Northampton, 18th June 2017 – Meeting Report and Photos

“Come to sunny Brafield” used to be the slogan on car stickers of old. Brafield now goes by the much grander name of Northampton International Raceway and the sunny bit has not been very relevant – until today. Phew wot a scorcher, as one red top tabloid probably said and perhaps it was the heat but there was an outbreak of red mist at this penultimate world qualifier which saw cars and fence take a pasting, a top driver loaded up for deliberate fencing and plenty to keep the keyboard crusaders hot under the collar.

This meeting was also the occasion of the Veteran’s Association trackside reunion with a number of familiar faces in attendance to witness twenty-two cars line up for Heat One and the tone was set early on after Ben Hurdman (207), having resisted attacks from Riley (422) and Hines (259) was sent clattering into the turn three plating by Murray Jones (196), both drivers retiring to the infield with damage. Ashley England (346), looking very comfortable in the Aaron Leach (70) machine today took control of the race and was never headed, coming home a clear winner ahead of Brad Harrison (25) and Stuart Smith (390) in his shale car. Good results also for Hawkins (175) and Colliver (468) taking fourth and fifth spots respectively.

Heat 1 winner Ashley England

Heat Two saw the latest round in the 4/84 spat but before that we had an early caution for Roger Bromiley (14) who was up against Steve Whittle (183), facing the traffic on turn two. The restart caught Scott Davids (462) by surprize, delaying those behind him as leader Alex Wass (283) forged ahead with Chris Cooke (460) and Paul Carter (300) chasing. Steve Webster (401) looked to be trying to repay Luke Davidson for his exit from the Ipswich GN the night before but was thwarted by backmarkers as Carter passed Wass for the lead down the paddling pool straight with five to run.

Harris, using his old car, launched Johnson full pelt into the turn three fence a lap later, going in himself then dragging the number 4 car with him as he struggled to break free. A flash fire went out quickly on Johnson’s car and he emerged thankfully unscathed from what could have been a much more serious incident. Dan’s right front wheel notched up half a lap on its own before retiring to the infield.

With the news that Harris had been loaded up for the day, the second restart saw Carter back the field right up on the roller to get a good start but Frankie Wainman Junior (1) was catching the 300 car fast, punting Carter wide on the penultimate lap for the lead, with Paul Harrison (2) also slipping by for second. It wasn’t over yet – going into the last bend Carter wellied Todd Jones (186) into Mat Newson, the 16 car riding the wall before crashing onto its side. Carter took third with Jones fourth ahead of Nigel Green (445). Todd cut the damaged front corner off the 186 car in the pits but sat out the rest of the meeting.

84 fencing 4 became the most talked about event of the afternoon

Wass again drove a blinder in the Consolation, surviving an early caution to keep clear of Stuart Shevill (518) and Davids, with Frankie JJ and Danny W (212) also in the mix. Shevill drifted wide, losing a couple of spots with five to run but Wass held on until the very last bend. Davids closed, Wass went in too fast and too deep and clobbered the fence hard, letting 462, 555 and 212 by. Alex recovered for fourth but the damage incurred to the superbly presented 283 car was enough to relegate him to the role of spectator for the final and GN.

Anticipating a last-bender, Wass went into the corner too deep

Steve Malkin Junior (308) led the 28 car Final with Carter dumped into the back of the Kelvin (or is it Ken, or Kevin, or Karl) Hassell (or Hassle) (13) car on the pit bend. Webster (401) may have been waiting for Davidson to pass him to exact revenge but the 464 pilot stayed behind then punted the yellow top into the back of the stationary 13 car – Davidson 2, Webster 0, but there’s another tarmac weekend on the horizon and what goes around comes around!

Malkin, a value for money white top if ever there was one, continued to lead until passed by Colliver but the 308 pilot fought back on successive bends until England took second place. Stuart Smith had been battering cars wide left, right and centre on his way forward as, with five to go, England closed on 468 and applied the bumper, taking the lead but with Green hard on his heels. Smith took 468 to the fence as Green hit the front, with Harrison second and Smith up to third at the flag. Green received the Pat Driscoll Memorial trophy with England being presented with the Reg Prior Shield as first b-grader across the line. On this form Nigel Green must start as one of the favourites to take the European Championship in July.

Another final win for Nigel Green

Just 18 for the Grand National, which doubled as the Roger Squire Memorial trophy race, an event which until this year had been held at Coventry Stadium. Dan Johnson made it out on track after much hard work from his crew with help from Team Hunter among others. The borrowed Woods (268) aerofoil completed the package, impressively decorated in the colours of the current Eurochamp.

With no Harris to play with, Johnson launched an attack on Luke Davidson instead, sending him into the turn three wall on lap one (or was it technically still the rolling lap?) and bringing out the yellows. Malkin led the restart from Steve Webster and with no 464 to hinder him, the Sheffield man soon hit the front for a comfortable win ahead of England and Will Hunter. Green, from the lap handicap finished seventh.

A cracking meeting all round, with good, close racing from the National Ministox and a nasty looking shunt on the back straight for Rebecca Smith. Even the 2017 UK Open champion was racing – but in a stock rod! Roll on the European Championship – with all this Brexit stuff should we even have a European Championship – Brisca, Brexit, perhaps I should start a Briscit campaign? Just kidding, the more overseas drivers on track at Northampton the better as far as I am concerned.

All credit to Team Johnson for getting the car back out 

Words: Mick Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley

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