Sheffield – October 9th 2011 Meeting Report

With the stadium on the route of a charity fun run on the day of the meeting, start time was moved back to 4pm, and while this no doubt inconvenienced a few people, it did have the major advantage of meaning that at least some of the racing would be in darkness and under the Owlerton floodlights.

BriSCA F1 Shootout competitors lined up. Photo Carl Hesketh

BriSCA F1 stock car Final winner Craig Finnikin 55. Photo Paul Tully

Top man on the night was Craig Finnikin, who took the meeting final and with it the VSCA Maestro Trophy. The meeting was Round 5 of the National Series Shoot-Out, and it was Frankie Wainman Junior who moved to the top of the points chart, scoring well in every race, while Tom Harris appeared to struggle with the conditions and uncharacteristically made a few unforced errors.

The first race was a torrid affair, with the track an almost unraceable quagmire of deep wet shale. Ryan Harrison (197) and Frankie Wainman (515) made the most progress while the rest floundered, and incredibly came from the back of the grid to the front within a lap or two. But Wainman then got bogged down, and Harrison got into difficulties, which let Chris Brocksopp (338) past. Shoot-Out leader Tom Harris (84) put himself into a half spin, just as the waved yellows appeared for Neil Holcroft (496), who was wedged in the home straight fence. On the restart, Harrison (197) went into turn three too fast, and went straight on into the fence.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Ryan Harrison 197 during the first heat. Photo Carl Hesketh

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Dave Russo in heat 1. Photo Carl Hesketh

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Dave Russo 49 meets Mal Brown 34. Photo Paul Tully

As the race (eventually!) reached the halfway point, speeds were starting to increase, and Wainman was back up the order and challenging Brocksopp for the lead. Wainman looked to be home and dry, but on the last lap he cautiously slowed down when he came up behind some backmarkers, possibly thinking that he had a good lead. But second placed Joe Booth wasn’t that far behind and planted Dave Russo (49) into the 515 car, knocking them both off line. Wainman held on, but a wildly optomistic lunge on the last bend relegated Wainman to second place.

BriSCA F1 stock car drivers Joe Booth 446 and Frankie Wainman jnr 515 do battle. Photo Paul Tully

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Mal Brown 34 in action. Photo Colin Casserley

A fairly dry and slick racing line had emerged by the time the second heat lined up, although the outside of the track was still perilously deep, wet, slippery shale. Wainman made his intentions clear from the start, thumping fellow Shoot-Out contender Dan Johnson hard out of the way as soon as the race started. Colin Goodswen and Mark Woodhull simultaneously hit the turn four fence in seperate incidents, with Harris perhaps trying a little too hard and half-spinning. Up front, Russell Cooper had set off like a train, and was flying around the track like a man possessed.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Frankie Wainman jnr 515 tails Dan Johnson 4. Photo Colin Casserley

But he seemed unsure of how to deal with traffic, and crashed out of the lead in a rather bizarre incident. Cooper ran into the out of shape car of Mark Tittcomb (398) entering turn three, and as the 398 car span, Cooper’s bumper went over a wheel and the 415 car went skywards and did a mid-air twist before landing on the inside front wheel. The suspension collapsed on impact, which momentarily gave the illusion that the 415 car had sunk into the shale.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Russell Cooper 415 retires to the infield. Photo Paul Tully

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Mark Woodhull 335. Photo Colin Casserley

BriSCA F1 stock car legend John Lund 53 tackles Will Yarrow 22. Photo Paul Tully

The chasing pack weren’t far behind, and as cool as you like, John Lund braked just enough to drive around the stricken 398 and 415 cars, before a boot full of throttle powered the 53 car around the turn and in the lead. Johnson had moved past Wainman, and it was these two in hot pursuit of Lund as the laps ticked by. Tom Harris’ Shoot-Out aspirations took a further blow when he was shown the black flag because his back bumper was hanging off. Harris ignored this and finished the race, but was removed from the results. Johnson and Wainman couldn’t make any impression on Lund, and if anything the 53 car pulled away, with the veteran driver taking a hugely popular win.

Legendary BriSCA F1 stock car driver John Lund 53. Photo Colin Casserley

Heat three started with Nigel Whalley and Dave Russo getting hooked up, with Whalley hitting the fence and coming to rest in the middle of the track and facing the wrong way. Fortunately, the rest of the field manged to avoid a collision, and Whalley rejoined at the back. Also having problems was Nigel Harrhy (45), who clattered the turn three fence unaided and was then hit by several cars, including race leader Russell Cooper; the impact deflating the 415 car’s outside rear tyre.

There was more carnage when Brocksopp half span around turn three, and Craig Finnikin drove straight into the side of him. Brocksopp then raced across the infield and dived back onto the track halfway down the home straight, in the middle of a bunch of cars on an already crowded piece of track. Tony Smith (91) ran out of room and was fired hard into the fence. With cars going everywhere, Russo slowed down, but for his caution he was planted into the 91 car by Paul Harrison.

BriSCA F1 stock car star drivers wait for the off. Photo Paul Tully

A broken fence post brought the race under caution, and in the time it took to replace it, it had gone dark. Neil Shenton (35) led them off under the floodlights, with second place Chris Clare (394) dropping down the order. Shenton took the win comfortably, with the next three swapping places a few times before crossing the finish line bumper to bumper.

Dan Johnson was the first of the Shoot-Out contenders to come to grief in the final, when he ploughed into the spun 394 car on the first lap. Cooper led the opening laps before Whalley span him out. Johnson had more problems when he was attacked by Brocksopp, with Lund also under fire; the 53 car being dumped into the wires by Harrison (197).

BriSCA F1 stock car Shootout competitor Lee Fairhurst 217. Photo Paul Tully

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Neil Scothern 152 in an earlier heat. Photo Colin Casserley

At the half way, it was Neil Scothern (152) at the front, with Shoot-Out hopeful Tom Harris still at the very back of the pack. Johnson ended in the turn one wires with Scott Davids (462), but one of the few Shoot-out drivers managing to both stay out of trouble and put in quick laps was Craig Finnikin, with the 55 car quietly working up the order with a minimum of fuss. Finnikin took the lead with no drama, and went on to take the win from Scothern, with Wainman enhancing his lead at the top of the Shoot-Out with third.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Craig Finnikin 55 on his way to taking the final. Photo Colin Casserley

The start of the GN was delayed when the Matt Newson car shed a half-shaft on the rolling lap and had to be tractored off. Fine drizzle had started after the final, and perhaps the wet coating on the now slick track played a part, or perhaps he felt it was time for some drastic action, but on the first bend Tom Harris thundered Frankie Wainman into Paul Harrison, with the number 2 car stopping dead against the fence, and the 515 car, still with Harris pushing, span around. Harris then went over Wainman’s front wheel and was lucky not to roll. But his big effort came to nothing, as when the waved yellows came out to get the Harrison car out of the fence, the damaged 84 machine was parked on the infield; the driver reduced to watching Wainman line up for the restart.

Neil Shenton led them away when the race resumed, having led from the start due to there being no white grade drivers left mobile. Mark Woodhull was initially second, but exited the race when he failed to negotiate the limping Richard Bryan car. Wainman put the bumper in hard on Booth, but ended up clipping the 446 car as it bounced off the fence, and with a deranged outside rear wheel, the 515 car retired to the infield.

The early laps carnage and yellow flags were to Finnikin’s advantage, as by the halfway there were only seven cars still in the race and Finnikin was up to second place behind Harrison (197). Given the speed at which the 55 car was lapping, another few laps and he may well have pulled off that rarity of a Final and GN double, but the chequered fell on Harrison.

Carl Hesketh

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