Birmingham, 8th April 2017 – Meeting Report and Photos

Birmingham Wheels staged the opening tarmac meeting of the 2017 season and with World Championship qualifying points on offer over 50 cars arrived to entertain the patrons on a dry and sunny evening. With no tarmac meetings prior to this event, it would be difficult to predict winners but not many would have predicted the easy win for Stuart Smith Jnr in heat one as he comfortably outpaced 24 rivals. Stuart had a dismal season on tarmac in 2016 with lots of mechanical issues leading to very limited appearances on the hard stuff.

For 2017, the 390 car seems to have found a whole lot more pace and the win was never in doubt. So not much action at the front but elsewhere we had lots of fence bashing on the pits bend as oil on track made for a treacherous surface which caught out lots of drivers and saw around six of them attack the Armco. Stuart avoided the oil and cruised to the flag while further back Bradley Harrison, Ben Riley, and Danny Wainman entertained the fans with a little bit of bumper bashing.

Danny Wainman on track in Heat 1

Heat two and another race dominated by fluid on track – this time on turn two. 147 Fast Eddie Collins led the first few laps while further back 197 Ryan Harrison looked significantly quicker than the rest of the star men. With fluid then going down on turn two a whole gaggle of lower graders including race leader Collins visited the fence.

With Harris (84) and Wainman (515) looking well off the pace, Ryan remained unchallenged all the way to the flag. The only other incident of note coming on the last lap when Mick Sworder used the 150 car to launch an unprovoked attack on Nigel Green 445. Ex-F2 superstar Neil Hooper came home in fourth place in his first race in his own car having purchased his Paul Hines-built car from Todd Jones (186).

Lots of lower graders in the consolation, so plenty of spins and crashing early on before the field settled down to focus on qualifying for the final. Another ex-F2 star Drew Lammas led for much of the race turning in some impressive laps but luck deserted him and he retired to the infield before the flag.

Heat 2 winner, Ryan Harrison

Frankie Wainman and Todd Jones got into a playful scrap with lots of hits which kept the fans entertained. Up front Paul Carter appeared to have a comfortable lead from 455 Matt Armstrong who seemed to have found a Newson Hire car with enough pace to match his talent. A steward’s enquiry after the flag demoted the 300 car with the win going to Aaron Leach in the 70 car. Armstrong held on for an excellent fourth place.

The win in the Consolation was awarded to Aaron Leach.

Final time and a full grid of cars raised expectations of a little more aggressive intent. Ryan (197) looked to be ultra quick going from the rear of the star grade to the front in little more than one lap but mechanical failure soon had the 197 car retreating to the infield. So this left things clear for the other flying star man Stuart Jnr (390) and Stuart had some more assistance from a yellow flag caution required to retrieve a wheel left on track by Lee Fairhurst.

Stuart was sixth on the restart and made light work of moving into second but then had to work a little harder to catch race leader 207 Ben Hurdman who was having what was easily his best ever race on tarmac in his new car. 390 took the lead with five to go leaving Hurdman hanging on in second place. Hurdman just did enough to keep a charging Nigel Green behind him at the flag. Green had spent most of the race getting involved in scraps with various other drivers and spent several laps fighting Dan Johnson and Frankie Wainman which kept the fans occupied while Stuart cruised to victory.

Top 3 in the Final: 390, 207, 445

Another big field of 28 gladiators for the Grand National but not a great deal to excite the crowd. Collins (147) led Lammas (543) but Lammas soon pulled away and established a lead which took him all the way to victory. With the 390 car on a lap handicap it was left to the other flying star grader Rhino Harrison to chase Lammas and Ryan did indeed make it to second place but Lammas was still comfortably out of range of the 197 front bumper as the flag came down.

Grand National winner, Drew Lammas

Words: Damian Noblett
Photos: Colin Casserley and Steve Botham

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