straight for the last time it looked like a two horse race. Fox was something of a bumper merchant in his days racing Outlaw Stock Cars, and now clearly confident with his F1, he evidently felt it was time to bring his natural driving style to the fore. As Wilson entered the final turn, Fox held the power on and drove straight at the 502 back bumper. Both cars slid wide, with Wilson maintaining his momentum and crossing the line first. But Fox’s lunge had cost him a couple of seconds, which was enough for Smith to close the gap and get alongside Fox just as he was starting to find traction. Smith drove across the front of the 48 car, giving it just enough of a nudge to put it into a fence post and out of the race.

Photo Paul Tully

Smith (191) seemed to hang back at the start of the Final, allowing Frost to lead them away. He lasted a lap before tangling with Smith (191), which put Smith (76) in the lead. Further back, Wainman (515) forcefully put Smith (1) wide and nearly into the wires, but the 515 car was then caught in traffic, which allowed Smith to close in and launch innocent backmarker Clement into the Wainman car, which then span and went backwards into the fence. It then turned into a race of attrition, with cars spinning and crashing all over the track. Great to watch, but kinda tricky to write the details down without missing something! By the halfway, only half the original line up were still mobile, and it was still Lee Smith in the lead, with Wilson, Morris, and Neachell (322) not far behind. Smith (1) retired with a flat outside rear, just as Wilson was forced wide and dropped down the order. He then found himself in front of Lund, who promptly planted the 502 car into backmarker Ed Neachell (321), with Neachell then crashing into the parked Joe Booth car. Despite there now only being about a dozen cars left running, most of them were bunched up together, and with dead cars littering the track, there was still plenty going on. Neachell (322) was bundled out of the way and down the order, leaving Morris in second and closing on leader Smith (76), who was driving a blinder. But when the lap boards came out, the 76 car was parked on the infield and steaming up (your correspondant didn’t see his exit from the race), leaving Morris ahead from Johnson. There were no changes to the top five over the last couple of laps, and Morris took his first ever F1 final.

Photo Colin Casserley

Eighteen cars made it back out for the GN, although Morris was not one of them. The race began with Harris, Davids, Scriven, and Lund clattering the turn four fence, while Wilson raced away from the front. Newson put Wainman wide early on, before Smith (1) weighed in with a massive shot that put Finnikin into Wainman, who then cannoned into Newson. All four managed to hold their positions, with Wainman then landing another big hit on Newson, Smith passed Finnikin, and then again fired Wainman into Newson. At the halfway, it was still Wilson from Fox, but before the lap boards came out Johnson and Neachell (322) had charged up the order, and both passed Fox when Johnson smacked the 48 car out of the way. The 48 car went backwards into the wires, but a tremendous recovery saw Fox back in the race not far behind Neachell. Johnson eased past Wilson with about five to run, and went on to take the win, with Wilson finishing second. Smith moved into third place with a few laps left, but almost as soon as he’d passed Neachell, the number 1 car started to slow, and Neachell squeezed past on the last bend. Fox then dived past Smith, giving him a cheeky sideswipe in the process.

Carl Hesketh

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