Meeting Report – King’s Lynn – 22nd May 2021
It could be described as a funny old last 12 months, or at least that’s the most polite way of putting it. With last years season looking to be ‘off’ at one point the BSCDA and BriSCA managed to put together a hasty 10 meeting season when we looked to be on top of the dreaded Covid, all for it to come to a stop with one last meeting, the Chase Finale, being cancelled due to new restrictions and another lockdown.
Into 2021 and yes, the second wave of Covid to come to terms with that had curtailed the 2020 season – season opener was set to be April 3rd at Odsal but that was put back along with the start of the season – a fixture list (and a very good one at that) was finally put together by the BSCDA and BriSCA to start after the May 17th opening up of sporting facilities and the entertainment industry as a whole.
So to the opener at Kings Lynn on the 22nd May, a rather surprising opener with nigh on 70 cars booked in, for an opening meeting of the season??, on shale??, in the modern era?? The general consensus is drivers have been champing at the bit to get back racing after the lay off, but added to the Odsal effect (yes, Odsal is making a return to racing for those who have been stranded internet less, on an island somewhere, for 6 months) which has led to a surge in shale drivers wanting to take part.
This ‘O word’ effect has led to a load of fresh drivers, returning drivers, refurbished cars and new cars on show which if we went into we would be here forever. Probably best to have a look on the BSCDA pages – via the website, Facebook, Twitter or the YouTube channel (links can found for old dinosaurs via Stoxnet) where an excellent pre-meeting series of interviews and car previews have been done via the BSCDA promotional team with our front man Jonathan Abbot doing the interviewing. Anyway, enough of the blatant advertising and onto the meeting proper….
Prior to the meeting was a minutes applause to remember and honour the passing of Marion Farrow, SSCA secretary and regular team member of Trackstar since the 1980’s in April, and also Tim Warwick (307), budget racer and crowd favourite who raced for 40 years, the week before the opener, following a freak accident.
First race up was an opener ‘White Top Whirlwind’ race for, you guessed it white tops won by Darren Clark (83).
White Top Whirlwind Result – 83, 339, 235, 585, 357, 19, 404, 234, NOF
Heat 1 proper gridded up twenty one cars, mainly yellows and blues, a feature of the night which must be a good thing for the sport. Early victims were Kelvin Hassell (13) and Chris Brocksopp (338) hooking up on turn 3, up front Geoff Nickolls (215) and Phoebe Wainman (211) were the lead cars. Mark Poole (276) went into the turn 3 fence very hard and stayed put, whilst Nickolls was still up front with a good lead.
Dan Johnson (4), who showed no signs of rustiness from an 18 month absence had been flying from the start and had got up to second spot. With five laps to go Johnson was chasing down Nickolls who then came across backmarkers on turn 3, colliding and coming to a standstill and unfortunately stalling the car. Johnson then charged off into the distance for the chequered with a good lead from Mal Brown (34) in second and Mat Newson (16) in third spot.
Heat 1 Result – 4, 34, 16, 335, 93, 21, 172, 268, 45, 25, NOF – first ten to Grand Final.
Heat 2 and another 21 car grid including a stunning looking new car with very much a sprint car style to it from Ryan Harrison (197) with the usual attention to detail by the Harrison team. Also out was Chris Cowley (73), taking over the number that his Dad raced under.
Early leader was Darren Clark (83) from Terry Pearce (234) and Willie Skoyles Jnr (541). Further back Ryan Harrison, Nigel Green (445) and Paul Hines (259) were having a close, nose to tail race making their way through the pack. Pearce then spun on turns 3/4 letting Skoyles into second spot from Joe Nickolls (242) and Billy Johnson (169). Nigel Green was up to fifth place and was having a great battle with Ryan Harrison, both taking wildly different lines, Harrison taking a inside line, whilst Green was wide out of the bends putting the power down. With two to go Harrison squeezed past the Green car but Green got the place back on the next corner before Harrison won out on the last bend finishing ahead of the 445 car, but there was no way they were getting anywhere near the very impressive drive from Darren Clark who took the flag with a sizeable lead.
Heat 2 Result – 83, 242, 197, 445, 541, 259, 22, 169, 313, 275, 20, 55 – first ten to Grand Final.
Heat 3 and 25 cars in this and it was a hectic one. Jon Horne (19) took an early lead from Ant Lee (339), Tom Harris (1) half spun Frankie Wainman Jnr (515) and Lynn favourite Mark Sargent (326) pulled up losing power. Two laps later Tom Harris got it wide on turns 1/2 with Lee Fairhurst (217) going outside and spinning the Harris motor, Harris then going backwards into the fence with Bobby Griffin (166) on the inside of Harris. Both eventually got going but lost time before the yellows were out for a stoppage.
At the re-start Rob Jacklin (136) took an early lead before spinning and letting Ricky Wilson (502), in the old 390 flyer through for the lead. Further back Danny Wainman (212), Frankie Wainman and Lee Fairhurst were battling and all came together on the turns 3/4 bend, Frankie half spinning but getting going, pushing Danny wide to the fence, an fast incoming Jake Harrhy (345) in the brand new, unmarked and shiny 390 Smith chassis car had nowhere to go but the outside of Danny, resulting in the car going nose up and half over – or as Jake commented to Matt on the microphone “It’s christened it!” – after the yellows came out.
At the restart it was Wilson from Jacklin, but Wilson was on a charge on this one with some very wide and ‘power on’ exits from the bends and there was no stopping him to the chequered from Austin Moore (127) in second.
Heat 3 Result – 502, 127, 12, 515, 136, 217, 463, 321, 496, 1, 166, 532 – first ten to Grand Final.
Consolation time and the biggest grid so far with 31 cars, including the Evans brothers, Tyrone (381) and Lewis (392) making their first outings on shale in F1’s after their impressive debuts last year on the hard stuff.
Early leader was Richard Bryan (238) from new man Jamie Bower (585) and crowd favourite Russell Cooper (415) but the yellows were soon out for father and son, Mark (326) and Finn Sargent (526) both stuck stationary on turns 3/4. At the restart Bryan led away but Joff Gibson (249) was now into second and Chris Brocksopp (338) third. Brocksopp wasted no time firing the leaders into turns 3/4 but to no avail as the Brocksopp car then lost power and pulled up at the pit gate leading Gibson to lead off into the distance for the flag from Cooper second.
Consolation Result – 249, 415, 166, 212, 392, 238, 13, 500, 215, 211 – first six to Grand Final.
Grand Final time and the first bend was absolute chaos. With the Lynn track well watered a huge pile up occured on the first bend with 10 cars taken out of the running including star men Danny Wainman (212), Green (445), Fairhurst (217), Hines (259) and Billy Johnson (169). Frankie Wainman Jnr (515) nearly missed it but ended up clobbered and further beyond facing the wrong way at the pit gate. Sneaking through was Dan Johnson (4), Newson (16), Tom Harris (1) and Ryan Harrison (197) with some close and fast driving from these before Newson went out on the turns 3/4 bend. Dan Johnson and Tom Harris were having a real race, scything their way through the pack, the Johnson car absolutely on rails with Ryan Harrison in the new motor chasing these two.
With most eyes on the Johnson/Harris battle (I wonder why!!) most had missed Willie Skoyles Jnr (541) in the lead from an impressive Lewis Evans (392) and Mark Gilbank (21). Gilbank soon got past Skoyles with the fast moving Johnson now in second, having broken free from Harris.
With the laps counting down Gilbank was being tailed by Johnson with Harris now in third slot but a bit behind, Johnson was close but not gaining any. With one lap to go Johnson went for one on the last bend but Gilbank held on outdragging Johnson to the line for the win with Harris in third.
Result – 21 ,4, 1, 197, 541, 463, 217, 34, 127, 259, 335, 313
On the usual excellent post race interview with Matt Black, Johnson commented;
“When it dries out the car is normally rubbish and tonight it wasn’t…….I’m just revving the engine a bit more like Tom, just depends how long they last!!…….I think it’s going to be a good season, we’ve got the tracks behind us, Formula 1 stock cars can really bounce and be back to where it was”
Gilbank commented……”That car you know, I’ve proved it time and time again, it’s a big block and I still say to this day you don’t need small blocks, you just need to concentrate on your package and get it right, if you’re out running these two you are doing well…..I’ve been doing it long enough and know how to turn a corner”.
The last race, the Grand National took a bit of time before we could get going. Mat Newson (16) was the 34th car onto the track (excluding final top three) but was held at the gate with the 36 car track limit. Some calm and polite negotiations were going on between Mat and the track staff (something like that!) before all was sorted with Kelvin Hassell (13) leaving the track allowing Mat on. After all this Mat then turned left to meet the outgoing Hassell, going the wrong way, which under the new rules means disqualification – you couldn`t script it better.
The race itself was chaotic, cars all over the place on the first two laps led to a complete restart and re-gridding. Following this a whole pile of cars piled into the turns 1/2 fence, most getting going but with stranded cars the yellows were out again. At the restart chaos ensued again, Bobby Griffin (166) going into the turns 1/2 hard, Nigel Green (445) facing backwards, cars all in and Frankie Wainman Jnr Jnr (555) going in hard onto Mal Brown (34) leaving the Brown car badly damaged and immobile leading to more yellows.
At the restart it was Johnson (4) from, yes, Harris (1) again, both had been having a battle royale going through the pack but there was confusion – Johnson had missed a lap on the transponder (he hadn’t, but the transponder showed he had) and was told to go to the back of the grid. On going there he discussed the matter with one of the marshalls, by this point the box had lost contact with Dan on the race radio (due to the batteries failing on the box radio so losing contact with everyone) but they thought Dan’s radio was duff so he was told to go to the centre green – what did I say earlier, you cannot script these things!!
With Tom in the lead at the restart he was left unchallenged to the flag for the victory.
Result – 1, 541, 338, 166, 491, 446, 217, 73, 21, 238
A great night racing all round on the fast Lynn shale. A pity about the conclusion to the Grand National but it is at least an insight into how these things happen at Stock Car meetings and the general goings on. It has to be noted this doesn’t happen normally but it was Sophie`s night off at a family wedding and assurances have been made that this will not happen again….a classic example of what happens when you leave a bunch of blokes in charge of anything!!
From a racing fan’s perspective.