Birmingham Gala Night, 15 November 2014 – meeting report and photo gallery

Birmingham Wheels annual end of season fundraising Gala meeting took place on a mild November night. With official racing being over for the season, the meeting attracted a varied entry of debutants, occasional racers and refugees from other short oval formulae.

Formula 2 provided two ex-world champions in Mickey Brennan and Chris Burgoyne. The Scotsman ran a car provided by Team Davidson, which had recently taken the National point title with Rob Speak 318 on board, and Burgoyne managed to put in some competent laps without taking to many risks. Brennan, from that former hotbed of F1 superstars Nelson in Lancashire, was driving a car previously piloted by Shaun Blakemore (221). Brennan put in lots of entertaining laps; hitting various other cars with plenty of intent. With the 221 car being available for purchase, one can only hope that Santa has a trailer on his sleigh when he arrives at the Brennan household.

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Ex-ministox racer, 127 Austin Moore, tries his hand at F1s.

Other newbies included former Ministox racer 127 Austin Moore, in a car built by Mark Woodhull. Moore had purchased the car from Ben Hurdman (207) and hopes to be a regular on track next season. The 127 car did not have an easy debut and no doubt adjusting from a 60 bhp Ministox to a 600 bhp F1 was a steep learning curve, but in between the spins and scrapes Austin managed some quick laps and will be a strong candidate for Novice of the Year in 2015. This meeting was also notable for two third-generation debuts as Jordan Falding, grandson of seventies star Rod and son of multi-world champion Peter, made his debut in a brand new car – very much in the style of previous Falding-built cars, raced in recent years by Dan Johnson (4).

Falding has some previous experience on track in the form of karting and showed plenty of track craft; staying out of trouble with some very controlled laps. It will be interesting to see if this cautious approach is maintained next season, as his father’s early years on track were anything but cautious, with often violent use of the front bumper which would put most of today’s big hitters very much in the shade. The other third-generation racer to hit the tracks also brought some welcome input to F1 from the fairer sex. V8 Hotstox superstar, Phoebe Wainman (211), borrowed her dad’s shale car for a debut. Phoebe has enough experience in ministox and V8’s to know that the first time out was no time for heroics, but a steady debut will hopefully be followed by more appearances next season.

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Phoebe Wainman (211) makes her F1 debut in dad, Frankie’s (515), shale car.

As for the racing itself, with no points and no prize money on offer, it was perhaps not surprisingly a mainly moderate affair with lots of minor spins and shunts, but very little in the way of the heavy-hitting bumper-work normally seen at Wheels Raceway.  Despite the large numbers of newcomers on track, wins all went the way of regular racers; with Nigel Green (445) scooping two of the three heats and the other going the way of Mickey Randell (172).

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Mickey Randall claimed a Heat win, ahead of Danny Wainman and Lee Fairhurst. 

The meeting final did muster a little more action with lots of fence bashing from the first timers and some spirited bumper-work from Randell, Danny Wainman (212) and Lee Fairhurst (217) – in the borrowed 141 Carl Pickering car – all getting involved. In the latter stages of the race, these three were joined in battle by a representative from the provinces, Scotsman Paul Ford (388). Ford forced his way into second and then, on the final lap, managed to get a last bend hit in on leader Danny Wainman (212), which relegated the 212 car to third behind yet another Scotsman, Chris Burgoyne (47). Thus, not only a first time final win for Ford but a one-two for drivers from outside of England, which may well be something unique in the 60 year history of Brisca F1 racing.

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The flying Scotsmen getting the better of 212 Danny Wainman in the meeting final.

The last race of the night featured just eight drivers, selected by a panel of promoters and officials. With just eight cars on track, it was something of a non-event with the procession led home by Randell  (172) in a race which did nothing to make one yearn for the start of next season, and perhaps needs a re-think if the season is to end leaving the crowd shouting for more.

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Paul Ford (388) celebrating his first F1 Final win.

Words: Damian Noblett

Photos: Steve Botham and Colin Casserley

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