Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Arena Essex: Festival of Speed

THE Arena Essex Festival of Speed reverted to a weekend format for the first time in many years and some great racing took place over the two days as all formulas competed for the Chick Woodroffe memorial trophies.

With three incarnations of the Midnight Runners team present, it was going to be a tough job for any other teams to get a look in during the Banger Team racing. Team Black and the Essex Car Collection teams took to the task and there were some heavy smashes during the heats whilst perhaps the man of the meeting turned out to be Paul Ring who arrived in a little Citroen AX, with no team mates to support him. He first went for a spectacular rollover in a heat and then lead the final for some distance before eventually getting involved in more crashing than the Citroen could take. Jack Foster Jnr could have won the day for Team Black in the final as he attempted to stop the Midnight Rodders team mates, Matt Fuller and Paul Whiteman on the pit bend. But he failed to stop either and they, along with team mates Billy King and Dave Bull, took the team championship title. The Destruction Derby deservedly fell to Darryl Theedom who was certainly the most aggressive of the remaining runners.

The SuperBanger final was affected by a brief rainstorm which blew in and rendered earlier heats rather meaningless. An inspired tyre choice saw Brian Jarvis virtually lap the field on his way to victory, including Lee West, who had the track stayed dry, would have been difficult to beat.

A good grid of Stock Cars took to the track but no-one could live with English Champion, Lee Pearce. Pearce was so dominant that the scrutineers took extra time to check over the car after his incredible display. He took all three races and even had time to play with Dan Booth in the final, swapping positions with him and then burying him hard into the pit bend armco to be sure of his third win.

In what was a very successful weekend for him, Pearce also stepped down into the Rookie Banger category and waltzed off with their inaugural Chick Woodroffe memorial trophy. Not content with that, Lee then put in a stellar Destruction Derby performance, mostly in reverse, which just failed when he lost all drive. Tilbury’s Paul Harrison won the Destruction Derby, landing several telling hits along the way, whilst the heat wins went the way of Dan Wild and Pearce again, who fenced Tilbury’s Stuart Fuller on the final lap to take the victory.

The race of the weekend fell to the Junior Mini Stox with the final turning into a wonderful tactical battle between Ryan Polley and Dan Newman. The two were constantly in each others wheeltracks throughout the distance with both taking turns at the lead. The expected final corner showdown didn’t quite happen with Polley exceedingly late on the brakes, as was the following Newman, with both remaining in place over the line. David Rogers took a fine third place.

World Champion, Gary Greenland, was in scintillating form in the Lightning Rods. He took a heat and final double as a great warm up for the British Championship held this weekend at Ipswich. The one race that Greenland didnt win was the reverse grid heat two, which he started from the back. Roger Dormer took that one, but he had Anthony Lawrence and Greenland right on his tail.

The Group A Stock Rods saw another heat and final double, this time for the Toyota Starlet mounted Neil Wood. Wood is now the only racer favouring the somewhat outdated Rear Wheel Drive design, but he certainly had the legs of the rest of the Front Wheel Drive Vauxhall Nova masses. Amongst them, two times Chick Woodroffe memorial winner, Steve Gooch, who was expected to give Wood a hard time of it in the final, instead founds his hands full staving off third placed Mark West.

The next action at Arena Essex on July 15th features the Rookie Bangers , Stock Cars, Lightning Rods and Group A Stock Rods. Start time as usual is 1pm.

Photos accredited to Matt Bull/RacePixels.co.uk


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