Coventry 2nd August – meeting report and photo gallery

“Islands in the Stream” came to mind as I paddled through the Coventry car park prior to the August Veterans Association meeting. I feared the worst after heavy rain and a thunderstorm earlier but my fears were unfounded – the track looked to be in excellent condition and the sprint cars on circuit before Heat One were actually kicking up the dust by the end of their race.

Seventeen cars for the first heat including Tony Smith (91) in the Gary Townsend (223) car and Dutch visitor Rutger Valk (H27). Russell Cooper (415) and Colin Nairn (280) led them away, the latter spinning the former on the first bend. Mark Harrhy (44) took to the infield, rejoining on the back straight in the lead.

Finnikin (55) gave a big push into the City Bend but his car was a mobile smoke screen, the combination of sunlight and oil smoke rendering vision almost impossible and it was a relief when he retired to the infield. A caution was called for to move the Ben Hurdman (207) car onto the middle and at the restart 44 again led, with red tops 390, 212 and 150 making up ground fast.

Smith (390) moved Nicholls (215) aside and Danny Wainman (212) followed behind, the Rochdale man taking the lead on the fourth bend and pulling out a gap over second-placed Ian Noden (306). Wainman (212) passed 306 at the halfway then slowly reeled in 390 over the remaining laps, taking the lead with 3 to go. A last bend challenge by Sworder failed to move Smith from second place.

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Stuart Smith (390) led during Heat 1, but lost out on the victory to Danny Wainman.

Heat Two was led away by Martin Spiers (451) and Mark Adkins (24), the 24 car scooting around 451 for the lead as the flag dropped. 515, 197 and 1 were mixing it further back as the caution came out for novice Garry Bench (125), stranded on the fourth turn. Fairhurst (217) retired to the infield during the yellows.

Adkins set a very steady rolling lap but couldn’t escape the attentions of Steve Harrison (118) at the restart and it was the venerable 118 machine that took over the lead spot as 515, 1 and 197 again traded blows, Harrison (197) hooking bumpers with Wainman (515), losing them both several places. The white-topped Harrison pulled out a clear lead over second placed Tom Harris but the gold top car closed him down, tapping him wide on the last bend for victory.

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Ryan Harrison (197) and John Lund (53) battling in Heat 2.

Nineteen cars for Heat Three including novice Martyn Phillips (168), one of the Coventry first aiders, and another Dutch visitor Sierd de Vries (H54). 351 and 76 spun on the pit bend as PJ Lemons (444) hit the front, only to be spun by a fast moving 249. A pile up on the City bend claimed several cars and the caution was out. Mat Newson (16) seemed a bit annoyed with John Frost (351) as the 169 and 463 cars were separated by track staff, Johnson’s car removed to the middle, Morris rejoining at the back of the pack.

313 led the restart from 249, 4 and 259. Newson pulled off with a flat front tyre and Johnson took over at the sharp end, despite an attack by Rob Speak (318). The #4 car drove away from Speak, pulling out several car lengths. Speak seemed to close on the straights but lose time on the bends but another caution, this time for Richard Bryan (238) brought things to a halt.

12 cars were left running at the restart with Johnson getting the drop on Speak, keeping clear of the 318 bumper in the run to the flag. Special mention for Martyn Philips who finished tenth on his debut, qualifying for the final at his first attempt.

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Dan Johnson (4) battling his way to the front in Heat 3.

After some high speed wheel packing by the sprint cars and a bit of watering and grading, we were ready for the next race. Twenty-one cars for the consolation, including red tops Finnikin and Newson but sadly no de Vries (H54) who had a big gap between engine and rear axle where the gearbox used to be!

As in last month’s Coventry consolation, the race belonged to Spiers in the 451 car. He led from the drop of the green flag, pulling out half a lap lead over his nearest rivals and maintained a comfortable lead until the very last lap. We had already lost Newson to another flat tyre and it was left to Finnikin to uphold star grade honour.

The Leek man closed rapidly over the last few laps as Spiers lost time negotiating the spun 125 car, stranded mid-track on the fourth bend. On the final lap, Spiers, faced again with the 125 car hesitated briefly, opting for the outside line and going down the back straight Finnikin was on him.

Craig must have judged 451 to be a lap down as he drew alongside him on the City Bend. Spiers floored it, drove around the outside of the red top and won the race to the flag. Finnikin pulled up at the start line to accept the winner’s plaudits, only to be informed he was actually second.

A full 36-car field for the Final, led away by 24 and 313. Adkins took the lead as Sworder spun on the pit bend and collected Hines (259), then 451, 34, 415 and 215 next time around. A back straight shemozzle involved 55, 51, 212 and 390 delaying  Junior Wainman who retired to the centre and Speak and Harris began tearing through the field.

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Mick Sworder (150) was an early spinner in the Final.

318 moved Harrison (197) aside as the #1 car was delayed in a clash with the 335 car. Danny Wainman was taken onto the infield by a retiring H27 and the caution came out for a pile-up on the pit bend. 212 retired with a flat and Adkins again led the restart with Speaky up to fifth place.

306 and 40 spun as Speak put clear air between himself and Harrison. White tops 24 and 118 were really on the pace in first and second until Harrison (118) spun under pressure from Speak. A C-grade victory in the shape of Mark Adkins was looking on the cards, as Harris passed 197 for third, but it was not to be.

The 24 car spun on the pit bend, collecting Speak who broke clear to lead down the back straight pursued closely by Harris while, further back, Dan Johnson had taken third from 197. As the lap boards came out Harris was virtually pushing the 318 car around the track – Speaky pulled out a car’s length over the gold top but it seemed as though Harris could attack the Manchester man any time he liked.

Into the last lap and Speak moved inside backmarker 435 on the home straight but Harris got a little crossed up making the same manoeuvre and lost valuable distance. It was looking like a last bender and Harris, although too far back, gave it a go. He connected with Speak’s back bumper but bounced off and backed it into the City bend fence. Johnson took second with Harrison (197) third. I noticed Lundy take a whack at the 197 car after the flag – not sure what that was about!

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Rob Speak (318) took his first Final win in an F1 at Coventry.

Another big field for the Grand National with 35 cars on track, 12 of them red-roofed, reduced to 11 when Paul Hines pulled off. PJ Lemons led the race which was brought to a halt within just a few laps when Billy Johnson rolled onto his side on the fourth bend – Nigel Harrhy provided protection for the 169 driver who stayed in his car while it was righted.

Lemons again led them away at the restart, 390 spun 55, Sworder tangled with 335 and the yellow flags flew again, this time for Valk (H27) who hit the City Bend fence and bounced onto his side. 197 retired to the centre during the caution and Lundy was the first of the red top train in 10th place. 444 again set the pace at the restart as 390, 1 and 515 battled for places, joined by Johnson (4). 390, 34 & 45 tangled as Newson retired yet again – a disastrous night for the Norwich man – and we then had another caution, possibly for car 168.

Aaron Couzens (76) led them away this time from 335, 463, 306, 338, 53, 4 and 515. Harrison (197) rejoined the restart from the centre, ignoring the black flag being waved at him. Johnson was the man on the move as Harris and FWJ battled, before Wainman disappeared into the City Bend fence with Sworder – rumour has it Noddy was involved in a bit of payback on 150. Johnson passed Woodhull for the lead and took the flag, a bag full of points tonight for the Camo Kid here at Coventry.

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Mark Woodhull (335) battled for second spot in the Grand National.

Words: Michael Jenkins

Photos: Steve Botham

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