Skegness, 10th October 2015 – Meeting Report and Photo Gallery

Shootout fever reached Skegness Stadium and, with rounds now beginning to run out, some of the drivers in contention at the top of the points decided to change tactics. In previous rounds it has all been about steady drives and accumulating points, but now some of the contenders took a much more aggressive, and thus risky, approach to their racing. This is a tactic which does not always go to plan, but it certainly added to the quality of the on-track entertainment.

Pre-meeting pits in October usually see a selection of the same old faces and cars but Skegness had a fair selection of new drivers and machinery. The wind must have changed down in Hampshire as 186 Todd Jones chose this meeting to debut the newly-acquired ex-259 Paul Hines tar car. 422 Ben Riley had gone one better with a brand new car from the workshops of Tom Harris Motorsport.

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Ben Riley’s new tarmac machine

New drivers included Nuneaton-based ex-F2 driver 19 Jon Horne in a car previously campaigned by Ricky Wilson (502). Horne managed some steady laps and a few visits to the fence.

In addition to Horne, this meeting secured its place in the history books being chosen for the debut of the third generation racer Frankie Wainman Jnr Jnr. Despite the experience gained in a Ministox career and the support of a family with 40 or so years of racing experience, it must still have been a huge challenge to step out on track at 16 years of age but Wainman looked totally at home from his first race and improved as the evening went on. If you want to see this car with its current paint scheme get yourself to a meeting pronto , because if the driver continues in the same vein, at future meetings then a rapid upgrading to blue or red is inevitable.

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First time in an F1: Frankie Wainman Junior Junior

Weather for the evening was, in the main, dry and chilly but a heavy rain shower just prior to start time left the 19 starters for Heat One facing a soggy track. This produced the only bland race of the night, as the cars struggled for grip. Of the Shootout hopefuls, Speak (318) tried to be aggressive with anyone nearby, but on a slippy track, this approach just served to delay Speak, who only managed sixth place by the end.

Points leader Fairhurst (217) took a more cautious approach but, as is often the case when the track is wet, the 217 car did not seem to cope to well with the difficult conditions and a ninth place left Fairhurst needing the consolation race to qualify for the final.

Up front, Carl Pickering (141) and Colin Goodswen (372) contested the lead but both gave way to Danny Wainman (212), who took the flag, trophy and a decent portion of Shootout points. The new Wainman (555) started at the back and had some steady laps and in the main stayed out of trouble in a race where many of greater experience were struggling with the conditions.

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Shootout points leader Fairhurst struggled in the wet conditions of Heat 1.

The 20 runners for Heat Two faced a track which was almost dry and this provided a fast, action-packed race, with lots and lots of aggressive contact. Regular fans would not be surprised to find the main cause of the aggression on track was Stuart Smith Jnr (390). One never knows what mood Stuart will be in at any given meeting and it may have been his poor showing in previous Shootout rounds, or perhaps the pre-meeting instruction from the scrutineer to remove his rear wheel guard, but for sure the on track mood was ‘Mr Grumpy’, as several drivers got a severe pasting from the 390 car.

Joe Booth (446) built a good lead early on, while the 390 car selected its first victim, sending 24 Mark Adkins to the fence in turn 3 which trashed the front end of the 24 car. With 19 Jon Horne stranded on the exit of turn 2, yellow flags bought the race to a halt and the big lead enjoyed by 446 evaporated.

515 Frankie Wainman Jnr was in fourth on the restart and soon made his way into first for a comfy win. Stuart Jnr continued using the 390 car like a missile; firstly scudding 300 Paul Carter and 172 Micky Randell and also trying a hugely ambitious last bend charge at Booth to try and steal third place but this did work out well, as a half spin saw 390 lose places and limp home in sixth. Wainman took the trophy and applause but this proved to be the last on track appearance of the evening for Wainman as lack of oil pressure proved terminal for the Wainman engine and the car did not make it back on track for the rest of the meeting.

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Heat 2 winner Wainman did not make it out again for the rest of the night, suffering from engine trouble.

22 chariots for the Consolation, including 555 Frankie Wainman Jnr Jnr, who elected to start from the front of the grid, and right at the back, Shootout points leader Lee “Mr Cool” Fairhurst; hoping the dry track would provide a much better result than Heat One. The 555 car led the first four laps and looked likely to lead for several more but yellow flags for 19 Jon Horne took away the 555 advantage and on the restart he was swallowed up by the pack.

321 Ed Neachell forced his way into first but he soon had to give way to the 217 car which had indeed found the dry track more to its liking. Fairhurst cantered off to the flag but the action continued as Johnson 4 attacked 321 to pinch second. Johnson looked secure but Mat Newson (16) found some extra pace and with the assistance of 25 Bradley Harrison he spanked the Johnson car to steal second place. Neachell regained third but was hassled all the way to the flag by the 25 car.

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Early leader, Ed Neachell.

26 cars gathered under the Skegness lights, on a now perfectly dry track, for the Final. Action and aggro started on lap 1 and persisted for the next 20 laps. All cars bashed and crashed with notable early victim being shootout contender, Dan Johnson, with the 4 car getting well fenced in turn two.

Carl Pickering managed to shake off the rest of the yellow grade to take the lead, but he was soon under pressure from 321 Neachell and a very rapid Mat Newson. Yellow flags were required to rescue a stranded 504 car from turn 1.

On the restart, 141 led from 16, who had now had ‘Mr Grumpy’ Stuart (390) right on his bumper in third. 390 did force his way past both Newson and Pickering to take the lead, but Newson came back and a well-timed aggressive punt had the 390 car almost in the fence and relegated to second place.

Elsewhere, Rob Speak decided on more ‘do or die’ Shootout tactics (or perhaps the driver was merely in need of some light refreshment mid race), as the Speak car entered turn 3 behind Shootout points leader Fairhurst, but then headed straight for the turn four burger bar, taking the 217 car with it. Of course the fence got in the way of the route to the burger bar and both cars took a substantial battering. Fairhurst retired from the race while Speak did manage to continue but only into ninth place.

More waved yellows for Ben Riley, who was stuck in turn two, gave 390 another chance to dispose of the 16 car. Stuart did try but on this occasion the Newson car seemed to have a superior level of performance, exiting the bends and putting the power down in a manner more reminiscent of a Tom Harris Motorsport car. 390 did manage to get in one or two hits on the 16 machine but the hits resulted in clashes and tangles with other cars which left 16 clear in the lead and allowed 212 Danny Wainman to close on the 390 car. With 390 now having to fend off 212 and an aggressive 464 Luke Davidson, the 16 car had a less troubled run over the last few laps and took the victory.

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The British and World Champions tangled in the Final.

Biggest field of the night, with 29 hopefuls for the GN, including Mr Cool 217, who had managed, with the help of a large gang of mechanics, to do all the welding and bending needed to get the car fit to race after its turn four detour with Mr Speak.

A first shambolic start had to be red flagged, but on the second attempt, they got going and 555 Wainman Jnr Jnr took the lead. Wainman was inevitably swallowed up by a rapid 446 Joe Booth, making the most of his overly generous yellow grade. While Booth reeled off the laps, the action continued elsewhere with grief for final winner Newson, who got all out of shape and launched the car up the grass banking in turn one.

Most eyes were, at this stage, now trained upon the 217 car as it gradually caught up with Speak 318, as the gap reduced anticipation of revenge had the crowd enthralled and sure enough the 217 car did not disappoint, with a substantial hit in turn two sending Speak to the fence.

Fairhurst then kept the fans entertained picking a fight with 390 Stuart Jnr, but this just served to delay both drivers and the best they could manage was seventh and eight, which may lead both to question whether a heavy hitting approach to racing is the best option when points are vital.

Correct tactic or not, the Shootout certainly came alive at Skegness and one can only hope for more of the same high risk, hard hitting action at the remaining rounds.

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Final winner, Mat Newson, getting into trouble in the Grand National.

Words: Damian Noblett
Photos: Colin Casserley

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