Coventry – May 1st 2010 Meeting Report

The 1st meeting of May saw fifty-four cars make the journey to the Brandon shaleway. With a change to the usual format, the first heat was for White and Yellow Grades but drivers who did not qualify were then able to go into either heat two or three and earn full heat points. Non-qualifiers their two heats were then eligible to enter the consolation from which a total of twelve drivers would qualify. It all led to the most entertaining racing at Coventry for a long time.
On looking round the pits, Rob Cowley had a new car in resplendent red and black colours inspired by the Nascar’s Earnhardts but instead of Budweiser, it proclaimed Butnoweiser. Murray Harrison was out in the newly acquired Mark Peter’s shale car (World Champion Andy Smith’s old shale car) and numerous grade changes were there to be seen. Frankie Wainman jnr brought the 357 car, again in Ivan Pritchard’s transporter but this time it was Jonathon Lewis that used his car while Frank used his brother Daniel’s shale car. On looking at the track, it looked as if there was more shale on the surface and as the racing started it was clear that the track was a much more ‘raceable’ surface with a much wider racing line.

Photo courtesy of Colin Casserley

Twenty one whites and yellows came out for the first heat with Jonathon Lewis (357) and Paul Redfern (252) on the front row. With two relative newcomers on the front, they went fairly slowly into the bend not wanting to jump the start, so when the flag dropped all cars were bunched up together as the more experienced drivers at the back were prepared to go sooner. Luke Dennis (192), and the front row soon ended up in the turn two armco allowing Nigel Friswell (353) to take the lead, with Lionel Shaw (362) following and Timmy Farrell (467) the first yellow to show in third. Graham Wagstaff (330) was in typical ebullient mood and laying in with his bumper, began making his way through the field attacking Lionel Shaw.

Photo courtesy of Paul Tully

Wagstaff made his way swiftly to the front and had a straight’s length lead when the yellows came out for a stranded on the homestraight Luke Dennis. Wagstaff was away at the restart but second place Ian Noden (306) immediately gave chase. Mick Rogers (244) moved into third but new-to-yellow Lee Smith (76) pushed him wide as Noden took the lead. Just before the end Steve Smith (40) pulled off on turn four to move behind a stationary Friswell (353) who was hugging the armco. Ian Noden sailed to take the chequered flag but unfortunately instead of driving straight to the scales, he drove back to his bus first before returning to the scales. Consequently he was disqualified from the results and had to hand his trophy back. As he got back in his car he simply offered a wry smile and shrugged his shoulders.
330 – 76 – 244 – 198 – 41 – 223 – 98 – 280 – 252 – nof

Photo courtesy of Colin Casserley

Heat two soon followed with five drivers from the first heat taking part including Dave Waterhouse (101) as the lone white top. They formed part of the twenty two cars that participated including Stu Smith jnr (390) who had National Points Champion 2009 emblazened on his wing. Waterhouse led them away with Chris Bonner (105) immediately getting involved, sticking the bumper into Scott Davids (462). Steve Smith (40) found himself at the front of the yellows but it was not for long as Ian Noden (306) made his way purposefully to the front and proceeded to start extending his lead until the chequered, while those behind fought amongst themselves. Stu Smith jnr had a spat with Mat Newson (16) early on but it was Mark Gilbank (21) who cannily stuck behind Newson and let him do all the work clearing the way.
Unfortunately for Tom Harris (84) his race finished very early on after clattered into the turn two armco accompanied by Josh Smith (191) and the back up to red Steve Cayzer (380). Near the end as Craig Finnikin (55) was motoring his way through the field, Dave Waterhouse (101) went into the armco plating on turn one head on, only to be clipped by two passing blue tops. Les Spencer (98), never shy when it comes to using the bumper attacked Murray Harrison (97) on turn four, sending him scrabbling round the armco and down the placings. Stu Smith jnr was forced to pull to the infield in the latter stages with what turned out to be diff problems. It was also the end of Dave Waterhouse’s night of racing as his car was miserably tractored off at the end by two tractors. New red grade Neil Scriven (11) kept out of relative trouble and easily made it into the top ten from his new starting place towards the back of the grid.
306 – 55 – 16 – 462 – 21 – 321 – 11 – 97 – 288 – 380

Photo courtesy of Paul Tully

Twenty six cars made it out for the third heat including eleven lower graders who had been in heat one. Only twenty five took the green as Kevin Shinn (121) was sent off for having no strut attached to his front bumper. Jonathon Lewis (357) started at the rear as Nigel Friswell (353) and Paul Redfern (252) were on pole. Friswell led them away but Luke Dennis (192) soon stuck his bumper in. Lionel Shaw (362) made his way to the front momentarily as Frankie Wainman jnr (515) and Andy Smith (1) tustled towards the rear of the field. Andy Ford (13) raced to the front as behind James Clement (158) unsuccessfully attacked second place Lionel Shaw. Dan Johnson (4) was racing alongside Mark Poole (276) and it was not long before Johnson had made his way to third. Michael Scriven (12) and James Neachell (322) were battling together with the upgraded red top Tony Smith (91) following.
Neachell passed Scriven as Frankie Wainman jnr was on Paul Harrison’s (2) back bumper. Johnson (4) moved into second and soon began to close the gap on leader Ford. As Johnson moved close enough to reach, he attempted to hit Ford but momentarily slowed himself. Johnson again closed the gap, passing Ford who was not going to give up his lead easily. Ford slammed back into Johnson, sending Johnson into a half spin as Ford snatched back the lead. With neither driver giving in, Johnson was swiftly back on top of Ford. The battle culminated with Ford getting slightly too close to the fence and scraping down the backstraight armco, slowing himself and allowing Johnson to go on to take the chequered flag.
4 – 13 – 515 – 2 – 1 – 158 – 53 – 322 – 12 – 276

Twenty-three cars made it out for the consolation including the first appearance of the night for white grader Neil Holcroft (496) in his completely white car. Over half the field was made up of whites and yellows; with Jonathon Lewis (357) and new blue Garry Fox (48) starting at the rear. Paul Redfern (252) led them away followed by Lionel Shaw (362) as Steve Smith (40) and Craig Utley (484) tangled on turn two. Kevin Shinn (121) made his way into second as Luke Dennis (192) and Lionel Shaw (362) also tangled up on turn two. The blue graders were having a great battle with Dan Squire (291) laying into Chris Bonner (105) early on and Mark Woodhull (335) getting involved.
Ryan Harrison (197) was further ahead and sliding through the field with purpose, going up the inside of Craig Utley (484).

Photo courtesy of Colin Casserley

Chris Brocksopp (338) also became involved with Dan Squire et al, wading in with his front bumper. Ryan Harrison continued making his way up the field putting the bumper into Steve Smith (40); who made his way slowly to the infield. Harrison continued onwards, passing Shinn and relegating him to second before extending his lead while Woodhull pulled off with a buckled outside rear rim and a flapping tyre. Jonathon Lewis (357) spun on the pit bend, coming to rest on the apex of turn two sending cars diving to the top, stopping the usual kerb riding better than a marker tyre. Shinn and Shaw were jostling for position with Shaw given the second place, yet appearing to my eyes to actually be a back marker.
197 – 362 – 121 – 105 – 484 – 84 – 338 – 35 – 41 – 8 – 40 – 496

Despite a change in format to allow more lower graders the opportunity to make the final, only ten of the thirty four were yellows with no whites present. However, with the lower graders having raced more frequently, there was a higher rate of attrition and on looking in the pits before the final it was clear to see that some had received damage and loaded up. Kevin Shinn (121) and Lee Smith (76) led the field away at the flag while behind them chaos reigned. As a consequence of concentrating on watching instead of writing notes, the reporting became a bit vague. Steve Smith (40) and James Clement (158) became ensnared on turn one early on as the Neachell brothers; Ed (321) and James (322) became hooked up with each other themselves, putting them both out of contention as they tried to separate themselves and keep racing. Frankie Wainman (515) and Paul Harrison (2) were again neck and neck while Tom Harris (84) went into the back of Scott Davids (462).

Photo courtesy of Paul Tully

Andy Smith (1) was making his way through the field with confidence after a spin as Mick Harris (8) and Murray Harrison (97) somehow made their way into the Armco together and Craig Finnikin (55) also spun out. Wainman (515) was forced to retire with front end suspension damage as Tom Harris (84) found himself resting in the turn two Armco. The yellow flags were shown for Murray and Ryan Harrison (197) as Ryan had become stranded sideways on and father Murray had pulled up behind him as protection. Over ten cars ended their race on the infield with the restart order being ~
121 – 76 – 11 – 484 – 322 – 244 – 198 – 105 – 288
with no idea who was where except that the fast away yellow graders were still up there at the front. At the restart further back, Paul Harrison (2) stalled so John Lund (53) was pushing him down the backstraight but the yellows were waved vigourously as the field went round for another lap for a further restart attempt.
Mat Newson (16) was straight in with the bumper to Mark Gilbank (21) with Newson successfully completing the pass. The cars were now more spread out around the raceway making it slightly easier to follow the race as then Lund attacked Gilbank for position. Paul Harrison slowed right down on two, allowing Newson to barge past with Andy Smith now close behind after his earlier spin. Smith then passed Newson as Chris Bonner (105) and Craig Utley (484) were chasing neck and neck which ended when Bonner spun on the homestraight. Up front Mick Rogers (244) took second place from Lee Smith (76) as Andy Smith scythed past Utley. The potential of a Final top three of yellow graders was ruined when Lee Smith was passed on the very last bend as Andy Smith powered his way through to take third.
121 – 244 – 1 – 76 – 484 – 288 – 21 – 16 – 53 – 12

Thirty four cars came out for the last race of the night; the Grand National with Shinn taking his handicap place behind the superstars. It was also the second appearance of the night for Stu Smith (390) having resolved his earlier car problems. Newcomer Neil Holcroft (496) on pole led them away but it was not long before the race was red flagged as Chris Bonner (105) who had been doing well, was surrounded by too many cars, clipped a marker tyre and rolled, scarily sliding into turn one on his roof surrounded by cars. Fortunately all the cars involved managed to avoid his stricken car as the race was immediately red flagged, with six cars did not make the restart including roller Bonner.

Photo courtesy of Colin Casserley

Scott Davids (462) lent Andy Ford (13) his goggles for the complete restart as Holcroft led them away as now the sole white. Tony Smith (91) found himself in the Armco on turn one with Rob Cowley (73) in his new red and black car. Chris Brocksopp (338) and Mark Gilbank (21) tangled with Gilbank pulling off momentarily a short while later. New blue grade Josh Smith (191) spun final winner Shinn (121) out as Nigel Whalley (198) stuck the bumper into Stu Smith jnr before bumpering Neil Scriven (11). It was another race where it was impossible to keep up with all that was happening as all the drivers appeared to be going for it and bumpers were flying in at both ends. What was clear was that Murray Harrison (97) had a good set up and was cutting through the field with ease, taking the lead and keeping it until the chequered flag. Young guns Tom Harris and Dan Johnson were making their way up the field with Dan spinning Stu Smith out. Kevin Shinn kept going until the end and in doing so earned himself the newly introduced five final winner points for completing the GN.
97 – 84 – 4 – 515 – 2 – 16 – 446 – 1 – 55 – 390

Ailsa Haigh

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