THOUSANDS of race fans packed out Arena Essex Raceway on Sunday as the long awaited All Ford Cortina Banger Classic brought racers from across the UK and Europe to do battle in one of the 90’s era favourite cars for the sport.
In fact the queues to enter the stadium caused an hours delay to the meeting, to enable the competitors and fans to get settled into their positions.
Despite the rarity of the machines, 60 cars did eventually arrive to do battle and the scene was set with a lively first heat in which Dutch racer, Ben Holtrop avoided a number of attempts from Andrew Jones to stop him, but Jonesey got his man eventually and the unfortunate Holtrop was then destroyed by a succession of hits from Jones, Carl Sowter and finally, most damagingly, from Dave Bull. Lee Hughes took the win.
Lee Evans was an early scalp for Steve Bailey in the second heat, Bailey following him hard into the turn two wall. Bailey then destroyed Graham Howell with a couple of hits, whilst Dutchman Ricky Domine showed great spirit despite getting crashed on successive laps by Jason Jackson and Timmy McDonald – the latter then receiving the biggest crash of the day, courtesy of a flat out Mark Cooper Jnr. Joe Barrett was the race winner in one of the cars of the day – a Ford Taunus Coupe.
Heat three featured two other contenders for car of the meeting – a unique Cortina Pick Up from Joey Palmer and a Taunus from Paul Korpiela. The badly misfiring car of Arian Vorkink somehow managed to pick up Tim Bailey and follow him into the pit bend wall. Vorkink made it up the other end of the track before tangling with Korpiela, the latter then receiving a big crash from Green. Palmer took the win.
An unruly consolation race saw Andrew Jones hook out Syd Sherman, only for the latter to get revenge with a massive hit, Sherman then getting a T-Bone from Ricky Hutton. All three were destined to not return to the track, Jones and Sherman due to damage and Hutton loaded by the steward for the T-Bone being up against the armco. Another big T-Bone crash brought the race to a second halt with Dutch racer Maarten Steenbekkers the victim. Steenbekkers thankfully unhurt after a trip to the hospital to check him out. The black disqualification flag was in use once again at the second restart with Aaron Keoghan going the wrong way on the straight to destroy Patxi Beasley and Jerry Ansell hitting Ross Gould on the shale speedway track. Throughout the crashing there was a good race to watch with Sam Beasley nearly managing to despatch leader, Callum Read into the debris on the last corner – however Read bounced off some parked cars and made it to the flag before Beasley was able to recover.
The final saw Patxi Beasley attempt to extract revenge on Keoghan on the pit bend, but he was hit by Paul Whiteman before he was able to make contact. Keoghan himself was finished off by a big hit from Steve Carter, whilst Harry Rawlins rolled himself off of the car of Terry Peacock. Dan Cook took Ricky Domine into the fence, but was caught himself by Scott Cornish whilst Jason Jackson turned around to finish Domine off – the latter having justifiable cause to claim the driver of the day award for his dogged persistence. Lee Hughes took the win.
The Destruction Derby saw Joey Palmer hit Carl Sowter, before getting most of the rear end of his Pick Up re-arranged by Steve Bailey. Jimmy Randall met Jason Jackson head on but then had Cornish destroy him. Dale Hughes then turned ont he style – crashing Whiteman before doing likewise to Bailey – the latter then getting a massive shot from Cornish. Steve Carter and Jackson then had a number of clashes before Hughes finished off the latter, and Cornish the former! Hughes then defeated Cornish to win the DD.
The 2.0L Stock Cars saw Nathan Roberts take both heats, before Dave Palmer came good with a dramatic win in the final, despite bouncing up the inner kerbs avoiding the spinning Ronnie Hunt car.
Chris Reeve dominated the Lightning Rods, winning all three races. He passed the rapid Dan Guidotti in the final and held off the attentions of Jamie Lee Callis over the remaining distanace.
The big events continue at Arena Essex with the next action on Sunday 19th June featuring the Kev Elmore memorial for National Bangers. Over 50 cars are expected and the support action features Stock Rods, Mini Stox (for 11-16 year olds) and the incredible Ninja Sprints – which is a category for the 6-11 year olds to get their first taste of oval motor racing action.