Coventry, 5th April 2014 – meeting report and photo gallery

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The Squire family with the top three in the Roger Squire Memorial Final.

The first weekend in April saw the return to Coventry Stadium and, in many people’s eyes, the start of the season proper. It was time for the annual Veterans Stock Car Association meeting and a World Championship qualifier to boot. The pits were full, with over 60 cars in attendance, and the large crowd anticipated a lively event. They were not disappointed.

Ricki Finney (435) took the early lead in the 21 car Heat 1. It wasn’t long before Nigel Harrhy (45) and Martin Spiers (451) ended up in the fence on the Coventry bend. Harrhy was able to recover almost immediately but it was a couple of laps before 451 managed to rejoin the action. Steve Anderson (120) also went for a spin on the second lap, but, luckily, he didn’t prove much of an obstacle for the rest of the field.

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Trouble for Peter Hobbs (108) and Mark Woodhull (335) led to chaos when the pair were collected by Neil Scriven (11), Chris Brocksopp (338), Steve Whittle (183) and Robert Broome (41). All the cars were left stranded in the middle of the Coventry bend. As the laps wound down, Hobbs finally managed to get out of the way and 435 tangled with 120, forcing both of them onto the middle.

Harmen Zwerver (H195) was easily in control of the race, claiming a comfortable victory. In what was a chaotic first heat, only five cars failed to finish.

24 cars made their way on track for Heat 2. Garry Townsend (223) spun in the early stages of the race, taking out half of the white and yellow graders as he went. Mick Sworder (150) appeared to push his way through the field with ease, and was soon up with Tim Warwick (307). Further down the field, Frankie Wainman Junior (515) was battling hard with Craig Finnikin (55).

Sworder put Warwick wide to take second place, just as Dick Walker (170) retired to the infield. 150 set his sights on leader Paul Poulter (174). Wainman, who had won his previous battle with Finnikin was now struggling to get past Mal Brown (34), allowing the 55 machine time to catch up.

At half distance, Sworder had just caught Poulter and wasted no time in pushing him wide for the lead. 174 recovered to second, ahead of Wainman (515). Josh Smith (191) went into the Coventry bend fence with force, bringing out the caution just as 515 passed 174. The 191 car looked badly damaged front and rear and it was a two-tractor job to get it back to the Smith Team transporter.

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Mick Sworder took up the lead for the restart, ahead of Frankie Wainman Junior and Paul Poulter. As the green flag waved Wainman showed he was not going to let Sworder get away from him.

The Silsden superstar was still right behind him when the lap boards came out. By now, the leading pair had pulled away from third place Dan Johnson (4) and fourth place Finnikin. Sworder looked to have the edge over Wainman as they entered the last lap, but the Huntingdon star was delayed by an errant car on the pit bend and Wainman was on his back bumper.

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Sworder slowed down the back straight, tempting 515 to overtake and as they entered the third bend Wainman slammed into the side of the 150 car to take the lead and the flag. Sworder cruised around the final bend, possibly with damage, losing second spot to Johnson.

Heat 3 started dramatically as the leaders collided coming out of the first bend. Jason Eaton (448) recovered to retake the lead just as Mark Harrhy (44) went for a spin at the other end of the track, taking half the yellow graders, Geoff Nicholls (215) and Ed Neachell (321) with him. Neachell was so determined to rejoin without losing any time that Billy Johnson (169) spun out trying to avoid him and was collected by James Morris (463) and Paul Redfern (252).

There were more spins for Hayley Parkinson (54) and Ben Hurdman (207) before the caution came out to allow tractors to rescue the stranded cars.

Will Yarrow (22) led the field round for the restart, ahead of Lee Robinson (H107) and Paul Harrison (2). Honorary Dutchman Lee ‘van’ Robinson wasted no time, pushing Yarrow wide. However, the pair tangled and Harrison roared past them and into the lead. He was closely followed by Tom Harris (#1), who soon claimed the lead from the 2 car.

The World Champion pulled away from the rest of the pack, leaving H107 battling with 2, while 51 and 12 had their own feud just behind. Lee Robinson won this battle and set his sights on 2nd place Yarrow.

By now, Harris had gained a straight’s lead and was beginning to hit lapped traffic. He passed the slower car of Redfern with ease, but as soon as Robinson was free of the backmarkers, he started chasing down the leader.

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The lap boards came out and it looked like Harris had the win in the bag. That was until his car started smoking badly, then the smoke turned to fire and the number 1 car was frantically waved off the track. The race was red flagged while Tom Harris retired to the infield.

Lee Robinson headed the restart but Paul Harrison showed he was also hungry for the victory. On the final lap Harrison made his move, pushing the H107 car wide. He nearly over did it, taking himself wide as well, but recovered faster than Robinson to take the win.

The Consolation once again started with a lot of spinning as 54 and 451 went around at opposite ends of the track. Garry Townsend (223) tried to avoid the mayhem but clipped Nigel Harrhy, taking him for a spin into Chris Brocksopp in the Coventry bend. Meanwhile, a large group of cars, including Holcroft and Townsend, had also come to a stop in the pits bend. The waved yellows were bought out for 451 and 120, who were part of the gaggle stuck in the fence on Turn 1.

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Josh Smith was forced to retire before the restart, but a special mention must be given to Josh and his team for repairing the 191 car after the damage received in Heat 2. Paul Poulter retained the lead after the restart, but with Neachell, Woodhull and Harris not far behind, the crowd was left wondering how long he could keep it.

By half distance, 321 was on the back of 174 and eventually passed him up the inside coming off Turn 4. Harris was determined to make up for his earlier problems, punting Woodhull into the stricken car of Daniel van Spijker (H231) before taking second place from Poulter.

As the lap boards came out for Neachell, Harris appeared to simply be biding his time. The pair went sideways coming out of Turn 2. Harris showed he was faster in a straight line but Neachell caught up in the final bend. Harris crossed the line only half a car length ahead of 321.

35 cars took to the track for the Roger Squire Memorial Trophy Final and I reckon Mr Squire would have approved of the action packed event.

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Herman Zwerver (H195) led them around for the start, hoping for a heat and final double. Ricky Wilson (502) tangled on the first bend as a gaggle of red tops charged in. Craig Finnikin, in the Stealth Armchair, was quickly through the pack while behind him, the reds and superstars set about each other.

A multi-car pile-up on the Coventry bend brought out the yellows and at the restart it was still H195 from 183 and 22, with Finnikin already up to about sixth. Johnson’s new car spun onto the infield as 318, 16, 150 and 515 traded blows, with Wainman blasting around the outside of the very quick Speak machine, before a second caution was called for.

Green flag in the air and it was now 183 from 51 and 55. Somewhere along the way we lost Zwerver to the infield. The 318/515 battle resumed with Speak having the edge until Wainman potted the 53 car of John Lund into him on the pit bend. 16, 1 and 150 swapped bumper paint with 318 while up front the 55 car had passed 51 for the lead, Williams-Maynard staying valiantly in touch with the Armchair back bumper.

Wainman was now battling for third with Yarrow, the 22 pilot giving as good as he got until Speaky laid 515 into him. Sworder passed Wainman, then Harris joined in. Yarrow wellied 515 into the gold top car, but just helped Wainman’s progress so got him again on the next bend, before the 515 car escaped Yarrow’s attention , only to become embroiled in a battle with 150 before breaking clear to take third behind Finnikin and Williams-Maynard. What a race. With the top five reading 55, 51, 515, 1 and 150, clearly the key to success in this race was to have a ‘5’ or a ‘1’ in your racing number!

35 cars again took to the Coventry shale for the last race of the night, including 5 whites, 9 yellows, 6 blue, 10 red and 5 superstars. Craig Finnikin took up the lap handicap, ahead of white tops 451 and 108.

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Lee Robinson didn’t win this one!

John Lund and Josh Smith appeared to tangle before they even crossed the start-finish line. On the first lap, 338 went around and was collected by the majority of the blue graders. Early casualties included Paul Hines (259), Paul Harrison and Mark Gilbank (21). FWJ avoided the chaos of the opening laps and was a man on a mission, giving out the hits and riding out the pay backs. FWJJ had just won the Ministox Final so maybe Frank felt he had to keep his end up.

As the race reached half distance, Harris and Johnson were forced to pull off. Sworder planted a hit on Tim Farrell (467) on the Cov bend, sending him wide and letting 16 by as well. Not one to let his old F2 buddy get away with such actions, Farrell delivered a long range hit on Newson, who cannoned into Sworder, all three cars ending in a heap on the pit bend.

Lee Robinson held the lead as Wainman closed in but entered the pit bend too quickly and was forced to take the long way around the parked cars, handing the victory to the 515 pilot who was clearly pleased with his night’s work.

Leader Lee Robinson went around the outside of the stranded cars but 515 nipped through on the inside to claim his second victory of the night.

Words: Rhosanna Jenkins & Mick Jenkins
Photos: Steve Bothan, Colin Casserley, Paul Tully

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