Coventry, 2nd November 2013 – meeting report

Paul Hines on his way to victory in the Final.

Paul Hines on his way to victory in the Final.

Mud, mud, glutinous mud,
Ruins the racing like nothing else could,
So follow me, follow, into the armco,
And there we will wallow in glutinous mud.

More rain on top of already water-logged ground had left the track extremely sticky for Coventry’s final official meeting of the 2013 season. First race of the night was the Whites & Yellows Championship, with 16 of the programmed 24 starters struggling to find grip on the soggy track.

Graham Wagstaff (330) and Mark Poole (276) led the cars around to the green flag, 330 taking the initiative as 276 struggled on the outside. Richard Bryan (238) spun, as did Neil Holcroft (496) and as the 330 car drifted wide in the sludge, Geoff Nickolls (215) slipped by as they entered the home straight only to retire with a flat rear tyre shortly afterwards.

With all cars the same shade of brown, following the race was not easy, but I sensed Dave Willis (337) had taken the lead, only to slide wide on the Coventry bend and hand over to Chris Clare (394). By the halfway stage, Willis had regained the lead as the 394 almost ground to a halt, bumpering slower cars aside until with 5 to go he was taken wide by a back-marking white-top and the 394 car was back in front, a lead he held until the chequered flag.

The next event of the night was the Coventry Track Championship Final. A delay for track grading allowed the crowds to watch a neighbouring firework display. However once the track was ready, it was announced that some drivers had decided that they didn’t want to race in the conditions. As a result, only 10 of the 26 qualifiers took to the track. The reduced field was led around by Tom Harris (#1) and Craig Finnikin (55).

Finnikin took the early lead as Harris got off to a bad start. Frankie Wainman Junior (515) was flying, making light of the conditions, and soon up to second place. 515 claimed the lead as Finnikin slid wide on the pit bend and continued to pull away from the rest of the field while Ed Neachell (321) spun but quickly recovered.

Josh Smith (191) spun on the Coventry bend and Wainman drifted wide into the outside mud as he tried to lap Mark Woodhull. 515 retained the lead, opening up a half lap gap over second-placed 55 with John Lund (53) moving into third. As the laps wound down, FWJ came up behind errant back markers but pushed his way through, seemingly oblivious to the atrocious track conditions. Craig Finnikin was circulating slowly on the outside while the 191 car developed a misfire. More cars spun as Wainman closed on the second and third placed cars with 4 laps to run. At the chequered flag, FWJ was three quarters of a lap ahead of runner up Lund, with Tom Harris in third.

British Touring Car Champion Andrew Jordan was on hand to present the trophies to the top 3, but intermittent tannoy problems on the back straight denied some of us the post-race interviews and his thoughts on F1 Stock Car racing.

Nigel Harrhy getting his new car dirty.

Nigel Harrhy getting his new car dirty.

Just over 20 cars for Heat 1 proper, including Nigel Harrhy (45) out in his new toy, (the ex 390 and 235 car) and rare visitor Wayne Helliwell (271). Cars 135 and 76 led them round for the start but spun on the first bend. Tony Smith (91) hit the front as Paul Hines (259) and 321 struggled early on. The man making the most progress was Danny Waiman (212), clearly intent on keeping his lead in the BOSS Championship. Four cars tangled on the home straight, bringing out the caution, with 259 bundled onto the infield before rejoining.

At the restart, the 45 car held the lead from 271, 266 and 212, with Wainman moving quickly into second and trying to reel Harrhy in. Nige took to the infield, returning to the track still ahead of 212 but Danny wellied him wide on the city bend for the lead. Harris took second as Harrhy again took to the centre.

With 4 to go, only 10 cars remained on track, Danny Wainman now closing on fifth-placed 259, pushing him wide with 3 laps to run and taking the flag as Jamie Jackson (377) lost it on the back straight. Danny needed medical attention for wet shale in his eyes before he could accept his winner’s trophy. Nigel was docked 6 (yes, 6) places for over-use of the infield.

Heat 2 was led away by Eliot Smith (293) and 238, with Bryan the early leader. Will Yarrow (22) was quickly into second as Joe Thompson (386) spun on the back straight. FWJ was up to sixth as 22 took advantage of a pit bend tangle to take the lead ahead of 335. Yarrow pressed on, despite being in amongst backmarkers and opened up a bit of a lead only to be delayed by Thompson. The 22 car went wide to avoid 386 and Woodhull was into the lead. Wainman, up to second place, landed a big hit on 335, only to tangle and spin on the pit bend handing second spot back to Yarrow.

Just before half way, Woodhull tangled and 22 was back in front, opening up a half lap lead. 335 drifted into the Coventry bend mud, suffering a flat rear tyre. Finnikin annexed second, then chased down Yarrow and bumpered him wide, only to tangle and face a challenge from FWJ. The 55 car spun coming off the pit bend, putting 515 into second with 2 to go, just as Yarrow was faced with the 386 car blocking his path. He survived, pulling away to win with Wainman second and Mal Brown (34) third. Unfortunately, Will was denied his victory lap as the lights dimmed for the firework display.

Frankie made it look easy in the Coventry Track Championship race.

Frankie made it look easy in the Coventry Track Championship race.

The Coventry track crew did what they could to maintain a half decent racing surface but the odds were stacked against them, however the 10 cars for the Consolation showed an improved turn of speed on the drier inside line, with Eliot Smith taking an early lead until Ben Hurdman (207) took over. Mark Poole gave chase in second, closing on 207 as the lap boards came out in what seemed a shortened race. Poole went for the big one on the last bend but took himself and Hurdman out. The 207 driver did an impressive 360º and rejoined, but not before Josh Smith (191) had nipped through for the win.

Twenty four cars gridded for the Final, the last race of the season at Brandon as the decision had been taken to cancel the Grand National. Martin Spiers (451), in a freshly cleaned car, took the early lead from 293. FWJ spun on the Coventry bend and 1 and 55 lost time on the same bend. Harris rejoined but Finnikin seemed bogged down in the mud, eventually backing onto the centre as the caution came out for James Bailey (135), stranded on the back straight.

293 led the restart from 243 and 238. Finnikin passed the #1 car and the caution flew again, this time for Antony Davis (327) who had found the home straight fence. Davis retired with a flat rear tyre and Hurdman led them away at the green, from Brocksopp (338) and 212.

Chris Clare won the White & Yellow Championship.

Chris Clare won the White & Yellow Championship.

FWJ retired with a flat and Harris followed suit, suffering from rear bumper damage. Danny Wainman tried to shift 338 but instead fell foul of Hines, losing a number of places in the process. Hurdman went wide on the pit bend, putting Brocksopp into the lead, closely followed by 259 and 55.

Brown (34) and Scriven (12) tangled on the Cov bend, with Brown collecting the 338 car as he struggled to rejoin the race. Hines now held the lead until passed by Finnikin, who was shown as the leader despite losing all that time playing in the mud earlier.

With 5 to go, Finnikin slipped wide on the pit bend and Hines regained the lead, only to be baulked by 135. Hines survived, only to slow on the final lap allowing Finnikin back into the ‘lead’. On the final bend Michael Scriven (12) planted a huge hit on 259, sending him out into no man’s land and the order across the finish line was 55, 12, 259, 338, and 212.

As the 11 o’clock curfew approached and Danny Wainman celebrated his success as BOSS Champion on the centre green, discussions seemed to be taking place on the start line between Hines and Finnikin, with the official verdict going to the Leek driver, a decision which was reversed after most folk had gone home, awarding the win to Mr. Hines.

The Coventry promotion may receive a lot of criticism for the state of the track, but they cannot be held responsible for the weather and there is no doubt efforts were made to scrape and grade the track between races, with the inevitable delays that entails. As for the drivers who declined to race, that is their decision – I would just like to thank those drivers who put the fans and public first and made the best of a literally sticky situation.

Words: Rhosanna and Mick Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley

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