Skegness – August 20th 2011 Meeting Report

Final winner Tom Harris 84. Photo Paul Tully

With a plethora of major events on tarmac tracks over the last few weeks and the alternative attraction of racing on the new Venray speedway in the Netherlands it was no great surprise when just 22 Formula one stockcars arrived at sunny Skegness. However numbers were adequate for the supporting role required and most of the drivers raced in a spirited fashion doing their best not to be overshadowed by the heavy metal hitting produced by large fields of ORC Saloon stockcars.

One new driver Simon Heath 87 had chosen this meeting for his debut using a car provided by the B&S Autos team of Tony Smith, while Murray Harrison had lent his beautifully engineered Tar special to son James 297 for a rare outing.

Four races open to all cars were preceded by an event for White and Yellow grades only and this brought 11 cars on track. Pole sitter Nigel Harrhy soon shook off the rest of the white grade and began to build a lead while 41 Robert Broome looked to be the quickest of the Yellow grade. Proceedings were soon brought to a halt as a small cabal of cars decided it was time to test out the turn two fence, 120 Steve Anderson and 161 Mark Allen took the brunt of the impact with the 161 car picking up substantial damage to front bumper and front axle. The 91 car of Tony Smith also retired to the infield with damage to the rollcage which ended his racing for the night. On the restart 45 was under pressure from 285 Richard Earl but the 45 car has shown dramatic improvement in performance in the last few weeks and comfortably survived the attack from 285 and sped off to take chequered flag and warm applause from the large crowd.

The first heat for all cars had 18 starters including late extra world champion Andrew Smith still looking for the magic formula to make his tarmac car handle as well as last season, before its defence of the World title at Northampton next month. 285 and 45 scrapped for the early lead while 22 Will Yarrow broke away from the blue grade and put in some quick laps to close down on the leaders. Amongst the red tops 464 Luke Davidson and 150 Mick Sworder were setting the pace. Matt Newson 16 and Andy Smith seemed oblivious to the need to catch anybody as they spent most of the race hitting each other as many times as possible. 22 took the lead from Harrhy at the halfway stage but soon had 464 all over his back bumper. Yarrow held out until the last lap when Davidson muscled his way past. 150 Sworder grabbed third from Harrhy with two laps to go, while top man on tar Tom Harris had a quiet race netting sixth place.

19 took to the track for heat two. 285 and a repaired 161 car raced away at the front while fast movers in the pack were Scott Davids 462 and 22 Yarrow, while 84 Harris seemed to have found a lot more pace than he had in heat one and left his fellow superstars trailing. 16 and 1 Andrew Smith renewed hostilities from heat one and this time were joined by heavy hitter 150 Mick Sworder, these three kept the entertainment level high for most of the race as hits went in and places were swapped. Yarrow had made his way to the front just as the five laps to go board was shown and completed a comfortable win from 84 Harris in second. Further back the 1,16 and 150 battle had now expanded to include Davids 462 and both Sworder and Davids dished out large rations of bumper on the last bend but on this occasion there was no reward for 150 aggression as the 1 car rode the attack and 150 lost a place to 191 Josh Smith.

The meeting final also featured 19 starters led off by pole sitter 285 Richard Earl. Lap two saw a big scrum of cars tangle in turn two leaving the 462 car and 372 Colin Goodswen stranded on track and thus requiring a yellow caution flag to get them removed. The restart had 161 Mark Allen leading from 45 with a flying 22 in third, and a rejuvenated 84 Harris in sixth. Things settled down at the front with minimal contact though action was not far away as further down the grid 150 again attacked the World champion only to receive a much more aggressive response from Smith which left Sworder trailing. By halfway 84 had squeezed passed Yarrow and while the 22 car did use the next bend to hit 84 it was not sufficient and 84 sped off in pursuit of leader 161. By five to go Smith 1 also caught and passed the 22 car which was now hampered by three glowing red hot brake discs. Three laps to go and 84 Harris passed 161 and completed a comfortable run to the flag. Smith came home third and rapidly retired to the infield in clouds of smoke due to issues with a malfunctioning power steering system.

A delay for major fence damage caused by the Saloon stockcars meant the Grand National championship qualifying heat was run the wrong side of 11pm and thus not surprisingly only 12 cars endured the late hour start. A familiar pattern emerged as 45 lead from Allen 161 and the rapid 22 Yarrow. Harrhy resisted the 161 car until lap five but was forced to yield by Allen and then one lap later by the 22 car. By halfway Yarrow had grabbed the lead from 161 while Andy Smith retired having lost his offside front wheel. 22 and 161 had a comfortable hold on the premier places so the crowds attention was taken by a battle for third between 150,16 and 464 Luke Davidson, 150 resisted all 16 could throw at him until last lap last bend when a perfectly timed hit had the 150 car taking paint of the fence losing places to 16 and 464 in a drag race to the line. The 150 car returned to the pits with bent metal at both front and rear with the driver adding 16 to a long list of those needing retribution at a future meeting.

Not the greatest F1 meeting one will ever see but in the context of providing able support to the headlining Saloons the F1 drivers present certainly did their job. Performance of the day has to be Mark Allen 161 who finished the opening race with a whole heap of damage had to miss heat one while doing repairs and then had two second places and a 4th in his remaining races. Move of the day, the 16 hit on 150 in the GN was an example of perfect timing leaving the opponent no opportunity to respond.

Damian Noblett

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