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

Sixty-two wheel-handling wizards turned out for this summer spectacular of stock car racing at Coventry Stadium, ready to do battle on a surprisingly dry and dusty track despite heavy rain the night before.

Rugby racer Luke Dennis (192) led away the nineteen car Heat One, which included welcome Netherlands driver Remco de Buck (H92), Tom Harris (84) in the Rob Speak car and Ryan Harrison (197) in the Neil Holcroft (496) yellow, FWJ-built car. Dennis led from the flag as several cars passed de Buck when he spun onto the centre. Within a few laps, rain began to fall but this did not deter Dennis, the flying white top holding on to win from a rapidly closing Mark Gilbank (21), who had been delayed by an entertainingly troublesome Dave Willis (337).


Dutch visitor Remco de Buck in Heat 1.

Twenty for Heat Two with Jason Eaton (448) and Aaron Cozens (76) on the front. Falding (36) dropped to the back and France (216) and Rogers (244) tangled on the pit bend first time around, none of which really bothered Eaton out in front with a hard-charging Ben Hurdman (207) in second. Red tops 2, 55 and 150 tangled briefly on turn four, then Sworder and Harrison clashed again down the home straight. In a bold move, Eaton squeezed by Sworder on the third bend, only to be unceremoniously forced onto the infield in a very dubious, left hand down a bit manoeuvre by the star man. Justice was served as Sworder spun backwards into the fence at the end of the home straight.

Hurdman was now in the lead but a caution to remove the 216 car closed the field up. The 207 driver kept a steady pace on the roller, adjusting his line on the apex of three and four to power away at the green as Eaton delayed the chasing pack of Woodhull, Green, Harrison, Wainman (212) and Hines but another caution for a collision caused by Johnson (169), who came off the centre on turn four saw the pressure back on Hurdman. The former autograss champion had it all under control though, making another perfect start to lead the remaining laps and take the flag ahead of Hines who snatched second from Harrison on the line.


Heat 2 winner Ben Hurdman

Two new cars joined the back of the pack for Heat Three; Darren Clark (83) in patriotic red, white and blue colours and Shaun Blakemore (221) in a self-built shale-shifter, its blue and yellow colour scheme reminding me of another car – Paul Blything (ex 418/70) was it, or maybe going back a bit further Alan England (ex-24)? Anyway, heat three provided another lower-grade victory in the shape of Joff Gibson (249) but not before Nigel Harrhy (45) had done his usual blast around the boards, speedway style, in the early laps until the fence found him. Maybe castors on the ends of the back bumper would help, Nige?

Junior Wainman (515) made up ground quickly, shifting Newson at halfway and setting off after Gibson but the drying, dusty track, low sun and the smoke screen provided by Thomas Stevenson (75) made conditions difficult on both sides of the fence. Gibson kept his cool to win from FWJ and John Dowson Junior (94).


The new car from Shaun Blakemore

Twenty-five for the Consolation with the always value-for-money Steve Harrison (118) leading the way while behind him yellow tops piled up on the pit bend. Sworder moved quickly through the field until a caution was called to move the stalled Blakemore car on the third bend. Sworder obliged with a push then resumed his fifth place at the restart, Eaton now battling for the lead with Peter Hobbs (108) and 118 while the 150 car lurked in fourth.

Sworder took the lead on turn four and looked to have the race sewn up before the halfway stage but he was delayed by the spinning Nairn (280) machine on turn two and Finnikin saw his chance, bumpering Sworder wide on the Coventry bend to take the one to go board. Sworder settled for second, Tom Boyer (28) third and Karl Hawkins (175) tried a last bender on Harris for fourth but missed!


The 150 machine making its way to the front in the consolation

Could the July Final be as good as the June race? With nineteen of the thirty-six starters red-roofed it was an impressive field that took the green flag. Dennis took the lead on lap two until Willis took over, with Masterson (103) and Chris Bonner (105) in pursuit; until a rollover in front of the grandstand brought the race to a halt. Mick Rogers was the man on his side, roof facing the traffic and Karl Hawkins nearly stood his car on its nose to avoid hitting him, then admirably stayed put to protect the Kidderminster man from any more grief.

The single file restart reached right around the track, with the leader Willis breathing down tail-end Charlie’s (or Paul Hines as we shall call him) neck, but they all got away cleanly, Junior Wainman being particularly forceful from the outset. With cars every which way on the pit bend, it was hard to tell who was now leading until a caution for 103 and 36 on turn three gave us a bit of breathing space. James Morris (463) was now judged to be leading and a final win would have been just reward after his spectacular exit from last month’s final. He brought the field down to walking pace before charging off into the distance, with 175 and 337 some way behind and FWJ up to sixth.

Another caution – this time to move the Roberts (313) car – destroyed the healthy lead Morris had accrued, but another good start saw him again take the initiative. FWJ again went in hard with the bumper on the pit bend, moving into second but slipped wide on the dusty track, letting Mal Brown (34) back through. Will Yarrow (22) spun on the back straight, facing the traffic in a very dodgy position, bringing out another caution just as Finnikin took Wainman into the pit bend fence.

The 515 and 55 cars were adjudged to have gone out after the caution and were reinstated in second and third places behind Morris. The excitement went up a notch as the 463 car fell victim to the 515 bumper on the pit bend but fought back, then Morris, Finnikin and Brown all charged into the bend as one. Wainman led but his car was hobbled, a broken shocker on the outside rear causing tyre smoke and concern for FWJ fans. With two to run Finnikin was on his back bumper, biding his time, with Harris now up to third. As they approached the one to run board, red flags and red lights again! Joe Booth (446) obviously thought this final needed that something extra, so, just like last month, he rolled over, this time on the pit bend.


Another Coventry, another Joe Booth rollover…

A one lap dash to the flag was declared – the order was 515, 55, 84, 34, 150, 175 and 463 – it could have been anybody’s race – my money was on Finnikin delivering the killer blow on the last bend helped by Harris but Wainman had other ideas, keeping the rolling lap pace fast and flooring it at the right moment. Even now, the 515 car was susceptible – Finnikin tried a last bender but missed and slipped wide, handing second to Harris but Frankie wanted this one, his first Brandon final since December 2011. Fourth in the all-time Coventry final winners list, one more win would see the revitalised Silsden superstar equal third with Andy Smith – incentive enough I reckon.


Frankie Wainman Junior survived a one lap dash to take the meeting final.

Another whopping 36 cars for the Grand National, the watered track catching many out with cars all over the shop (not Den’s Bar) on the back straight and a caution called for – Ed Neachell (car for sale, one careful owner!) had spun on the pit bend, facing the traffic. Martin Spiers (451) led the restart from Gibson, the Evesham man pulling out a fair lead with Sworder making up ground rapidly before the yellow flags flew again to remove the 197 car from the pit bend fence. Sworder annexed the lead just as another caution was called for 249 and a fast restart saw Sworder away and gone as the lap boards came out but all these yellow flags were just what FWJ ordered. He was never going to catch Sworder but second place would do nicely.


Mick Sworder taking the last win of the night

Words: Mick Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley and Ant Jenkins




























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