Coventry Motofest 2016 Report

The third annual Coventry Motofest took place over the weekend of the 4th and 5th June 2016, once again drawing large numbers of visitors to the city centre to see displays of modern and historic cars and motorcycles.

The oval racing fraternity were catered for at the Action Arena, or as it is normally known, the Moat Street car park at Junction 7 of the Coventry ring road, and was a vast improvement on the last minute “circuit” offered last year.

Although the 10:00am start time came and went with no sign of any oval action, interest soon increased at the sight and sound of F1s, V8s and Heritage stockers rumbling down the slip road to take their places in the arena.

Gymkhana (I was expecting ponies) started the ball rolling with some impressive drifting and tyre burning around the tight course laid out for them. Not so impressive were the two cars whose fuel filler caps came off during their displays; the drivers unaware they were sploshing petrol around the circuit. It could have been nasty, but the Coventry track marshals in attendance were on the case and quick to bring out the red flags.

Heritage 70/80s cars were the first stock car class up; with John Bartlett in the Falding (33) car throwing it around in great style, using all of the track – and almost the fence. Heritage F2 were next, followed by eight of the 50s-style machines, including a couple I had not seen before, the 1937 Ford sedan #9, owned by Rob Tunnah and the 1948 Ford #122 of Tim Seward. Both cars were beautifully presented.

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Heritage cars have featured in all three Coventry Motofests

They were followed by the 60s Heritage cars, with Mike Shirley putting on a fine display of sideways, tyre burning action in the Ellis Ford (3) replica. The final demonstration race in this first session was for current F1 and V8 cars, with a rather smoky Nigel Harrhy (45) car, Ian Noden (306), Craig Aston (440) and Chris Clare (394) with Guy Jolly (222) and Glyn Daft (96) for the V8s. Noden was spectacular, keeping the car sideways for a complete lap at one stage, before finishing with a display of donuts for the crowd which filled the arena with tyre smoke.

Sadly, in a later demonstration race, Ian pushed it a little too far with his donut display. Something in the engine let go and the tyre smoke turned to oil smoke, followed by a little fire which, while it caught the crowd’s attention, ruled him out of any further part in the event and more importantly, out of the meeting at Coventry later that day.

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Ian Noden entertaining the Motofest crowds… until it all went wrong

Charlie Bartlett in the Toulson (286) heritage car also made a spirited attempt to climb the straw bales protecting a lamp standard at the edge of the circuit in one of his races, but willing hands lifted the car clear with no significant damage – the same could not be said for the straw bales.

The Action Arena drew a good number of spectators during the day, not all of them existing oval racing fans, but the tannoy system in use was barely audible before racing began and impossible to hear after that, so any information given out about oval racing in general and Coventry Stadium in particular (if there was any) went unheard by everyone except the announcer.

It might also have helped if a couple of F1s could have been on display in the Greyfriars Green area, with directions to where the oval arena could be found, but having said that, the sound of V8 engines echoing from Moat Street was probably enough of a draw!

Finally, thanks are due to Nige (45) and Dave Carter (Brisca F1) for making “Save Coventry Stock Cars/Speedway” flyers available over the weekend to the general public.

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Fan-favourite Nigel Harrhy promoting Coventry Stadium and BriSCA F1

Words: Mick Jenkins
Photos: Mick Jenkins & Ant Jenkins

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