Ipswich, 17th June 2017 – Meeting Report and Photos

What have Ipswich stadium and BriSCA F1 stock car racing got in common? Ten years ago my answer might have been “Foxhall” but now the Spedeworth showpiece is almost a regular on the Formula One scene and while to many it is not a stock car track the sight of a full grid of cars tearing around the big, smooth tarmac oval is one not to be forgotten. This meeting was not only a world qualifier but also the only chance for some drivers to experiment with set-up before the World Final here in September.

I’ve always thought Ipswich would favour the Dutch tarmac racers but only three of the seven booked Mainland drivers turned up which was disappointing, but may also be a reflection on the current tar scene in Holland.

Ron Kroonder makes an appearance on UK soil (or tarmac)

Ipswich needs big numbers of cars on track and Heat One gridded 24 of them with Richard Woods (268) showing the way as Colliver (468) and Scriven (11) found the turn one fence as did Harrison (25) and Goodswen (372), with Newson (16), Lammas (543) and Gibson (249) all hitting trouble. Also getting hit was Steve Webster (401), courtesy of the Shevill (518) front bumper as the Scotsman took second place just before the caution flags flew to move the 25 and 249 cars.

Both cars were relocated just off the track on turn one, not a brilliant position but they remained unscathed for the remainder of the race. The restart was a tad early but Shevill, heat and final winner at last year’s event, knows the quick way around the Foxhall tarmac and ran out a clear winner from Roger Bromiley (14) and FWJ (1).

Stuart Shevill Junior dominated Heat 1

Twenty-six for Heat Two with Karl Hawkins (175) straight into the lead, driving a blinder in his tarmac special (!). Whilst his fellow red tops were disputing minor positions, Dan Johnson (4) went into overdrive, pegging back Hawkins lap by lap. Ashley England (346) stopped at the end of the back straight and was rear-ended by Matt Armstrong (455), who was himself clobbered by Kelvin Hassell (13) a few laps later – thankfully all three drivers were unhurt. Johnson moved the 175 car with just over two to run to take the flag with Murray Jones (196) in third. A good drive by Dutch ace Ron Kroonder (H217) netted him a fourth place ahead of Finnikin and Harris.

Dan Johnson took the Heat 2 victory

As the sun set slowly in the West, two dozen cars set off for the Consolation with Woods again out in front from Martin Spiers (451). Neil Scriven (11), after a little contretemps with Newson at the end of heat one, got it all together to take command early doors (where did that phrase come from?) with Steve Webster (401) in second and Mick Sworder (150) third.

Early leader Woods visited the turn three fence rather hard near the end of the race, possibly off the Cowley (37) front bumper. There was no such doubt about who fenced Colin Nairn (280) unnecessarily heavily in the same spot on the last bend – step forward Mr. Cowley! Danny Colliver (468) took a fine fourth place ahead of Hines (259) and Frankie JJ (555).

Footnote: 401 finished 12th in heat one and according to the leader-board came second in the consolation but as I couldn’t hear the results from my position on the back straight this could be a mistake. Sort out the tannoy for the WF please Mr Spedeworth.

Chris Cowley (37) dished out the hits in the Consolation

With 23 of the 33 starters in the Final being graded red or superstar you might have expected victory to go to one of them – not a bit of it. Chris Cooke (460) led the opening laps but with Shevill and Webster (401) starting on row two of the grid neither yellow top could be discounted. Harris and Harrison (2) took to the speedway track off the back straight and Shevill’s chances went backwards, literally, as he slid rear-end first off the shale and back onto the tarmac on turn three. Riley and Lammas came together as did Finnikin and Frankie JJ when a caution was called for, either for the stranded Shevill or Ashley England.

The restart saw cars 2, 55, 84, 207, 543, 346 and 518 all on the centre as Cooke again set the pace trailed by 401 and 175. Newson had made good progress from the back, rapidly moving into fifth spot behind Davids (462) but Cooke’s race came to an end as he found the wall, then Colliver found him. Webster led as the Dutch challenge fizzled out, Geert Jan Keijzer (H6) scraping the wall while Kroonder slowed dramatically. Newson took third from Davids and Johnson and Green (445) came into the equation, shadowed by Harrison (197). Half way and Webster was still out in front and breaking away (a gold star for anyone who remembers which car that slogan used to be on) but Johnson made a move on Newson for third and FWJ finally found some forward motion, nicking a place off Davids.

As the 5 to run board was shown the order was 401 from 175 and 4 but Green was right on Johnson’s back bumper when disaster struck the Hawkins car when he was so close to a top three finish. Something let go entering turn three with two to go and he dumped oil on the track – Johnson went straight on into the fence as cars spun and fought for grip. Webster coolly read the situation and tiptoed through for his first Brisca F1 final win, with Green second and Harrison third.

Steve Webster claimed his first final win, crossing the line ahead of Nigel Green and Ryan Harrison

The Grand National raised 33 cars again and was a bizarre race. The clock was ticking towards the curfew time, resulting in a shortened Hot Rod final so the fact that a GN was even contemplated was encouraging. Gibson charged headlong into the wall on turn three and gave cause for concern but he tried desperately to get his car moving, a lack of steering being a bit of a handicap. Riley threw a wheel and half-shaft at the shale track and the caution flags flew.

This is where it got confusing – the yellow lights changed to red, game over I thought, but then the cars were lined up on the back straight and the race resumed, catching out just about everyone except leader Scriven (11) who went on to take his second victory of the evening from Jones (196) and Sworder. For some reason Davidson sent final winner Webster hard into the plating in this one – I suspect some kind of payback may be coming 464’s way!

Ben Riley brought out the caution flags in the Grand National

Words: Mick Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley

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