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Firecracker XXIV

Firecracker XXIV starts at 1pm on Sunday, November 1, 2015 and features racing from the 2l Stock Cars, the Reliant Robins as well as the annual appearance of the Unlimited Bangers.

Unfortunately I was unable to get the report for last years' Firecracker to print in time, so here's what happen last year, just to give you a taste of what happened...

Sunday, November 2, 2014
Reliant Robins

The weather didn't do a lot of favours for the turnout at Arena Essex for the twenty-third Firecracker with heavy rain during the day though this didn't keep the crowds away.

Firecracker XXIII went to a heat and final double from Steve Bailey on a day hit by wet weather but with great support from both sides of the fence.

The meeting started well with a good number of crashes in the first heat won by Jason Jackson who held Sonny Sherwood off all the way to the line in a five car finish after an early restart following a hit from Terry Ratcliffe on Jason Mortimer. Much of the best wrecking came from Taylor Sowter who booked his place in the final via the special award as a result, especially after jacking Robert Broughton.

The second heat saw the Bill Wenham stretch Lincoln take to the circuit as well as some of the title winners from the year including more American tin from points champion Dave Bull. The stretch saw quite a bit of attention as might be expected though Wenham managed to evade a lot of that during the opening lap despite attempts by Timothy Bailey but it didn't last as Jay Curtis and Dave Bull disposed of him, though Wenham's effort got a special award. Just as with the first heat, however, the second was stopped mid way, this time by a two point rollover, this time by "Last Ride... Honestly" driver Danny Brown. An order restart boasted a big jacking for Joshua Lee by PRI World Champion Scott Cornish while Paul Whiteman took the lead for a few laps before getting shoved out of the way by the eventual heat winner Steve Bailey.

Ritchie Ahern has had plenty of experience, both good and bad, in Firecrackers gone by and grabbing a heat win in the third ahead of John Golden is possibly one of the better ones. Ahern barged his way to the front of the race from the start and shot off into the distance though this was not a roddy race by any means. Maarten Steenbekkers found that out as he was destroyed by multiple hits after hitting the wall while Ricky Domine managed to put his large yank to good use though the size of the car made him an easy target. The impressive turnout of the Domine car as well as a Mercedes Hearse from Ian Phillips were two of a number of smart car awards but the special award went to Steenbekkers whose car was a total mess after being clumped around by most of the field.

Traditionally, the banger consolation at Arena Essex is only slightly removed from a destruction derby, and this consolation was no different, especially the convey on the back straight; Taylor Sowter having Paul Norman's immaculate Jag stuffed up his diff by the Curtis people mover, not to mention the early shove by Alfie Lee of the Thomas Bulow car into the developing scrap yard on the bridge end only for Lee to be stuffed from behind. Only four cars survived in all led home by Steve Carter, hot on the back of a successful night at Ipswich; the only word anyone could find to describe turns one and two by the end of this was "Ow!"

By contrast, the Firecracker Final is often about racing rather than wrecking and Sonny Sherwood took the initiative early on to try to extend his impressive record of wins of this event though he would then spend a lot of his time battling Jason Jackson before Steve Bailey pulled through to grab the lead. Things did get a bit close for Bailey, especially when he was held up by Scott Cornish pulling off which brought Sherwood back into contention while Jackson grabbed the lead briefly but was unable to keep hold of it in the tight race that ensued before Bailey put in a terrific effort on Sherwood and Jackson then pulled away to clinch the win. Hits did occur though including Maarten Steenbekkers who managed to get his wreck onto the circuit only to be effectively smeared over the circuit by local driver Paul Korpiela while another notable return was the Bill Wenham Lincoln.

While plenty of cars turned out for the destruction derby including the rolled Danny Brown car, the Phillips hearse and Steenbekkers' remains of the day, it was Jackson that led as the half way flag came out and it was Jackson that won the race at the end as many of the others went out to play early. Then the wrecking started. It took some time for this to work its way down, with turn four being the site of the beginning of the end as Jay Curtis ran out of things to hit as Andrew Jones went up in flames.

Reliant Robins
Joey Palmer completed a heat and final double to take the Firecracker Robin final, the final race completed in a downpour that had plagued the meeting that day. That didn't stop the rollovers though, Palmer grabbing the lead away from early leader, SuperBanger champion Brian Jarvis. Ricky Stanton was one of the more identifiable rollovers, going over a few times as many of the less stable cars lost body parts every time they rolled it. Gary Harvey lost second spot close to the end which came early when Stanton, Shane Harvey and Paul Foreman decided to start the destruction early and met up in a huge collision on turn one.

To the strains of the various themes to "Only Fools and Horses" (this has always been something of a mistake as Del-boy's motor was a Regal Supervan III, not a Robin), the Reliants hit the circuit for an expanded programme of races, the number of cars attending being quite impressive though the weather and the oil left behind by dying bangers made the going tricky for the plastic pigs. Joey Palmer grabbed the first three-wheeled win of the day ahead of Paul Foreman, the leaders staying mostly clear of the shinanigans that seemed to be concentrated around turn two, notably including the Douglas car, though Palmer didn't finish unscathed as Karl Douglas took a chunk out of him at one point. The first rollover of the day for the Reliants was a self inflicted roll by Tony Hutton, one of many rolls over the course of the day. While the Phil Rowbottom stretch Robin was interesting to see in the second heat, the rolling and wrecking was a sight including a spectacular home straight roll by the “Chimp”, Shane Harvey rolling on the nose of Tony Jarvis who also turned over as a result. Not that this stopped Harvey, Cliff Hutchings finding that much out on the pit bend as Harvey spun and rolled him there on his way to grabbing the fifth and final finishing place, though Hutchings got fourth in the end, Gary Harvey taking the heat win ahead of veteran pig racer Steve "Pork Pie" Willis and track regular Martin Ashworth. Then Gary Harvey decided to turn around, cross back across the line and started in on Hutchings!

The piggies returned late in the meeting for a quick destruction derby, Willis grabbing the lead late in the race after Jarvis was spun and rolled out of the front position, Ray Layton taking second place and surviving to take the last car award, Karl Douglas taking the best entertainer award for the day.

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