Coventry, 4th April 2015 – Meeting Report and Photo Gallery

The April Coventry meeting is still seen by many as the official start of the season, as evidenced by the packed car park, packed pits and good sized crowd. The famous Brandon shale had been worked on over the winter and looked in great shape and, joy of joys, the tannoy was loud and clear on the back straight!

The Roger Squire Memorial Trophy was being contested for, presented by the Veterans Stock Car Association and current holder Craig Finnikin would line up in heat 3 but before that we had heats one and two to enjoy.

Twenty-one cars for Heat One including 60 years young Tim Warwick (307), who was presented with a birthday cake after the event. Tim led the cars away flanked by the super smart car of Mark Harrhy (44) and took the lead as cars 215 and 174 tangled on turn four. Harrhy swept into the lead chased by Eliot Smith (293) as Steve Harrison (118) made a bit of a horlicks of the back straight and Rob Speak (318) was quickly on the pace, up to sixth place within a few laps. Mal Brown (34) had a bite at Danny Wainman (212) as Harrhy pulled onto the middle, relinquishing the lead to 293, then returned to the track in second place. Speak came under a bit of pressure from Fairhurst (217) but continued to chase the flying 293 car, only taking the lead with a couple to run when the white top drifted wide on the city bend.

Speak first, Fairhurst second and an excellent third for Eliot Smith.

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Three white tops, 307 Tim Warwick, 44 Mark Harrhy and 293 Eliot Smith all try differing lines around the pits bend. Tim was celebrating his 60th Birthday but was out of luck in this race as he failed to qualify for the final.

Another twenty-one cars for Heat Two. Chris Farnell (32) clobbered the home straight fence and the caution flags quickly flew for the stranded 440 car, while John Dowson Junior (94) went into weight-saving mode, shedding his back bumper for the benefit of the grandstand patrons. Dick Walker (170) led the restart but the 152 car of Neil Scothern took him on the pit bend, opening up a clear lead. Dan Johnson (4) had worked his way into second place by the half-way stage and set about closing the gap between himself and Scothern, catching the blue top on the last bend with a big, well timed wallop and winning the drag race to the line.

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Dan Johnson and Neil Scothern battling for the lead in Heat 2.

Heat Three saw 24 cars on track, but sadly no Daniel van Spijker (H231) who had appeared for both heats one and two but returned to the pits each time. Very local man Steve Smith (40) led them away this time in a chaotic first lap, which saw cars spun, cars in the fence and cars on the centre. 45, 338 and 169 stopped for chat on the city bend and the yellow flags flew for Colin Nairn (280) who had ground to a halt halfway down the back straight. Smith (40) led them away at the restart as Smith (191) retired to the centre in a cloud of smoke.

Points leader Dylan Williams-Maynard (51) slipped by Smith for the lead, then 40 and 326 tangled on the home straight, 330 hit the 326 car as Gilbank (21) joined a melee on the pit bend, leaving the 51 car in splendid isolation, pursued by Ian Noden (306). Caution flags flew again, this time for Steve Smith who was stuck on the pit bend. The restart order was headed by 51, 306, 515 and 55. 51 got a flyer, 306 not so, delaying 515 and 55 but the yellow flags were still aloft for the stalled 451 car stuck at the start of the back straight.

Williams-Maynard again anticipated the green flag, pulling clear of Noden at the restart, who then fell victim to Wainman on the city bend. FWJ reeled in the 51 car as 55 closed on both, the 515 bumper easing D W-M wide on the pit bend as the union flag flew for half distance. Once again the caution flags flew, this time for 198, before the conclusion of the race. Wainman led, trailed by Finnikin and 51. All eyes were on the 515, 55 and 51 cars over the final few laps but Finnikin fans’ hopes of a last bender were dashed as the 55 car pulled off with two to run, leaving the Silsden man to take the flag.

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Frankie Wainman Junior (515) on his way to a win in Heat 3. He is seen here slipping up the inside of Dylan Williams-Maynard (51).

An impressive 29 cars for the Consolation, including 13 white tops, but victory, after a number of cautions, including one for a track blockage on the city bend which saw him involved, went to Mick Sworder (150), from 55, 16 and Paul Poulter (174).

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Consolation winner Mick Sworder

The 33 car Final started with several cars tangled on the pit bend and many red roofed machines taking to the infield to avoid the blockage. Eliot Smith took the lead in what were some very confusing opening laps before things settled down, with another birthday boy, Paul Harrison (2) the first red top (alright, black and white top) through. 515 disposed of 217 and set off after Newson (16). Johnson and Harris (84) began to move up the places when a caution was called for the 244 car, stranded across the home straight. 515 retired, as did 55. Smith (293) again led at the restart with Harris up to second and Johnson third, but entering the pit bend Harris was baulked by another car, Johnson had nowhere to go and slammed into the 84 rear end, both cars locked together. They continued in tandem down the back straight before piling heavily into the city bend fence, both out of contention.

The lead car (293) pulled onto the centre, handing top spot to Harrison (2) then returned to the track but well down the order. Danny Wainman (212) moved into second spot with Gilbank (21) third as the lap boards came out. A loose wheel entered the fray on the last lap but had no bearing on the result and Paul Harrison became the new holder of the Roger Squire Memorial trophy. To win a Coventry final is special, to win one on your birthday must be extra special.

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The Final Winner Paul Harrison (2).

An even more impressive 34 cars for the Grand National, notable for a coming together between 515 and 84, possibly aided by 217, which left them in the pit bend fence. 217 continued, Wainman and Harris did not. Paul Poulter (174) after some impressive driving all night, finally got the win he was looking for with Speaky second and Mal Brown (34) third.

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Wainman (515) and Harris (84) tangle, possibly with a little help from Fairhurst (217).

Another entertaining night’s racing here at Coventry. Eliot Smith gets my vote for driver of the meeting but the steward needs to remind drivers that the race starts coming off the fourth bend, not entering the third!

Words: Mick Jenkins

Photos: Colin Casserley and Steve Botham

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