Meeting Report – Northampton – 29th May 2021
After the opening bumper turnout Kings Lynn meeting it was now off the the Shaleway at Northampton a week later on 29th May.
With the opening Odsal meeting taking place two days later on the Bank Holiday Monday, (I’m sure you’ve all heard about it), it was obvious that many would be saving their cars to show off at the ‘Big Ole’ in Bradford and Spedeworth would be seriously down for car turnout on this one. So much so that we had 51 cars attending the meeting – there’s something that is not going to script with this 2021 season? – and so far I’m liking this new script.
The format was a handy two heats and consolation allowing a good split in car numbers for the heats.
Heat one and early leaders were Ant Lee (339) and Terry Pearce (234) with Simon Traves (47) in the mix. Josh Smith (191) and James Morris (463) tangled and hooked up on turns 3/4, both getting going whilst at the other end Jake Harrhy (345) put a big one on Jack France (216) in the opposite fence, again after a while both getting going.
Ryan Harrison (197) had been making his way through and was the lead start man but a spinning Terry Hawkins (275) badly delayed Ryan from his charge to the front.. At halfway it was Tyrone Evans (381) from Ant Lee and Simon Traves in third, Traves, though was showing some great form and soon hit the front which he held on to the chequered.
Heat 1 result: 47, 381, 5, 120, 339, 515, 212, 166, 197, 335, 73, 544 – all 12 to Grand Final
Heat two an twenty five cars in this one. After a hectic start things soon went yellow flag mode as Richard Woods (268) and Neil Scriven (11) both hooked up down the back straight, Woods half rolling, clobbering the fence and coming back down but suffering a bent back axle, front axle and front end – credit to the team they worked wonders on it in the pits afterwards, but that was to just get it loadable on the wagon.
On the restart Darren Clark (83) led off from Mark Adkins (24). Further back Dan Johnson (4) and Tom Harris (1) were exchanging places before Harris won the battle. Mat Newson (16) was the lead Star man after overhauling Mark Gilbank (21) whilst Johnson tangled with Willie Skoyles Jnr (541) being badly delayed leading to Johnson retiring. Up front it was still Mark Adkins who was going very well with Newson behind before Newson got past, Adkins then being overwhelmed by red tops losing many places. Newson held on to the finish from Harris in second spot, with Joe Booth (446) planting a huge hit on Paul Prest (491) on the last bend leading to red flags and chequered to check on a badly shaken Prest.
Heat 2 result: 16, 1, 21, 555, 13, 338, 259, 20, 24, 321, 12, 526 – all 12 to Grand Final
Consolation up next with twenty one cars, whites, yellows and blues – all the reds and superstars qualifying (not seen this for an age) leaving a lonely Dan Johnson (4) at the back.
After a hectic start, the elder part of team Harrhy, Nigel (45), decided that Jakes half hearted roll over the previous week at Lynn needing improving on and after a pile up on turns 1/2 put the thing properly on its side leading to the yellows – a proper stand on its side job waving to the crowds by Nigel, he’s still got it in him, though I couldn’t see if he needed a help up to get there.
Terry Pearce (234) led off at the re-start but was spun by Darren Clark (83) at the first bend, the Pearce car staying where it was leading to another yellow before Willie Skoyles Jnr (541) had got through for the lead.
Skoyles then led the re-start from Pearce, but Sam Makim (93) spun halfway down the back straight, facing the wrong way and stationary, most of the cars taking avoiding action, before an unsighted Jack Ryan (595) in the Wainman hire car hit the Makim car at full chat, yellows out and Jack hoping the badly mangled front is covered under the Wainman warranty scheme!
Skoyles was still leading but had Mark Sargent (326) behind from Dan Johnson in third spot on the restart, these two soon getting past Skoyles. Johnson then appeared to lose power letting Sargent away but Johnson hauled the gap back over the next few laps, Sargent drifting wide letting Johnson through, Sargent had other ideas putting a hefty hit on Johnson with two to go for the lead. Johnson decided best policy is wait till the last bend, planting a more than hefty hit on Sarge, sneaking up the inside and waving ‘bye bye’ to Sargent out of the cab as he passed – which nearly backfired as Sargent had the outside line and grip and was close to outdragging the Johnson car to the flag.
Consolation result: 4, 326, 541, 463, 127, 83, 372, 249, 11, 313, 215, 235 – all 12 to Grand Final
Final time and it was fast and dusty. Amongst the star men Frankie Wainman Jnr (515) wasted no time firing Bobby Griffin (166) into Mark Gilbank (21) on turns 3/4 and was gone leaving Johnson, Tom Harris and Newson battling amongst themselves. Frankie Wainman Jnr looked to have this one with his early pace but slowed up and pulled out as the osr tyre gave way just as the yellows were out for the stranded car of Ed Neachell (321) on turn 4.
At the restart Newson bogged down and let Johnson and Harris though and by halfway it was Liam Gilbank (20) from Frankie Jnr Jnr (555), Darren Clark and Tom Harris. Things were now confusing though as Liam Gilbank was being given the lead but had spun earlier, but the box and Mr Starter were giving him the lead (and yes I thought he was leading!) but it was Frankie Jnr Jnr from Tom Harris in second.
With two laps to go Harris got past the 555 machine but couldn’t get away and going down the back straight into the last corner Frankie planted a huge hit on the Harris car, both cars going wide and hard into the fence, how both managed to get round was a testament to driver skill and car strength, Tom Harris out-dragging the Wainman car to a fantastic finish to the final – even though Liam Gilbank was given the actual chequered flag.
Grand Final result: 1, 555, 12, 83, 16, 4, 197, 21, 326, 73, 5, 541
Last race of the night, the Grand National with 26 runners and riders available to take part. Tom Harris took the lap handicap and on the first bend badly overcooked it in full on Tom Harris power mode, drifted wide and let Terry Pearce through, didn’t last for long though!
Lewis Evans (392) was out front, the first race of the night for Lewis from Skoyles and Jake Harrhy. Further back Frankie Jnr Jnr after practice in the final fired a big one on Bobby Griffin who then slammed into Johnson but this didn’t come off with both spinning and facing the wrong way, Johnson surviving. This just as a couple of cars hooked up on the main straight, leaving Mark Woodhall (335) no where to go apart from fencewards, skywards and then a huge roll over on the home straight leading to the reds to retrieve the mangled 335 car.
Lewis Evans led them off but the car came to a halt just as the flag dropped letting Jake Harrhy through for the lead from Liam Gilbank, Gilbank wasted no time putting a big hit on the 345 car on turns three for the lead. Liam then extended his lead from Mat Newson who came in second spot from a very rapid Tom Harris in third from the lap handicap.
Grand National result: 20, 16, 1, 12, 4, 515, 541, 242, 313, 73, 345, 11
From a racing fan’s perspective.
Featured image by Martin Harris.