With 26 cars on hand at the start of this late August session, the Promotion elected to run a four race ‘all in’ format on a mild, sunny evening. The welcome presence of Stuart Smith Jnr (390) in the pits also gave rise to the prospect of a continuation of the epic battles between the 390 car and Frankie Wainman Jnr (515) enjoyed by many at the Birmingham Semi meeting a week previously.
All 26 cars gridded for Heat 1, with 209 Nick Reed in pole position. At the green, 295 Wes Goodwin went into the early lead whilst 84 Tom Harris, racing his fathers tarmac car, made an excellent start to force his way through to the front of the star grade drivers.
The race then had to be red flagged following an unfortunate incident on turns 1 and 2, which resulted in a ruptured fuel tank in the NZ1 car, with a frightening fire soon flaring up underneath the stricken machine. Full credit must go to 462 Scott Davids and 91 Tony Smith for taking the initiative and ensuring the safe removal of driver Malcolm Ngatai, as the marshals dealt with the fire.
The single file restart saw 19 cars still running, with 285 Richard Earl leading the field away, front red 84 in 7th place, and 390 in 10th spot. By half distance, 464 Luke Davidson had hit the front, and he then maintained a healthy lead to the chequered flag, to take the win from 390, with an out of sorts looking 515 coming home in a distant 5th place.
Heat 2 saw 23 cars on track, with 295 leading the field away on this occasion. Following an amusing ‘false start’ where the – exiting the track – 285 car of Richard Earl was taken by many as a signal to start the race, the race was underway with 141 Carl Pickering soon into the lead from a chasing Ed Neachell (321). Come half distance, the 321 machine had taken up the running, with 515 breaking clear of the chasing pack, and moving into 5th spot at the five to go mark. The Sutton Coldfield blue top was never troubled though, and went on to take the flag in fine style, from 515, 195 Dean Whitwell, and a rapidly closing 390.
Race three would be the designated ‘Meeting Final’ for this event, with the 21 cars on track being reduced by one as 188 Mike Kingston pulled off as the rolling lap was just underway. At the green, 209 Nick Reed took the early lead, hotly pursued by 141 and 195, whilst a little further back, massive hits were going in on every bend, as the star men fought to establish supremacy. Come half distance, Carl Pickering in the 141 machine had again taken over the number one spot, from 195 and 464 in second and third, with 390 now up to 4th spot, closely followed by 515. At the five to go mark, 141 still held the advantage, but the flying 390 machine was rapidly closing the gap, and sure enough, the Rochdale star was through into the lead with three to go, a lead he would carry convincingly to the flag. Some distance behind the winner, a last bend hit by 515 on 141, secured second place for Frankie Wainman Jnr, whilst the unfortunate Pickering came home in 5th spot behind 464 and 321, after recovering from his trip fence-wards.
Sixteen cars for race 4 – the Grand National, including a first race of the night for Michael Scriven(12). Once again, great drives from both Ed Neachell and Luke Davidson, saw the two blue tops securing first and second places come the chequered flag. This race will, however, be best remembered for what can only be described as a duel between 390 and 515 – for lap after lap they traded bigger and bigger hits on each bend, as they moved through the field in unison. Going into the closing stages, it seemed like SSJ may have just edged clear in this great battle for just third spot, only for the 515 pilot to claw back enough ground to launch a desperate last bend hit on the 390 rear bumper. Whilst the hit did connect, SSJ read the situation perfectly, going deep into turn 3, and taking a wide line around turn 4 to maintain momentum and cross the line a cars length ahead of his rival. Great to then see both drivers acknowledge a fantastic race with a ‘thumbs up’ to each other as they waited to exit the track. A fitting end to an enjoyable meeting.