|Meeting 01/09, Sunday, 29th April, 2001|
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Lightning Rods Supreme Qualifier 1
1300 Stock Cars Supreme Qualifier 1
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A bumper meeting in general as the team wars continue at Arena Essex. At a rainy meeting on April 29, the Squad turned out mob handed while Cowdenbeath World Cup winner Shane Davies, brother Andrew and Cream regular Phil Stevens made it back in time to back their side up in a monumental crashfest that was labelled by more than one as a real classic, especially the final, eventually won by Darren Nash while everyone else seemed to go mad on the pit bend. Stuart Adcock limped away at the end as the only running combatant though hardly at speed while Drivers' Champion driver Sonny Sherwood finally notched a win at Arena Essex after another successful night at Mildenhall.
The first Lightning Rod Supreme Qualifier at Arena Essex on April 29 was dominated by the Wolf family, ex-Banger World Champion Vince Wolf winning the first heat only to be denied in the final by a great drive from Colin Moss in the final, though this didn't stop Vince from pushing brother Darren all the way home in the allcomers' race at the end in a Wolf one-two. Darren also notched a win in the consolation while Gary Webb got his first win, beating Darren Ahern of all people!
With the April 29 meeting dominated by other formulas, the 1300 Stock Cars had to work hard to make themselves noticed at a rainy Arena Essex oval. They certainly did their best, however, with some excellent racing from the two star graders, Derry Monk and John McGirr as they wrestled each other and the slippery conditions, though the biggest performances came later on with Sean Smith grabbing the main event and helter skelter races while Delbert Mortimer went ballistic! Darren Cardy also put in some effort, getting a warm up win.
There was a good turnout of Lightning Rods for the first Supreme Championship Qualifier at Arena Essex on April 29, the format changed to a heat and consolation format to suit as this formula continues to show big numbers.
Vince Wolf opened his account with a win in the first heat after passing Lee Sharpe midway when Sharpe inherited the lead from Russ Birch who had given the lead up on turn four, skating on the slippery surface after putting down too much wellie then addressing the armco with a crunch. It looked like Vince would make it home easily until Carl Wheeler put in an appearance behind and alongside him, giving the ex-Banger World Champion incentive to keep his right foot down all the way home. Behind them Dave Meningen had a similar problem with former Group A man Mark MacKenzie, while Trevor Draynor had the ominous form of Vic Bilkey in his rear view mirror all the way home, although Vic ran out of time and had to settle for sixth.
Heat two and no Wolfs this time, the race winner decided inside the first lap and a half as John Christie gave way to Chris Chao who in turn gave up to Gary Webb who would not be budged for the rest of the race, despite Chao's best efforts. This race was noted for a pile up which completely changed the running order in the closing stages, taking such folk as John Clarke out, while Colin Moss threw his attempt away after getting a little too playful with the cars in front, a black flag resulting. As Chao dropped away it was left for Darren Ahern to try to catch Webb but though he could see the white top driver at the other end of the straight as the last lap board went out, it was just too much to make up and Ahern had to settle for second, Chao hanging on for third ahead of a good recovery drive by Nick Wiseman who had not made the best of starts.
The consolation was wetter but just as nail biting with Clarke going ahead at the start only to be reeled in and passed by Moss who was making up for his earlier mistake. Darren Wolf now moved up the field to second and the remainder of the race was all about strategy and how to keep from losing your place in the wet. At five laps out, Moss was not giving Wolf a crack of daylight to work with, whilst John Wicks was having a similar problem with Clarke, but both Wolf and Wicks would find inspiration as the last laps played out, Wicks grabbing third inside the last couple of laps whilst Moss made a mistake on turn four to let Wolf through for the last lap board and, one lap later, the win.
And so to the final, the rain easing off slightly but this was of no help to Darren Ahern who had qualified in the relatively dry heats and seemed unprepared for the lack of grip as he spun again and again, first on the pit bend at the start, then just as it seemed he had made up the loss, round he went again in the same place. He would eventually spin completely off the lead lap never to recover. Meanwhile Chris Chao took the early lead, seemingly to gain an unassailable position as the cars immediately behind him went round or off, especially Gary Webb who had been a close second only to lose it after a couple of laps. However Chao would also spin off, leaving Colin Moss in the lead. At first all was fairly serene, but then a challenge came in the form of Vince Wolf, who took second from Micky Rosenthal then spent a good proportion of the second half of the race harrassing the leader through the back markers, even grabbing the lead himself for a few moments, but Moss was determined to make up for his blunder in the consolation and held on to the line, giving Wolf little chance to have a go. Behind them, Vince's brother, Darren Wolf, was doing a similar battle with Rosenthal, with similar effects, thus giving us a real battle at the front. At the line, Moss had opened up a small lead courtesy of some small trouble passing tail ender John Wicks while Rosenthal likewise held his Wolf at bay in what had to be the best Lightning Rod race of the day.
It wasn't expected, it wasn't planned, but the moment the announcement was made that an extra heat and a consolation were being raced by the National Bangers at the April 29 Arena meeting, combined with the number of yellow and pink cars coming through the gate, everyone expected something special. The weather disappointed many, but the racing, or more accurately the wrecking certainly did not, especially as three notable protagonists had jetted down from Scotland where only the previous night they had raced in the World Cup meeting at Cowdenbeath which gave the whole affair that much more clout.
And clout they did as the first race had to be restarted following a big pile up on turn four led to a 2 point rollover for Phil Lee as he headed towards the Darren Stevens car planted against the wall, while Billy King planted himself firmly in the front end of Chris Whiteman in one of those hits that you only believe when you see it. As in the first start, John Drummond took the lead early on the restart before another pile up saw Kelly Wilson thumped up the rear end twice at the bottom of the home straight while hostilities resumed between the Squad and Condom cars, Frankie Holmes trying his utmost to get back at Cup Winner Shane Davies despite having virtually no steering, mainly because the nearside front wheel was only hanging on by a thread! The race eventually went to Mark Bunting who managed to hold the lead from Frank Skinner and early leader JP Drummond, but the war was far from over. The second heat, added due to the extra numbers showing up, was almost as heavy, with plenty of mayhem on the pit bend including the demolition of Russ McAngus by the gate. Dennis Whiteman also got stuck into Phil Stevens though he was to get a shot from Dave Greenstreet for his pains while Sonny Sherwood steadily passed his way forward to win his first Arena win of the year. After two races, the Squad, Cream and Condom teams were all showing signs of fatigue, though the Squad were probably the worst hit, but with the final being an Allcomers' affair, everyone waited to see what would become of them in the pits during the intervening time.
There was a fairly neutral 23 car lineup for the consolation, though this didn't stop the cars turning out for this one sticking it in hard, Lee Caunter scraping his car off the turn two armco as a result of early thumps as the Gladiator team continued to suffer for reasons unknown here, though Steve Ashdown had been at the head of the pile up and somehow managed to escape. The hits on this one also included an attack on Trevor Ballard by Ian Smith, Ballard then receiving a blitz from Clive Killick who would then suffer the wrath of Gringo as Ashdown parked up his diff. Chris Clark was also putting it about as Mark Ruskin marked up another rubber win, finishing half a lap off second spot driver Lenny Brinkley, Mark and Lenny Boy heading up a finishing field that was a mere six cars in number including the shortened Dave Edwards car and the chugging wreck of Killick!
To say that the final was good is an understatement. We started with 47 cars, which was virtually everything that had not been wrecked in the other racing, and there were plenty of wrecks in the pits already! One of the running wounded came up for the first time for that race, namely Kev Wilsher who had been wrestling a dodgy head gasket just to get at least one race in. It ran, but it didn't sound too healthy and after hits on Phil Stevens, Richie Ahern and John Harris, it gave up, still comparatively prettied up though the front end was on its way to becoming a standard Wilsher work of art. Everyone got involved, more than one got squished including massive jackings for Stevens and for Howard Martin, while even Sonny Sherwood kept his hand in with consecutive fetches for Paul Hunter and Mark Bunting using Martins' wreck as an anvil. Meanwhile the war continued, Andrew Davies taking the crease out of Chris Whitemans' rear end while the hastily reconstituted Frankie fell apart again and Buster Woods left his mark in the front of Andy Burrough. Burrough would finish up bashing heads with Stuart Adcock before dying completely, and if Adcock's survival marked a Squad victory this time, it was hardly a crushing victory as the Adcock car chugged away on half a lump only to be ambushed by Chris Clark. Of a 47 car start, only five cars made it home. It would have been six had Neal Wells not died on the final straight, less than fifty yards from the finish line, where he would have been third behind JP Drummond and winner Darren Nash. As it was, he failed to make the distance, so Sherwood grabbed third with Frank Skinner and Buzz Kelsey the only other runners.
1300 Stock Cars
The 1300 Saloon Stock Cars had bad weather to cope with at Arena Essex on April 29, and would have to work hard as their first Supreme Qualifier was overshadowed by the Banger and Lightning Rod events on the day, especially as the other formulas had the lions' share of drivers and races, although one of the promised visitors did show up to augment the line up, namely Dave Pearce who seemed to handle the wet conditions with few problems. Indeed it seemed at first that the 1300's would be a bit of a washout in the warm up race, only one bit of controversy when Ricky Hunn was put into the armco on turn one with some force to colour the otherwise processional race which was won by Darren Cardy ahead of Carl Steptoe, slippery specialist John McGirr unable to get on terms with the front two before the end.
The main event was rain sodden and though Sean Smith pulled out a massive lead that would not be beaten once he got in front of pole sitter Darren Pratt, with only Scott Rogers anywhere near him, the race was all about the antics of the two at the back, namely John McGirr and Derry Monk who spent the race closely locked together, Monk eventually getting the better of McGirr after a series of mistakes, especially around the pit bend, saw the two swap places more than once while trying to get past each other and the rest of the field, certainly something which slowed them both down enough to deny them a chance at the front.
|1||Lightning Rods 1||189 Vince Wolf||117||170||161||272||111||167||201|
|2||Lightning Rods 2||237 Gary Webb||149||121||217||216||177||208||239|
|3||Bangers 1||50 Mark Bunting||193||81||61||331||260||203||111|
|3a||Bangers 2||348 Sonny Sherwood||2||129||401||297||6||287||57|
|4||1300 Stocks wu||718 Darren Cardy||722||748||775||631||643||721||668|
|5||Lightning Rods cons||109 Darren Wolf||207||203||105||140||245||240||225|
|6||Bangers cons||32 Mark Ruskin||169||512||597||19||149||NOCR|
|7||1300 Stocks Final||721 Sean Smith||775||643||748||697||718||766||234|
|8||Lightning Rods Final||207 Colin Moss||189||177||109||111||272||203||240|
|9||Bangers Final||203 Darren Nash||81||348||193||26||NOCR|
|10||1300 Stocks h/s||721 Sean Smith||234||766||658||775||631||722||748|
|11||Lightning Rods h/s||109 Darren Wolf||189||149||111||121||272||203||208|
|12||Bangers R2Kq||331 Jason Jackson||401||57|
Last car: 49 Billy King
Best wrecker: 57 Harry Rawlins
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