The first Saturday of the month always means the stock car hordes descend on the Brandon shaleway for a good night’s entertainment with a full field of cars. Unfortunately the weather played a hand and after three cracking heats, the rain came. Chris Clare (394) made an appearance in a brand new Frankie Wainman jnr build as did novice David Scates (382) in one of the Matt Newson (16) hire cars.
The track looked to be in good condition for the lively start to the evening with the traditional whites and yellows race with twenty five exuberant lower graders taking to the track. Dave Riley (422) and Graham Wagstaff (330) made up the front row with Wagstaff being the quicker away but the yellows were shown to bring them round for another attempt.
At the green, Riley appeared to be a bit hesitant so Wagstaff was again quicker out of the blocks and he set about creating a healthy lead over his fellow competitors who scrapped for position, and momentarily blocked the track at both ends. Wagstaff was soon into lapped traffic and looked to be onto a clear winner until the yellows were shown for a backstraight kerfuffle which saw Nigel Whalley (198) t-boned by Lee Warner (290) in only his second 2011 F1 stock car meeting and his first on shale.
Wagstaff again led them away with his curtailed lead but second place Geoff Nickolls (215) still had three lapdown cars between him and the main prize. Neil Scriven (11) was making sleek progress round the shaleway, shifting shale to close the gap on Wagstaff who had set about re-extending his lead. Lap down Richard Regan (428) was causing Wagstaff some issue allowing his place men to close in with Scriven sliding by Mark Poole (276) who had sent Nickolls out wide. Neil Scriven took the lead ahead of Wagstaff but Wagstaff was not settling for this and retook the lead on the last lap. Wagstaff must surely have thought that the trophy was his until he headed into the last bend and Scriven launched a well timed attack on the rear of the 330 car, sending Wagstaff out to the fence while Scriven kept his tidy line and took the chequered with ease.
Heat two saw twenty four cars fancy their chances with Neil Shenton (35) unfortunately being unable to make the start. The night did not get much better for Steve Cayzer (380) who managed the rolling lap but did not manage to make it round the bend to take the green, being forced out into the fence in the press of blue tops. Ryan Harrison (197) flew forwards via the outside track line and was soon amongst the yellow graders.
John Frost (351) momentarily took the lead but was soon involved in a big crush leaving Richard Bryan (238) and Garry Fox (48) with red top James Neachell (322) in a tangle while Tom Harris (84) barged passed European Champion Luke Davidson (464) just before the yellows were shown. Dave Riley headed the field, took the green and flew off into the distance although by the half way point, Ryan Harrison and Tom Harris were gaining ground and it looked like the lower grader would be overcome unless the two tripped each other up.
Lurking not far behind was World Champion Andy Smith (1) who was narrowing the gap on every lap while Harris tried to repeatedly slide by Harrison with Harrison holding him off and managing to come out of the bends ahead. This delay allowed Smith to creep ever closer and he was soon going to be within striking distance. Leader Riley took a wide line at the pitgate end allowing Ryan Harrison to take the lead with Harris and Smith on his tail.
The cat and mouse game came to a close with a last bend dance with Harris going in on leader Harrison with third place Smith going in on Harris anticipating the two to go wide letting him slip through. In the kerfuffle as all three put the power down and came battling out of the last turn, Harrison came up behind novice David Scates (382) and was half spun to the infield in the scrum allowing Tom Harris to steam through to take the win just ahead of Smith before tangling with the newcomer up the homestraight and clattering the fence at the other end.
Heat three immediately took to the track with sole white top Lee Warner spearheading the start while the red tops vehemently fought it out in a jumble of cars at the back of the field as upfront Mark Poole (276) stole into the lead.
As the fierce battle continued, Will Yarrow (22) was spun out by Richard Regan (428) as Coventry specialist Dan Johnson (4) became entangled with James Morris (463) with Johnson going up over the front of Morris sending a flury of sparks skywards up the homestraight. Morris immediately withdrew from the field of play while Johnson continued, his panard rod dangling uselessly from the rear of the car with sparks flying possibly from his brake caliper.
Frankie Wainman jnr (515) came to grief for a brief moment becoming ensnared with Richard Regan and spinning out before getting back in the thick of it. Down the other end Scott Davids half span out with Craig Finnikin (55) slamming into him and keeping his foot well in, tried to free himself sending swathes of tyre smoke up into the air concealing the stock cars in a thick fog.
Both cars eventually moved off but it was not long before Davids was again in trouble, piling into the pitgate bend with Mark Poole, before Davids limped round the backstraight armco and came to rest opposite the starter, necessitating the yellow flags. Joe Booth (446) slowly led them away with an impatient second place Les Spencer (98) pushing Booth around to the green.
Wainman jnr and Stu Smith jnr (390) had a bit of a battle, exchanging hits and places resulting in Frankie being sent down the order as Smith jnr marched on. Superstar Ed Neachell (321) had his progress halted as he got snagged on Les Spencer which allowed British Champion Paul Hines (259) through into second as Ed, once back on track gave Smith jnr a good run for his money. In the confusion, Frankie Wainman jnr stole ahead of the pair to take third place as Booth took the chequered unimpeded.
From a damaging night of heats less than twenty stock cars made it out on track to contest eight final qualifying positions. A quick pre-race shower unfortunately warned of further rain to come and provided the contestants with a slick, greasy track to contend with. Yellow top Paul Spooner (104) led the field for most of the race, getting himself out in front and trying to create space between himself and the rest of the field. Scott Davids again suffered with stock car problems, going into the turn four fence and thereby failing to make one of the eight designated positions.
Nigel Whalley tried to make his journey worthwhile and gave Yarrow a thump before laying into Mark Woodhull (335). Paul Spooner went wide with about three laps to go, allowing Woodhull, Johnson and Yarrow through.On the last bend Woodhull made a move and went in on Yarrow in typical stock car fashion but with the greasy track, both sailed out towards the fence leaving third placed Dan Johnson to gratefully sneek through on the inside and claim the victory for himself.
Sadly, the bad weather came back with a vengeance and the track became a slippy surface just in time for the commencement of the cars filing onto track for the Final. A full field was led away by the two white tops, Dave Riley and Steven Harrison (118). As they took the green it became clear how much of a test of skill and endurance the following laps would be. Neil Shenton initially kept his composure and inherited the lead as the cars span themselves into scrapes. It was not long before the yellows were shown for Dave Riley in the fence as cars littered the infield. Shenton led them away closely followed by second place Ryan Harrison as the rest of the line struggled for grip. Tom Harris and Craig Finnikin pirouetted around together at the green and within one lap the order was Harrison, Andy Smith and Stu Smith jnr, followed by Paul Harrison (2), Joe Booth and Frankie Wainman jnr.
Progress was slow and the speed was steady as the cars attempted to nudge each other out into the sludgy outside line with Andy Smith comfortably claiming the lead for himself after Ryan Harrison went into the bend too wide. The yellows flew again and Smith assuredly drove off while Harrison tustled with Andy’s younger brother Stu Smith jnr until Ryan put Stu out but then had to slow himself before getting his car back into the race. Frankie Wainman jnr was having as good a run as possible given the poor conditions and purposefully moved himself into second place and managed to narrow the gap on Andy Smith slightly but Smith’s superior machinery could not be beaten.
With the rain continuing to fall, seventeen made it out for the final race with Chris Clare (394) leading them away, his once lustrous machine now hidden beneath a layer of wet shale. Ryan Harrison was once more quick to find his feet barging into three yellow graders before jousting with Mark Poole to take the lead. With the field spinning out and pulling to the infield in the appaling conditions Frankie Wainman jnr was soon up into third place with the cars making laborious progress round the circuit. Ryan Harrison came up behind Stu Smith jnr and Mal Brown (34) and gave Smith jnr a nudge while Frankie Wainman and Tom Harris tried to get the better of each other without messing up their own race.
Ryan Harrison then punted Stu Smith jnr backwards into Danny Wainman (212) on the pitlane bend sending Stu well off line and went onto take the victory using the same car that his father Murray used to win the Grand National at the Coventry May meeting a year ago.