Coventry – July 3rd 2010 Meeting Report

A total of sixty-two cars made it to the Brandon shaleway for the Golden Helmet Meeting on a glorious Summer’s day. Unfortunately, due to the meeting not being a weekender like the previous Golden Helmet meeting, only three Dutch drivers made the long journey and one of them was the English driver Gary Castell who is now registered as a dutch driver following previous pre-World Final wranglings, where Castell could not qualify via the Holland system as he was a BriSCA registered driver. The format was to be the same as the previous Coventry meetings with Heat 1 being solely for Whites and Yellows with only the top four qualifying and the remaining cars being able to go into Heat 2 or 3 with twelve cars from each qualifying.
The three Dutch drivers of Gary Castell (H247), Martijn Oudhuis (H477) and Rene de Groote (H646) who was driving the ex-Ed Neachell shale car borrowed from Bouwe Arjan Hiddinga (H17), were allowed some pre-meeting laps to get to grips with the track. However, when the ex-Neachell car began ominously producing blue smoke in practice and pulled onto the infield, it looked bad, and unfortunately it got worse as the engine had indeed blown meaning Rene de Groote and team had travelled all the way to the UK and were not even able to compete.

Dutch Golden Helmet visitor Martijn Oudhuis (H477). Photo Colin Casserley

Also in the pits was Danny Wainman’s repaired shale car which had remarkably been completed in just a day with Danny admitting it had been a lot of hard work. Frankie Wainman had himself also been very busy, transferring the small block engine from his new (under construction) shale car to his current shale car after the big block engine had been cracked the weekend before at Kings Lynn.

First race up was the Golden Helmet race with a full grid of just under thirty cars with Frank Wainman and Martijn Oudhuis (H477) making up the front row. At the green, the cars were straight into action with Tom Harris (84) firing fellow young gun Dan Johnson (4) into Martijn Oudhuis (H477) sending them out wide as Harris nipped through for the lead with Oudhuis coming out in second place. As the race continued, Andy Smith (1) made his way into third, cutting through the jostling cars with ease as Dan Johnson was again swept out wide. Mark Gilbank (21) showed he meant business, wading into Andy Smith at each end of the track and taking the place when Andy eventually pulled to the infield. Oudhuis was sent into a half spin by the tustling Frank Wainman and Mat Newson, with the Oudhuis car reversing up the backstraight as cars dived to either side. Frank Wainman then found himself doing battle with Chris Brocksopp (338) with Brocksopp clattering into him bend after bend trying to get passed, and succeeding when Wainman retired to the infield. Harris was now catching backmarker Castell and it looked like Gilbank was also going to be able to close the gap and put Harris under pressure. Gilbank successfully narrowed the gap and took the lead one bend, but Harris was determinedly not settling for second and took the lead back the next bend. Dan Johnson, not settling for position either, used Mick Rogers (244) as a cue ball, sending him hard into the back of Gilbank, and as they both went wide Johnson slide by into second place. Gilbank however, soon sorted himself out and managed to keep ahead of the lurking Craig Finnikin.
84 – 4 – 21 – 55 – 197 – 53 – 16 – 321 – 12 – 212

Mark Gilbank (21) and Tom Harris (84). Photo Colin Casserley

On visiting the pits, Mark Woodhull (335) was hard at work on his inside nerf which was completely concertined up and Joe Booth (446) had the floor up in his stockcar, suffering with a gearbox problem. Martijn Oudhuis (H477) was busy welding the corner of his back bumper while H646 had sadly loaded the car back into the bus. Twenty-nine cars came out for the Whites and Yellows heat one with Mike Williamson (111) taking up pole and Neil Shenton (35) heading the Yellows. Mike Williamson (111) took up the running staright away as Steve Jacklin (136) half spun on turn one with a lot of cars piling in as they were unable to avoid the blockage. The yellows soon came out for Paul Redfearn (252) who found himself in the armco on turn one with a stationary Nigel Friswell (353) sideways on behind him. There was an understandable delay as Redfearn was attended to by the paramedic services (best wishes to him for a full and speedy recovery) and the pitgate was opened to allow those who had been forced to retire to go prepare for their next heat. Restart order ~ 111, 416, 307, 35, 98, 463, 362 with twenty cars still in the race. Mike Williamson’s lead had been savagely curtailed by the caution and as they set off it became clear that ex-f2 racer Dave Muckian (416) was keeping close behind and it was not long before he took the lead. Shenton moved purposefully into second with Les Spencer (98) moving into third before retiring allowing James Morris (463) the place. Dave Muckian (416) put space between himself and the rest of the field, putting backmarker Colin Nairn between himself and Shenton, with Morris being unable to get close to Shenton’s back bumper. As usual a good mix of seasoned veterans and novice drivers creating action at both ends.
416 – 35 – 463 – 362 – 330 – 48 – 215 – 105 – 307 – 415

Rob Cowley (73), Ryan Harrison (197) and Matt Newson (16) fight for position. Photo Colin Casserley

Eighteen cars came out for Heat 2 with John Weldon (235) being the sole white top and Dave Willis (337) and Rob Cowley (73) the only yellow graders from the previous race. Weldon lead them away with Chris Cowley (37) being the first blue to free himself from the pack. Ryan Harrison (197) planted James Neachell (322) into Kevin Shinn (121) as Willis took up the running and the red grades fought amongst themselves with Mark Gilbank attacking Frankie Wainman. The red’s racing furiously continued as Wainman spun Tom Harris who came to a momentary halt before getting back in the race, coming out in front of leader Willis. Martijn Oudhuis continued to enjoy himself, laying into Simon Panton (288) whilst a group of reds including James Neachell, Mark Woodhull tangled going down the back straight, sending the red at the front, Scott Davids (462) sailing towards the armco. As the laps rolled down, Ryan Harrison and Mat Newson passed second place Rob Cowley and shortly after Wainman stuck the bumper into Cowley and slid passed as Gilbank who lurked behind, successfully sent Cowley further down the order on the last bend. A deserved win for Dave Willis at his daughter Evie’s first stock car meeting.
337 – 16 – 197 – 515 – 21 – 73 – 380 – 335 – 212 – 244 – 84 – 322

BriSCA F1 stockcar Heat Winner Dave Willis (337). Photo Colin Casserley

Heat 3 had it’s numbers seriously boosted as a lot more lower graders had got themselves turned around and sixteen cars in the field of twenty-eight sported a white or yellow roof. Steve Malkin’s (208) radiator began to steam before everyone had lined up and his mechanic watered his engine over the fence before the race even started. Novice Neil Holcroft (496) took up the lead at the flag while behind Tim Warwick (307) bumpered Dave Waterhouse (101) as Mike Williamson half spun and most of the lower graders all piled into turn 4 causing a bit of a track blockage. Blue grader Brocksopp did battle with Les Spencer and Garry Fox for position, as Steve Malkin collected a marker tyre on turn one and was stranded momentarily before pulling back into the race. As the furious race continued, current World Champion Andy Smith dueled with Dan Johnson and at the halfway point the two were racing together with Johnson getting the upper hand before momentarily getting caught up on Tony Smith (91). As the laps rolled down, no driver was prepared to settle for what they had and all fought tooth and nail for position. Tim Warwick (307) who had made his way to the front unfortunately tangled with John Frost, got hooked up and on unexpectedly freeing himself went hard into the armco allowing Geoff Nickolls (215) through to take the lead. Dan Johnson and Andy Smith continued their duel upto the last bend with Smith sending Johnson out wide on the last bend as they both powered to the finish line coming out of turn four.
215 – 12 – 338 – 55 – 321 – 1 – 4 – 53 – 98 – H247 – 22 – 291

The Consolation saw seventeen cars take to the raceway with Mike Williamson leading the four white tops away while Mark Poole (276) was the first of the yellows to break free and moved purposefully forwards. Most of the field was made of up of lower graders with only six of the field sporting a (UK based) red or blue roof. Having the smallest field of cars did not mean it had the least damage count either. Will Yarrow (22) and Scott Davids (462) set off with purpose and made their way through the field with fellow red Paul Hines (259) being forced to pull to the infield at the half way point. A tangle of cars saw Oudhuis bumpering Chris Cowley before both competitors pulled off near the end with Oudhuis having a completely shredded tyre. Scott Davids was continuing to set the red top pace with Yarrow initially struggling to get passed Simon Panton (288) but upon catching Davids, Yarrow neatly moved him aside the next lap. Neither red top could catch up to yellow grader Russell Cooper (415) before the flag, who was making his first appearance on track this season. Will Yarrow having made second, was then removed from the results as he had already qualified for the Final in the previous heat, meaning everyone else bumped up a place allowing Steve Malkin into the results.
415 – 462 – 288 – 496 – 76 – 105 – 191 – 192 – 280 – 208

BriSCA F1 stock car Consolation winner Russell Cooper (415). Photo Colin Casserley

Thirty-three cars made it out for the Final with anticipation high for a really good race as the previous heats had been full of action. Of the three white graders present, the veteran Lionel Shaw (362) led them away while at the rear, Mark Gilbank went in hard with his bumper on the reds around him. The blues and yellows tangled heavily on turn three with the reds all piling in, in their rush to break free of the pack. Ed Neachell (321) still using brother James’ car, ended his race perched on top of newly promoted to red Ryan Harrison, so a complete restart was called for. Dan Squire (291), Scott Davids, Michael Scriven (12) and Will Yarrow pulled to the infield as Ryan Harrison was tractored off, the down bars on his car having done their job in protecting the engine. Simon Panton also having pulled to the infield began hurriedly changing his nearside rear tyre to make the restart and it looked for a moment as if Ed Neachell would also make the restart as he drove round the bend before pulling to the infield. At the off, Shaw again raced into the lead as Gilbank again bumpered the red tops in front of him. This time it was Dave Willis (337) who half spun on turn one, causing a pile up as the following yellows including Josh Smith (191) and James Morris (463) smashed in. As the following cars tried to avoid the melee, the yellow flags were shown but it was too late for Matt Newson who had pulled up to the backstraight armco and was tractored to the infield with Holcroft who had pulled up behind him, rejoining the field at the rear. Restart order ~ 362, 416, 73, 35, 98, 105, 244, 322, 380, 4, 515, 1, 84, 52, 21, H247, 288, 338, 55, 496

BriSCA F1 stockcar Dave Muckian (416). Photo Colin Casserley

From the off, the action was intense as Rob Cowley and Neil Shenton went neck and neck and Mick Rogers (244) pushed Chris Bonner (105) wide. The tyre testing John Lund (53) showed a glimpse of the old magic as he fired Andy Smith heavily into Steve Cayzer (380) sending them both out to connect with the armco. Dan Johnson and James Neachell were both making good progress through the field as Andy Smith headed towards the infield. Neil Shenton was making his way up towards Dave Muckian but it was not long before he had James Neachell breathing down his neck and once Neachell had passed, Dan Johnson soon took his position using his bumper to good effect. Further down the order, Frankie Wainman, Tom Harris, Craig Finnikin and Mark Gilbank were going at it hammer and tongs with the order changing bend after bend with Wainman getting a hit off Harris and then immediately returning the favour. As they continued racing and became jumbled together, Wainman half spun taking Mark Gilbank with him, letting Finnikin and Harris momentarily get away. Upfront Neachell took the lead cleanly off Muckian with Johnson doing the same thing on the last bend. It was then announced that unfortunately James Neachell had been docked two places for jumping the start handing the victory to Johnson. To compound Neachell’s woes it was then announced that he had failed to go to be weighed immediately after the race and had therefore been disqualified, giving John Lund the third place. On the PA afterwards Lund said he had two more Coventry’s to get it right and he was looking forward to the World Final if he could get through Buxton.
4 – 416 – 53 – 35 – 84 – 55 – 212 – 515 – H247 – 244 – 21 – 73

BriSCA F1 stockcar final winner Dan Johnson (4). Photo Colin Casserley

BriSCA F1 stockcar final winner Dan Johnson (4). Photo Colin Casserley

Twenty-five cars made it out for the Grand National with Dan Johnson taking his lap handicap. Mark Gilbank was straight into action again catching Simon Panton and moving him aside. In a superb bit of stock car action, Craig Finnikin cut passed the other red tops and despatched a group of lower graders in one swooping attack, showing he meant serious business. Andy Smith span out but he had a reprieve as just as he righted himself, the yellow flags came out bunching up the order. Restart order ~ 215, 380, 463, 55, 288, 515, 84, H247, 53, 1, 338, 212, 12, 21, 4…
It was also a potential reprieve for Dan Johnson as it meant he was likely to be in with a good shout of getting double points as well as his five bonus points if he finished the race. As Steve Cayzer took the lead at the green, Johnson passed Gilbank and it was not long before Finnikin had bulldozed his way further up the grid. Soon Frankie Wainman was neck and neck with James Morris before passing, followed by Tom Harris thumping Geoff Nickolls (215) to get by him and James Morris. Finnikin had reached leader Cayzer and swiftly took the lead as behind, John Lund was himself charging frontwards and it would not be long before Lund bumped Cayzer down the order. Dan Johnson was making good progress and on top of Morris as Harris bumpered Frank Wainman aside for second place. Andy Smith now found himself behind Frank where he seemed quite happy to stay while Tom Harris made a valient effort to reach Finnikin but he was just too far back to make it a success. Unfortunately for Dan Johnson, he failed to finish the race and earn the extra National Points.
55 – 84 – 515 – 1 – 53 – 380 – 215 – 21 – 244 – 212
All in all, a superb night of racing with tremendous action at both ends in all races, with no drivers being willing to settle for their place. It all bodes well for the Coventry World Final in two months time on the 4th September 2010.

BriSCA F1 stockcar Ryan Harrison (197) regraded to red for July. Photo Colin Casserley

Ailsa Haigh

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