Belle Vue – March 20th 2011 Meeting Report

The opening race of the season saw a lot of drivers either out of practise, or with large reserves of pent up aggression, but either way, it turned into a bumper fest. Andy Smith (1) had methodicaly worked his way through the 18 car field, and had looked a likely winner until he was out-manoeuvred by James Morris (463). Smith had edged up the inside of Morris out of turn four, and the two were almost side by side as they went past the starter. But as they came upon a slow moving backmarker, Morris held his line and Smith had nowhere to go but into the the back of the white top. The resulting tangle let Danny Wainman (212) past, only for Smith to launch Wainman and Phil Whittaker (88) hard into the turn 3 fence. This snapped a fence post and brought out the first yellows of the season.

On the restart, it was Garry Townsend (223) still leading, with Smith and the now lap down Wainman behind him. Townsend got it a bit too sideways around the first turn, and got hooked up with Smith and Wainman. Matt Newson (16) then sailed past all three of them down the outside, but his lead was short-lived as the first four or five cars all piled into the turn three fence. This left James Neachell (322) leading, and he went on to win. The turn three fence took a further battering in the closing laps, with first Morris putting Newson and himself in, and then Smith putting Townsend in hard, and bouncing off the wires himself in the process.

Ricky Wilson (502) and James Neachell (322). Photo Colin Casserley

The second heat saw white tops John Weldon (235) and Neil Holcroft (496) engage in a great battle for the lead, changing places every few laps, before Neachell (322) caught them. The 322 car bumpered both out of the way as they entered turn three, but in the process nudged novice driver Dave Campbell (388) off line. Campbell lost control and put his car through the home straight wires, bringing out the yellows. The rest of the race passed without incident, with Dan Johnson (4) taking a maiden victory in his new car.

Dave Campbell (388). Photo Carl Hesketh

Dan Johnson (4) wins a heat with his brand new car. Photo Colin Casserley

The third heat had Mike Heywood (424) at the front after early leader Richard Bryan (238) span himself out. Heywood exited the race in dramatic style when he was picked up by Tony Smith (91) and driven side on into the turn three fence. This gave Mark Poole (276) the lead, but Smith (1) was rapidly closing. Poole did well to avoid the spinning Nigel Harrhy (45) car, but he couldn’t keep Smith at bay for long, and the number 1 car was in the lead by the halfway, after which the result was a foregone conclusion.

Andy Smith (1). Photo Colin Casserley

The track was bone dry for the Final, which produced some very fast racing. Holcroft, Heywood, and Morris all took turns at leading before Neachell (322) barged his way to the front, with Smith not far behind. As the race reached half distance, Neachell was ahead by about four car lengths, and as the laps passed Smith wasn’t getting any closer. But as the lap boards came out, Smith lunged at Neachell and hit the 322 car just wide enough to get past. Neachell then appeared to be biding his time before striking, as for the next few laps he was right behind Smith but didn’t make a challenge. Perhaps sensing that Neachell was building up to a big last bend hit, Smith turned it up a bit and edged away, such that by the last bend Neachell wasn’t really close enough to put the bumper in. Every credit to him for going for it anyway, but he missed Smith and instead collided with backmarker Heywood, which let Newson through for second. Smith took the win, his 100th Final, which he celebrated with the obligatory donuts.

Andy Smith (1) successfully notches up one hundred final wins. Photo Colin Casserley

The Grand National was a tribute to Stu Smith Senior, and was billed as The Old Boy’s “Show Us The Money” Race. With £1000 to the winner and a closed grid start, a lively race was expected, and it did not disappoint. Bryan got away first, but the inevitable big push on the first bend caught out Joe Booth (446) and Ed Neachell (321), who were shoved straight into the fence on the first bend, with most of the back half of the grid piling into each other. Smith (1) reversed out and then set off like a man possessed, firing cars in on almost every lap, but by halfway he was still some way behind leader Newson. Bryan made the mistake of getting in Smith’s way, and was smacked out of the way, but try as he might, Smith couldn’t get any closer, and ended up as runner up, with Newson taking the win and the money.

Dash for Cash winner Matt Newson (16) alongside Ed Neachell (321). Photo Colin Casserley

Carl Hesketh

Photo extra

The opening Belle Vue meeting saw Ricky Wilson debut his new car and refurbished cars for Dave Riley and Stu Smith jnr.

Ricky Wilson (502) debuts his new car. Photo Colin Casserley

Dave Riley (422)'s refurbished machine. Photo Colin Casserley

Stu Smith jnr's (390) mean machine. Photo Colin Casserley

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