Birmingham – April 21st 2012 Meeting Report

An inclement weather forecast did not deter spectators from the ever popular Birmingham Wheels circuit for the World Championship Qualifying Round. The Mat Newson 16 fleet was in town with not only Mat racing his tar car but Marcus Collins 16 was in the shale car, Colin Goodswen 372 was in his new Newson built tarmac car and newcower Bill Fenwick 57 was in the old tarmac Goodswen machine. James Waters 67 was also having his first F1 outing on the asphalt alongside shale specialist Geoff Nickolls 215.

James Waters 67. Photo Chris Clark

Derek Fairhurst 218 was planned to be out in the majorly rebuilt 217 car while Lee controlled the ex-Andy Smith 391 ex- Wes Goodwin 295 car, but electrical gremlins meant that Lee comandeered the rebuilt machine for a fine final win while Derek took a backseat with the spanners and set up.

Lee Fairhurst 217 won his sixth final at Birmingham. Photo Paul Tully

Heat one saw Sean Willis 287 flittingly take the lead before the Ford engined F1 stockcar of Chris Cooke 460 took up the running out front. The track was wet and greasy making traction difficult as Neil Scriven 11, Garry Townsend 223 and Collins 427 piled into the top turn clattering the plating as Lee Fairhurst 217 and Luke Davidson 464 tore up the order with Mick Sworder 150 in tow. Steve Reedman 361 span out and was joined by the green shale machine of John Lund 53 drawing the yellows as Dave Riley 422 rammed into the fence by the pitgate with Rob Cowley 73.

John Lund 53 runs into Steve Reedman 361. Photo Colin Casserley

Dave Riley 422 and Rob Cowley 73 start to tangle. Photo Paul Tully

The start graders launch into action in Heat 1. Photo Chris Clark

Carl Pickering 141 led them away but the superstars were now on his and Chris Cooke’s tails. At the green Pickering flew off leaving Cooke to drop down the order as the star drivers bulldozered passed. Mick Sworder was his usual ebullient self, throwing the car into the bends and of course, his fellow competitors. A great battle ensued between him and Frankie Wainman jnr 515 with the two exchanging hits and places and getting the crowd going. World Champion Paul Harrison 2 also got in on the act with cars roaring round the track almost three abreast. The ever present tarmac speed of Tom Harris 84 capitalised on Sworder’s ‘do or die’ attitude to using the bumper, sliding up on the inside of the 150 machine.

Frankie Wainman jnr 515 and Mick Sworder 150 during Heat 1. Photo Chris Clark

Breaking clear of the warring red tops, Wainman jnr set about reeling in wayward leader Pickering but was unable to get close enough on the greasy track for the last bend lunge and had to be content with second until post race scrutineering removed the result from Pickering giving the win to FWJ.

Racing yellow graders during Heat 2. Photo Steve Botham

Heat two soon followed with Derek Brown 229 taking up the running as in amongst the yellows, Paul Carter 300 snaked up the homestraight. Too many cars trying to push their own way to the front led to a turn two scrum with long distance traveller Mike James 417 and local boy Ed Neachell 321 coming off the worst, absorbing the majority of the impact with the armco, with Mike James being tractored off at the end of the race.

Ed Neachell 321 and Mike James 417 about to find the armco. Photo Steve Botham

Ed Neachell 321 and Mike James 417 start to tangle. Photo Paul Tully

John Weldon 235 was having a good run out front but Dan Johnson 4 and Michael Scriven 12 were hotfooting it to the front, reeling in Weldon with Johnson taking the lead with two to go. The Finnikin tilter seemed to be going well but on the last lap, he went wide, allowing Mat Newson to sneak by for fourth.

Dan Johnson 4 reels in John Weldon 235. Photo Colin Casserley

Craig Finnikin 55 gave up a position to Mat Newson 16. Photo Chris Clark

Dan Johnson 4 on his way to winning Heat 2. Photo Steve Botham

The Consolation saw Gareth O’ Bierne 412 lead them away as Rob Cowley 73 broke clear of the jousting yellow graders and starting hunting down the leader. Nigel Harrhy 45 tangled heavily with Carl Pickering 141 down the backstraight with the two becoming enmeshed drawing the yellows leaving the track staff to extricate them. O’ Bierne led them away but it was not long before Rob Cowley took charge and shot off into the distance. Will Yarrow 22 was quick off the mark cutting by fellow star grader Scott Davids 462 but Davids retaliated resulting in Yarrow giving him a big punt to break away followed by Josh Smith 191 sending Davids way out wide to take third. Yarrow set about trying to close down Cowley but Cowley was showing them all a clean pair of heels, going on to take a popular win.

Mick Sworder 150 usually livens up proceedings. Photo Paul Tully

James Waters 67 started at the rear for his 1st final on tar with over half the field sporting a red roof just in front of him. Crowd anticipation was high to see how Sworder would enliven proceedings but at the green he trundled to the infield with a broken propshaft. Michael Scriven 12 and Luke Davidson 464 got up close and personal with the turn two fence as the cars roared into action. Rob Cowley tore off, trying to clear the yellows as Josh Smith 191 climbed over the front of Dave Willis 337 with Willis retiring to the infield shortly after.

The yellows were shown for Luke Davidson 464 after a tangle with Scriven 12 negating any lead Brown had over the rest of the field, with Stu Smith jnr being the first superstar in the order, about half a dozen cars back. At the green, Johnson got straight into Wainman jnr and Fairhurst was hastling Smith for his position. Places were being traded thick and fast as bumpers flew in at all angles. Newson and Wainman jnr were racing neck and neck until Craig Utley 484 threw his bumper into the mix sending Wainman out into Newson.

Colin Goodswen 372 alongside Michael Scriven 12. Photo Colin Casserley

Tom Harris 84 lamped Paul Carter 300 giving him some extra ‘oomph’ as he went to deliver a timely hit on Dan Johnson, sending Johnson into a spin and out of contention. Lee Fairhurst was by now smoothly sailing along out ahead, keeping out of trouble neatly tapping Carter on the back bumper to get clear. Fairhurst said afterwards that he knew the car was good from the green and needed to get a move on to stay ahead.

Frankie Wainman jnr 515 takes on Stu Smith jnr 290. Photo Colin Casserley

By the time Frankie Wainman jnr had bypassed Smith jnr, he motored swiftly on, closing down the gap with leader Fairhurst whose tyres had started to go off as the race progressed, but the rebuilt 217 car kept well ahead going on to take the flag celebrating the victory with some post race doughnuts.

Lee Fairhurst 217 on his way to his sixth Final. Photo Colin Casserley

The Grand National was the last race of the night and the majority of the crowd stayed, showing the po,ularity of the F1 stockcars at the circuit. Craig Finnikin 55 unfortunately pulling off before the start with mechanical problems. Early on, Sean Willis 287 clattered the fence with Bill Fenwick 57 joining him soon afterwards. Dan Johnson 4 was was dicing with the blue graders with Neil Scriven 11 putting Johnson into Utley. As the battle continued, Utley traversed across the track leaving Johnson no option but to thump into his side with Newson thumping in before the yellows. Derek Brown reled the field away but he had quick yellow graders Paul Carter, Carl Pickering and Dave Riley 422 hot on his heels.

Sworder was dashing up the order followed closely by the other star drivers with Daniel giving brother Frank a hit but being Frankie riding it and pulling away. Tom Harris laid into Sworder who was trying to deal with Randall who had his hands full with Pickering. Sworder was not prepared to let anyone hold him up and Randall once more clattered the fence courtesy of Sworder as he and Harris continued duking it out, relegating Pickering down the order. Harris pulled ahead and away as Sworder renewed his earlier acquaintance with Frankie Wainman jnr with the duo exchanging hits with Sworder going in for a typically large lunge but letting Paul Harrison slide through to take his place, Sworder’s back brake visibly glowing with exertion in the latter stages. Upfront Paul Carter went on to take his second Grand National victory in as many meetings.

Paul Carter 300 takes his second GN win in as many meetings. Photo Steve Botham

Photo Extra

Craig Utley 484 neck and neck with Dave Willis 337. Photo Paul tully

Dan Johnson 4 on his way to winning Heat 2. Photo Chris Clark

Lee Fairhurst 217 alongside Dave Willis 337 . Photo Colin Casserley

Father and son Josh 191 and Tony Smith 91. Photo Paul Tully

Paul Harrison 2. Photo Paul Tully

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