Arena Essex: Firecracker of a finale

THE annual Firecracker Banger racing event at Arena Essex at the weekend was once again witnessed by a huge crowd who saw Paul Whiteman win the big money Firecracker finale.

Following on from the phenomenally successful all Granada meeting of a fortnight ago (coincidentally much of it organised by Whiteman) many racers returned cars, enough in fact to hold an all Granada heat, followed by a Destruction Derby which started the day off in style. Amongst the second hand cars, there was a smattering of new machinery, such as the Hearse of South Ockendon’s Danny Haupt. In fact Haupt was in the early action, getting spun by Whiteman at the end of the back straight and then hit hard by Darrin O’Leary. Matt Fuller won the race before the Destruction Derby kicked off with some stunning hits on the pit bend, Grant Underhill getting demolished by both Jason Jackson and Sonny Sherwood being one of the many highlights of an event eventually won by Fuller.

Heat two was won by Andy Jones who survived getting caught in the back of Shane Fry as his battle with the BEARS team, who had arrived en masse, escalated. Mikey Van Rosmalen did a complete rollover on the pit bend after getting tagged by James Steele.

Many of the big cars came out for heat three, including a Lincoln Continental for Nigel Riley, massive Limousines from Kyle Overy and Ritchie Jarrod, a Daimler DS420 Limo for Greig Cheeseman, a DS420 Hearse for Steve Moore and even a Rolls Royce from Lee Macey. Unsurprisingly the action was heavy with Moore’s hearse an early victim on turn one, Jarrod ending up embedded in the back whilst Overy was shunted into the mess by Nigel Riley. Ashley Riley followed Steve Bailey into the parked car of Alan Norris, totally destroying the latter and necessitating a stoppage, although Norris was able to climb out unaided. At the restart Riley continued his wrecking spree by turning around to stop Jason Jackson on the pit bend, which allowed Chris Trickett to take the win.

The consolation saw a huge field of cars whittled down to just one! There were a couple of stoppages in the early running, Wayne Drew took a large hit from Kieron Fry whilst Darren Parker, in his final full contact outing, suffered a recurrence of a wrist injury after a crash at the wheel of his Daimler DS420. Darryl Theedom put on a spectacular show in his Toyota Previa, sending up showers of sparks as he picked off car after car on the pit bend. John Golden took the win as the last car running and the last car remotely interested in doing any laps!

In a crashing sense the final was a little quiet, although Nigel Riley spent all race duelling with John Golden, Andy Jones and Dave Bull on the pit bend. Riley didn’t have much in the way of steering so could only sit tight as the hits rained in. Behind the winner, Paul Whiteman, Sonny Sherwood took second place from Jack Tuffen.

As is sometimes the case the Destruction Derby was a relatively short affair, with hits taking place all round the raceway in the early seconds of the event. Romford’s Ritchie Ahern was putting in many hits and was unlucky to just be outlasted by Paul Roots, who’s car showed a brief sign of life after an attack from Tom Filmer.

Supporting the Bangers were the Reliant Robins, who competed in four entertaining events. Rollovers, as you might expect, were the order of the day with Dean Andrews probably getting the award for the most rollovers of the afternoon, although the majority of them were self inflicted as he set about keeping the marshals busy. The Rowell brothers, Adam and Sean were entertaining, with Sean spending much of the final touring around close to the fence whilst other racers took pot shots at him each lap. Romford couple, Sharon Ashworth and Phil Rowbottom, the latter in an odd “stretched” Robin, also got stuck in, Sharon getting rolled by Sean Rowell before Phil extracted some revenge. Steven Willis and Allen Cooper were the class of the field, Cooper winning heat and final, Willis winning the other heat. James Ellis rolled Cooper and Kieron Jacks in the closing stages of the Destruction Derby to take the final win of the day.

The next action at Arena Essex is on Sunday 17th November when the finale to the racing season, the ORC Championships, take place. The Oval Racing Council (ORC) is the governing body of Oval Racing and representation from many tracks in the country is likely as the Banger, Saloon Stock Car and Mini Stox formulas all compete for their respective titles. Home grown talent is expected to be at the forefront, with all the action kicking off at 1pm.

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