King’s Lynn, 22nd July 2017 – Meeting Report and Photo Gallery

With July being a Coventry Stox free fixture month, it has been a very long four week wait from the last meeting at Belle Vue until the next meeting at the Norfolk Arena for those fans addicted to seeing the BriSCA F1s on the loose stuff after two double-header tar weekends at Skegness and Northampton.

Welcome returns to the sport at this meeting were Joshua Smith (191) and John Dowson (94).  Josh along with father Tony have been racing the Rebel formula now for some time but Josh has decided to come back into the F1s again in the ex-Shaun Blakemore car, which Shaun hardly raced. It was originally one of Craig Finnikin’s cars. North East racer John Dowson has been side-lined for most of the season awaiting an engine re-build on the 94 car. The engine is now in and along with an axle re-mounting and tweaking to the suspension is back out again and hopes to race the rest of this season’s shale meetings.

The British weather after a long dry patch appears to have returned to its normal summer feature of heavy rain interspersed with heavy showers and occasional sun and the week before the meeting was no different. Very heavy rain prior to the meeting (the journey down on the A17 being akin to a tropical monsoon) had left the track, shall we say, boggy prior to the traditional whites and yellow race opener.

A return to the F1s for 191 Josh Smith

Seventeen cars gridded up for the first race (whites and yellows), surprisingly all bar Geoff Nicholls opting to run American racer tyres. Geoff chose to opt for the old skool Big Gripper on the outside rear. Things were slippery and slide-y from the first lap with drivers choosing a cautious approach. That is, except H54 Sierd de Vries whose traditional flat out broadside approach to racing, led to some fine pirouettes and spinning on the corners.

Eliot Smith had hit the front early on from Nicholls and Russell Cooper in third. Cooper had got up to second with Nicholls dropping back as the track dried (on the inside line anyway) and then hit the front with two laps to run. Cooper then clobbered one of the marker tyres and half span, allowing Smith through for the win, Nicholls finishing second and Cooper recovering for third spot.

Results:  293  215  415  H410  372  268  137  11  H40  57  54  nof.

Eliot Smith takes the first win of the evening

With Ministox and V8 races run between the heat one race for the F1s, the inside line had now dried out but the outer line was still very slippery. Twenty cars took part, including 464 Luke Davidson in a rare shale appearance driving the 36 Jordan Falding car for the night.

Richard Woods (268) was the early leader from H54 Sierd de Vries, the track now better suited to his enthusiastic approach to cornering but it wasn’t long before the outer gloop sucked in 462 Scott Davids and 45 Nigel Harrhy into the turn 1 fence (Davids going in very hard, almost straight on). On the following lap, the Davids car was clobbered by 555 Frankie Jnr Jnr leading to the yellows to retrieve the stricken Davids car.

Richard Woods was lead car from de Vries in second but the H54 car pulled to the centre before the green flag. The track was now dry and also very dusty and it wasn’t long before 217 Lee Fairhurst had hit the front from Frankie Wainman in second and Mark Gilbank third. Gilbank wasted no time firing Wainman wide into the gloopy outside line but on the dry track there was no catching Fairhurst who went onto the win with a healthy lead at the finish.

Results:  217  21  1(515)  372  268  H40  555  H226  464  169  57  nof – first ten to final.

Lee Fairhurst dominated Heat 1

A slightly bigger grid of 24 for this race and the track had been watered prior to Heat 2. Early leader was 83 Darren Clark but it wasn’t long before Eliot Smith had again hit the front. Further back Dan Johnson was the leading star grader but 390 Stuart Smith was on a mission in this one and got up the inside of Johnson on turn three. As if you couldn’t script it Dan Johnson and Tom Harris hooked up on turn two, both managing to get going but Johnson then hitting another car on the very next bend and having to retire.

Up front Eliot Smith was lead car from 11 Neil Scriven but the fast moving 390 car was gaining fast and soon got past Scriven and with two laps to go Stuart fired the Eliot Smith car wide for the lead which he held to the flag from Smith second and Scriven third, Danny Wainman just finishing at the right time with a flat OSR tyre.

Stuart appeared to have enjoyed his win on the loose stuff commenting on the microphone post-race, ‘Sod that tarmac stuff, let’s race on shale’.

Results: 390 293  11  197  259  212  16  84  463  94  207  32 – first ten to the final.

Johnson and Harris in the wall in Heat 2

Twenty two cars gridded up in the consolation to try and qualify for the final and early leader again was 83 Darren Clark. Luke Dennis (192) and Russell Cooper both hooked up on turn two whilst 280 Colin Nairn had hit the front before hooking up with Nigel Harrhy down the back straight who had tried to go up the inside of Nairn, both being dragged to the infield Nigel’s car aloft the car of Nairn. Dan Johnson had meanwhile got up to third spot before the yellows were out for the cars of 137 Sam Jacklin and H410 Jelle Tesselaar to be separated having hooked up stationary on the turns 1/2  fence, something that took a bit of time and effort to do.

At the restart it was Chris Farnell from 278 Paul Hopkins  and Dan Johnson but the Worksop driver soon hit the front and kept it to the end; opening up a healthy lead from Paul Hopkins second.

Results: 4  278  422  335  326  25  32  83  215  415  183  280 – first twelve to the final.

Consolation winner, Dan Johnson

Thirty one cars came out for the final and it was chaos at the back from the start.  The majority of the red and superstar graders all hooked up, span, ended in a tangle coming out of turn on the main straight. Mark Gilbank and Ryan Harrison had managed to barge their way through unscathed and charged off into the distance. Gilbank soon came unstook though making a move on H226 Pieter van der Iest, both hooking up and colliding and retiring to the centre. Harrison meanwhile on a charge tried to go up the inside of 326 Mark Sargent on turn two, both hooking up but getting going.

Up front it was 280 Colin Nairn leading from 278 Paul Hopkins, with 293 Eliot Smith gaining. Further back Tom Harris was flying behind Dan Johnson and John Dowson, with Johnson and Harris getting past Dowson and then Harris getting up the inside of Johnson.

By this point Eliot Smith had hit the front with Paul Hopkins in second with Tom Harris closing quickly but some distance behind, the track however had dried and slicked up by this point and Harris had begun to lose pace whilst  Johnson had gone up a gear and it wasn’t long before Johnson was on the back of the Harris bumper. With a couple of laps to go, Johnson tapped the Harris car aside on turn four for the place but up front Eliot Smith held his lead in a very composed drive, from Hopkins in second with Johnson coming home third from Harris fourth. Stuart Smith delayed badly at the start came home in fifth.

A great win for Eliot Smith, son of the popular and entertaining  1970s driver Gordon Smith, who had first raced mid 1990s but had a break from the sport till returning in 2013.

Results:  293  278  4  84  390  16  25  94  463  1(515)  H40  217.

Final top 3: 1st Eliot Smith, 2nd Paul Hopkins & 3rd Dan Johnson

The grand national had a healthy 28-car entry considering the hectic action in the final and this race was another action packed affair. Stuart Smith coming out of turn 4 came upon the slowed 169 Billy Johnson car up against the fence, moving out and hitting the car. Stuart was collected by the Ryan Harrison car, Stuart spinning a full 360 degrees under power and just continuing losing hardly any places. It wasn’t long though before the yellows were out for 555 Frankie Jnr Jnr stranded on turn 2.

The restart was behind the bowser with 268 Richard Woods in the lead. Soon after the restart 422 Ben Riley, Tom Harris and Dan Johnson all went for each other on turn 3 but with 276 Mark Poole spinning in front of them all got delayed.

Up front John Dowson had hit the front from 278 Hopkins and H54 Sierd de Vries. Further back Frankie Wainman and Stuart Smith were exchanging bumpers with Ryan Harrison joining in the fun but Wainman managed to get the break and set off in pursuit of Dowson in the lead. With three laps to go Wainman manged to get the inside of Dowson for the lead but Dowson stayed close and despite a last bend gung-ho attempt came in second behind Frankie Wainman with Stuart Smith in third, Eliot Smith coming home seventh from the lap handicap.

Results: 1(515)  94  390  212  217  25  293  H40  4  268  169.

John Dowson Junior had to settle for second in the Grand National

Words: Andy Armer
Photos: Colin Casserley

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