Birmingham, 14th April 2018 – Meeting Report and Photos

Back in the 1970s there were a series of plays produced at BBC Birmingham called “Second City Firsts” and the Second City’s premier (okay, only) stock car track produced some firsts of its own on Saturday night, with first time winners in F1, F2 and National Ministox.

A healthy turnout of 49 F1 cars, including three from North of the Border. F2 man Michael Philip (454) made the long haul from Forres (head North, North again and when you get to Elgin turn left!) to have a go in the ex-172 car, now part of the Newson racing stable and we also had comparative southerners John Fortune (164) and Stuart Shevill Junior (518) in the line-up for day one of this Incarace tarmac weekend.

Twenty-three for Heat One, with Kelvin Hassell (13), looking much more at home on tarmac, making all the early running, hanging the tail out on the bends in fine style although his rear tyres probably wouldn’t agree. Kyle Gray (124) held second ahead of Mark Sargent (326) in the 2017 Hines tar car. Newson (16) and Fairhurst (217) caught Hassell with two to run with Mat keeping clear of Lee for victory. A big last bender on 326 gave Danny Wainman (212) fifth behind Micky Randell’s (172) new machine with Gray hanging on for sixth.

Heat 1 winner, Mat Newson (16), on track with Newson hire car driver Kelvin Hassell (13)

Twenty-six for Heat Two and some very smart cars on display including the new cars of Adam Bamford (43), Ant lee (339) and Colin Goodswen (372). Ashley England (346), in the former 515 tar car, looked quick from the green flag, taking the lead early on as Junior Wainman, using the Derek Brown (229) car tonight, popped a rear tyre and fish-tailed down the home straight and out of the race. Phoebe Wainman (211) held second for a spell until Shevill passed her at the halfway stage, when the caution flags flew for Bamford and Malkin Junior, locked together by the start line.

Dan Johnson (4) moved into second place at the restart and began to reel in the 346 car, drawing level on the last lap as England slipped wide on turn one. Johnson eased up, refusing to be a target on the last bend so Ashley floored it and out dragged Dan to the line in a grandstand finish.

Ashley England took the win in Heat 2

It was good to see Sam Wass (284) back in action again in the 28 car consolation. Heat two didn’t deliver any results for the white topper but he clung on to the lead in this one until a big crunch on the pit bend involving several cars, caused possibly by the Hurdman (207) rear axle depositing its life-blood all over the track, brought out a caution. Nigel Harrhy (45) came off the worst in this one, suffering a concussion and needing a bit of assistance from the medics.

The restart saw Richard Davies (325) now ahead of Wass and Englestone (520) but Shaun Webster (48), no slouch around the Wheels Raceway, took over with five to run with FWJ up to second by the flag. Davies held on for a creditable third place ahead of Gibson (249) and Englestone with Wass the last to qualify for the final in 12th spot.

The Consolation went the way of Shaun Webster (48)

Thirty cars for the final, with 25 and 520 non-starters and, with this being a WCQR, no reserves allowed. A bit of a scrappy start saw the blues into the yellows before the green flag and Johnson making a big push from the get-go. Davies found the pit bend fence as Wass (the 284 version) led from a hard-charging Sarge, followed by Fort (3) and England. Johnson and Fairhurst were the first star men through the pack, trading blows on each bend. Sargent overhauled Wass and looked good for a second final win, stretching out a half-lap lead over his nearest rival.

Half-way stage and England moved into second but with little chance of catching the flying 326 car, who with five to run, began to hit back-markers allowing England to close the gap a little by the last lap. Was a last bender on the cards? I thought not so let my attention wander to a battle further down the order, expecting to see Sarge cruising across the line. He cruised across the line right enough, but not in first place. His diff let go rounding the final bend and he rolled slowly to the start line in eventual fourth place behind England, Fairhurst and Johnson and just ahead of Junior Wainman.

To add insult to injury he was clobbered hard by Chris Fort after the flag who probably didn’t expect to find a 326 rolling road-block in his way, the number 3 car leaping over Sarge’s rear end (!) on his way to sixth place. A first ever F1 final win for Ashley England to go with his heat win and a bag full of world qualifying points to boot was just reward for some fast, tidy driving but Sarge possibly got a bigger round of applause as he was towed off – so near yet so far.

Ashley England takes his first F1 final win, ahead of 217 Lee Fairhurst

A generous thirty-five cars for the Grand National, a fast and furious race which saw a flag to flag victory for Sam Wass, another first-ever win. Kyle Gray held second, closed on Wass with three to run as he hit lapped traffic and went for the big one on the last bend. In an all or nothing manoeuvre, he went in hard then graciously spun to give Wass the win. All credit to Kyle for giving it a go in true stock car fashion – makes me feel old though, I have shoes older than he is!

England leads them around for the Grand National

Words: Mick Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley

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