Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Arena Essex: Veteran Bangers show they still have the right stuff

AROUND 70 Veteran Banger racers provided a great days sport at Arena Essex on Sunday as a new event on the calendar, the PRI Legends meeting for the Ronnie Martin memorial, really captured the imagination of the racers and the general public too, with a large crowd on hand.

"Tiger" Bill Smith, now well into his 70’s and 69 year old former National Hot Rod World Champion, John Steward, were perhaps the highest profile of the entries, although the average age of the grid was somewhere in the 50s, the qualifying criteria of the meeting meaning that anyone who raced prior to 1995 was eligible.

The two lively heat races that started the day were won by Darren Nash and Alan Trickett.

The consolation event for non qualifiers featured a huge pile up at the start, with John Quaif getting plenty of damage at the head of the pack. Sonny Sherwood spun Andre Panting as the age old Gladiator vs Mushy fued erupted again. Both ended in the fence with Panting then pursuing Sherwood across the infield. Simon Capon went for a hit on Mick Wiseman but took a couple of revenge hits before his car erupted in flames. Neil Cornish won the race and was accompanied by his son, Scott – the 2014 Banger World Champion on the victory lap.

There was action from the green flag in the final with Paul Keating , Danny Oliver, Sonny Sherwood and Rob Chiddle all piling into the wall, and each other, on the opening lap. Darren Nash was outnumbered by his "Suicide Squad" enemies in this one and, despite getting the first hit on Dennis Whiteman, a follow up shot from Kev Wilsher and continual pounding from both Whiteman and Wilsher eventually silenced him. John Nicholls put Dave Cornish into the wall hard, bringing the race to an early conclusion with Buster Woods taking the win, ahead of Neil Cornish and Mark Deacon.

Rain made the Destruction Derby a slippy affair but eventual winner, Paul Hunter, found enough grip to put away both Paddy Richardson and Dick Follett in the same manoeuvre. Mick Wiseman and Alan Trickett met in a big head on collision, both continued only for Wiseman to take a series of hits at the end of the back straight and Trickett to erupt in flames. Amanda Harris and Mark Dale met in a head on, with Hunter able to back away after administering the final hit to Harris.

At the other end of the scale to the veterans, the Junior Bangers were also on the bill and the first heat kicked off with a dramatic rollover for Chloe McDonald, who launched herself off the spun car of John Gillman and landed on the fence. Mason Foster won both the heats before being spun out of the final, allowing Track Champion, Bradley Lee to take the win after passing Alfie Vince with a lap to go. Vince retained second place ahead of Alfie Jones.

The Stock Car Supreme Championship went the way of Matt Fuller ahead of Steve Davies and Ade Clifton. Pole position man, Brian Jarvis, had a terrible start and eventually retired with a mechanical issue just as it looked like he was closing on the leaders. Phil Rowbottom dominated the meeting from that point on, winning both allcomers heats from the novice white grade, in a car he won with a £50 raffle ticket! Not a bad investment.

The final action of the 2015 Arena Essex season is rapidly approaching, with the annual Firecracker Banger event kicking off at 1pm on November 1st. The Unlimited Bangers are joined by the Stock Cars once again, whilst the ever popular Reliant Robins will be providing their own brand of entertainment, with more rollovers likely than have been seen all season long!


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