Coventry, 2nd April 2016 – Meeting Report and Photo Gallery

I know I say this every year, but this could be the last time so I make no excuses for saying it again – the first Saturday in April is still the traditional season start for many drivers and fans and a good-sized crowd was on hand for the Roger Squire Memorial Trophy meeting presented by the Veterans Association.

Twenty-three for Heat One including Netherlands visitor Arjan Ligthart (H112) who spun on the pit bend first time around and took Boyer (28) with him, while Bobby Griffin (166) did an about turn down the back straight and was clambered over by Russell Cooper (415). Local lads Steve Smith (40) and Nigel Harrhy (45) led the way until a caution for Cooper slowed things down.


Heat 1 included Dutchman Arjan Ligthart (H112)

Finnikin (55) and Newson (16) had made good progress from the back but come the restart, Harrhy adopted a wider and wider line until the fence inevitably intervened letting Booth (446) and Hurdman (207) by. Newson passed Finnikin then slowed dramatically and Finnikin pulled off in sympathy leaving Smith in front chased by Hurdman, Nairn (280) and Booth. Booth passed Nairn who tried to retaliate but spun and took 45 and Stephenson (75) with him. Dowson (94) had moved up to fifth with Danny Wainman (212) in sixth when the yellow flags flew again, this time for Harrhy.

With four to run Booth applied the bumper to the 40 car, without effect. Next bend he dished out the same treatment, Smith resisted then slipped wide, allowing Booth up the inside. Dowson moved into second spot despite close attention from the 207 front bumper and Wainman launched Smith hard into the Coventry bend fence, bringing out caution number three!

The restart, over just two laps, was a feast of bumperwork. The order was 446, 207, 94 and 212 but Dowson’s car failed as the green flag dropped – Hurdman tried to squeeze up the inside of 446 but was chopped off. Last lap and 207 tried a big one on the pit bend but was again chopped off. Last bend and Wainman went for it, whacking Booth wide, Hurdman took the lead but was pipped on the line by Booth with 212 in third. A finish worth waiting for.


Joe Booth taking the first win of the night.

Twenty-one for Heat Two with another Dutch visitor in the ranks, H250 Oscar Iliohan, making up the front row with Mark Adkins (24).  Iliohan’s race was short-lived, the Netherlander getting turned into the home straight fence twice on the opening lap and ending up facing the traffic near the first bend. Lucky not to be hit before the caution came out, this brought his racing to an end for the night – cruel luck after such a long journey.

The restart saw Rob Speak’s up and down fortunes continue as he retired to the centre with a flat and it was Adkins who pulled out a healthy lead with Harrison (2) and Green (445) on the pace, the number 2 car passing Adkins for the top spot at the halfway stage just before another caution, this time for two cars locked together on the back straight. From the green, Harrison was cruising to victory when, with two to run his outside rear tyre cried ‘enough’, letting Green through for the win with Adkins an excellent second. Over the final lap, Harrison dropped down the places to finish ninth.


The World Champion’s bad luck continued in Heat 2.

Another twenty-one for Heat Three and Dan Johnson (4) made his intentions clear from the start, side-swiping Frankie Wainman Junior (515) into the Yarrow (22) car on the pit bend, the superstars banging wheels across the centre green as they rejoined at the back of the pack. Warwick (307) led from Morris (463), FWJ half spun and Yarrow, Johnson and Lund (53) traded blows and places. Morris took over at the front as Johnson escaped the clutches of 22 and 53 and passed Wainman.

As the dust rose over the remaining laps, Morris eased his way to the chequered flag but Johnson somehow became involved with Warwick on the back straight, the Shoot Out champion finding himself backed into the fence. Morris won, Geoff Nicholls (215) second and Warwick third, Johnson recovering for ninth.


Johnson and Wainman battling in Heat 3.

Thirty-two for the Consolation, with Ligthart (H112) making all the early running amid a chaotic start. Eliot Smith (293) squeezed by the Dutchman for the lead while further back Finnikin and Speak were tearing through the field. As the rain began to fall Finnikin tried to remove Eaton (448) and Neachell (321) but got it wrong, letting Speak by into third. Ligthart clung to every place as the lap boards came out, while Speaky tapped 293 wide on the city bend for the lead, Finnikin nipping through as well. Ligthart lost fifth place to Newson on the last bend but held on for the last qualifying spot. The Gold Top jinx continued – Speak won the race but did a half-shaft crossing the line!

Almost a full house for the Roger Squire Memorial Trophy final – by my reckoning, just Hawkins (175) the only non-starter. On a very greasy track, Stephenson led as Warwick received a heavy hit from Morris on the infield going down the back stretch. FWJ hit trouble more than once as the caution flags flew once again and Speak retired to the middle. Stephenson again led from Ligthart as 212 and 445 locked together on the infield.

There was bumperwork aplenty further back as H112 inherited the lead from 293 but it was Mark Gilbank (21) who was making the most progress, already up to second and blasting the Dutch white-topper wide for the top spot on the pit bend. FWJ launched Yarrow into Johnson, the 22 car resisted until the next bend then Wainman passed and set his sights on the silver and orange car ahead of him. Nicholls was putting in a valiant effort in second as Gilbank extended his lead, seemingly untroubled by the conditions. Newson held third from Johnson and FWJ when the yellow flags flew again for Tom Boyer (28) who had lost a fight with the pit bend fence.


Mark Gilbank fighting to get to the front

The restart order was 21, 16, backmarker 75, then 4 and 515. Stephenson pulled off leaving Johnson with a clear shot at Newson come the green flag. Gilbank brought the cars to a virtual standstill on the rolling lap before streaking away on the city bend, while Wainman nosed ahead of Johnson for third, then despatched Newson for second only to hit the fence and drop to fourth. Johnson tried an optimistic last bender on the Rotherham Rocket to no avail and FWJ got the better of Newson for third by the flag. Nicholls, in probably the oldest car in the race (Nigel Whalley might disagree) came home a marvellous fifth.


Final Top 3: Gilbank, Johnson and Wainman

The Grand National provided the biggest field of the night (36 cars), reduced to 35 when 36 pulled off (still with me?). With the rain still coming down and lots of brown cars on track, it took a caution to figure out who was leading, Stephenson being the man in question. The restart was short-lived, Brad Harrison (25) hanging his car on the third turn fence and bringing out the yellows again. Roberts (313) led them away this time from Booth (446) but Newson and Johnson were lurking back in sixth and seventh places. After a series of mishaps, FWJ was trying hard to make up ground as Johnson took over the front spot at the halfway mark. Talking of marks, the Gilbank version was tearing through the field as the caution flags flew yet again.

Only 14 cars remained for the restart, the top four being 4, 16, 515 and 21 with three to run. It was one of those races that got the crowd going as Johnson made the break from a reticent Newson. Wainman caught the 16 car with two to go but was surely too far back to mount a challenge? Johnson seemed to take the pit bend cautiously on the last lap allowing Wainman to close, the Silsden man delivering a massive hit on the 4 back bumper going into the final turn. Johnson’s car erupted in steam, Wainman almost lost it but recovered to take the flag, just, from Newson with Gilbank third.

A memorable end to a good night’s racing and one the Veterans Stock Car Association can be proud to put their name to.


Superstars making their way to the front in the Grand National

Words: Mick Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley and Steve Botham













































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