What can be said about Wimbledon Stadium? An iconic venue as any within the history of short oval racing and the final outpost in the nation’s capital. Set to close its doors at the end of March, the BriSCA F1s were invited to join the National Saloons and Superstox in a feast of contact racing for the final time.
Whilst not the sight it once was, the stadium is the last of its kind: an amphitheatre of noise and high impact action, and the scene of memorable historic moments across SCOTA, Bangers, Hot Rods and more. The final night was set to capture the magic of its glory days.
A chance to remember those previous visits… The venue hosted BriSCA F1 events annually between 1996 to 2007. Who will forget Lundy vs Wainman in the opening final, or Alistair Forsyth (251) taking Andy Smith (391) and FWJ (515) through the turn 1 wires; Speak vs Wainman in 2002 and Simon Brooke (92) attacking the fence on seemingly each visit? The list is endless of memories and unforgettable moments.
Even on this occasion the F1s didn’t disappoint, in a just for fun, out of season blast to bid farewell to the ‘Grand Old Lady’, the fence took a hammering and the track was torn up – literally. 11 hardy racers ventured South to SW17; you’d be naïve to think this would be a demonstration meeting!
All 11 made the track for Heat 1, the V8 engines echoing around the stadium on the rolling lap to the sound of Rinky Dink. The green flag dropped and even before crossing the line Eddie Collins (148) and Tim Warwick (307) tangled and headed towards the wires. Mick Sworder (150) was making steady progress up the order, but a combination of a greasy track and Sworder’s ‘all or nothing’ style saw the 150 machine lunge in on Paul Ford (388) into turn 3, Ford caught Mark Allen (301) and the trio ended in a tangle together on the infield, ending hopes of a challenge for the win and Sworder retiring with a puncture to the front outside.
Micky Randell (172) and track expert Colin Goodswen (372) took charge in first and second; it was further down the order where attention was drawn; when Todd Jones (186) had sent Warwick out to the wires backwards in turn 4. Warwick got himself going though and Jones eventually caught Warwick back up, Warwick stuck to his line down the back straight and tried to hold Jones on the brakes, but Jones got by. Warwick not having any of it, thumped the loud pedal and caught Jones on the left of the back bumper, hooking up; Warwick floored It and sent Jones in to a spin. Jones once again found his way to catch Warwick and duly lunged in on the 307 machine taking them into turn 1 wires. The incident unfortunately would then side-line Warwick with a split radiator; Jones showing he clearly wasn’t in the mood to mess around and gave a small glimpse of things to come. Randell taking the win ahead of Goodswen in second.
Result: 172 372 186 388 307 301 468 415 NoF
9 cars returned for Heat 2; Eddie Collins (147) taking up the lead early doors. Mick Sworder (150) and Todd Jones (186) were matching each other for pace early on, Sworder, sensing the opposition, spun around Jones. Collins would lose out on the lead after a trip to the turn 3 wires. At the halfway stage, Micky Randell (172) was building a steady lead, just as the recovered Jones machine hurtled around the oval at a fair rate of knots; evidently in an attempt to catch Sworder.
A handful of laps later and Jones was with Sworder. 186 lunged at 150 into turn 3 with some force, Sworder narrowly missing the wires, the pair floored it down the home straight. As expected, Sworder retaliated on Jones in to turn 1; Jones used Colin Goodswen (372) as a buffer and the pair collected the turn 1 wires with some force. A big impact which saw the post split and lift the concrete below! Jones and Goodswen re-joined the race, but a yellow flag was called for the damaged track.
The restart had 150 line up in second behind Randell and Jones behind in third. Sworder pre-empted a strike from behind and tried to line up 172 as a buffer, but missed and went wide in turn 1. Jones saw his opportunity and drove straight at Sworder; the 150 machine collecting the wires in a shower of sparks. The flying 186 machine then set about reeling in Randell. The laps ticked by and the well-timed move saw Randell bumpered wide in the penultimate lap, allowing Jones to take the win.
Result: 186 172 150 468 301 147 372 388 415
The Final was full of anticipation, the atmosphere could be cut with a knife, what was going to come next in the Jones Vs Sworder saga? We didn’t have to wait long to find out. The drop of the green and Jones dropped behind Sworder; you could see what was going to happen. In to turn 1 Sworder tried to ride the hit and slide his way around the greasy oval, but Jones wasn’t having none of that and took the 150 car right to the wires in an explosion of sparks once again; Sworder parked in the fence and Jones bouncing off Sworder, shades of Wainman and Speak – probably the same post!
Sworder was out and Jones was too. This left the others to steal the limelight and after a short delay to repair the fence, we were back under starters orders. Eddie Collins (147) was the leader with Colin Goodswen (372) in second, Paul Ford (388) just behind in third. Ford sensed Goodswen as a threat and took the 372 car in to a spin coming out of the first bend. Ford then moved Collins aside just before the halfway stage to take control of the race and eventually the win. Collins fought valiantly for his places, but dropped back in to fourth after succumbing to Mickey Randell (172) who took second and then Danny Colliver (468), former Saloon Silver top and local driver, took third in his first BriSCA F1 feature Final.
Result: 388 172 468 147 372 83 301 415
Twitter was then rife with hype, the BSCDA official Twitter account announcing “Just spoken to @150mick in the pits – asked him if the car will be ready for the next race. “It’s going out” he said. #sparkswillfly” a buzz fell over proceedings, what would happen next? Unfortunately, whilst Sworder made it back out; Jones did not – a bent back axle from the incident forced Jones to load. Whilst no retribution on the night from Sworder, you can bet he won’t forget.
Back to the race and 8 survivors took to the track. Paul Ford (388) taking the obligatory lap handicap, the track was now very wet. Mickey Randell (172) seemingly had the car dialled in and took off to an unchallenged win with Eddie Collins (147) taking a very well deserved second place; great result for his second only F1 meeting. Collins had to work for his position though, having to see off a determined challenge from Colin Goodswen (372) in the closing stages, rounding off a very entertaining night’s racing in the capital.
Result: 172 147 468 372 388 150 83 415
A massive appreciation to the 11 who raced: 83 Darren Clark, 147 Eddie Collins, 150 Mick Sworder, 172 Micky Randell, 186 Todd Jones, 301 Mark Allen, 307 Tim Warwick, 372 Colin Goodswen, 388 Paul Ford, 415 Russell Cooper, 468 Danny Colliver. Particularly Ford taking a 14 hour round trip to be there – rewarded with the last ever BriSCA F1 winner in London.
If this is what the 2017 season has to offer, we are in for a treat! Roll on Belle Vue on 19th March.
Words: Keith Organ
Photos: Colin Casserley