Motor racing at Arena Essex Raceway

Fixtures - Review of recent meetings

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Sunday, 07 June 2015 - National Bangers W/Q round 2 plus Ministox, Lightning Rods and Stock Rods

This meeting, and all others, are captured by Arena DVDs. Order your DVD now..

As the list of junior kart racers switching over to the Mini Stox category grows, it was another fresh face that hit the winners circle at Arena Essex, 14 year old James Waite taking his newly acquired car to a resounding victory in heat one of the day.  I have to admit I thought James was on course for a hat trick at that point, such was his dominance, but starting at the back of the white grade for the rest of the day saw him open to attack from the higher graded drivers and he was caught out in a couple of "wrong place at the wrong time" moments that took him out of the podium spots. James's car is the former Harry Steward machine, so one very effective tool indeed.
Heat two was an action packed affair from the off with a big head on collision between Molly Smithson and Jack Leeks unfortunately resulting is a hospital trip for the latter. Thankfully Jack was released unharmed after checks. A three abreast moment at the restart saw Jack Goldsmith and Waite tangle with Waite bringing about another caution as he ended up broadside across the track. Not a comfortable position in which to view the race! The next restart was a matter of a few laps old when Josh Mackey launched off a kerb into a high flying rollover that took a big gouge out of the Arena Essex tarmac. Thankfully Josh was fine and he might have even got away with being charged for some extra tarmac as hopefully we managed to grab some from the contractors that moved in a week later to lay the temporary Drifting track across the centre!
The final restart saw Harry Overy tip Joe Rollings into a spin which collected Lauren Overy, allowing Charlie Morphey to get clear and head Steph Sore to the flag.  
In the final, a great battle for the lead between Waite and Joe Rollings was broken up when the star pairing of Charlie Morphey and Lauren Overy barged through and began duelling. Waite was then one of three cars that pounded into a marker tyre on the entry of the pit turn, Sore and Goldsmith the other two victims, the latter launching himself into a rollover. With just a lap left at that point the race was declared, much to the disappointment of Overy, who had just passed Morphey, but with the race result taken at the last completed lap the positions were reversed. It is the second time in recent weeks that Lauren has fallen fowl of a lap countback due to a race stoppage. If there is any justice perhaps she will benefit from one soon. Rollings took third place behind the dejected Overy, who had flown back from Ireland at 5am that morning after watching her Banger racing father race over there.
There was drama before the start of the racing in the Lightning Rods with the erstwhile points leader in the category, Nathan Roberts suffering a huge engine blow up in practice. The noise of the engine letting go caused me to look up from sorting stuff in the RacePixels photo shop just in time to see Nathan clouting the barrier hard backwards, having been a passenger on his own oil slick. Thankfully Nathan was OK after the heavy hit, but was out for the day.
When the racing did get underway, Connor Reeve almost lead the first Lightning Rod heat from flag to flag. However, the smallest mistake out of the penultimate bend allowed Steve Norman to get up the inside and Connor's attempt to then cut him off into the final bend saw him spin out of the race entirely. Norman went on to take the flag and it was one of those situations where I would have hated to have to be the steward. Was Norman far enough up the inside? Opinion was divided but the result stood.
Thereafter Lee Hall took an accomplished heat and final victory. His race to success in the final was aided by a clash between Chris Reeve and Anthony Lawrence. Lawrence went for a gap up the inside of Reeve and was unable to back out of it, due to the pack pushing from behind. Steve Norman also took damage in the ensuing melee. With Hall in the distance, a frantic battle for second place between Steve Moore and Nigel Carroll ended with Carroll spinning on the last corner as he attempted to cut down on Moore. It was a carbon copy of the earlier Reeve/Norman incident and the steward took the same stance, Moore keeping second.
There was a heat and final victory in the Stock Rods too with Lee Best taking a car borrowed from Steve Gooch to success. Formerly from Northern Ireland, Best was a Lightning Rod racer back in the day and he did comment that he much prefers Rear Wheel Drive cars rather than the FWD Stock Rods. It's a comment many racers would echo, but time does move on and small hatchback cars aren't built like that any more. The exception in the Stock Rod category is obviously the Lightning McQueen lookalike Toyota Starlet of  Ian Heffernan. The Starlet is a bit of a blast from the past and Ian is constantly battling the FWD hordes. The difficulty in running a RWD car versus the FWD masses must make you feel like a bit of an outcast as the racing style is so different. If a FWD car presents a gap up the inside it is because the car has understeered wide so shoving your car in the gap is valid. But a RWD car naturally slides the rear wheels out wide in a controlled drift, so when the guy behind shoves his nose up there, the front wheels are still where they should be and so Mr RWD gets bundled out wide or everyone clatters up the inner kerbs or speedway track. It's a tricky prospect, but it would be to the detriment of the class if the remaining bastion of RWD was to move on.
I guess FWD in the real world was a necessity to stop all the talentless boy racers  heading backwards into the arcade fronts along Southend, in a pall of tyre smoke. I always thought that was just natural selection at work.
Best's domination was complete when his closest challenger, Paul Haralambou dropped out with mechanical difficulties. Gary Hicks was the winner of the other heat.
There were three winners from the three National Banger races, Mark Marchant, Karl Douglas and Billy Standing taking a healthy helping of points towards their World Championship qualifying total.  After a day largely devoid of crashing from the National Banger boys, Marchant, Sonny Sherwood and Steve Collings did at least provide a good Destruction Derby to finish. Sherwood getting the verdict after a very game Collings was forced to admit defeat. Collings outings this season have been a breath of fresh air, he was a star at the MPV session and he has to be commended for taking an almost completely fresh car out in the Destruction Derby this time, his comment that he chose to DD it because it was leaking water did make me laugh! The majority, perhaps understandably, would rather make a car last a few meetings - or most of the year judging by the way that the 2.0L class of National Banger racing is going.
It is not a unique problem to Arena Essex. On the same day as our last meeting there were also 2.0L Banger meetings elsewhere that suffered the same fate. There were 15 Mondeos at Aldershot and 9 at Standlake. Clearly the class isn't working well and needs a revamp. The top guys are insanely fast - Back to basics is the buzz-word in Banger circles at the moment.
Last week I spent a thoroughly enjoyable evening (actually a very full day) up at Kings Lynn at the Heinegone Banger event, which celebrated the Banger career of popular Dutch racer, Pieter "Peewee" Leistra. Pieter is retiring from the class due to health issues, but he incredibly managed to race in all 11 races last week, bringing along 5 different cars! That in itself further adds to his legend and we here at Arena Essex have seen him at his absolute best with several Firecracker visits, including his debut on these shores in 2004. We gave him dispensation to compete at both days of our record breaking Granada meeting here in 2013, due to the fact that he brought along two incredibly rare cars, one for each day.  I am sure we all wish him a very happy, and healthy retirement.
The same night there was a scary incident at Ipswich with a Brisca F1 Stock Car, with an unconscious driver at the wheel, apparently ploughing through several infield vehicles and unfortunately leaving a couple of infield workers injured. We send our best wishes to the injured, thankfully not seriously. The driver himself is fine, although he has no recollection of the events. None of us need reminding that ours is a dangerous sport, safety procedures here are exceptional, we minimise risk at every opportunity. But everyone can do their bit. Please do take the opportunity to take a look around the pits, see the work that goes into the cars, take a look at them close up, but do also be very careful and aware of moving vehicles and mechanics swinging big lumpy things. Our sport is very accessible, it is what makes it such an attraction, but just take good care of yourselves and your youngsters.
Josh Mackey was unharmed after this high flying rollover.
14 year old James Waite won on his debut
But Waite's choice of viewing position for the next heat was not ideal
Lee Hall took a heat and final double in the Lightning Rods
Mark Marchant (592) attacks Steve Collings in the Destruction Derby
Happy retirement to Pieter "Peewee" Leistra. The legend bowed out of the sport last week.
Sunday, 05 July 2015 Chick Woodroffe Memorial Meeting Featuring All KA Micro National Bangers plus Ministox, Lightning Rods Supreme Q/R 3 and Stock Rods Supreme Q/R 3
Sunday, 07 June 2015 National Bangers W/Q round 2 plus Ministox, Lightning Rods and Stock Rods
Monday, 25 May 2015 PRI Bangers plus, Stock Rods Supreme Q/R 2, Ministox and Junior Bangers
Sunday, 17 May 2015 All MPV (people carriers) National Bangers plus 2L Stock Cars, Stock Rods and Lightning Rods Supreme Q/R 2
Monday, 04 May 2015 PRI Bangers plus Junior Bangers, 2L Stock Cars and Ministox
Sunday, 19 April 2015 National Bangers W/Q Round 1 plus Stock Rods, Lightning Rods and Grand Prix Midgets Southern Championship
Monday, 06 April 2015 Micro National Bangers 4 Man Teams plus Junior Bangers, Stock Rods Supreme Q/R 1 and Ninja Sprints
Sunday, 05 April 2015 PRI Bangers plus Ministox, Lightning Rods Supreme Q/R 1 and 2L Stock Cars
Sunday, 22 March 2015 PRI Bangers plus Junior Bangers, Lightning Rods and Stock Rods
Sunday, 08 March 2015 Open Shakedown X featuring National Bangers Unlimited Overs and 2L Unders plus Ministox and 2L Stock Cars