Ipswich, 23rd June 2018 – Meeting Report and Photos

The Thunder 500 is a meeting I always look forward to – not only is it the official warm up to Spedeweekend and the National Hot Rods Championship of the World, it’s also the one chance you get every year to see the BriSCA Formula One Stock Cars around the Foxhall Heath Stadium, Ipswich. Of course, the World Final was held at Ipswich last season – won by Nigel Green (445) with a flag-to-flag victory – so those who attended both meetings like me would have seen them twice at Ipswich last year.

Given the large size of the track, in recent years it’s been a happy hunting ground for lower grade drivers with the red tops and superstars struggling to navigate their way through the traffic and catch up to the race leader by the time the chequered flags came out. Would this year be the same?

Around thirty-seven cars turned up to the Foxhall Heath Stadium, Ipswich to try and gain some more vital World Qualifying points before the Semi-Finals in August. The format saw 2/3rds heats with an all-in Final and Grand National.

Before the first heat of the night got under way, Charlie Sworder (5) done his five practice laps before his F1 debut. It’s great to see the Sworder name being continued in the F1s in the shape of Charlie – the Sworder name is very highly regarded in the world of stock car racing and I’m sure it will be continued under him.

Charlie Sworder (5) makes his F1 debut

The first heat of the evening saw the white top driver Adam Bamford (43) lead the initial stages of the race and was looking pretty comfortable out in front. Matt Rogers (213) spun on turn’s one and two and reversed off the racing line to the armco barrier. Rogers tried to re-join the race but just managed to clip the race leading Bamford car sending him head on into the back straight armco – leaving his stricken car looking vulnerable right in the middle of the back straight facing oncoming traffic. Thankfully, all drivers did extremely well in avoiding him, some even slowing down to allow other cars to cut in front in avoidance – however, the unsighted Dean Whitwell (195) saw Bamford late and couldn’t avoid him despite his best efforts, hitting Bamford’s car with his right rear completely ripping his wheel off. The yellow flags were finally brought out to recover the Bamford car.

Stuart Shevill Jnr (518) led the restart and comfortably drove away from the rest of the field to take the race win. Mat Newson (16) overtook Chris Cowley (37) up the inside going into turn one with two laps to go, grabbing second position with Cowley ultimately finishing third.

Stuart Shevill Jnr taking the first win of the evening

The second heat race of the night was a quieter affair with Shevill Jnr (518) yet again taking the race win with a dominant looking drive – looking incredibly quick out in front. Michael Scriven (12) got to second place but just couldn’t close down the ‘flying’ Scotsman. Tom Harris (84) finished third.

Heat three went the way of Karl Hawkins (175) with a very good drive – looking much quicker than he did in his other heat race earlier on in the night where he finished ninth. Ryan Harrison (197) finished second with Tom Harris (84) finishing very close behind him in third – the two having a good little battle throughout the duration of the race.

Ryan Harrison and Tom Harris battle in Heat 3

The Final saw a big push going into turn one which saw Matt Rogers (213) half spin and get hit in the side by Tom Harris (84). Harris managed to get going again without losing too much time but as the field came round Bryn Tootell (232) got a push from behind sending him into the Rogers car – Rogers eventually got going again but Tootell was stranded bringing out the yellow flags in the early stages of the race. The restart saw Ryan Harrison (197) deliver a big hit to heat three winner, Karl Hawkins (175) as the pair went into turn one. The hit saw Hawkins go crashing into the armco barrier – ripping a length of it off! Hawkins continued down the back straight before eventually grinding to a halt on the entry to turn three. The yellow flags were subsequently brought out again to recover the Hawkins car and to also repair the armco which he hit on turn’s one and two.

The restart saw double heat winner Shevill Jnr (518) lead the way but he was coming under increasing pressure from Harrison (197) with Luke Davidson (464) also lurking in third. Tom Harris (84) was also looking seriously quick making his way past Frankie Wainman Jnr (515) and Mat Newson (16) on the restart. Harris then moved his way past Colin Goodswen (372) moving up to fourth whilst the top three battled away.

First of all, Harrison (197) put the bumper in on Shevill Jnr (518) on turn one with Shevill Jnr returning the favour on turn three. Harrison went in on Shevill Jnr again on the following lap at turn three but couldn’t get through this time. Instead, both ran wide allowing Luke Davidson (464) to take the race lead for the first time. Shevill Jnr received yet another hit from Harrison losing second place with Harrison then moving aside race leader Davidson. Shevill Jnr also moved past Davidson to reclaim second position. Tom Harris (84) had a problem with his gear box in the final few laps hindering his progress, but he managed to come home fourth – which given that he got held up at the start when he hit Matt Rogers – he will be quite happy with, especially with stable mate Davidson coming home third for the Tom Harris Motorsport team. Harrison came over the line to take the chequered flag smoking his rear tyres being chased home by Shevill Jnr in second with Davidson coming home third after their terrific battle.

Final Top 3

With only the Ministox Final in-between the Final and Grand National, Tom Harris and his whole pit crew done an outstanding job to replace the gear box and get him out on track for the Grand National. Colin Goodswen (372) took the lead in the first few laps but lost it in the closing stages to Luke Davidson (464) who came through to win. Harris (84) finished a very respectable third after changing the gearbox just before the race.

All in all, I thought it was a great meeting – maybe one of the best F1 meetings I’ve seen around Ipswich, which must be mentioned has be known to being called more of a ‘Hot Rod track’ rather than a ‘Stock Car track.’ However, I have to say that there was some great bumper work going in, particularly in the Final and Grand National from Ryan Harrison (197), Stuart Shevill Jnr (518) and Luke Davidson (464). Well done to all drivers too who managed to get into either of the two Semi-Finals and I wish you all the best of luck for the remainder of the year.

Luke Davidson taking the Grand National win

Words: Jordan Hollands
Photos: Colin Casserley

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