Belle Vue – October 16th 2011 Meeting Report

The meeting at Belle Vue on Sunday 16th October 2011 turned out to be one of great historical significance, for after blitzing the opposition to win the final in flambouyant fashion, Andy Smith climbed out of his car and announced that that was the last time he would be seen racing a stock car.

This was also Round 6 of the National Series Shoot Out, and some strong results saw Frankie Wainman increase his lead at the top of the points chart, while for the second meeting in succession Tom Harris tried and failed to take Wainman out of the GN.

Seventeen cars lined up for Heat 1, although the Nigel Harrhy car was pushed off with a severe oil leak before the start. On the green, a big push from the rear of the pack resulted in Stu Smith bouncing off the pit turn fence. Of the Shoot-Out contenders, Paul Harrison (2) and Frankie Wainman (515) got hooked together and lost time, while Tom Harris (84) made a rapid start.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Tom Harris 84 makes a rapid start . Photo Colin Casserley

Ryan Harrison (197) appeared to be in a particularly aggressive mood, as Wainman found out when he was slowed by Scott Davids, and Harrison thumped Wainman hard into the 462 car. Up front, Rob Tunnah (505) had raced off from the start and had built up a decent lead, but as the damp track started to dry out, the 505 car was taking increasingly wider lines around the turns and second placed Murray Harrison (97) was gradually closing. Harris passed Mal Brown (34) for third place, before a mis-timed hit on backmarker Mike Heywood (424) put race leader Tunnah out of shape and onto the infield.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Murray Harrison 97. Photo Colin Casserley

Harrison (97) thus became the leader, with Harris wasting no time in passing the recovering Tunnah. Harrison (97) took the win, with Harris claiming valuable Shoot-Out points with a strong second place. Further back, Stu Smith (390) and Frankie Wainman had both squeezed past Mal Brown, but the 34 car would not finish the race, instead getting followed into the turn three on the last lap by Harrison (197). With the race now over, Harrison reversed away from Brown and then repeatedly rammed the 34 car on the nerf rail, until the intervention of the officials.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Ryan Harrison 197 exits his car. Photo Carl Hesketh

Mike Williamson (111) led the second heat away, but most eyes were on the Shoot-Out contenders, most of whom went for a big push in the the first bend. Wainman went past Harrison (2) and Dan Johnson (4), although Johnson quickly retook the lead and then bumpered Mat Newson (16).

BriSCA F1 stock car Shootout competitors Lee Fairhurst 217, Matt Newson 16 and Dan Johnson 4 do battle. Photo Colin Casserley

Shenton passed Williamson for the lead, with Williamson immediately retaliating but unable to make it count. Andy Smith has having a great battle with Brown for third place, eventually putting the 34 car firmly wide. Also dishing it out was Gary Fox (48), with second place man Williamson being dumped into the wires by the aggressive backmarker.

Smith caught and passed Shenton for the lead, but Shenton went for the 391 car on the next bend and Smith was spun out. This let Brown catch up, and they were side by side down the back straight. Joe Booth (446) was now in contention, but before he had a chance to do anything, a master stroke by fourth placed Frankie Wainman removed the first three cars.

BriSCA F1 stock car Heat winner Frankie Wainman jnr 515. Photo Colin Casserley

As they entered the pit bend, Wainman fired Booth into Brown and Shenton, with all three spinning in perfect synchronisation. This left Wainman clear to take the win, and increase his lead in the Shoot-Out.

the start of BriSCA F1 stock car Heat three from the back. Photo Colin Casserley

The third heat was delayed slightly, as Matt Newson was allowed a few extra minutes after changing his gearbox after his previous race. Tunnah and Williamson drove into each other when the green dropped, and in the ensuing melee around the first turn, Harrhy dived up the inside of them and into one of the marker tyres.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Nigel Harrhy 45 finds a marker tyre. Photo Colin Casserley

Craig Finnikin (55) smacked Harrison (197) into the wires on turn two, before Harrhy clattered the turn three fence side on and at some speed. Danny Wainman (212) slowed and went to the outside, whereupon Harrison (197) appeared to be having some sort of steering problem and drove straight at the side of the 212 car.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Ryan Harrison 197 finds the fence after being launched by Stu Smith jnr 390. Photo Colin Casserley

Harrison then rejoined the race in front of Stu Smith, who promptly launched the 197 into the pit turn fence in a big way. Having damaged his own front axle in the process, Smith then pulled onto the infield as the waved yellows came out for attention to the broken fence. With a deranged outside front wheel, Harrison drove onto the infield and straight into the parked 390 car, before climbing out and becoming quite animated. The delays for fence repairs are usually quite dull, so top marks to Ryan Harrison for putting on a one-man pantomime on the infield, which was most amusing.

BriSCA F1 stock car drivers Ryan Harrison 197 and Stu smith jnr 390 discuss the incident. Photo Carl Hesketh

When the race got back under way, Tunnah was still leading, but as in his previous races, he was taking increasingly wider lines as the race went on. This was giving Harrison (97) time to close up, with Harris also reducing the gap. With the 505 car wide on the pit turn, Harrison and Harris both dived for the inside line, the net result being them racing three abreast down the back straight, before clambering all over each other and all three crashing into the fence.

BriSCA F1 stock car drivers Murray Harrison 97, Tom Harris 84 and Rob Tunnah come to grief. Photo Colin Casserley

Tunnah rejoined behind new leader Andy Smith, albeit now a lap down, and had a little dig at the 391 car, before Newson, also a backmarker, fired the 505 car into Smith. This knocked car 391 sideways but Smith held on, and survived the last few laps to take the win. Craig Finnikin and Dan Johnson had been having their own battle for second place, with Finnikin getting the verdict with a few laps to go.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Matt Newson 16 launches Rob Tunnah 505 at Andy Smith 391. Photo Colin Casserley

The final began with much of the middle order of the grid piling into the back straight fence and each other, and despite all the cars involved rejoining the race under their own power, a complete restart was called for. Perhaps predictably, the quick white top Tunnah was first away, but this time Williamson wasn’t letting him have it all his own way, and bumpered the ultra-smart 505 car wide to take the lead. But it didn’t last long, as Tony Smith (91) muscled his way past on the next lap.

the BriSCA F1 stock car Shootout competitors make a quick start. Photo Carl Hesketh

Most of the Shoot-Out contenders made a quick start, but Andy Smith was through the field particularly quickly and was up to fourth place after only a handful of laps. Newson hit Finnikin into a spin, relegating the 55 car down to nearly last place. Scott Davids (462) went past Shenton for second place, but with each lap the 391 car was gaining ground. First Shenton, then Davids, were picked off, and as the Union Flag was shown, just the gentlest of nudges saw Andy Smith take up a lead that he would not relinquish.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Tony Smith 91 had a good run in the final. Photo Colin Casserley

Andy Smith was clear at the front, but the chasing pack of Smith (91), Davids, Harris, Harrison (2), and Wainman (515), were all in fairly close contention and all appeared to be just biding their time. When the lap boards came out, Harrison decided it was time to strike, and put Harris hard into Davids, who then came to an abrupt stop in turn three.

With smoke and flames visible under the 462 car, and Davids frantically giving the thumbs down, the waved yellows came out. Once the fire had been put out, the were cars lined up in race order, and with a clear track now in front of him, Smith raced off into the sunset. An above average performance from Tony Smith saw the 91 car hold second place, but he ran wide with four laps to go, letting Harrison (2) past, with Wainman nudging his way through into third. With three laps to run, Harris span himself out of fifth place, rejoining at the back.

The remaining couple of laps passed without incident, with Smith taking the win and then bringing the curtain down on his F1 stock car career with some showboating. Donuts at either end of the track whilst waving to the crowd, before jumping out and climbing onto the roof of his car to wave to the crowd.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Andy Smith 391 takes the final flag. Photo Colin Casserley

It appeared that Smith’s retirement was with immediate effect, as he didn’t come out for the GN. Once again, Tunnah raced into the lead as Wainman (515) was quickly past Johnson and Harris. The first to come to grief in this one were Dave Riley (422) in a Newson hire car, and Neil Scothern. Harris was again attacking the Wainman back bumper, thundering the 515 car into Finnikin, who cannoned into Josh Smith (191), who then went hard into the fence. Wainman survived this, but a lap later he had nobody to cushion the blow when Harris delivered an even bigger shot. Wainman bounced off the wires and rejoined further back.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Frankie Wainman jnr 515 bounces off the wires. Photo Colin Casserley

Tunnah exited the lead when he overcooked it around turn four and was hit side-on by Smith (191), leaving Shenton in front. After his early skirmish, Shoot-Out leader Wainman was working his way back up the places, although Smith (390) resisted a big attack from the 515 car. Of the Shoot-Out contenders, Harris was leading the charge and was up to fifth place when the lap boards came out. But a mistake on the exit of turn 2 saw the 84 car out of shape and Harrison (2) couldn’t help but make contact and spin Harris out, whereupon Smith (390) then piled in, ending Harris’ race.

Shenton took the win, with the four surviving Shoot-Out drivers finishing fourth to eighth.

Carl Hesketh

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