King’s Lynn, 25th April 2015 – Meeting Report and Photo Gallery

53 cars journeyed eastwards to the Norfolk Arena on a dry but windy evening, and with World Championship qualifying points on offer and two quality support formulae, fans were more than hopeful of a good evening’s entertainment. ‘Good’, however, does no justice to this meeting. While it may have started as good, it built up to a final that is better described as sensational; the sort of race that, if you’re lucky, you might see once every ten years.

23 for the opening race – a race solely for B and C grade drivers, where Eliot Smith (293) showed that he has learned lots in a short space of time, with some quick laps upfront. The rest of the field scattered in all directions and 307 Tim Warwick brought out the yellow flags, clattering the back straight plating.

293 Smith was now under pressure from 330 Graham Wagstaff. Waggy muscled his way to the front, but now we had more chaos as most of the cars managed to pile into turn four. The parking lot cleared; 422 Ben Riley kept out of trouble better than the rest and held a lead which he retained to the flag. Of the 23 starters, only 7 finished.

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Ben Riley took victory in the Whites and Yellows race.

25 for Heat One, including Silsden Superstar Danny Wainman (212), using his tarmac car for the evening, saving the regular shale car for three meetings in two days in the Netherlands, while also getting a few miles on his new engine. 293 was leading again but, further back, it was all about that man Speak.  The National Points champion set out after his fellow stars, with 259 Paul Hines the first to receive some rough treatment. Speak then went to war with John Lund (53), but having a go at Mat ‘Mad Dog’ Newson proved to be a bit too much and the silver 318 machine was spun out in turn two.

The race settled down now and, with 293 departed, it was left to 191 Josh Smith to ghost past 499 Dave Allen to take a lead, which he held through a very dusty last few laps to take flag and trophy.

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Mat Newson (16) and Rob Speak (318) battling in Heat 1.

Heat Two and we had 25 starters, but most eyes on just two, as following events at the previous Coventry meeting it was time for the Hitman vs. DJ: Round 2. As is often the case with feuding superstars, the expectation exceeded reality as Harris – resplendent in his new Lucas Oils’ colours – had a difficult race and scraped home fifth. Meanwhile, Dan Johnson may well have been left wishing his suspension had been for more than one meeting as he failed to finish either this race or the consolation and departed King’s Lynn without troubling the lap scorers or the steward.

So pre-race hype dispensed with, it was left to the other 23 drivers to put on a show and they delivered big time, with action, aggression and calamity all around the raceway. Mick Sworder (150) was up to his usual King’s Lynn standard, with more lines than a BT exchange, he scythed through the field, but action came to a halt as James Morris (463) clattered the turn one barrier and needed assistance from the medics.

Waggy (330) led the restart and more ferocious action, this time brought to a halt by Waggy himself, who rolled in turn 4 and was then hit by more traffic. Waggy emerged unscathed and, following the excessively dusty end to heat one, the track was watered prior to the restart.

The 150 car restarted second and soon took the lead from 51 Dylan Williams-Maynard. All seemed set for a 150 victory but the Sworder full-on racing style often carries a price and the 150 car tangled with the 12 car of Michael Scriven and retired to the infield. 51 was now back in the lead but he had no answers when the 21 car of Mark Gilbank appeared in his mirrors. Gilbank took the victory while World Champion Craig Finnikin (55) tangled with Harris (84) and retired to the infield with damage to the front suspension.

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Dylan Williams-Maynard (51) lost out to Mark Gilbank (21) in Heat 2, while World Champ Finnikin failed to finish.

Heat Two was followed by rain and, while this had stopped prior to the Consolation, the 25 starters had to use a little more caution on a slippery, soggy surface. Johnson (4) and Wainman (212) soon ruined their chances, clattering the fence in turn two, where they were joined by several more who had too much speed for the grip available. Sworder was on it again, finding the quick way round using lots of plating, to keep the car pointing the right way. All went well until he attempted to barge his way past second-placed Mark Sargent (326), the cars clashed and 150 retired with a flat tyre.

More waved yellow flags now for Scriven (12) and Hawkins (175) stranded in turn two. The track was a good bit drier now and the pace picked up as Cooper (415) led 326 on the restart. 326 took 415 but then 318 Speak barged past both of them. More yellow flags, this time for 386 Joe Thompson.

Sargent was back in the lead for the restart and put up some valiant resistance but Speak would not be denied and took the win. Joff Gibson (249) had a good scrap with Timmy Farrell (467) and will have been well satisfied with a third place in his first meeting of 2015. The 55 car of Craig Finnikin joined 150, 4 and 212 on the infield late in the race, leaving the Final looking somewhat short of the big names required to make an exciting race.

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Joff Gibson (249) in his first meeting of the season.

No more rain prior to the Final, so the 28 starters commenced on a well-watered track. The race started without Frankie Wainman Jnr (515), who qualified in Heat 1 but had suffered some terminal engine damage. So quite a few big names were missing, but this was soon forgotten as the green flag induced mayhem all round the track. Joff Gibson (249) took the lead, while 21 Gilbank spun, which also delayed 390 Stuart Smith Jnr.

The intense level of on-track action was bound to lead to yellow flags and they were soon needed for 316 Billy-Tom O’Connor, whose car slammed into the fence in turn two. Billy had a wing which was somewhat bigger than average but, at this point, it lost it all means of erection and flopped down the back of the car.

Gibson led the restart with the immaculate ex-245 Karl Swift car of 32 Chris Farnell in second. In line with the stadium’s policy of avoiding depositing too much dust on its neighbours in the industrial estate, the track was watered before the cars commenced the rolling lap. Harris moved from fourth to first, despite stiff resistance from 249, while 390 and Legend Rob Speak started scrapping over third.

More yellow flags ensued, this time to rescue Farnell from turn two. No water before the restart and third-placed Stuart Jnr was now on a mission. Joff Gibson lost second; mullered fencewards by 390. The flying 390 car was soon all over leader Harris but aggression had to wait as 372 Colin Goodswen joined Gibson in the turn two fence, causing more yellow flags.

84 from 390 and 318 on the restart, which seemed like a recipe for aggro, and with Speak on his tail Stuart had to make his move. The 84 car was well and truly banjaxed in turn two, clattering the plating in a manner from which the driver was unable to recover. All well and good desposing of Harris but 390 now had Speak to contend with, and a big lunge saw Speak through into the lead. Speak and Smith were now joined by 16 Newson and all three used liberal amounts of bumper, which took an already excited crowd to fever pitch.

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Some of the top names battling in the meeting Final.

More yellow flags to remove Harris from turn three. 390 from 318, 16, 217 for the restart and, lurking in fifth, that sly old farmer John Lund (53) sniffing out World Championship points in his quest for one more shot at golden glory. More water prior to the restart, which it is fair to say, did not receive universal approval from the crowd, with only 5 or so laps to go the water most likely did nothing to improve the racing surface but being good neighbours and preserving the future of the venue must, after all, come first.

Greasy track or not the next few laps were everything you could ever want from a stock car race. Speak threw his car at 390 who was well and truly launched into the turn four fence. Speak himself ran wide which allowed Newson to lead. Fairhurst then got in on the act and somehow managed to barge his way past Newson.

Could it get any better? Well if there is any driver out there who believes in delivering the impossible it has to be Stuart Smith Jnr. The 390 car now came back from sixth to first, dealing with Lund, Fairhurst, Newson and, of course, Speak in a manner which had older fans memories drifting back to the days when his dad – the ultimate racer – ruled the raceways. Speak and Newson put up stiff resistance but 390 would not be beaten and took the flag in front of a crowd left stunned by the immense display of driving they had witnessed.

In truth, words can do nothing to capture the excitement of a race like this, watch a video or catch it on Premier Sports but, if you were not there, go sit on the naughty step for a few minutes and remind yourself not to miss any more King’s Lynn meetings – especially ones that take place in September.

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Stuart Smith Junior emerged victorious.

The Grand National was always going to struggle to match up to the Final but was still a good race. 55 retired early while Sworder was back with the same erratic strategy, reaching second by halfway, behind 293. Waved yellows for 372 allowed 84 Harris to close the gap on Sworder and he was soon passed for a trouble free run to the flag, leaving Mick with a second place, which seemed to be scant reward for an evening where he had done so much to generate excitement on the terraces. 390 was once again well on it, coming all the way up to fourth with a lovely last bend hit on Newson.

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Crowd favourite Mick Sworder was unlucky.

Words: Damian Noblett
Photos: Colin Casserley

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