2017: The year ahead

Whistlin' Jack Smith >> 2017 >> The year ahead

Something new for 2017, well the layout of the year and format for championships seem to be pretty consistent in the World of Hot Rodding and it is usually the drivers are moving to and fro classes.

The Classic Hot Rods has for many years been the best publicised formula readily stating the drivers and cars who are ready to enter the class. The Autosport show saw John McFarlane’s Sunbeam Talbot on display, this car had raced towards the tail end of 2016 but was on show in a full colour scheme. Dave Fry is also working hard on a similar model.

The class is attracting bigger names, notably Kenny Purdie in the ex-Tim Foxlow/ Thomas Dilly Escort – the car dubbed by many as the spanker; Dilly is preparing a new car as a replacement. Russell Wilcox is joining in the ex-Richard Boulton/ Neal Smith Anglia as a homage to his grand-father Cyril. The name that has seemingly going under the radar is Paul Magee, watch out for his Anglia, he is a former 1600 Hot Rodder winning the Irish Championship twice and also raced in National Hot Rods in the mid-80s.

The change for the formula is the introduction of zetec engines, Shane Taylor and Richard Lewthwaite have both opted for this power source. In addition there's several new faces: Steve Spooner, Colin Hamill, Paul Hollis, Jonathan Willis, Willie Rodger and Mike Meade. Sam Mitchell also returns after several years away.

The Mini is a car that been absent from the class for a while, the garages of Mark Grinstead, Nathan Marshall and Steve Matthews are all working on their versions. While seasoned campaigners Dave Polley and Tick Steward made their class debut towards the end of the year, the pair making regular appearances would really benefit the class. If you thought that was enough, there’s also the introduction of x-pack arches in glass-fibre form and a certain 5 time World Champion called Davy McCall that is rumoured to be joining.

Lightning Rods are entering an interesting stage as a new era is approaching, the Sierra and Pinto are not the number one choice for everyone. The option of newer cars and power-plant has been around for a few years but it taken a while for them to be taken seriously, zetec power won the Best the Britain with Ashley Burkin and Jordan Rochford also won at the Boxing day meeting. The Autosport show saw Gary Beggs, Jordan Murray and Jason Gibbs displaying Sierras while Andy Brown had the first Lexus. Just need a few more BMWs with them, Craig West is building one for Arena Essex. Simon Hopcroft-Lopez returned recently and Kenny Nicklin made his Spedeworth debut. There does need to be a little boost in the class as the recent Wimbledon fixture was cancelled and looking through the printed Spedeworth fixtures list they’ll be on their tracks only 9 more times in 2017.

The Thunder Rods at Ringwood are dominated by BMWs and with Rolling Thunder offering a similar class this year the days of Ford Sierra’s do seem numbered in Saloon classes. It will be a good thing for the class as the Stock Rods look a much better class now they have stepped away from boxy Vauxhall Nova.

Competition is fierce in the Stock Rod class and it was great to see youngsters like Jack Bradburn and Harry Sarjent come straight into the class and look at home. Stepping out of the Junior formulas to race this year are Samuel Owen and third generation driver Tyler Scott. But the split between the two divisions seriously hampers the class, there is roughly 300 drivers on each side, imagine having 600 in one national category.

National Hot Rods are still a Tigra dominated class, never before has a model of car been the car of choice for so long. The Ginetta has several new customers, but many drivers snapped up SLKs and that never worked! Gary Woolsey was first out in the G50 but it Bradley Dynes who took the maiden win for the car. The next models from Carl Boardley are for Rich Adams and Billy Bonnar. Making returns to the class are Simon Johnson and JJ O’Riordan.

In the 2 Litre Hot Rods the winter saw several returnees, former World Champions Kevin Randell and Jason Wilks were back for the Best in Britain and Jason Busby was out at the following meeting. The Autosport show saw a plethora of Saxo’s: a new self-built one for World Champ Dan Smith, a new livery for Mitch Souter and another two for Ryan Morgen and Frank Nohring.

Still debut is former Stock Rodder Gary Furmiger and ex-1300 Stock Car man Gavin Pike in the ex-Murray Saxo. After a few years racing Outlaws mainly at Ringwood Graham Jackson is moving to the 2 Litre class. Stuart McLaird adds something different to the formula with his rent-a-rod scheme.

Any predictions, hmmm, just to cover all bases any of the titles will be won by a driver from England, Ireland or Scotland. Added to site 07.02.2017. Photo supplied by Jason Gibbs.

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