Northampton – April 10th 2010 Meeting Report

The second tar meeting of season 2010 was staged at Northampton on a dry sunny evening in front of a larger than usual crowd who witnessed history being made as (191) Joshua Smith took his maiden BriSCA F1 final win with room to spare, in only his sixth career meeting in the formula. It was a fairly successful meeting all round for white grade drivers, with Iain Holden (85) also taking a heat win and a fine third place in the final. With less than 30 cars in the pits fit to race, the decision was taken to run two heats, final and GN with all drivers competing in all races. It was also a first chance to witness the impressive new floodlighting at the stadium, which was excellent and a very welcome enhancement to the venue.

At 6.45pm sharp, 26 cars were on track ready for Heat 1, without the unfortunate Jim Bamford (302) who had loaded up after practice with rumoured gearbox problems. Carl Pickering (141) raced into an early lead, as Dave Plumbley (393) and Steve Malkin (208) hooked bumpers and went rattling round the armco. No sooner had Malkin freed himself from the 393 car, he tangled with Chris Cowley (37), almost went over, before coming to rest on the back straight. This brought about the first caution of the evening to remove the stricken 208 and 37 cars from the racing line. Pickering lead the restart from Luke Davidson (464), James Neachell (322) and Lee Dimmick (459), with star man Mat Newson (16) well placed. Frankie Wainman Jnr (515) pulled off shortly after with a flat outside front tyre, as both Neachell and a fast moving Newson (16) overhauled the 141 machine through turns one and two to head the field. At half distance, Newson had moved into lead position as Ed Neachell (321) and Pickering (141) had a look at the fence on turn four. Newson went on unchallenged to claim a comfortable win from fellow star men Paul Harrison (2) and Danny Wainman (212).

Photo Paul Tully

Result: 16-2-212-97-462-259-191-91-464-401.

With only one F2 race in between, and a fairly high attrition rate just 19 cars made it on track for Heat 2, which was reduced still further as Paul Redfern (252) pulled off on the rolling lap. Iain Holden (85), driving a Dan Johnson (4) car, Dave Plumbley (393) and Josh Smith (191) headed the field at the end of lap one, but the second caution of the night was forthcoming after Mark Elsden (401) had clobbered the fence hard on turn one and was stationary on the exit to turn two in a vulnerable position. Holden continued to lead on the restart, and at halfway had Pickering (141) and Neachell (322) in his mirrors, albeit some way off. Neachell passed Pickering and set about catching the 85 machine, which he managed to do in the closing stages, landing a hit on the rear bumper on the final turn, Holden managing to ride out the attack and pip the 322 car on the line for his first win in F1 stockcars.

Photo Colin Casserley

Result: 85-322-464-515-16-141-2-212-97-462.

The meeting final staged under the fantastic new floodlights saw another 19 car field, with Josh Smith (191) away at the drop of the green flag from fellow white graders Plumbley (393) and Holden (85). Mick Harris (8) was fired into the fence hard on turn two as Plumbley challenged Smith for the lead entering turn one a lap later. Smith was in no mood to give up the lead lightly and attacked going into turn three, which resulted in the 393 car being fenced hard and the 191 car back into first place. The third caution of the night was called for Plumbley soon after and as his car was being removed from the track, the order on the restart was 191-85-91-172-462-515. Smith’s (191) car began to smoke but it wasn’t hampering the drivers performance as he pressed on ahead of the pack, which saw a good battle develop down the order between Dimmick (459), Paul Hines (259), Neachell (322) and Tony Smith (91). With 5 to go, it looked like a white grade one-two with Smith holding a comfortable lead over Holden, with only Harrison (2) offering a challenge. The star man moved passed the 85 machine late on to claim second, but there was no denying Josh Smith his first ever BriSCA F1 final win, much to his delight and that of father Tony (91) who was on hand to congratulate the former ministox superstar on his maiden feature final victory.

Photo Paul Tully

Result: 191-2-85-515-259-322-459-37-212-91.

The final F1 race of the night, the traditional Grand National Championship Qualifying Heat, saw 16 cars on track, with final winner Josh Smith (191) taking the handicap by starting behind the superstar drivers. Iain Holden (85) again lead the field away into lap one, where Paul Hines (259) was a very early casualty drifting onto the infield without completing a lap. By half distance, Holden had earned a length-of-a-straight-lead over Cowley (37), Neachell (322) and Harrison (2), before 322 departed on the home straight with what appeared to be a flat tyre. Holden’s thoughts of a second race win were dashed when Elsden (401) lost his outside rear wheel exiting turn two, which brought out the yellow flags, and saw his unassailable lead vanish. The order when the green flag flew was 85-37-2-16-515. There were just ten cars remaining, and into the final five laps the pressure started to be applied to the 85 rear bumper. First Cowley, then Harrison attacked, with the number 2 car sweeping into the lead with 4 to go. Newson (16) and Wainman Jnr (515) finished strongly in second and third respectively, Holden eventually placing 5th behind Danny Wainman (212).

Photo Paul Tully

Result: 2-16-515-212-85-37-459-462-393-372.

So, with the time just after 9pm, the F1 content of the meeting was over and it was time to reflect on a meeting which had more talking points and had seen four different and certainly unpredictable race winners throughout the course of events. As the drivers get to grips with the new Goodyear tyres, the changes in set up that they bring take effect, more unusual race winners may be seen next weekend at the midlands tar weekend of Birmingham and Hednesford.

Andre Zang

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