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Whistlin' Jack Smith >> Blog


National Championship
1st August 2013

A preview to the National Championship kind of started, I thought about it, I wrote about 50 words got distracted by watching 8 out of 10 cats, thought about again, continued to ponder, thought I should really be writing my monthly report thatís due in a few hours, then looked through some old pictures for inspiration and had a brainwave. Iíll just ping out some pictures instead!

Perhaps thatís the easy way out but Iím struggling to write something positive about the National Championship Ė itís not that I wonít find it interesting but I feel that the English drivers do not care that much, 20 English National Hot Rods and 15 English Lightning Rods is a pretty sad position to be in when this is the event to celebrate 50 years of Hot Rods. That became my stumbling block and I was stuck in a vortex of negative issues. Good job that the Irish are willing to travel in big numbers.

The photo collection Iíve added are mainly my dadís with a few thrown in from me stretching back to my first National Championship in 1999 where only 9 cars made the distance. The photo album though does however nicely fit alongside the NHRPA one added a few days earlier which is being resurrected (bit like the Best in Britain) at the National Championship, I think it was my idea to bring back this title race Ė check out ĎWorld of Nationalsí magazine December 1999 if you donít believe me.

My Spedeweekend
27th July 2013

To me the Spedeweekend is my Super Bowl, Glastonbury and Christmas day rolled in one Ė itís an event that my friends struggle to understand why I get so excited. This year was my 25th Spedeweekend, although I know what happened during my first one in terms of the race the only memories I have are the Anglia TV footage I watched again and again as a child. So what of this year? Of the overall experience Iím struggling to think of a better Spedeweekend Ė what other ones did I enjoy? 1990 great, my first full weekend; í94 Ricky done it; í97 monumental drive from Blackman in the 2 Litreís; í05 loads of rolls in the 1300 Stock Cars, Martin holding back everyone to win the World finally; Iím sure everyone has a different opinion and favourites that normally hold some form of emotional connection. Iíll give this one a 9.8 out of 10.

The start of the weekend was a little poor to be honest as I hadnít even got through the gate. Even though I had thoroughly enjoyed the Spedeweekend the ticket situation does need to be changed for the future, waiting for close to an hour is disappointing when you have advance tickets Ė anyway once through the door my seating position was not ideal as I lost out to those that rocked up on the day were able to take advantage of the smaller queue. Anyway Iím sure Spedeworth are well aware of these problems, they are not going to simply dismiss those issues as they are business and want people to keep coming back and spending money. Just a slight frustration when all I want at that point was to see cars out on the track. For some people they were on their annual pilgrimage to the event and the facility has dramatically changed over the past few months, Spedeworth definitely see a future for the sport and it was great to see Ipswich so busy.

Now once the racing got going itís a joy to see race after race quickly turned around, this is something I think is overlooked as other promotions do not have the same kind of grasp on this. I would run things slightly differently I do think there are too many formulas at the event, I would ditch the Ninja Karts, either Lightning Rods or Stock Rods and Historic or 2L Stock Cars. I canít work why thereís so much fuss over the Ninja Ė the stars of the future, blah blah blah, Ministox drivers have never been given the opportunity to race at the Spedeweekend and oh yes they have kids in them. That would enable the formulas like 2L Hot Rods to have 3 qualifying heats instead of 2.

On Sunday the crowd were able to witness one of the best National Hot Rod World Finals Ė when was the last time a driver went around the outside to take up the lead of the World Final? What makes the weekend special is no matter how much effort and time Spedeworth and the NHRPA put into the event it is a sport, it is unpredictable and thatís what makes it a joy to watch.

After the months of racing that lead up to the World Final, after the high of watching the race I usually hit a massive low the following days and donít watch any more racing during July (is racing a drug?). Last year I can clearly remember feeling quite miserable, despondent when everything finished in the National Hot Rods as there was a lot of negative press associated with the World Final. I contemplated ditching the site all together but this year Iím still incredibly buoyant, the Vengabus pops back into my head to raise a smile, Iím thinking if Iím still this happy and just a mere punter in the crowd what do Shane Murray and John Christie feel like?

Club Corrado
8th May 2013

A few years ago I started a piece on the Peugeot 205 as I wondered where the cars were, that was probably fuelled by the passion I had for that particular Hot Rod during the mid 1990ís as I became hooked on Hot Rod racing. It was quite interesting how much information people were willing to share and I became a go to person for information on specific cars Ė Iíve tried to help out where I can. Although I wasnít specifically aiming to write another piece in that vein but there has been many questions on the Autocross built VW Corrado recently fuelled by the growing collection of them in the National V6 Hot Rods that has morphed from the Super Rod class and caters for older National Hot Rod shapes.

The Colin White World Championship winning Corrado is one of the most iconic Hot Rods and he came close to winning every title in a single season something that Carl Boardley didnít come to close to doing at his peak.

First of all I will download my mind of all the cars I can remember (probably around 15) and then after it is down to you to assist, this is a two way system. I do something you do something, what I do ask is if you know something please try and contact me directly rather than leave it on some random thread on a social website as thereís the chance I may not read it.

Track improvements
4th May 2013

Improving the image of oval racing has been something on the lips of fans for many years and it is very easy for the fan to turn around and say what needs to be changed, budget is forgotten about and a fantasy world created, I too am guilty for this.

However moving away from the gloomy outlook of what needs to be changed, how appraisal for what has been done. On my last trip to Ipswich for the very wet 2L European Championship there was many new structures in place. Around the outskirts of the Kent Cams corner (which is turns 3 and 4 for clock-wise formulas) there is a half built turnstiles with Corporate boxes above and new toilets along the back straight. The biggest (literally) part of the rebuild programme is the grandstand on the back straight. I had looked at a few pictures online before and it looked like it ran parallel with the back straight but it runs at an acute angle, meaning that it is closer to the bend at turn 2 almost overlooking the fence. This is a great position to be and would have been a new place to sit if the PA was better Ė the issue being the speakers are then level with the bottom of the stand so the sound reverberates between these. Barring that minor issue I would commend the work done by Spedeworth at Ipswich, corporate boxes are also a great way of taking extra revenue.

The grandstand may not be completely new but Iíve visited tracks like Donington Park that look down their noses at short ovals and their facilities are not as good. Their stands are smaller less comfortable and at times have less fans (I counted 30 fans watching that day during my last attendance and each racing driver would have got 10 free tickets through the 750 club). These improvements got me thinking that the likes of Silverstone and Donington Park may have attendances similar to a football match when certain classes are racing they also have dire attendances worse than Hot Rods. Huge investment has been made by the likes of Ipswich, Lochgelly and Tullyroan Ė so if you are a fan of oval racing I urge you to experience racing at one of those tracks this year.

About time we had some more cover at Yarmouth stadium. their is a nice new grandstand at Yarmouth, but I dont think the stock car supporters are allowed to us it, I was refering to some cover on the terracing on the bends, so that people can enjoy the racing from outside, because when it rains every body gets under the grandstand and you cannot see.

Eileen

The changes continue as the concrete terracing is being reworked around the track. I should stress how they are conducting this is wrong as the new terracing is half as shallow and half as deep which means a fold-out chair is no longer a viable option. The picture below shows how many use a chair for the Spedeweekend but throughout turn 4 they will no longer be able to sit there.

Webmaster: Paul Ballard

Golden Jubilee
2nd March 2013

I successfully got the ball rolling with the 50th anniversary of Hot Rods, job done Ė not really, needs more than just mentioning a fact to keep me content.

At the moment all that has been announced is the fact stickers will be placed on National Hot Rods headlight apertures - personally Iím not sure why it is National Hot Rods only. I do agree the fact that the original Hot Rod formula morphed into the current National Hot Rods but they were only given the name National to unify the class and separate them from alternatives Ė the name National Hot Rod only appeared in 1986. 2 Litre Hot Rods, Stock Rods, etc are Hot Rod classes but just a cheaper class Ė for financial reasons drivers canít afford to be National Hot Rod drivers. To me, those stickers say ďyou donít race a National Hot Rod so you arenít welcome at our anniversary partyĒ. Different formulas are different levels of hot rod racing, the original Hot Rods definately weren't all saloon based cars!

Letís put that aside as we know it is the NHRPA are the driving force behind the so-called celebrations. Iím not having a pop at them, just think it should a celebration of all Hot Rod formulas. Iím in favour of money raised for FORDS and anything that makes this a memorable season of racing. What Iím not so sure about is the way it is being handled. Oval racing promoters seem to have this idea that letís not say anything so we can surprise them on the day, two problems occur here. One Ė the oval racing community is small so people talk so the secret gets out, two Ė those that are not privy to that information make a decision to watch racing on what they know so may not attend.

As an example when Mick Collard raced at the Spedeweekend a few years back (Iím thinking its 2005 off the top of my head), loads of people in the stands knew that car was making an appearance; so that exercise failed as it was not a surprise. The revelation my friends is the element of surprise is a sport unfolding in front of your eyes that makes it more appealing that watching the same reruns of movies. Weather it is Hot Rods, football, etc. how many times have you heard the phrase ďyou couldnít make it upĒ in aport.

As I write this, it is more than a month from when I dropped the bombshell (and it was something floating around my head several months before that) nothing has changed a lot of talk from the fans and the stickers as mentioned above Ė what are the events?

During the meeting at Wimbledon where the Classics raced it was mentioned a few times by the commentator that ďClassics are going to play at major part of the celebrations this yearĒ Ė wait a minute, this meeting should have been part of the celebration. Iíll paint the scene for you, the most iconic stadium for oval racing and a formula that has been recreated as homage to the Golden Age at the only meeting of the year these are combined during the 50th year of the sport. Hmmm...... I heard the expression Spedeworth dropped the ball in these preparations for the Golden Jubilee, I donít even think they were in the same park!

So Iíve identified 50 years was missed out and then another opportunity slipped through the net, what is left now the fixture list has been published? Change it!

Due to political arguments (which is very sad) the people involved with the celebrations will not take their Hot Rods to tracks like Ringwood, Arena Essex and Buxton Ė that are more suitable than some of the current tracks and also have history with the sport. Last option is Wimbledon, put an open Hot Rod meeting on at the end of the year, ditch the Lightning Rods at the Best in Britain, numbers are struggling to get into double figures they donít deserve to be part of that fixture.

Now this open Hot Rod Open should be called The Golden Jubilee, a one off meeting containing three types of Hot Rods. At the front will be the Classics, followed by Outlaws (open spec. Hot Rods) on the back straight and National Hot Rods starting on the final corner. None of this reverse grids nonsense, Hot Rods is all about the fastest at the back.

Who should the promoters aim to get there: Colin White still has a VW Corrado and Ricky Hunn has a Peugeot 205 as replicas to their World Final days. Replica cars for Lee and Polley exist in the Classics. If Duffy Collard canít race how about getting Rob Collard to race his Escort Ė heís the most successful current driver to ever come from Hot Rods in terms of success in a mainstream formula. Then you have great ambassadors for our sport like Dick Hillard, Chris Haird, Tom Casey and Keith Martin that are still actively racing. Chuck in John Steward in son Nigelís dormant car as well. Then you have a crop of current drivers with a burning desire to race at Wimbledon as gravy.

It should also be remembered that Wimbledon is a ticking time bomb before it crumbles any further and high quality apartments (non-marketing talk = 60m2 flats) are built on the site; lets have one of the most memorable nights of Hot Rodding to finish off the 50th year of racing.

Iíve already thought of the next excuse, costs too much, LEZ restrictions. Spedeworth need to pay the drivers to cover their costs and a fund should be put together. I would put money into that pot if it meant a monumental meeting, Iím sure others would agree. Brisca have done it in the past if Spedeworth need some tips.

9 year anniversary
19th February 2013

Whilst anniversaries are hot on every ones lips at the moment, today (providing you read this on the day it is published) is the birthday of Whistliní Jack Smith Ė 9 years old. I donít actually have a copy of the original site but it didnít last very long as I got better understanding of HTML, Iím still no expert but I think Iíve done well considering Iím self-taut. I do have the banners that were used for the site over this period, but the older layouts weren't saved.

It is surprising how quickly the time has gone from the initial idea of trying to get every piece of Hot Rod information in one place to realising that Promoters wonít play ball and putting my efforts into making this an independent site with unique articles that will be relevant at any point in time. During that time Iíve sites come and go, some have got better, others worse - considering the improvement in traffic I think this has got better.

Outside of WJS (in the real world) during these 9 years girls in my life have changed, Iíve argued with friends, tolerances to alcohol peaked, had some bad jobs, had a good one, got a decent degree, grew my hair really long, gambled in Vegas, caused serious ligament damage to my body, put on a couple of stone, lived in 8 different homes and bought a house. Hot Rod racing hasnít changed though.

What I am I doing for this landmark, if it was a wedding anniversary this would be pottery Ė I canít think of anything worse. I donít have the time or the creative ideas at the moment to give the site a major overhaul. I have changed the main banner to show 50 years plus a tweak to the menu that should make it easier to select when using a mobile. It may take a few days before I change every page, I have started with the sponsors and fixtures page.

Roll on year 10.

Well done. I can remember when you first produced the champions page, I had trying finding them for so long.

Terry

Seems to be sorted, removed about 500 files from the old server and compressed this to 200. Realised as well there is close to 30,000 words in the blogs that I've written.

Webmaster: Paul Ballard

The year ahead
6th February 2013

Some people might have read the fixtures lists that look all too common to the previous year and have already made their minds up what will happen. Forget about predictions of who will win - this is fresh from the time machine as what happens in 2013.

February

Lightning Rods are the first formula to be brought up a higher standard and the amended rules require grilles on all cars, the Wimbledon meeting has only two cars passing scrutineering due to their appearance.

Outside the World of oval racing a new channel is set-up, ITV 5 is a reality manís channel. The NHRPA decide that the 50th anniversary is something that should be on terrestrial television and start to collect funding to television to years racing ahead.

March

ITV like the idea of Hot Rod racing on the television but require a slight revision to the sport, that change is a female only class. The TV show has footage every night of the female racers as they get attempt to qualify for the World final, actual footage of racing is at a minimum. The format of the National Hot Rod World Final is amended to allow 2 female drivers in from the mini-series. National Hot Rods have a far more presentable look now including a compulsory windscreen on each car; that is sponsored by the channel.

April

After a poor start to the Lighting Rod season Ford Mondeos are written into the rule book using the Zetec engine. Some drivers immediately walk away from the class complaining that FWD and RWD will cause more damage.

West Hamís failure to land the Olympic Stadium gives other sports a chance to use the Olympic Stadium, Spedeworth attempt to expand their empire further by putting in a bid for the oval.

Also bringing racing to a new market is Trojan International Ė after many failed attempts at going to new venues the Newport track in Wales is used. Numbers are poor for the opening meeting and only 2 bangers race but being Mondeos but PRI decided these two Welsh drivers can race in the Lightning Rods World Final later on in the year to make the event even more international.

Other new formulas to hit the tracks at Easter are the Ďnot quite classic hot rodsí that are also nicknamed Jubilee Rods or Retro Rods. The class straddles between the Classic Hot Rods and modern National Hot Rods by allowing the cars of the late 80ís/ early 90s to compete in a dedicated series. Ricky Hunnís Peugeot 205 and the former Starlet of Lewis Hill are the first to hit the track.

May

In an attempt to capture every incident in National Hot Rods cameras are affixed to every other fence post at Ipswich allowing for a continuous 360 degree view. Having 74 cameras around the track had the potential of creating 18 and half hours of footage per race but all were damaged in the preceding meeting when the Bangers raced on the track.

Arena Essexís suffers the lowest crowds ever; all drivers are staying away from the tracks as it has become un-raceable from the drifting events. PRI decide to cut all losses and stop promoting with immediate effect. Spedeworth take over the track with immediate effect, the World Final for Lighting Rods is moved to Ipswich.

Buoyant from the successful acquisition of Arena Essex, Spedeworth run a publicity stunt allowing Bangers onto the running track at the Olympic Stadium, this ends in disaster as Bangers damage a lot of the track. Spedeworthís bid now hangs by a thread.

The reformed Super Rod class and Classic Hot Rods have had packed grids for the first half of the season and given the amber light for returning to the Spedeweekend, their target is average 20+ cars per meeting up to the end of May. Both classes hit this target and everyone assumes they will be racing but instead the Spedeweekend will feature Pro wheel-barrow racing, unlimited unicycle racing and celebrity Stock Car racing.

June

Following the previous error with cameras outside the track they are substituted by cameras in the cars, the opening meeting for this system (final World qualifying round) runs incident free and no replays are needed. The other news of the day is Jason Kew misses out on a qualification for the top group again, this time he fails to get the car on track when distracted by updating his status on Facebook.

The finalists for the World Final are confirmed but an administrative error means Sammy Shudall is mistaken as a female driver and qualifies for the race. The other female qualifier is Sarah Cooper who has taken over brother Jason's 206cc.

The Thunder 500 suffers with a huge down pour which makes for some poor driving standards, the new cameras are all unable to be used as evidence due to the misting of windscreens Ė the internal car cameras are immediately wrote out of the rule book for the World Final.

July

The Spedeweekend is the usual centre piece for the year of Hot Rod racing and a huge crowd assembles. The 2L Hot Rods race for the British Championship but time delays mean both heats are only 5 laps in length and the title race is just 15 laps. This weekend was originally meant to be for the World Championship but it had been moved back to December to allow to event to be held in Poland; with multiple available shale tracks it is seen as the next market for Hot Rods. Jimmy Carr wins the celebrity stock car race on the Saturday night and buys a Lightning Rod for the following days racing.

The National Hot Rod World Final has a quiet race that Colin Smith leads from the opening lap to final corner of lap 75 when he is shunted by a back-marker. The impact is enough to take him off line and into the fence that takes off his wheel, his cars bounces back across the track. His lead was so great that even when he engaged reverse he was the first across the line but this triggered a further crash on the home straight that needed an instant red flag.

This now threw up a host of problems as the cause of the stoppage was indeed Smith, so he was disqualified. The result was reversed before the meeting closed using the last completed lap for the result, the so-called Malcolm Girling rule being applied.

More drama was to come as the following day Smith failed scrutineering, the loss of a wheel meant the car was heavier on the inside so failed on the percentage ruling. Smith duly returned the trophy only to be reinstated as the car was not in this state on the last completed lap. This angers the drivers who had been dropped places with Smithís return to the top. The answer was to wait for all international drivers to return to England and argue their case about the legality of his car Ė this would take several weeks so Smithís car impeded until then.

August

Geoff Bowen decides to race a Ford Mondeo for Lightning Rods racing it at Ipswich. Handily for Geoff, Bangers on the bill. After the Lighting Rod race he doesnít return to the pits but stays out for the next Banger race Ė it is the first any driver has raced in two different classes with the same car.

After waiting 8 weeks it was declared that Smith had been removed from the result of the NHR World as finishing the race in reverse is not acceptable, the final line in the rulebook ďif it says you canít do it, then canít do itĒ apparently supersedes all rules and sense. Unsavoury language used by some parties meant that they were also taken out the result and handed bans, ultimately the result was declared void.

The next day the NHRPA decide the loyal and vocal following online should choose the winner. The chosen format is a simple Ďlikeí button used for voting in the new World Champion via Facebook, however an error means that only the drivers with lower numbers could collect likes. After a week of voting Mikey Godfrey takes this honour even though he never qualified for the World Final.

September

Carl Boardley makes a return to Hot Rods this time in a Fiat 500, he states it is even better than the Tigra or the Mercedes but his full time return is in his old Tigra citing the issue of developing the Fiat. It is the only new shape model for the class during the season.

With the 2 Litreís making their shale debut in a few months the Stock Rods were getting in on the act. A 3 meeting mini-series has the heats on tarmac and final on the shale. Rounds were planned for Ipswich, Arena Essex and Eastbourne but ditched after the opening round when drivers raced around the outside of the shale on the tarmac because it was quicker.

Spedeworth lose out to Leyton Orient on the Olympic Stadium bid and immediately look towards their old football ground as the next potential venue.

October

The Lightning Rod World Final at Ipswich sees the Trojan based qualifiers arrive at the track only to be turned away on the basis that they are non-ORCi licensed drivers; day licenses are not accepted either. The race itself was very quiet but the huge news was Jimmy Carrís sensational speed that won him the race. The female Hot Rod TV programme is now over and replaced by Carrís journey to being a World Champion, he is invited to race in the 2 Litre title in Poland.

Ralph Sanders buys two more National Hot Rods to bring his total to 11, he even enters the local football league with his army of Hot Rods.

November

The Jubilee Rods make their final appearance ever at Wimbledon. Although fans did like the fact Mick Collard and Ralph Sanders were able to dig cars out of their yards and race them numbers were always less than 10 at a meeting. This was made worse when half the grid were banned after racing at non-ORCi tracks (Ringwood and Swaffham).

December

Even with extreme weather conditions Poland gears up for the 2 Litre World Final but on the eve of the meeting Jimmy Carr is kidnapped from the pits, the local police close the facility until Carr is returned. It was a dark ending to the year but at least Incarace made a lot of people happy by selling chips throughout the season.

This is not intended to offend anyone and has been written as a light-hearted start to the season.

Forgotten history
19th January 2013

You ready for a shock, Hot Rod racing is hitting a major landmark and nobody knows about or perhaps cares. Hot Rod racing is closing in on its 50th year anniversary and the promoters have made no effort to highlight this occasion. I realised last year how this date was approaching and I thought that the promoters were keeping it close to their chests to release something exciting Ė I feel so silly for having hope.

In 2004 F1 Stock Cars was the same age, Brisca didnít just have a one-off meeting that coincided with the date but a whole year Ė they attempted to race at the original tracks which saw the big cars even returned to Great Yarmouth. Hot Rods got in on the act with the George Polley v Barry Lee show which later morphed into the Classic Hot Rods we have today. It was a huge effort by the organisers of the sport and all the promoters of the tracks Ė Hot Rods have the opportunity to do the same or do better yet theyíve dropped the ball or perhaps the ball wasnít even brought to the pitch. The nearest event is the Hednesford 50th anniversary but this doesnít match the important dates or formulas.

It is the clear the start of Hot Rod racing and the man who had the vision Ė Bill Morris. When Stock Car racing came to the UK it was different to the American version which is non-contact. Bill wanted a scaled down version of Daytona where the racing was more similar to our U.S counterparts. Hednesford Hills was the chosen destination for Billís dream and racing for Stock Cars began in 1962 before the original Hot Rod class begin Easter Monday 1963. The actual date was the 15th April, an important day in history even stepping away from the ovalsĖ Abraham Lincoln died after being shot, the Titanic sunk, the Hillsborough Football disaster and itís my motherís birthday.

The original Hot Rods had a similar look to the Stock Cars (i.e. having their wings removed) but the all important element of Ďcontactí was not allowed. Over time the Hednesford track changed and Hot Rods become quicker evolving into what we have today. What hasnít changed is the 15th April 1963 is the most important day in the sport of Hot Rod racing Ė the introduction of the Vauxhall 16 valve engine, converting to rear wheel drive, the World Final, using a Toyota Starlet do not come close to the birth of a sport.

I briefly alluded to the Hednesford anniversary meeting earlier which doesnít actually appear on the correct time or with the correct formulas. Bangers Ė Iíve not a problem with the class and I enjoying watching them (the time clearing them up is an issue though) but I think that sport started in the late 1960ís Ė they are not ready for a 50th anniversary meeting (Iím ready to be disproved as my Banger history is not that good). If this meeting was put together to signify the 50th anniversary of Hednesford I think its 13 months too late.

Where now? To be honest Iím not sure if the likes Spedeworth, Incarace, Autospeed, NHRPA, etc. actually care about running an event (the 15th is a Monday but not a bank holiday by the way). Is it significant to them that the Earth has rotated exactly 50 years around the sun and is now back in the same place it started on the 15th April 2013 or do they think that 18,293 days of a sport doesnít have the alluring presence that will force the public to spend money and watch hot rod racing.

I could not agree more about the 50th year of National Hot Rods, promoters just aren't promoting. I sponsor the Bill Morris and Veterans meeting every year and try my hardest to get ex drivers to race both bangers and Classic Hot Rods.

We are really trying to give the Classics a big push this year we have a press day and doing passanger rides in our Hot Rods on the 3rd March at the annual practice day. George Polley is doing quite a few meeting this year and Barry Lee is doing 2 meetings.

D.Owen

Seems like this has got the ball rolling and the powers that be have taken notice. I do hope that the National Championship is billed correctly this year as it is the 50th running of the event not the 50th anniversary of the event. Whilst on anniversary's this year (24th August) will also be my silver jubilee, 25 years of watching racing - the first meeting also ties in my dad's birthday!

Webmaster: Paul Ballard

Glad to hear Spedeworth are doing something, after all, they celebrated the Superstox 50th and let's be honest Hot Rods has probably been their most successful formula.

Lee Maher

Peugeot 205 part 4
28th December 2011

Hereís a teaser for you, the next instalment of the Peugeot 205 will be coming soon on the site. The reason for the update before I release the article is to hopefully get some of you to contact me with any updates you have. I have tried to contact a few people recently and received poor replies, the fact it has a 1.9 litre engine doesnít really help.

Part 4 was always going to be wrote but a starting point was always hard as material was becoming even more difficult to source. Then it all fell into place at the Spedeweekend when Ricky Hunn displayed his recreated Peugeot 205.

At Ringwood Donna Spratt raced her ex-Dicker 205 once in 2011 and this has now been bought by a former National Hot Rod pilot. The car however is not a SHP machine, any information on this car would be appreciated by the new owner.

Fantastic read with great input from so many drivers and mechanics. You should do another one on the Starlet!

Terry M

Part 4 has been added, part 3 has also been updated.

Webmaster: Paul Ballard

The printed word
6th November 2011

I have a space in the bottom of a wardrobe that is filled up with oval racing paraphernalia, nearly all the programmes from meetings I have attended stretching back to 1988, majority of those with the results filled in as well. The bulk of space however is taken over by Short Circuit magazines.

Before the internet was popular the magazine was awesome, full results and reports, pictures, news, it had it all. However the interactive media was able to update immediately and the demand slumped, added to that the content was also suffering as the unique features and interviews disappeared. The last copy I read was brought out after the Spedeweekend and concentrated on April/May, I had my suspicions it was game over for the publication and the recent announcement has backed that up.

Although the internet has it advantages there are still people that like to hold something to read, they arenít always logging on daily. I felt Short Circuit should have condensed the race reports and filled the magazine with features that are not time critical. My opinions are perhaps irrelevant and the decision has been made. The website will continue (but for how long?) with classified adverts. With 35 years of stories I think some of the older stuff should be added to the website to continue to draw in visitors, eg back in the mid-90ís Group A Hot Rods started to go through a boom period, now the class is set to become Stock Rods, all you need a little bit of reformatting no typing. Forums are littered with comments on how long Lightning Rods will last for, Deane Wood dropping them, BMWís being the future; Iím sure thereís multiple articles on the class that are not time relevant. For more promotional ideas, just ask me!

I may have been able to predict the magazine on a downward spiral but on the other hand it has had some great moments, the magazine first printed my work on oval racing, back when I was 15 years old in fact, they even credited my dadís pictures to me in a golden oldies sections (Mark we would them pictures back though!), those 1976 snaps were several years before my birth.

The press release for the end of the magazine has confused me slightly, it has became obvious that the web has killed the market for the market and the final line uses a phrase from an unnamed person on a internet forum. To me thatís like using the murder to write an obituary for the deceased.

So is the printed word dead? No way, Wheelspin has upped their game but still concentrates on their own tracks. There 2 more magazines are moving ahead:

Stock car and hot rod heritage magazine is being run by Richard John Neil, unlike previous attempts of classic oval magazines, it will not be released periodically just as and when material is ready and stay away from results that are time specific - shrewd move RJN.

Oval Racing News, makes it third attempt to hit the market. Originally larger that A3, it reappeared late last year and is set for another revamp. I have sent in material, lets see if Dave decides to use it.

I have personally wanted to have a magazine for years, I think if I won the lottery I would assemble one alongside the stock car and hot rod museum. The website was an easy to set-up option to get my opinions and knowledge out to the masses, Facebook has made this a whole lot easier though. So how to connect the two ideas? Each month I will put everything I have wrote or received (contributions are welcome) into a single PDF document that can be printed off. I fear that the internet is always about current information that interesting material from several months previous will disappear forever so I want readers to be able to keep this. Plus people like my father who struggle to switch on a computer can have this to read at their lunch-breaks.

Seems like Short Circuit magazine isn't dead and a printed one will be available next year.

Terry M

I noticed that on the Short Circuit website but having the magazine available at the tracks was a major advantage, at least NASCAR will be removed.

Webmaster: Paul Ballard

I invented this
20th August 2011

A few years ago I had a brilliant idea of fantasy hot rod racing. The concept was great but the running was too time consuming, the winter blues of no racing got the better of me. I ran the series for a year and then the league was taken over by Fraser Green. I competed in that opening year but failed to enter a team in the second year, year three I'm back and I'm aiming to win! The dream team was assembled headed up Chris Haird who I expect will take a fourth successive points title. If you are wondering on my team name look out for 'I invented this'. The complete league can be found at
http://nhrfantasyleague.webs.com/.

Tweet
19th August 2011

When I put together this website a few years back I was able to get news across to the public quicker than magazines like Short Circuit, however social sites have enabled instant information. What I have decided is to put Twitter onto the site so I can get results and news when I am at a track. It will sit on the front page so you don't even need to log on Twitter to read the snippets or follow me if you are on Twitter.

Seems like it is working, keep your eyes on the front page for the latest updates. Only the last 8 tweets can be read on the Whistlin' Jack Smith website, to read all of them you will need to join twitter and follow Paulwjs.

Webmaster: Paul Ballard

I'm following you on Twitter, keep the updates coming for those that can't get to the tracks.

Terry M

Not forgotten
19th February 2011

Just as a little update on the
new drivers in 2011, I apparently forgot to mention Dave Polley in the National Hot Rods and was emailed about my error! So hereís the news, Polley will continue in the National Hot Rods after a few meetings towards the end of 2010. Originally racing in the class as 138 will race as 306 the number of ĎThe Driverí George Polley Ė his father. The car is a brand new Ludlow built Vauxhall Tigra which was displayed at the Autosport Show, the old previously used machine was infact Ricky Hunnís car (will Ricky be back in 2011?).

Any other drivers with a new car and changing class within hot rods, send in your pics to wjs_hotrod@yahoo.co.uk.

More newcomers: Garry Staines Stock Rods and Mike Walmsley 2 Litre Rods Rods.

Spy-watch
15th February 2011

Travelling around the motorway network in the UK is a common chore many workers and I have noticed a few lorries that come up again and again. Eddie Stobbart is the king but thereís plenty that have oval connects. I remember as a paperboy seeing a bright green Steward brick and block haulage and feeling slightly excited. Recently Iíve seen a few more but not as many as the Hadfield Transport fleet, thereís a lot of yellow and white trucks about. The oval racing community is closely linked to the haulage sector and probably every other hot rod has transport sponsorship on the car.

Through the week days whenever I clock a name that Iíve seen on a hot rod it does make me think (especially at this time of the year) when Iím going to get my next racing fix. Perhaps this is verging towards the eye-spy books that give points for spotting certain objects a racing car will get extra points. In the past Iíve seen Irish drivers heading across England on Friday in preparation for an international meeting, half built stock cars, ELMS cars and bangers. Going back a few weeks I noticed an old Grimer lorry dying in a field a few miles from site of a Superstock.

Head to race day and regardless if you are watching racing you will spot a race car if travelling on a main road. I reckon I see more travelling in the opposite direction no matter where Iím going. Even on a back road Iíve seen a RTS Euro Rod on the back of trailer in near identical places yet different times on a weekend. Last Sunday for example I noticed a 1300 Stock Car on the way to Wimbledon. I can usually suss out where a car is heading to but the second car I spotted got me wondering, the ex-Blackman/Oliver 205 was on the road (Hainault through Marks Gate and off to Chadwell Heath if you want more specification information) and there was no hot rod racing in the area last Sunday. Maybe the car has been sold on, thereís plenty of decent hot rodders in the areaÖÖ Pete Winstone, Pat Kiely, Barry LeeÖÖIíll let you do the thinking and perhaps the forums will explode with outrageous ideas.

The Blackman/ Oliver 205 was for sale on EBay very recently so it seems that someone has made a purchase. from EBay it looks like it actually was in Hayes.

Down here on the South Coast you do not have to drive for long to see maroon coloured trucks belonging to Dudman group. This is Steve Dudman who has been in NHR's in the past as numbers 3 and 204. I think that there was another number as well. He also did pick up's for a while. Next door to the building that I work in is Gleam Clean long standing name on the side of many 230 cars. In fact a few years back the 230 Clio 2 Ltr spent a day outside (on the road!) just before the ill fated comeback meeting at Great Yarmouth. There is also some sort of space frame slowly rusting away on their roof but I have no idea what it used to be.

Keith

Driver of the decade
26th December 2010

Previous years I have put together the driver of the year and it has been decided solely by me, a little change this time, I'll pick the nominations and let the public do the picking, just like the BBC sports personality of the year. However there is one driver who will not be in the running for that title, however I do think he deserves the title of driver of the decade - that is for legend that is Carl Boardley.

In the lifespan of National Hot Rod racing, there has been a few drivers that have gone beyond just winning the World title and won it multiple times back to back. Barry Lee won the title 4 times in the 1970's he was able to add a real professionalism to the sport; Ormond Christie changed the sport by moving away from traditional British cars and his experiments worked. After a break away from the sport he returned winning his fourth and fifth titles 15 years after his first one. At this stage in the mid-90's the cars were becoming very similar but Colin White put in the hard work and effort to become the first man to win 3 in a row. In the days of 40+ qualifying rounds Colin White was able to do all of them, something you will never see again in National Hot Rods. Fast forward a few years and new talent was emerging: Carl Boardley.

After one season in National Hot Rods moved himself into the elite group, the old guard of White, Jeff Simpson and John Steward were moving on and the gap needed to be filled. To win the first World title may have taken several years but in those years he made the Vauxhall Tigra the car to have in the class and although other shapes have been used as a replacement the original shape Tigra is still being produced as the car to have.

The Peugeot 206 was a good car it took Carl to his first two National Championships (2001 and '03), when the Vauxhall Tigra took over there was a few sceptics, Malcolm Blackman and Clive Richardson moved to a Tigra but reverted to 206's. The first World final with the Tigra saw a retirement after the first lap pile-up, the sister car of Andy Holtby was out as well. That year Boardley hadn't qualified well after refusing to let his car be scrutineered in the previous world final he finished 16th in the points and back in group 4.

From 2006 the dominance began, the first English points title was won, then the Thunder 500 (ahead of Andy Steward) and then the World title - all in the space of one month. However winning the race through a stewards decision didn't please everyone, but Boardley was able to put his critics right the following year and continued to win a record breaking 4 in a row, in 2010 he picked up damage whilst leading the race coming close to making it 5 on the trot.

To describe Carl Boardley in one word would be very difficult but it seems that no-one in this current generation of racers has been so consistently quick. His lap times at the World final show the picture, he has averaged 14.68 as a best in all his attempts, he worst time of 14.85 was still the best that year (due to poor track conditions). He has started from pole in the last 5 years which has been behind the wheel of the same Vauxhall Tigra. Although National Hot Rods can be any shape as the panels are just hung onto the car to mimic the road silhouette the original Tigra shape has been the one they all want since Boardley proved it works. In 2005 there was 2 in the race, by 2007 it was up to 9 in the race. In qualifying 5 filled the top 8 places, of those 3 without 2 have since bought a Tigra to keep up. Ludlow Motorsport must be very proud of the performance Carl Boardley has got out of the car.

He wasn't just quick at the Spedeweekend, in 11 attempts at qualifying (barring the year of being banned for half of it) he always finished in the top 3 of the English points championship. 6 podium finishes in the National Championship including 4 wins; 4 podiums in the European including 1 win. The only title that eluded him was the British as he rarely ventured to Northern Ireland, his most successful trip was a second place behind John Christie in 2008 in the Irish Open.

If Carl had won this year's World final there was a small chance he would stay with National Hot Rods, the class hasn't suffered since his department as the existing bunch of drivers are all hungry for glory, the rumour-mill is still churning out ideas of where his car has gone and ludicrous amounts of money that was paid for it. His name is never far away from the sport. One day he may return and take more titles but for the younger fans of the sport they can finally wear their rose-tinted glasses to oppose the supporters of the golden years and talk of the times when a fluorescent yellow hair-dressers car effortlessly eased into the distance leaving everyone wondering how to beat him.

Could this be something to do with Boss race engines?

Phil C.

Although about 18 months out of date, I've finally uploaded footage of Carl tearing around the outside to victory. I don't normally record during racing as I miss out what is going on, however in the this race Carl zipped to the front with ease and I felt it was a moment I wanted to keep. This is just a normal heat in a qualifying round but the speed of the car is what the fans love about Carl Boardley.


Biased and Inconsistent
27th April 2010

Yet again I'm angered by the inconsistency from the NHRPA. At the recent Ipswich meeting for National Hot Rods the ugly side of racing reared its head. In the heats 303 Matt Simpson was spun out, the blame later being pointed towards 41 Carl Boardley who was disqualified from this race a week later. Those incidents normally go unpenalised when there is a large group of cars racing together (probably because its hard to blame one culprit). Revenge was extracted by father 3 Jeff Simpson who punted Boardley into the wall underneath the scoreboard during the final.

Several theories have been flung about and they usually depend on how bias the fan is. Raging from Boardley was out of control because of the dusty to the track, Simpson barged him out wide, or Deane Wood is paying the drivers to start a feud which gains steam until the end of the season when Wimbledon hosts the first ever boxing match between two drivers "pain from the lane" (only joking I made that one up, but remember when you heard it first!).

Feuds between drivers is nothing new, every sport needs some friction between competitors, but they need to stick to the rules and make sure nobody gets hurt. At this point the promoters/ stewards need to step in and take control of the situation. Here is where the problem lies, back in August 2009 519 Luke Armiger retaliated against 333 Lee Wood taking him into the fence and ended up with a 10 meeting ban, which I thought was adequate punishment for the crime. In a very similar incident Jeff Simpson received just a load-up and only a 3 meeting ban (though it was originally 1 meeting). Boardley got a one meeting punishment for hand gestures and Matt Simpson again one meeting for agressive behaviour in the pits (but raced under appeal at Aldershot).

I've wrote about this before in this blog about the inconsistencies in penalties in
rule breakers. I believe Jeff Simpson should be banned for a lot longer, throughout this qualifying series he has been clashing with 72 Willie Hardie and somehow the pair have received no penalties - not even a black cross. Simpson has been in hot rods for longer than any driver out there; bringing the Vauxhall 16 valve engine to the class was the greatest thing to ever happen - better than the Starlet or converting to RWD. Nationals might have died if it was not for him, but his behaviour sucks and he should not be allowed to act like an untouchable mafia figure. The NHRPA need to man up and ban him, I do believe that Simpson Exhausts putting money into this event and subsequently the NHRPA has changed the outcome - this is not right, money shouldn't not rule in sport, talent should shine through.

NEC Show
17th January 2010

For those that have been asking if I have any pictures or know where to see pictures for the Short Circuit part of the Autosport show at the NEC unfortunately you've come to the wrong person. I didn't attend this year and I haven't been for a few years.

Going back a few years the Brentwood was good but that was back in the pre-internet days, you knew that Spedeworth would have a few cars there but not really know what they were. You could wander about collecting all your fixture lists for the forthcoming year and plan everything the following evening. Now everything is streamed through the world wide web. I personally can't see the appeal of driving 200+ miles to see the cars from the sport I love NOT RACING. I go to meetings for the racing not what the cars look like. I know there's the indoor arena but it's not the same, as value for money I don't think it matches any stock car/ hot rod meeting. I know some of you may disagree but hey we're all entitled to your own opinions. There is the other type of person the people that couldn't attend but wanted to be there, so for those I'm asking if you have some pictures from the show send them in or a link where your fellow fans can enjoy them.

Just another year
30th December 2009

Stuck in the void of that time after Christmas and New Years Iím contemplating putting together a list of the best performing drivers of the year, itís something Iíve done for several years but Iím getting a little sick of seeing and hearing every list thatís flying around at the moment. The best of the year, the best of the decade, blah. Perhaps my attitude will change as I get bored of seeing another episode of Friends on T4 and feel I need to contribute something to the masses.

Every year I can easily put a spin on the good aspects, mask the bad ones and hype up the future of the sport. In all honesty the promoters will have to work harder than ever to keep the three sports of bangers, stock cars and hot rod racing continuing. Bangers are definitely dropping in numbers and Iíve personally lost my interest in them. Iíll watch them if they are racing at a meeting Iím at but I wonít travel to see them. Firecrackers and world finals are just a distant memory of what used to me. Blame the recession, blame the scrappage plan, blame drivers who donít want to crash, blame the sport becoming too professional, blame the rodders; whatever the excuse drivers racing are less and this has a knock-on effect to stock cars and hot rods. It is bangers that make money from the punters through the gate and they are the meeting that actually make a profit to compensate the low attending hot rod and stock car meetings.

The fans of stock cars and hot rods are usually the hardcore ones that travel across the country to see their favourites week after week. I salute you, you are the people that are keeping the sport ticking over. Your continued support is needed. My year ahead has some big plans, Iíve set some targets (remember if you donĎt specify a date and a measurable target your goals will become less achievable - fact!). For the site I do want it to become bigger and better, Iíve always thought that this site was unique and can link together all the hot rod racing unlike the other oval racing sites. Enter problem number one, I can not do everything. My recent survey wanted pictures and reports, I canít do both, but with the fact I donít have a fancy digital camera the reports take charge. Iíve compared my reports against other writers and although I may not have the same contact they have with the drivers I am not attached to any promoters, formula or drivers and can give unbiased view. However, YOU CAN HELP, if you have photos then send them into the site (thanks to Keith Duke, Clive Merchant and Buxton Racepix for your pictures in 2009), if you can string together a sentence or two for a meeting review/ result go for it. These little touches help, do you have a new car for 2010 share it to the world-wide-web.

Stepping away from what the site will offer next year the people that come to this site for information do it because they love the racing. They want to ingest more information, catch up on a meeting they have missed or see when their favourite class is racing next.

Fixtures are already being put together and Spedeworth seem to have put something pretty special together, 3 World finals (National Hot Rod, 2 Litre Hot Rod and Lightning Rod) at the Spedeweekend as well as the Stock Rod later on. This is to celebrate 50 years of promoting from Spedeworth. Arlington is now changing to Saturday thatíll pack out the terraces even more, while the National Hot Rods are a provisional fixture at Great Yarmouth. Wimbledonís current refurbishment means the owners have some faith in the venue.

FMC are ready to roll at Paices Hill (Aldermaston) for 2010 and Lochgelly Complex in Scotland should also be running by Easter, everything is not all doom and gloom. The questions thatíll be answered during the course of the year: Can Boardley do it again in the Nationals? Can Woolsey do it again in the 2 Litreís? Will there be a Lightning Rod race without any contact? Will the Starlet ever win another hot rod race? Which country will dominant in the Stock Rods? Will the blue flag stop being shown to a driver leading a hot rod race? Roll on 2010!

I have to say I always enjoy most of your reports as they are written very well without the big slagging but still critical to whats going on on and next to the tracks in all rod classes. Your reports about the Peugeot 205 got me going for more informations about the NHR on the mainland and by now with the help of fans and drivers that are on ovalrace.com we got some pretty informations get together that I will try to use to setup a history page on ovalrace.com for Frank Dorau (owner of the side)

Keep up your very good work and writting and all the best for a superb season 2010

Sascha


Back to the seaside
12th December 2009

An argument that has been going on for many years, should the premier hot rod class (National Hot Rods) race at a handful of the top tracks or tour the country racing at more tracks? In my opinion there are several tracks they could race at but politics has held them back.

The recent revealing of the provisional fixtures on
nationalhotrod.com has Yarmouth as a round after an absence of around 15 years. Wimbledon is a much better choice for the class but Iím in favour of the class racing at more tracks whatever they are. This doesnít mean I think they should be bouncing around some dirt oval in the middle of nowhere the tracks do need to be of a reasonable standard. Though I can think of tracks that are not within the ORCi that are good enough for the class e.g. Ringwood or Swaffham. This is a topic Iíve previously covered in the feature what tracks can be used?

Although a provisional fixture there is the class that the drivers will stomp their feet and refuse to race, Ipswich becomes a better option or a tornado will sweep off the North Sea and destroy the track. I hope this meeting goes ahead, if it does Iíll be there though I imagine it will clash with the Banger World at Arena (yes I do like Bangers as well) on that day.

To be honest I canít think of time Iíve been this excited about the class venturing elsewhere. I travelled down to Lydden Hill when the class returned there in 2007 (could be there again in 2010) but it doesnít have the close proximity that a typical short oval has, what I see as one of the points that makes the sport so great. Even meetings at the new Aldershot didnít get me planning as much as this one has, I can make a weekend away and take in the delights of the East coast sunshine.

The Fantasy Returns
9th August 2009

Fantasy Hot Rod Racing is back as an evolution from the first series that I ran, this time it will not be run by me. To see the new league and sign up for a team go
here. As a slight change it will have 6 drivers being picked instead of 5, these groups are different to mine. The points scoring system is also the so-called Carole Longhurst scoring system which will create some huge scores. I've already signed up with my team name of 'Sex, drugs and sausage rolls' and it contains the drivers Carl Boardley, James Jamieson Jnr, John Holtby, Jason Kew, Tony Moss and Russell Wilcox. Time will only tell if my experience in running the league helps out or if it's purely luck.

Taking a step back to the league that I ran it does give a good look into the form of drivers over the past 6 months. The top scoring team consisted of Chris Haird, Dick Hillard, Carl Boardley, Willie Hardie and James Jamieson Jnr but that doesn't mean they were the top 5 scoring drivers, they were the top of their respective groups. The top 20 scorers through my scoring system were as follows:
41-122 115-86 155-78 85-69 491-62
72-94 14-84 305-77 192-69 601-61
31-92 519-82 61-71 3-63 911-61
278-89 734-80 427-70 6-63 95-60

They say if is a big word, but IF my system was used Jamieson, Moss and Smith would have been in the World Final instead of Murray, Simpson and Kew. Blackman tied in 18th place with Newall. In the real series Blackman jumped up from group 2 to group 1 from the winter to the summer but went the other way in my fantasy league, why's that? He was aided by the fact he didn't have to drop a score as he missed a round but Blackman gradually picks up points instead of getting random wins, he is consistently starting from the back. A driver like Gomm or Haird seem to yo-yo up and down, at the end of the day Haird's grid position at the final Northampton round probably helped him to the English points title. The points system that I used favoured drivers having plenty of decent finishes (top 10 instead of top 15), the new one will favour those who win races.

The National Hot Rod Fantasy League has been moved to a new home nhrfantasyleague.webs.com/

Fraser Green


Vote Now
24th July 2009

There are many upís and downís Iíve had from this site. The days of no hits on a poorly designed site are behind me, the biggest problem I still face is lack of co-operation from the promoters. Getting annoyed about their lack of vision doesnít bother me anymore I still have plenty of ideas to keep this site improving. Bouncing around the head are several unique ideas thatíll be interesting for all the visitors. Although I can gradually plod on and get these into public domain Iím after a bit of feedback. What I think are good ideas are not what the majority of people want to see, so thereís no point in me wasting time if itís not wanted.

Please vote in this poll. I want to know what you the viewer would most like to see on this site. Doesnít require much work from you, just click with the mouse. You may have to disable some security measures to view the poll.

Nothing Compares
21st July 2009

Iíve been watching oval racing for about 20 years, I follow a lot of National Hot Rod meetings and plan my weekends around it at the start of the year. Even the excitement of Blur reforming would not hold me back from seeing my beloved sport. Iím not trying to find a better form of motorsport but felt surely it canít hurt seeing anything when I have the opportunity. This year I ventured to France to see the Le Mans 24 hours race. Going on the Wednesday and spending 5 days there. It would also be slightly different to my oval racing experiences due to the fact I will be staying with 6 other guys drink would be a key theme. I don't drink when watching hot rods and stock cars, never felt the need for it.

When I first arrived the speed of the cars was awesome, the V8 Corvette passing was immense, but thereís only so much you can see. As the days passed the highlight was probably watching the regular public completing burn-outs. The race was fun, but I couldnít be bothered to stay up all night. Iím not sure I even saw an overtaking manoeuvre for position which included the use of a hand-held television. Perhaps I was being biased but I canít see how this type of motorsport can compete with the short ovals for pure entertainment. Painting an old Jaguar with a chequered roof and building beer mountain probably surpassed the quality of the race, which is slightly sad considering how long Iíve thought about going.

The previous week I was at Northampton, for the final round of the National Hot Rods World Qualifying. Like Le Mans there was a Peugeot coming out on top, Hairdís 206cc probably contains as much standard Peugeot parts as the LMP version that trashed Audi. Sitting on the banking with my father is nothing new, but this time we had three of my friends. What did they think of the hot rods, stock cars and bangers? They loved it, I was bombarded with questions: Why do these race the other way? Why do they line up this way? Will Podge be out in the next Banger race? When is the next meeting? Being an oracle I answered all the questions. It made me feel good that I brought these people into my world and loved it and wanted to come back again.

Whilst the cars were practicing I asked which driver they would support, without any prior knowledge they picked Carl Boardley. I hadnít explained anything about grading at this stage but they liked the gold roof. Even though these are adults I took, his name and number werenít remembered heís just known as Ďgold topí. When I went to the World Final I was asked if Ďgold topí would be racing, of course he was he won again!

When you compare these two meetings that happened only days apart which won did I prefer? The hot rods, even though this was a bog-standard meeting where the highlight was Boardleyís move on Murray in the heats. I know in my heart that the short ovals rock, I should make more effort into getting new fans to the ovals.

Jinxed Drivers
31st March 2009

Have I cursed drivers or have the choices of the
fantasy hot rodding managers done that. In a previous post I mentioned that of the race winners at Birmingham only one driver was picked, the others werenít. I predicted the winners at Aldershot would come from more unpicked drivers. Turns out my guess was right the top three in the final were Mark Fuller, Tony Moss, Luke Armiger . All these drivers were not picked; the other race winner of the race was Shuddall who has only been picked by two teams. On top of the three I mentioned I did predict one more: Hughie Weaver, get ready for him at Northampton he should be starting near the front.

The most picked driver Carl Boardley had terrible luck (continuing from the end of 2008), more spins at Aldershot. If I am the direct cause of certain drivers winning I canít help that, but if you know a shaman or dabble in voodoo magic get in contact to remove the curse otherwise Boardley wonít qualify for the World Final.

New Track Ahead
26th March 2009

Something I get excited about is the prospect of visiting a new track; this Sunday will be no different as I venture to the new Aldershot track. I only went to the old track once and to be honest canít remember much of it, but do remember being picked up from cubs in the daytime and heading there. Strange how that bit still sits in my memory.

The National Hot Rods having a different track for a qualifying round is a move in the right direction for the formula; there are too many meetings at Ipswich. The class should be more a travelling circus that has a buzz as it hits another track. There certainly are tracks that are good enough to host the class.

For 2009 the rounds have been sponsored and named, I really like this, it is a positive move forward. Looking back the named meetings give a chance to compare who was once winning. The opening meeting at Birmingham was sponsored by Titan Motorsport but was not named. The next meeting at Aldershot will be the Southern Championship; I have been gradually collating the championship winners in the class but donít have that much info on this one. As far as I know the title was last held in 1990 at Aldershot but donít know who won. The ones I do know are Steve Burgess won the title in Ď86 (in an Escort mk2) and George Polley won in í68 (Wimbledon) í73 (Walthamstowe) and í84.

Fantasy Racing
22nd March 2009

The entries flew in faster than I expected for
this series, I thank you all that have entered, 76 so far and more could enter. I expected about 25; if someone wants to put some money towards this by sponsoring it get in contact. The selections though have surprised me, most going for the Blackman/ Boardley/ Spinks combo from groups 2/3/4. With Spinks he may be quick on the day, goes for the outside move and is the only driver to make some progress in a World Final but never qualifies well. In the class the for about 10 years now he historically qualifies lowly because he doesnít pick up enough points during the year, this fantasy league is all about points scored in the qualifiers, not the reputation the driver has.

The driver picked most was Carl Boardley (60 times!), but his season is not going so well and thatís why he isnít at the top of the points. Over 8 meetings he has been outscored by Carter, Pepper and Austin yet people still believe he will do well. Again it is his reputation that has him up there. Iím not trying to say he is slow, he will be a favourite for the World come July but I just think people have failed to realise he sits back there because the drivers are doing better than him (or being luckier).

The last round of 2008 Boardley won the final yet his lap times werenít the quickest 24th overall during the day. Perhaps this is a bit unfair to compare as the track was affected by weather but does show whoís quick. Thompson and Jamieson were the top dogs followed by Hillard. Dick Hillard has really got his Tigra flying and scored well in the fantasy league (albeit after one round), and moves into second place in the National Hot Rod standings. One of the 6 people that picked him they could be the winners of the fantasy hot rodding. The team that should have been picked would be M Simpson, Hillard, Pepper, Sanders and Edwards; which would have amassed 119 points; the top scorer so far has 63, Theoretically 188 points could be scored by one team in a meeting, the average score is 26!

After the first meeting Martin Kingstonís Just 4 Fun leads the way, Mark Edwards scoring well for him, Martin being the only person to pick him. Final winner David Newall and heat one winner Russell Wilcox was not picked by anyone. Has this league jinxed drivers? Will the winners of the next meetings be the unselected drivers like Armiger, Weaver, Moss and Fuller? The next meeting at Aldershot may lack overtaking more big points hauls for the drivers starting at the front of the grid.

Give us what the fans want
15th February 2009

Best hot rod class in the UK? The super fast National Hot Rods with its roots as the original class, the competitive Stock Rods that race throughout the UK or the rough and ready Lightning Rods that have earned themselves the nickname of Frightening Rods. Personally Nationals on their day nothing compares, yet there is another formula that sits nicely underneath it, the Spedeworth 2 Litre Hot Rods.

Putting together the ideal meeting would need the National Hot Rods and then stick the 2 Litre Hot Rods on the support bill. The cars are like a scaled down version of them, similar build and style just a cheaper version. Although a one promotion formula in England they have a large register of drivers, no other promoter with their own formula has the same quality line-up.

Seems obvious they should run together yet they only have one meeting together in England in 2009 which is the Spedeweekend. Instead the Nationals have bangers as their supporting role most of the time. This strange way of laying out the fixtures also appears at Hednesford. With Incarace now controlled by Spedeworth Deane Wood has kept the Incarace formulas in tact and added a few meetings for the Spedeworth formulas on those tracks. This sees the Superstox and 2 Litre Hot Rods having a few away days. Last November the 2 Litre Hot Rods hit Northampton for the National Championship. This year they have their World Championship at Hednesford, the first time the class has been there since 1991 when they used the 1600 crossflow engine.

Hednesford has fewer fixtures this year compared to years gone by and the National Hot Rods have suffered by having only 2 qualifying rounds and the National Championship. Yet the 2 Litre Hot Rods have three for this year, but they are the only away days for the class, none at Birmingham or Northampton. So what you might ask, but to me it doesnít seem logical that the track with least meetings available hosts this class when the National Hot Rods are losing meetings. Then you also have to consider being the most northerly of all the Incarace tracks it will also be the furthest away for the drivers.

In Northern Ireland things are a little different; the Nutts Corner track normally has many formulas racing at one meeting. During 2008 Nationals hit the circuit 8 times and 2 Litreís were on the same bill 8 times, this is likely to occur again in 2009. This year at Rolling Thunder the Outlaw hot rods venture there 8 times and every time the almost identical 2 Litre Hot Rods race with them.

It seems a real shame that the two classes that compliment each other so well canít be seen together in England. Do the promoters not care about the race fans that having been coming year on year, are Bangers more important to put alongside the Nationals. Itís obvious that Bangers draw the crowds, but the top end formulas do have their own fan-base. Why not have the bangers out with the regular formulas so the tracks can be cleaner when the faster cars are out there.

To end I would like to stress that I do like Stock Cars and Bangers. Iíve been to the big meetings and like a crash. I wouldnít want them to separated and never run together just limit those meetings they are together. More nationals and 2 litre in the future please.

Rule Breakers
8th February 2009

Looking back over a year of National Hot Rod Racing there has been some good racing and some poor. The points that stand out are perhaps not the highlights but this year might be remembered as the one where the promoters failed to adhere to the rules.

I was one of the fans that were left wondering how things are meant to be run at the World Championship. I wrote the qualifying farce as I saw it being wrong and it seemed like I wasnít the only person who thought would be different as the official souvenir World Final programme also thought the top Irish drivers should have been slotted into group one.

In Nationals plenty of drivers have been banned over the years for a multitude of reasons. Some of them bounce back stronger, some brush it off, some drivers are still considered squeaky clean and it was all an accident.

It seems that the drivers who are favourites with the crowd can take the ban and continue as a liked driver, whilst others become hated/ disliked figures. For those that have come through it still smelling of roses are John Steward and Ricky Hunn. Steward raced with an illegal engine and duly took his ban; Hunn has been banned a few times amassing too many penalty points and just ramming another driver.

While the popularity of Colin White seems to have dropped since he was banned for bringing the sport into disrepute. Blackman also seems out of favour as well.

So what differences do those drivers have, all have been world champions, but Steward and Hunn took a lot longer to get their world titles. When favourites they didnít take their chance and eventually took gold a few years later. Did this help create their legendary status? Is this the British attitude of always loving the underdog, building them up and knocking them down when they eventually make it?

Those in trouble this year have been Boardley, maybe not banned but he was effectively loaded-up for having his car run under the legal limit of inside weight. Due to running so close to this limit when weighed he was under. Matt Simpson had an illegal engine at the World but somehow the NHRPA decided they shouldnít ban him even though it seemed the same as the Steward situation in 1999.

The National Championship also threw up the problem where most of the Haird built cars being illegal due to using tubing being too thin on the rollcage, this was rectified but how long had these cars been running illegally, surely they should have been spotted in the World Final the month before and removed from those results.

Blackman got himself into trouble in the 2 Litre Hot Rods, though collecting a black cross he wasnít docked places and only lost out on a trophy when the carburettor was larger than the rules permit. He took a one month ban in that class yet could race in other ORCi formulas. Gordon Moodie lost out on the World Final due to illegal tyres and carburettor he is now sitting on a 15 month ban. The fans have their favourites and the promoters seem to have theirs as well which doesnít seem very professional.

When running on the edge or looking for a loophole in the rules sometimes the drivers go a little too far, in these situations they should be banned. Even if they have bought the part from a recognised supplier. Itís the driverís responsibility for the car to be legal when they race the car and buck should stop with them. There needs to be far more consistency in breaking the rules, the percentage rules in Nationals allows a small discrepancy to be amended through the meeting and larger one result in a ban, yet other problems do not have a system with the same logic. This needs to be applied across all of the ORCi formulas.

Can 2009 be better? Will Deane Wood and co get rid of the grey areas in the sport or do we thrive on controversy?

Definately there are, and will allways be, favourites amongst fans but also amongst promoters. I'm sure promoters will say otherwise but I honestly don't believe there is anyone out there that can say with hand on heart that they are impartial in all cases. Also there is a distinct lack of consistency punishment across the board.

I think that the reason for the goodies and baddies amongst the rule breakers is the punishment they get, the way they handle their punishment and in their possible intention. John Stewart and Carl Boardley for intance. Both seemed to have made a mistake and not intentionaly meant break the rules. Both took the hit on the chin without complaint and resumed racing after the end of their punishment. Other drivers moan and complain to all who will listen and throw their teddies out.

Also others effectivley get caught, even if it isn't intentional, and get away with it.

Gary

Big let downs
24th September 2008

This weekend I couldn't kept away from the ovals and watched the F1 World at Ipswich and Banger World at Arena. My third world championship and again I was disappointed by the big race.

In all the oval classes the World championship is billed as the biggest race of the year, the best drivers and they are qualified through different means and the grid is set for an amazing race. But they fail.

Starting with the Brisca F1 world it was hampered by noise restrictions that meant promoter Steve Rees used the quiet time to get cars onto the grid before the engine noise, hence the first race being the world final. This does work with National Hot Rods but the cars are being pushed onto the track by the team not recovery vehicles, the atmosphere is building up from the previous days racing. This system failed with the Stock Cars. I did enjoy myself but I was expecting more from that night.

The following day onto Arena for the World Final, like the National Hot Rod version this would be the 20th Iíve attended and felt it necessary to continue watching. Lots of things have happened this year that have affected the bangers at Arena, all of the problems have resulted with only two banger meetings left for the National spec.

I did consider not watching the event, the past few have been pretty poor, and bangers are not what they used to be. Not enough cars, not enough hitting and just drivers not getting stuck in. After a few races I was right it was pretty lame, the World had no atmosphere but thatís nothing new for Arena. The DD was the best race of the day, though I was annoyed how long it took for races to get onto track. The 30 minutes between races were filled with an empty track and a long time getting cars to line up. This is a problem that Arena has always had and veering away from my point of a poor world final.

Looking back to my other world of the year the National Hot Rod one, that was another below par race. So why are these races dull? Why with the best drivers can they not make a decent race? The answer is simply the thing that separates hot rods, stock cars and bangers from the rest is not the shape of track, and itís the handicap system employed. Grading makes the racing exciting, the fans want overtaking so the best drivers have to come from the back. This format is usually removed from the majority of major championships. I donít have a solution on how to improve the world final, just a response to why they the race we all want to watch sends us to sleep.

Aldershot Progress
6th September 2008

The newest track in the world of hot rod racing takes another step forward, next weekend Aldershot will host a National Hot Rod meeting. The performance of this non-qualifying meeting will help form the fixtures for next year.

Last week I started a piece on suitable tracks for National Hot Rods and why they been shrinking over the last 15 years and suddenly there's a new one. This piece will follow soon! The negative comments have already started, from the track being too small and will cause damage to the cars but people lets have a look before whinging about it.

Deane Wood built this track because he wanted an oval track in a big catchment area that has missed racing since the closure of the old Aldershot. He took over Spedeworth as a business venture and will want the best possible racing, in hot rods terms that means the premier class the National Hot Rods.

I haven't attended the track and don't think it would be fair to comment on how the racing will turn out. Hopefully there will be the top drivers there. As World champion Carl Boardley will be racing, Blackman and Simpson are just down the road so the big boys should be in attendance. Providing there are double figures it will give the NHRPA and Spedeworth a decent assessment of National Hot Rods at Aldershot.

Championship Time
31st August 2008

The month of September is traditionally championship month for oval racing, the one I'm most looking forward to this month is the F1 Stock Cars World Final at Ipswich. 7 races, no hot rods and I can't wait. I've got myself some tickets and going to get there early, as soon as it opens. The other world final I will be watching will be the Banger World Final at Arena Essex the following day. Like the National Hot Rod World I've attended this one every year since I 1989 so I'm not planning on breaking the continuous streak of 20.

Last weekend for me I celebrated my oval racing anniversary, 20 years on the terraces. My first meeting was 24th August 1988 at Eastbourne, 20 years on and I get to see racing on the same day 24th August this time at Arena. The day is very special for me not just for that reason but it's also my dad's birthday and the day I learnt to ride a bike. Other significant achievement from schoolhood are not known, guess that one day stuck in mind.

Back to the racing and the only World Final left for the hot rods is the Lightning Rods at Northampton which I will not be able to attend. After watching the English Championship Terry Shelvey must be favourite he was very quick, but the last World at Northampton threw up a surprise winner with Rick Pannell. Other previous champions Ahern, Diggy and MacKenzie haven't raced that much and like Pannell may not qualify for the race, leaving Steve Emerson as the only previous champ in the field.

The other majors in September are the 2 Litre European at Wimbledon, the National Hot Rod British at Ballymena and the Stock Rod European at Wimbledon. Shelvey for Gold is a good prediction but I think the other majors are much more open.

World Final Qualifying
12th July 2008

I did initially start a piece for the blog regarding the grid for the National Hot Rod World Final and how I thought the drawing for numbers was wrong. I believe that the times were valid and track conditions were fair for the top driver English drivers and non-English drivers. Going into real detail about the errors of the qualifying procedure the article was creeping up to 1000 words when I started thinking this piece is going to be something special and I still had more to type.

My blog pieces are usually first-hand (myself speaking to the reader) while I try to make the rest of the website in third-hand (me and I not included), this is the professional way to write and how I have been taught in education to write essays. So the piece ĎQualifying Farceí may read like an extended blog article and will hopefully express my views fully without showing too much anger, because there shouldnít be that much, I think its more disappointment.

The facts that back up the piece are all accurate, they should lay to rest some the whines people list on various forums. I do believe what Iíve wrote to be correct and you may think Iím being big-headed but I also consider it to be the best work Iíve produced for this website.

Hit or Miss
10th July 2008

Many predictions were made about the recent Spedeweekend but who were drivers that surprised and who were the ones that flopped.

Hit Ė 74 James OíShea
Of the support programme he should have won the final, even a spin and trip off track didnít stop him trying and was visibly faster than his opponents.

Hit Ė 541 Harry Skoyles
Quietly got on with his qualifying heats and then pulled away from the big names in the European Championship, has elevated himself from a red top to a big name in the class.

Hit Ė 78 Laurens Van De Velde
He might have been racing for 20 years but his experience to racing clockwise in a hot rod has been limited yet he got himself into group three setting a faster time than Stewart Doak, Tom Casey and Shane Murphy. The last time a continental driver got himself that high on the grid was Volker Timm back in 1997 when only 7 Irish drivers raced instead of the 12 this year.

Miss Ė 962 John Christie
Came into the race as one of the favourites, but qualified poorly in 16th, people may argue that the system doesnít work well but he was the 14th quickest overall. During the race he failed to move forward only moving up to 13th and the last car on the lead lap.

Miss Ė Out the hat National Hot Rod race
Last year this was an amazing race that Phil Spinks almost nicked on the line after going to the outside, this year only 3 drivers from the world final joined 9 others on track. Only five cars made the distance. The poor driving of the support final may have kept drivers away but it was low point and not a good way to sign off the meeting, get ready for stock cars to end the meeting next year.

Atmosphere
30th June 2008

Only a few days to go to the highlight of my year; the National Hot Rod World Championship. I love the weekend I find the atmosphere in the crowd before the big race electric, such a buzz as everyone anticipates a great day. The cars crawling around on the warm-up laps really get your blood running, I can remember one year sweating in the sun then having goose-pimples as I wait for the race to get going.

Itís something Iíve never experienced before; the Nationals at Hednesford had no atmosphere. Seen a lot of Banger World finals, they might have a big crowd but the atmosphere isnít the same. I used to watch a lot of the Firecracker banger meeting the crowds were around 10,000 at Arena Essex but waiting up to an hour between races kills the mood so does the cold weather. Saloon Stock Car championship events donít give me that tingling feeling and Iíve been to plenty of tracks to watch them as well. The only time Iíve experienced something close on the ovals was a F1 World Championship at Coventry, the cars parading the drivers hanging off the side with the horns and cheers overpowering the commentary. This was something impressive but didnít get me going like the National Hot Rod World does.

I think the 2 Litre race on the Saturday evening makes the weekend, it gives two memorable races for each day. I was disappointed that the race was run early last year while still light, it needs to be under the lights to create the tension, sparkle and buzz. I have wondered what the National Hot Rod world final would be like on the Saturday evening, would it be even better or would the Sunday become less important. Swings and roundabouts, whatever Mr Wood feels is the right way to run the show is fine by me because Iíll be still be sitting on the turnstile bend with a huge grin on my face.

World Final Preview
25th June 2008

Youíre reading this and probably thinking its National Hot Rods Iím going to talk about, but no thereís another world final this weekend and thatís for the National Super Rods.

Although I havenít seen the Super Rods this year Iím still going to have a guess at who will win and the chances of me getting the prediction right will probably be more likely than receiving the result from anyone, I can wait and hope though.

The qualifying series has put 2006 champion John Wicks on pole with Dave Roberts qualifying alongside; reigning champion Chas Farrer is back in sixth. 17 drivers have scored points but I canít see that many drivers attending Swaffham this Sunday.

Although Adrian Bennett has won every race he has entered at Swaffham and the last final at Birmingham Iím putting my money (hypothetical money that is) on Nick Farrer. Farrer has won 3 of the 6 finals this year plus a couple more heats, starts fifth.

Does old still work?
19th June 2008

While Iíve been watching hot rod racing the retro style machines have been the cars that have as much interest as the latest ones. Del Featherstoneís Capri Super Rod may not be a race winner but is quick enough to compete and looks great out there; itís one of many that Iíve seen over the years.

The most recent of the retro cars before the introduction of Classics was Lee Fishwickís A40 that appeared about 10 years ago first in the 1600 Hot Rods as they became the 2 Litre class. That was last raced in Group A Hot Rods before vanishing to obscurity. Many cars do gather dust in garages, some drivers reluctant to sell off their pride and joy which eventually become uncompetitive. But the Classics could do with the hot rods that fit their pre-76 ruling to bolster numbers.

Fishwick previously raced a Escort mk1 in the 1600 Hot Rods, I canít remember seeing that in action after it crashed in the 1991 World Final, I donít really expect that car to be working, or even in one piece but there must be more cars. Group A Hot Rods have seen many older style cars, there was definitely a few Angliaís and Miniís (Charlie Benjamin and Simon Simmons both successful) during the 1990ís. Neil Reeve had an Anglia and there was another blue one but his name escapes me. Ben Cooper returned to the Group Aís in 1994 and raced a Hillman Imp until 1997. Steve May raced one of the last of the purpose built retro cars for the class with a Mini in the early part of this century, that seemed to do a handful of meeting and vanish. Billy Groom then raced an Escort that he converted to Classic spec and is now raced by Rick Fray, but proved a car can be upgraded and competitive in the Classics. For all you anoraks in 2001 Toni Locke also raced an Escort in Group A Hot Rods.

When I created the site, I did try to list all the active hot rod drivers at the time, this has now been reduced to the major classes on the ovals. At that time I found out a few drivers were using old cars some that have been raced for over 20 years. At Standlake 373 (whoever this driver may be) was using an Anglia; while at Barford Dave Chance, 54 still races a Mini and David Fenwick,7 was using an Escort mk2 recently. Racing has now stopped at Blyton but Steve Kent battled against Novaís and Fiestaís in his Mini.

When Bovingdon got took over by Spedeworth the classes were phased out, the 2 Litre class was considerable slower than the Spedeworth version, there was previously chances at Northampton to race in open meetings but these meetings became all Outlaw style meetings and again pushed out drivers with older cars. Pete Bateman used his Escort at Rolling Thunder in 2006 until the rules changed to only allow Ford Pinto cars, Dave McMahon was another who raced an Escort mk2 at Bovingdon in the pre-Spedeworth days. Back to Rolling Thunder Guy Chopping,66 last raced the Anglia that Trevor Packard had built as a spaceframe for Spedeworth action (another disappearing car!)

The track that really prospered with older cars has been Buxton. Iain Grayson, 19 still competes with an Escort likewise with Paul Stevenson in a similar model. The later mk2 version used recently by Adam Griggs,333.

SEGTO still has many older Escorts and so do the RDC spec Super Rods (up to 2 Litre); would any of these become Classics? Iím sure there a people keen to race in the Classics but finding a donor car may be hard, people with old racing cars gathering dust or sat in field should sell (and even give them away) to someone who could use them if they arenít using them. It would be good to see cars that are from the same era (the golden years of the 1970ís) in the classics if not full-time but having a few away days from their usual class, maybe the mainly Midland meetings are holding drivers back.

As a final thought, it is the duty of the club to get non-active drivers to sell off their old cars, or should the ORCi step in, or do people not care and they can rust in hell. This doesnít just apply to the classics but every formula must have decent race winning cars filling space in garages.

Marketing for Hot Rod Racing
5th May 2008

Sponsorship is probably the only non-engineering item that has revolutionised motor racing. The top classes of any branch of motor racing need an additional cash flow to help them participate.

Hot rod racing has sponsors, yet these are normally somebody already in the sport helping the formula they race in. Sponsors are usually friends and family that will trade space on the car for money.

Does the sponsor get enough from the drivers displaying their name to hundreds, if not thousands per meeting. Does the spectator think I should ring up ĎJoe Bloggs Tradingí because I saw them on a car and get a quote or do they struggle to read the fancy signwriting that lacks contact details. Obviously contact details arenít needed on large multi-national companies they are just there to cement the company name into the viewerís unconscious mind.

The drivers who get lucky, who get sponsorship should consider themselves fortunate, but perhaps this would happen more if the driver did more. More than give them a free canvas to display a company name? Barring on track action, are drivers willing to do more for the sponsor. I know drivers have day jobs and spend hour upon hour in the garage preparing for the next meeting, but the optimistic soul and I believe there is more.

Letís throw a few ideas into the ring. A car sponsored by a performance parts company, displays the car in the facility for a set amount of days, create a buzz for the company and oval racing. The same can be applied to any service that sponsors a car. Free tickets from the company to customer to see the sponsored car in action (give something away and get business in return). You race a hot hatch then send some pictures into a hot hatch style magazine, the sport and your sponsor can benefit.

Those are just off the top of my head, Iím sure thereís more once I get thinking. I do understand me typing ideas is a lot easier than going out and actually getting sponsorship, but without ideas we wouldnít even have the wheel, so donít shoot me for being imaginative.

There seems to be a couple of drivers who have created websites to portray their racing adventures, clever as it gives more exposure. I still donít think these sites go far enough, how about sending details of your racing to other websites, with a link that can generate more interest for the driver. Itís not a new idea; it is just how web marketing works.

Iím not a marketing genius but felt those points were necessary. Iím still on the hunt for tips to generate more exposure to hot rod racing. I AM LOOKING TO SPONSOR A DRIVER, no lie, not sure what financial gain I will get but would like to do something original and new. Paying to put an advert on a website or magazine may get more visitors but it doesnít help the sport. I would like to have my name on a racing car, help a driver.

The money is not going to be massive (Iím a student) but hereís my plan, hot rod drivers out there who would like to gain some sponsorship email me what space on the car can be used for Ďwww.whistlinjacksmith.co.uk Ė hot rod websiteí. Tell me what you can do and Iíll return with my offer.

The article you have put on the website is very true of many drivers...they want cash, they will give space on the car / transporter or even on the clothing, but that is it! I've always offered much more in return for sponsorship, though never getting any major takers! I always try my best to get photos into Short Circuit and average 3-4 a year. My sponsorship proposals always have included the option (at an additional price) to have track days, to have ride alongs, for sponsors to drive the car (subject to contracts and security guarantees of course!). Hospitality, use of car and or myself for any promotional work.

However it is getting that one person to say hey...this looks great I will give this lad a chance! Very interesting article and something I've agreed with for years...but its always the case of being there at the right time in front of the right person and getting across your enthusiasm!

Chris Pye

Is there a future for Lightning Rods?
13th April 2008

For the beginning of this century Lightning Rods have grown and become a crowd favourite but how much longer can the Sierra provide a base for a large hot rod formula.

In the early part of the 21st century the formula was certainly on the up, not just numbers but the quality of drivers also improved, but over the last few years numbers are definitely down with grids being less than 20 at some meetings. The next meeting at Hednesford has only 14 drivers booked, the so called home of hot rod racing, a track that suites the big cars and it canít attract many.

For the class to survive it really needs to move forward with the times and move away from the Sierra, similar competing classes have done so and they are getting bigger grids. At Grimley the rules now allow any rear wheel drive with Ford Sierra running gear, this may not be a massive change but does show the promoters are looking to other big cars.

Ringwood may now be despised by fans since Trojan International took over but one the success stories has been the Thunder Rods which allow any car from 1800cc to 3000cc, the class is similar to Saloon Rods which race at Standlake. Ringwood has had 20+ grids with this class which is better than the Lightning Rod meetings over the last few months. Front wheel drive is the future, most people drive a FWD road car and probably never experience RWD, it makes sense to use FWD in a lower level hot rod class. As manufacturers make more and more FWD why do short promoters insist on this Ford Sierra/ Cortina combination that is drying up. The only car manufacturers that build RWD cars now are those of building high classes cars like Mercedes and BMW.

Another track like Ringwood (also seen to be running into the ground) is Swaffham that will be running Mondeo Rods for 2008. The Mondeo is the car Ford replaced the Sierra with in the mid 90ís; there are plenty of the old rep mobiles about so it provides a cheap car to get racing with. I think this is a cunning move from promoter Shawn Mason, it does though give Spedeworth and PRI an opportunity to see how they can develop Lightning Rods, they should keep a careful eye on this formula.

The Lightning Rods also have rivals with other Sierra based formulas, Mendip Hills and Ringwood run Special Rods for the 1600cc engine, there spec does vary between promotions. The original big formula on the oval the Super Rods that had the cheaper Lightning Rods phase them out at Incarace look to be on the way up, most of the drivers cut their teeth with Lightning Rods and now want more power.

I can see why promoters use an all Sierra formula; it keeps costs level and easier for the scrutineers to check the same engines but eliminates a huge amount of cars. You might think Iím being a bit drastic for calling a change to Lightning Rods; I donít want to see the whole class change to FWD but just give the drivers the opportunity to do so. That will probably be a spell for disaster having big cars that require different racing styles.

Spin Off
12th April 2008

When I first started this website there was a section called Ďspin-offí where I wrote about hot rod drivers that had moved away from the ovals onto the big circuits. Now seems like the time to catch up on.

The Renault Clio series that runs with the BTCC package now fields a young Northern Irish driver Glenn Bell,99 better known to hot rod fans as the double stock rod world champion. With backing behind him he might have a chance of moving up the motor sport ladder. His first meeting ended in the gravel trap after a small scuffle into druids bend. Rob Collard (son of Mick ĎDuffyí Collard) had some success in 1600 Hot Rods and raced in the Clioís and has now gone up to Touring Cars.

Another from Northern Ireland trying to get into professional motor sport is William Buller, he has a very busy year planned as he sets his sights on bigger things. For all the formulaís he is racing this year check out the
Nutts Corner page (you will have to scroll down the page).

A driver who has proved you can go from ovals to the circuits successfully is Jamie Green the winner of the F3 Euroseries championship in 2004 and now races a Mercedes C-Klasse in DTM. His younger brother Nigel has stepped up from karts and races as 445 in F2 Stock Cars (hot rods fans might have caught him in action at the Northampton Good Friday meeting winning a heat).

The Pick-up series is littered with former hot rod racers mainly due to connections, similar engines spec and Sonny Howard building all the cars. Look out for ĎSpin Off 2í drivers who have made the decision to go from hot rods to contact racing on the ovals.

Snow Joke
27th March 2008

Looking back at the Easter weekend it provided great racing 8 races with 7 different winners in the National Hot Rods. The final at Ipswich gave the cold fans the race of the weekend, Blackman having a demonic drive that almost netted him victory on the last lap. The choice of tyres and a drying track made this all possible but itís what hot rod fans like, the best coming from the back.

In the 15+ years I have been watching oval racing I have never seen a race in the snow, it didnít really settle and good because otherwise racing would have been cancelled. Stock Car racing continued at Great Yarmouth on Monday even though heavier than at Ipswich, while a few minutes away the horseracing was cancelled, it takes a lot to stop stock car racing.

When leaving on Friday morning I thought I would be tempting fate to bring gloves, as long as I have my hat and a few layers Iíll be fine. The wind at Northampton was bitter and I felt very cold come the end of the day. Coldness is one of the reasons I donít watch the firecracker banger meeting anymore, sitting close to an hour between races in the cold while they clear up the cars is not my cup of tea. I was more prepared for Ipswich, two pairs of socks and trackies under my jeans, still no gloves, they were in my student halls.

Although the snow excites the kids it puts a massive strain on this country that canít cope with extreme conditions, rain proved more a problem than the snow. Downpours have left some tracks unraceable so drivers and fans should check with promoters before travelling.

A comprehensive
fixture list has finally been created for hot rod racing with around 500 meetings for you to choose from. Birmingham seems to have a good selection of meetings with hot rods while Hednesford the so called home of hot rod racing has no hot rods after the August bank holiday.

While on the topic of updates, driver lists have been updated and so have the roll of honour lists, a few more blanks filled in on the National Hot Rods, 2 Litre Hot Rods, Lightning Rods and Stock Rod pages. The new cars for 2008 page is being continuously updated while a movers and shakers page cites the movement of the National Hot Rods drivers in the quest for world qualification, this page is completely unofficial and just me tapping away at a calculator. Some of the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed the change of font on the news page, although the loss of continuity may look messy I really havenít the time to go through the whole of that page at the moment and I think itís easier on the eye to read.

The year ahead
13th March 2008

I canít wait to see some hot rod racing, itís been over 6 months since I last saw hot rods burning around a stadium and Iím itching to see some to get over the winter blues.

As always with oval racing it has a few meetings over winter and spring but the season traditionally kicks into gear at Easter time. I can never understand how Easter changes each year (does the anniversary of Jesus Christís death alter?) but this year its an early one. Like a junkie I need a fix and aiming for a double whammy with Northampton Good Friday and Ipswich on the Monday, might even slip something in on the Sunday as well.

Itís the National Hot Rods that I love and the class that I have most interest in, personally on their day nothing can touch them. This year seems to have a little extra buzz. Northern Ireland has so many quality drivers coming through that qualifying will be tough, Ireland is no longer just the Casey-Stanley show it was ten years back the progress as a whole is immense. England though had stagnated over the past few years as I previously mentioned in my
Lee Pepper post.

But from the Birmingham meeting things seem so much brighter. Boardley and Blackman have been in a league of their own lately but it seems that Thompson (in a new Tigra), Haird, Simpson and Holtby are all closing in. Not sure if tipping drivers is a recipe for disaster but it didnít harm Holtby or David Brooks who on their day have very quick cars.

When I glanced over last yearís tips guide I failed miserably: Paffey wonít will the world, Diggy will have a successful year, PRI to have Lightning Rod champ show that I get more predictions wrong than right good job Iím not a bookie (although betting on hot rods odds could be a interesting business opportunity).

So with a few minutes to spare Iíll knock off a few lines on who can shine in 2008. National Hot Rods: Chris Haird, 2 Litres: Wayne Woolsey or Paul Wright, Stock Rods: Rob McDonald, Super Rods: Gary Farrington, Lightning Rods: Steve Emerson. Personally would like to see Randell back to winning ways in the 2 Litreís, more English drivers in Nationals, Lee Fishwick get his A40 back racing as a Classic, a BMW Super Rod, the Tigra domination halted and National Hot Rod World Final under lights on the Saturday of the Spedeweekend. Six of each, maybe my preferences could out do my carefully thought out predictions.

Round Up
2nd March 2008

This year has seen the most visitors ever as the site enters itís fourth year in existence. I would like to thank those who have helped and given me positive support for what Iím doing. The most recent addition is the
new cars section what couldnít exist if it wasnít for people sending them in, keep them coming the more the better. Hot Rod fans are itching to see some racing and been starved of action for many months, the new machines gives a little glimmer to eagerly anticipated year ahead.

I would like to continually add more things like that, the features page continually grow to give a lot of unique information to you guys. This blog will still have things I need to get off my chest and thereís a lot of things boiling under ready for me to unleash upon you (Richard your emails have given me a lot of inspiration). The fixtures are slowly being collated and should be online soon, itís a hard task getting them all in one list in chronological order, Iíll get there.

To finish I want to highlight the fact Iím still after information for my studies on money v performance as previously mentioned in this blog and in a few forums. Time is ticking for me.

Lee Pepper's National Hot Rod
15th February 2008

As spring approaches it means the start of the oval racing season, for National Hot Rods its halfway through the qualifying campaign but that doesnít stop newcomers entering. The English hasnít had many big names moving up to the class until the announcement of former 2 Litre World Champion Lee Pepper in a Peugeot 206.

Over the past few years the Irish scene has been very healthy. In Northern Ireland there has been a steady stream of drivers stepping up from the 2 Litre class as documented on the National Hot Rod
Website. For 2008 there is youngster William Buller in a new Tigra. The Southern Irish newcomers are usually less known but are still producing high class drivers.

Over in the mainland numbers have remained pretty level. From the last world final there has been Pagden and Austin step up from the 2 litres but no one in the English scene has arrived to unsettle the top drivers. The last being Matt Simpson who came into the class almost three years ago and Thompson was four. England really needs new blood coming into the class every year. Otherwise with the quality and quantity of the Irish drivers they will be losing even more places on the World Final grid.

Lee Pepper comes into this year in good form, last year was probably his best yet, although no majors he was always in the mix in the 2 litre class and well placed in the driver of the year. How long it takes him to start winning will depend how the NHRPA place him on the grid. When grading existed a step up to Nationals from the 1600ís or Superstox would mean a drop in grade. So that would equate a blue top for Pepper today, but heís going to start at the back for at least his first meeting, then off the front can pick up some serious points, the handicap system is what makes hot rod racing interesting. Although the grids have the faster drivers at the back the question is yet again raised do National Hot Rods need grades.

Seems like the position of new drivers can be over-ruled by Graham Brown who can place the driver to his discretion, which is a good thing, would be better if the cars had grades though. Pepper will be driving the 206 that Pagden raced last year which was owned before that by another Sussex racer Jon Wood.

Webmaster: Paul Ballard


Aldershot and Upwards
11th February 2008

Prepare yourself oval fans a new track is coming. Not a new site but a completely re-profiled track in the Aldershot area, home of Spedeworth.

The old track which sits under the by-pass was known as hq and a huge hit with fans and drivers. The new track is the Fleet track that Spedeworth secured last year. The Fleet Motor Club have taken their equipment onto a new track a Paices Hill. Two tracks Spedeworth took over recently were Bovingdon and Swaffham, both of these had significant work carried out but not on the same scale as Aldershot. Progress can be seen on the
Spedeworth website, the diggers are there at the moment.

Aldershot is local for Deane Wood who is snapping up everything going in oval racing. Not content with increasing his Spedeworth stable from five to six another three more have been added with the acquisition of Incarace. How many more will he want? Will all oval racing be controlled by Deane Wood? Is he the ruler of everything and needs to be called God?

If it means the same organisation and flawless show at all the tracks then bring it on, until the money runs out surely thereís still room for more tracks. Incarace and Spedeworth definitely became a lot closer over recent years running Mallory and Rockingham events together. Startrax have also become quite pally will they merge to become a super promoter that destroys all inferior tracks. This is a serious prospect that could happen within the next few years. If this happens it shouldnít ruin the racing I watch or where I watch it.

Deane Wood does though need to change how things are happening, although he keeps the Spedeworth name he is already managing it quite differently. The variations between the Mad Max 2 Litre Stock Car and his 2 Litre Stock Car class show he is interested in providing great racing. He also doesnít want to turn his back on the other promoters but work alongside them. As Spedeworth slowly evolve thereís something that needs to be sorted, Spedeworth letting drivers race at other promoters. They are licensed by you, not owned. The drivers own the cars and should be allowed to race where they like.

If the promoters provided the best racing for the driver they wouldnít want to go elsewhere, and if they had a one-off meeting they would return to the home promotion and not tempted by the succulent cherry of another promotion.

Back and Running
8th February 2008

Swaffham is reopening this year under a brand new promotion, the name of this promotion is still unknown and immaterial but the man behind the new venture is Shaun Mason who has left Trackstar to do things by himself.

Iíve never heard of the man before this announcement but am sure he can do a great job. Swaffham has seemed to struggle in the past even under Spedeworth but there is still hope for the track. Spedeworth made some great improvements, lowering the centre grass was a great thing to do to help viewing spectactors. Itís a nice sized oval, decent grandstand just needs a few more people through the gates.

This is where Mr Mason can out do Spedeworth, his Banger experience is surely what will help the track survive. There might be a lot of competition from RDC (Mildenhall) and Trackstar (Skegness) but should have better Banger meetings than Spedeworth. Providing there are a lot of rookie style meetings with the occasional big prize meetings spread across the year. I personally think Spedeworth have a poor pool of Banger drivers (number wise) and whenever Iíve seen them in a domestic meeting its pitiful.

So the only way the track will survive is banger racing where does this leave hot rod racing, as usual running alongside them. I like to see to contact racing with hot rods, it gives the sport another dimension, some light relief from the professionalism that is coming into hot rods. Bangers give the hot rod fan a chance to switch off and relax, vice versa with the Banger fan. I think that fans are attracted to the ovals originally by the smashing and crashing but their tastes change over time and understand whatís happening in the other classes and start following them.

Hot Rods though are big in East Anglia but have been affected by track closures over the last few years. With Peterborough (Alwalton) and Swaffham closing that only leaves Ipswich and Great Yarmouth. Yarmouth is the very tip of Anglia, small and a taunting wire and post set-up. Ipswich doesnít have a lot of hot rod meetings, not matter how much people whinge thereís too many National Hot Rod meetings there, personally thereís not enough hot rod racing there. The other two tracks in the area are mainly banger/ stock car tracks and not tarmac.

There is a selection of drivers perhaps still with cars from the Peterborough days or who want to race but find RTS to far or Spedeworth too costly to compete. I can see a budget style formula like Rookie Rods working well, but the car choice shouldnít be limited to Fords and Vauxhalls. The other class that looks likely is the Mondeo Rods, a good move, stepping away from the Sierraís and shows the promoter is serious and looking forward. How far the hot rod spec can be stretched is a big factor, up to 2 litre spec would be difficult to start but possible, my tip is to allow the newer Duratec or maybe the Vauxhall.

Could Nationals ever return? Why not, providing the tracks becomes part of the ORCi is think itís a suitable track, it was pre-Spedeworth and it had a wire-post fence back then. Being part of the ORCi could open the floodgates to allow F1 and F2ís but for 2008 it might be difficult. More likely are the smaller touring formulaís like Midgets and Super Rods.

Lets not be negative about the previous management, look at the positive side of things, more tracks is a better thing for the sport, next topic new Aldershot.

Performance V Money
15th January 2008

Does money buy performance? Itís something that has always been asked in motorsport. Although itís something Iíve briefly thought about itís a question that has been left unanswered, until now. The plea for help is ever greater now, ídoes money buy performance?í is now coursework for my university studies in my economic module.

I could take the easy route and plough the endless F1 statistics and write about the millions of pounds they spend and the small increments in performance gain. This option will be taken by the majority of the class, I would personally like to use it on something closer to my heart that has an element of real life. Hmmmm, a hot rod fan with his own website, what could he personally want data on. Yes you guessed it right hot rod racing.

So this is what I want, costs, the money spent in the year to compete. If it was broke down in sections like : running costs, spares, tyres, fuel, meetings, etc that would be a dream but Iím happy with anything I can get. Iím willing to accept anything from all classes of oval racing (even stock cars) as I can compare across classes and with the use of mylaps.com can accurately evaluate lap times. Please though remain truthful if you are willing to help out.

If I collect a large pool of data and had the drivers permission I could publish the data on this site with keeping anonymity and a shorter report, Iím sure 3000+ words would bore everyone. Whether or not I get this is another thing but thereís no harm asking before I have the thrilling F1 data to get on with.

Iíve heard some drivers run there racing like a business and calculate all their costs, if youíre one of those please help. Thanks in advance.

I think that to a certain extent money can buy better performance, one rumour I heard was of testing some 20 odd configuations of exhaust manifolds in the closed winter season to try to get better performance. However in my opinion it is not better performance you get but the ability to have a more consistant performance. More money allows you to maintain at a better level. You can afford to get 4 new wets every meeting if you want, you can afford to have a couple of engines so the one out can have a proper rebuild, you can afford to have a replacement car sidelined "just in case" etc. More money also allows the possibility of having a few extra hands around to help maintain the car when not at a meeting.

This is just my opinion and not intended to slight those drivers who do have the money to better their way in NHR's.

Gary

The coursework is now completed, thanks to the few that were able to help out.

Webmaster: Paul Ballard


Do Heroes Still Exist
4th January 2008

While Watching Richard Hammond interview Evel Knievel over the new year period on television it made me think of two things. Firstly how the Americans put a show and secondly how people are worshipped as heroes.

Who are heroes, do they exist now or was it just something from that era? Evel Knievel wowed fans with his stunts and spectacularly failed as well, he is probably the best known stuntman that existed. At the same time hot rodding had Polley, Lee and Collard. The 70ís is called the golden age of hot rodding many calm the greatest time of all, personally I wasnít born so canít really comment.

But were the big three that great or was it just the way of people from that era think towards the idols. At the moment in pop people are famous for five minutes and easily disposed of. The 70ís star stayed around for longer and the name became more synonymous in their field. Or is it just the modern hero can never compete with your hero as child. Is the affection greater when itís a figure to look up to and aspire to.

Personally I love Ricky Hunn he was the first driver I got hooked on. As a junior school child it was a great moment to see him win the World title. In the later years as I grew up and realism kicked in I realised that although great in his day his day was probably over. Then he topped the points and put the car on pole for the World final, my hope was restored and confidently look forward to his return to winning ways.

My personal liking towards a driver is something all fans have but have these changed over times. Will top shots of today like Boardley and Blackman go down in history like the big three, does it matter how many titles Christie, White and Woolsey won, or what Simpson and Christie done to revolution the sport.

Iím under the impression that although hot rodding was at itís high during the 70ís its just how that generation looked at itís stars and look down their noses to the latest kids on the block. Is Tony Hawk better than Evel Knivel, Lennox Lewis or Muhammad Ali, Boardley or Polley? Iím sure the early ones are favoured even with less credentials. Donít get me started on how 12Ē records are superior.

I too agree with you about drivers past and present, like yourself I am a bit young to remember THE BIG 3 and the GOOD OLE DAYS and a bit tired of all the critics of todays racing, I like to appreciate whats happening today not in ten or twenty years time, I think we have some great hot rodding today in Ireland and Britain and the competition has prob never been as strong, i admire all drivers who take the time and effort to race but you are talking about todays top drivers of our generation who will be remembered, Keith Martin, Malcolm Blackman and Carl Boardley have been the top 3 drivers in the last 4 years and have won the majority of the big titles i think all 3 are hot rod legends and would hold their own against THE BIG 3.

Gareth

Who's the best
19th December 2007

Now removed.

Bans All Around
24th November 2007

Contact in hot rod racing is always going to happen, especially in Nationals. The speed of the cars and the tight confines of an oval doesnít help the case. The little love taps as well are just part of the racing but the deliberate bumping needs to be taken out of the racing.

The recent European Championship in Tipperary was another view of the ugly side of the sport that should be stamped out. The weekend had Blackman and White seeking revenge in racing, after the final had stopped both cars were in the wall. Both drivers were handed out bans, but only short bans.

Colin White was given a two meeting ban, considering this is not the first time the driver has been in trouble. In the past he has rammed a driver and then had a long period out for bringing the sport into disrepute. It seems that deliberate ramming is seen as a lesser infringement of the rules. Whether or not ramming after the reds is a serious issue, surely the major question is why the top drivers act this way?

For various reasons: Boardley, Blackman, Smith, Stimson, A Steward, Hillard, J Steward, White and Hunn have all spent time on the sideways due to breaking the rules. These nine have either been world champions or seen as great ambassadors to the sport, why? Is the only way to be successful in National Hot Rods to be an aggressive driver or take the build specifications to edge and beyond.

Bans need a serious rethink, the system needs to be the same across all ORC classes. Set periods should be consistent for all formulas. Then second, third, etc offences increase each turn, which should hopefully deter persistent offenders.

Physical behaviour (fighting, either driver or mechanic) is usually a years ban, but smashing into another car gets a few weeks off action. This is normally in front of the crowd, surely this is worse because its bringing the sport in disrepute as well.

The recent PRI banger world final saw Jason Jackson taken out head-on from the lead by Ian Beaumont. Later on the drivers family and friends were fighting yet they wasnít banned for a year. Jackson was out in his Lightning Rod a few weeks later taking second in the Lightning Rod British, then reclaimed his Spedeworth World. Similary Beaumont won the Firecracker event at Arena Essex in November.

Why canít all the bans be equal, why canít someone take charge and put down some rules that the ORC should follow. All cases are going to differ, but if the offence is the same the penalty should be.

Back in Business
17th November 2007

After many weeks of not updating the site I'm back to announce that there's lots of new things in the pipeline. The last few weeks a spaceframe project has held me back from any work on the site. The
championship winners page has been updated and anyone with pictures that show the winning driver/car please email them to me (providing you have the rights of the picture) to fill in the gaps.

New features and plenty of blogs entries are coming as the cold winter draw upon us, so watch this space!

205 History Part 2
18th August 2007

Now removed, feature to follow soon!

The only way to pass
12th August 2007

Going around the outside to win a race really makes a great race. For the last two finals at Ipswich Phil Spinks had made the charge on the outside, both times he had made second in a photo finish. So close both times, maybe a few more laps he would have made it. Who knows, but what matters is this man makes National Hot Rod exciting.

Although he didn't invent this move, he seems the only one doing the manouevre in an attempt to take race wins and the phrase 'do a Spinks' should be put in the dictionary as an outside pass. On the way back from Ipswich slowly chugging along behind a Fiat Punto 'do a Spinks' was shouted approaching a roundabout. A screech from the tyres and we were past in a move that Spinks would have been proud of. Whizzing through the Essex countryside I remembered one of the last things commmentator Nick Knowles said 'drive home safely and leave the racing to the drivers on the track'.

I should comment that driving over the national speed limit is stupid and I take no responsibility for those who want to do a Spinks in their road cars.

National Hot Rods 2008
10th August 2007

It might be a long way off but the trail for the 2008 World Championship is about to begin in England. Itís already started in Northern Ireland. A few amendments have been made for this year in qualifying, dropped scores plus revised starting grids with the best drivers at the back in all races. Qualifying will still get the top scorers into the world final with the highest starting the world final from the front of the grid.

Due to the strength and increasing numbers both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will have extra representatives in the 2008 world, England only having 18 qualifiers. This blog insertion is another prediction on who will qualify in what will be the hardest to do for many years. The top 12 should qualify assuming they have no problems but then there is around 15 drivers who have the equipment and talent to make the world final.

My prediction for world qualifying in order are 41, 911, 305, 170, 303, 115, 271, 67, 85, 61, 198, 14, 291, 31, 278, 95, 219, 277. With 6, 427, 734, 3, 2, 39, 141, 49, 55 filling the next places. Cars 25, 59, 491, 639 and 844 have been disregarded as I donít expect them to make a full qualifying campaign. This only gives one rookie for the World from the English scene and probably one from Northern Ireland. The English scene really needs a few more newcomers that will ruffle the feathers of the established drivers.

National Championship
2nd August 2007

This weekend sees the National Championship for Stock Rod, Lightning Rods, Legends and National Hot Rods. I'm not making an in-depth preview on the championship, because it's very time consuming and slightly demoralising when I won't be able to attend the event. I will though give my tips for the wins. Having a 50% success rate at the Spedeweekend I hoping to beat that.

Stock Rods - 658 Chris Lattka, Lightning Rods - 416 Diggy Smith, National Hot Rods - 170 Steve Thompson. No explanations, these would be the ones I would be placing my money. The Classic Hot Rods will also be racing but as usual not for titles.

Cloverleaf Rally
1st August 2007

For some reason I receive little previews and information regarding Hot Rod racing, my inbox does mount up with information that doens't really fit in with my website. I usually discard this, but this rally touches a problem close to my heart, The Cloverleaf Rally

If you were rallying in the 1970s, you may recall the classic West Essex Car Club Cloverleaf road rallies, which used to run in Norfolk, with 120 flared-arch, multi-coloured, advertising-strewn, spot-lighted, road-race machines covering 300 miles. No more.

The location is new and the cars now need to be standard, clean and quiet, but the name and the organising team have been revived. Their objectives are to confirm the organisational reputation of 30 years ago and to raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The Cambridge area will play host to the 150-mile tour through four counties, with over 100 miles of regularities and 12 special tests. The most memorable part of the day should be the visit to a disused MoD airfield, with an off-road regularity and long tests.

Masterminded by Paul Hernaman and Ray Crowther - winners of the 2006 HRCR Clubmans Championship - the day has been designed to balance contributions of driver and navigator. Navigators will be provided with clearly-marked maps of the route. Pacing the driver to the average speed schedule will be the key task, with the added security that the two worst public road regularity penalties will be dropped to forgive a mistake or to obviate a baulking. Meanwhile, drivers will be having fun with a series of new and unusual tests of their skills.

With the promise of slick paperwork, timely scrutineering, rapid results, a superb rally HQ and a friendly and attentive organising team, West Essex Car Club hopes to welcome competitors, marshals and spectators (albeit only by marshalling) to Abington Hall Conference Centre on 12 August.

The entry list has already attracted several leading competitors, including celebrated navigators Nigel Raeburn and Dave Kirkham - winners of the event 40 and 30 years ago respectively.

A principal sponsor is still being sought to aid the promoter's fund-raising ambitions.

The Cloverleaf is a dual permit event. The main event - the Cloverleaf Historic Rally - is a National B event for historic cars, a qualifying round in the 2007 HRCR Clubmans Championship. The subsidiary event - the Cloverleaf Clubmans Rally - is for competitors without a competition licence or an historic car. Being held during National Motorsport Week, the Clubmans Rally will be attractive to newcomers to rallying, who wish to sample a smooth-surface, daytime regularity and special test rally.

For further information, please contact: The Cloverleaf Rallies Ray Crowther, Clerk of the Course through
email or website

New Grids
28th July 2007

Finally the NHRPA has listened to what drivers and fans want, the National Hot Rods will now revert back to the tradition starting grids with the best drivers starting at the back of the grid in all heats and finals of qualifying rounds.

The
new starting procedure is how the grids were lined up a few years ago. I believe that oval racing should be fastest driver at the back. This will make it very hard for the top drivers to come through from the back in the final and will probably cause more damage as everyone is chasing hard for points. But this is oval racing, and this is how it should be. A few times Iíve shown friends oval racing, but itís a bit of an embarrassment to show the premier formula on the ovals that has a haphazard grid formation. Fastest at the back simply as that.

Although this is what most, including me wanted there is a few things that I would have done slightly differently. I do believe that National Hot Rods should have grades. Itís not that hard to employ this system. The Top 8 in the points red/ superstar status. The next 8 in the points blues with other drivers seeded in where necessary according to their average scores. If other formulas can do it, why canít Nationals. Drivers do jump up and down the points a lot, there would be occasional grading changes each month. I doubt though this will ever be brought back into Nationals which is a real shame because itís another thing that makes oval racing different to circuit racing.

205 History
27th June

Now removed, feature to follow soon!

World Final Under Lights
18th June 2007

Hot Rods look great racing under floodlights, the atmosphere seems electric as the focus is only on the cars racing. Most championship events take place over two days, the qualifying on the Saturday and the main event on the Sunday. The World Championship for National Hot Rods is different, the qualifying takes places through the year. Although itís never been done, should the World Final be run under lights?

A couple of times the World Championship race has been conducted on the Saturday afternoon, but recently on the Sunday at midday as the first race. The morning is used for the build up of the race. This year is too late to think about making changes, but with Deane Wood in control he could really spice up the Spedeweekend for 2008.

National Hot Rods seem set in stone the schedule of racing, the year is dominated by the qualifying rounds, non-qualifying meetings have almost disappeared, the National Championship is at Hednesford and European at Tipperary. The other titles dissolved or renamed for points champions. The Thunder 500 is a great meeting, not just because itís a chance to see a world class field at Ipswich (like the NHRPA used to be in the 80ís and 90ís) the cars are great under the lights.

Should next yearís World Final copy this and race under the lights? I would like to see it. The build up to the race with the sun setting, the floodlights flickering on, the tempo of the music increasing and the crowd getting into place really would make the atmosphere in the stadium immense. Ipswich spends all year racing on Saturday nights yet the biggest race they promote is scheduled at another time.

What changes could Spedeworth make for next year, some things will be better assessed after this yearís event but this is a an option that could make the Spedeweekend even better.

100 Years of racing
14th June 2007

You might think that oval racing began in 1954 in the UK and for stock car racing you would be right, but the original oval Brooklands is celebrating itís 100 year anniversary this week.

Although the style of racing is completely different to that of a hot rod our roots lie with
Brooklands. In my opinion this place is where racing began. The only motor racing at that time was road racing, going from city to city on the open roads. Another thing that I love about the place is the fact it started in Britain, the home of motor racing. Although Iíve never been there it would be another oval track to tick off the list.

The records that were created there show how much of a great place it was. Land speed records before the days of only using the Bonneville Saltflats, aviation records and huge 10 litre racing cars blitzing the oval. The track itself was so fast compared to itís rivals. The 3.25 mile track compared to Indianapolis would be achieving a speed of 280mph (average) if used to today.

Long stand the remains of the track, the birthplace of racing, itís existence created the short oval world and all motor racing we love today.

Have they got it right?
12th June 2007

Mentioned in my last blog entry I questioned how could the Spedeweekend cope with another formula when the last few years have seen many races dropped. Spedeworth have answered this problem by cutting entries and races for all the classes. See
Running Order

But is the answer to the problems. Really Spedeworth need to remove some formulaís. Which ones are real toughie. Personally I think Stock Rods are the worst formula on the Spedeweekend roster, if they were run in graded order they would be better because are too many run away winners from the front. The plus though with this class is the winner could come from any of the six international promoters that run the class.

Also the Thora F1/F2 can be a little tedious and have lost a place this year, so have the classic hot rods. Of all the replica/ historic classes they are my favourite but this could be due to fact Iím hot rod man. The classics Saloons keep their place. The three blocks of three races were a bit too much, they should just run on the Saturday. While Iím the topic of whatís wrong the 2.0 litre Stock Cars they should be racing for the Golden Helmet as the last race for them on Sunday.

The pressure Spedeworth are under from the council is immense, failure to adhere to their rules should see the end of racing at Ipswich so keeping them happy is the number one rule. But it really disappoints me to know there will be less races this year. The 2 litres having only 2 qualifying races is a shame, I think there is room for an extra qualifying heat, 50 qualifiers instead of the 38. Thereís a lot of English drivers who wonít even get a booking which is a shame considering they are getting over 40 cars at the Ipswich meetings. The race seems a lot earlier than previous years, the good thing about this race is running it under the lights, it gives a different scene that separates it from the Nationals.

36 races is probably a realistic target and Iím glad Spedeworth are being sensible with the running order because itís not just the Spedeweekend that suffers from cancelled races. The greedy part of me just wants a little more.

Getting too crowded
5th June 2007

I love the Spedeweekend, for me itís the greatest motorsport show on earth, itís a seasons worth of racing that builds up to one showpiece event. The thing though that bothers me is races being cancelled, this year the V8 Stock Cars are racing as well, what will we be losing to let them race.

The Spedeweekend isnít just about National Hot Rods, it needs the diversity of the cheaper and contact formulas. My Spedeweekend memories are also of stock car racing, the England v Scotland battle were great. The peach invasion and Licqorice being launched onto the fence are memories up there with Hunn going around the outside for his world title, McCall 2 litre World and Andy Steward losing out on the last lap.

The weekend needs a good selection of racing but over the last few years the meeting is getting too big and a limit needs to be put on other formulaís coming in. This year the V8 Stock Cars are the latest addition to the weekend, due to their apparent good racing. The class is suppose to be cheaper than Superstox but have about 3 times less cars. In comparison to Brisca F1 Stock Cars they really donít compare. Itís not like I dislike the formula just I canít see why they deserve a place. The Ministox and Rookie Rods have to miss out.

My first Spedeweekend (Sunday only) was back in 1989, the V8 Stock Cars (might have been called F1 Stock Cars then) raced but were dropped the following year and only returned now. That meeting had 28 races over the weekend.

Over the last few years the meeting has got bigger and bigger. In 1998 Lighting Rods were added (even the V8 Hot Rods had a few demo races), there was 34 races planned but 2 banger races had to be dropped.

In 2004 there was the introduction of the Classic Hot Rods, although this was billed as Polley V Lee. 38 races planned, 1 race cancelled yet again a banger race. 2005 the Thora F1/ F2 and classic Saloon Stock Cars join the fray. The programme listed 39 events but it was really 45 races, only 43 races were run. Last year the Spedeworth spec 2 litre Stock Cars were added, again the programme listed less than there actually was. 41 in the programme, actually 47 with 3 races cancelled. The 2 litre Hot Rods losing out twice over the past two years.

So with 47 races last year how many are there going to be this year 50? But how many will be cancelled due to time restrictions? Spedeworth should try and refine what they have than being too ambitious and adding the V8 Stock Cars.

Boardley v Steward
4th June 2007

As the first anniversary of the Boardley and Steward clash approaches the rift between the pair is as intense as ever. The clash on the last lap of the world final saw Carl Boardley regain the lead, Andy Steward in the fence and banned for his tactics.

The last Ipswich meeting again saw the pair clash. In the final when Boardley attempted to pass Steward nudged in wide into a corner. The next lap around Boardley simply rammed the back of Steward sending him spinning out. Steward got his car in position and looked like he would wait for Boardley on the next tour. He didnít and got back into the race a lap down.

The first problem I have is these two drivers are always seen as great ambassadors to the sport of hot rod racing, yet they are breaking the rules. Itís not the first time they have clashed and probably wonít be the last time either.

This is a problem, Steward will be seeking revenge. He lost the world final on the last lap (twice now), ended up in the wall, banned and now has been bumped out by the same man yet Boardley has escaped with no penalty. Each time the driver will want to get the other driver harder than the last time, if drivers arenít punished properly it will only end when a car is seriously damaged, or worse a driver.

The Ipswich problem needs to be resolved by the NHRPA by dishing out penalties. I donít think it matters if these are a disqualification from that race or a ban, they need to show they are prepared to tackle bad driving. Is seems unfair that the world champion can get away with this, Thurleyís ban has seen his chance of group 2 qualification vanish and will likely be in the last group for the world final.

Weather
3rd June 2007

People are always going to complain about the weather, too hot, too cold, not enough rain too much rain. From my geography lessons I have a fairly good understanding of weather but something I never learnt was how comes bank holiday weekends are always ruined.

The run up to this bank holiday was great, I spent a day sunbathing. Then along comes the weekend and suddenly thereís rain and itís cold. Iím not the kind of person that hates the rain, I donít mind a wet race, Iím quite snug under my umbrella and covers. But the weather dropped down to 5 degrees, a family bbq and day on the Ipswich terraces were chilly affairs. Because the previous week was hot I was just expecting rain, not a cold day as well.

Now that weekend is over the rain is gone and the sun is back. I know itís just the timing but the bad weather hits whenever thereís a bank holiday. I know this isnít just a one off it happens a lot.

Do we need this formula?
14th May 2007

Yet again thereís another formula thatís trying to establish itself, I could argue the point of all the unnecessary formula's, but will just stick to the pick-ups for the moment.

To start with Iíll begin with the good points of this formula, the formula was created as there was plenty of Sierra estates about but with no use for them. The Lightning Rod formula is already one of the best national formulaís about. The pick up class at Rolling Thunder allows for the estate to be chopped down to look like a pick up. The first one I saw was a great looking machine, the back part of the roof was taken I think from a Suzuki Baleno, this shape matched the curvature of the Sierra.

Since then the newly built pick ups look like the roof has been hacked off and no attempt been made to make the car look attractive. For a driver/ engineer this may be the least of their worries, they just want to go racing, but oval racing rules will always state cars should be presented to a high standard and any that arenít can fail scrutineering.

Apart from the scruffiness of the build quality it seems a mystery to why the excess estate should be raced, surely the running gear from the cars have plenty of homes in the world of oval racing. Does this sport need another pinto based formula? The engines are drying up, this sport shouldnít rely on them, a promoter needs to step break the mould and use something more up to date.

My final point about the pick-ups is the need to follow the American style racing, constantly it seems that our ovals are compared to NASCAR. Itís a different ball game, yes they race on ovals but there are so many differences. I canít understand the need to be like America, we have perfectly good hot rod, stock car and banger racing that isnít like anything on the other side of the pond. They are the most popular things on the ovals, our imitation formulaís like Sprint Cars, Baby-Grands and Pick-ups donít have the following here.

The reason that pick-ups are popular in America are because NASCAR has a huge following down south and a lot of the fans own pick ups. So the use of pick-ups as a feeder formula works well there. How many pick-ups do you see on the British roads, I reckon Iíve seen two this year!

Match Races
5th May 2007

After attending a recent meeting at Rolling Thunder I was very disappointed with the RTS Hot Rods. The class is now running to 2 litre Spec like that at Spedeworth, Iím saving my thoughts for the rule changes for another time but this change does open a new opportunity.

This season RTS are part of the oval racing council which means Spedeworth are happier for drivers to race at their tracks (providing they have permission). The Superstox class has had a few using the opportunity to do and one two have done so in the 2 litre class.

If the 2 litre hot rods have the same spec it would be great to see a match race between the two promoters; Spedeworth v Rolling Thunder. Whether this will ever happen would, I donít know but I can explain to you what I think could happen.

A two round series, a meeting at each track. One at Arena the other at either Ipswich or Wimbledon. 8 v 8, more numbers would be good but Rolling Thunder are really struggling for cars at the moment. The heats would be alternating promotions on the grid, then reversed for the next heat. The final is made up from points scored in the heats, highest scorer on pole. Also the final would carry double points to the heats. Then the same process for the return leg. The winning promotion would be the one with the most points after both meetings.

It might be a bit one sided Spedeworth do have better drivers and cars, plus a huge pool of drivers to choose from, but the Northern Ireland v Republic of Ireland match races have proved that the best drivers are not the best team. Rolling Thunder could do with a reason for extra supporters, the World Cup event only drew in about 200 people through the gate.

Personally I would like to see more team events in motor sport. Football has a huge following and people support a team, players come and go but the team will continue. That gives the supporters someone to follow, an added reason to attend. I used to love the banger team suicide squad, in my opinion the greatest team ever. I used to watch the team meetings, eliminators and finals at Arena, now Iím not so bothered because my team arenít out there. At the moment oval fans just have Banger team events, the non-contact fans are being left. The politics of the sport and willingness of drivers probably does hold it back but Iíll keep on dreaming.

Who's this form guy
4th May 2007

Northern Ireland currently has a form man, Glen Hetherington no.968, I haven't a clue who the driver is, where he's comes from, or what he did before getting his 2 Litre Hot Rod, but he's blowing the competition away. He's won 5 of the last 6 races at Nutts Corner. Maybe it's been from the front of the grid but it's still mighty impressive.

Deane Wood Takes Control
12th April 2007

Finally after weeks of speculation Deane Wood has taken full control of the Spedeworth Empire. The largest oval racing promoter which has been split into southern and East Anglian divisions is now back under one umbrella.

This has taken a few weeks to get my thoughts onto screen but I feel itís still necessary to comment on. Although this take over is probably for the best of oval racing, it is sad that the Eatonís have left oval racing. The man who started everything Les retired years ago and left his usiness in the hands of sons Mark and Roy. Mark sold his southern share to Deane Wood a few years ago for him to run Wimbledon, Bovingdon and Eastbourne. Ringwood became part of that for a short time only. Deane was keen to run the whole thing and buy the other half of the company.

His offer must have been too much for Roy to resist, he now leaves England for a new life in Australia. Deane Wood will now run Ipswich and Great Yarmouth as well. The good thing about this deal for me is that Spedeworth becomes complete again, it seems to me that the longer Wood and Eaton ran the two parts of Spedeworth the gap between the pair widened.

With Spedeworth as one Deane Wood can look forward and maybe strengthen the promotion. The five tracks in the Spedeworth stable are all of a decent standard and donít really need much doing to them, itís the racing that needs looking at. His 2 litre stock cars have been great, compared to Eatonís Max Mobile Stox of 5 years back itís clear that Wood knows Stock Car Racing and what the drivers want. The current bunch of Spedeworth formulaís are all good, they cater for different needs, but it would be good if there was more quality drivers in each of the formulas. Making the formulas better will attract the drivers and being even more hopeful more sponsorship money.

Personally Iím looking forward to seeing more racing at Spedeworth. The Spedeweekend will surely be interesting the usual format could be thrown away or maybe a return the England v Scotland of years gone by.

Enduro Series
21st February 2007

As usual with Spedeworth the years racing for their formulas are split up with year long series. The 2 litre Hot Rods are no different, even when they were using 1600 cross flow power the class competed for the BP series. This year four series have been created, three run in the usual format but the fourth is the Grand Prix Enduro Series sponsored by Meede. Long races have been planned for the class.

As I get the fixtures together for this site my excitement for the forthcoming season rises, working out what meetings I want to see and which are possible to go and attend. Going through the Spedeworth fixtures are always good, if I more money and time and would see a lot more of their meetings.

The 2 Litre Hot Rods Enduro Series is a series that looks very interesting and poses a different challenge for the drivers. The first meeting at Ipswich 5th May includes a 75 lap race with 3 yellow flags, considering the World is only 50 laps this is really going to test driver and car. The next three are at Great Yarmouth; round 2 on 20th May, the feature race is 50 laps with a pit stop. Round 3, 22nd July another 50 laps with a Le Mans. The final round on 19th August is another 75 lapper with 3 yellow periods. Luckily the cars now have a transponder to make life easier and placing will be correct.

The lose of Swaffham probably meant that some of the rounds have gone to Great Yarmouth which hasnít had great entries over the years. The small wire and post track can be a car breaker, plus the fact itís a long way for the southern based drivers to go on a Sunday evening. Hopefully the series will get more drivers up to east coast, I am hoping to attend one of these meetings.

The winner will surely be East Anglian, World Champion Goodswen was a good chance, but its likely to be Diggy Smith that takes the title, his experience on the ovals is greater than most and has a top car, which incidently is sponsored by the series sponsor Meede.

The Ultimate Hot Rod
17th February 2007

National Hot Rod are the quickest and most popular hot rod formula to watch. On the UK ovals they are quicker than Legends, Sprint Cars, Brisca F1 and F2. But take them over to Warneton on a high banked and suddenly they arenít the quickest. Sprint Cars and CAMSO V8ís go around the track in around 13 seconds. So what would it take to make a Hot Rod go quicker.

The National Hot Rod rule book still allows for some driver/ engineer ingenuity engine size, wheel, suspension hold back the performance of the car. Go down to grassroots level and SEGTO give the drivers more choice of what to use. The problem here is that drivers donít spend a lot on the cars, drivers who do have the cash normally leave for the stadiums and get themselves stuck in the pinto based formulaís.

Over the next few weeks I shall discuss my concepts to create the ultimate hot rod class, designed with cost not an issue but still being semi-sensible and avoiding formula one/ aerospace technology. Explaining how I think that some options could be implemented into the hot rod scene. Please remember Iím no expert in car design but do have a fair bit of knowledge that continually increasing. I have some rough ideas, most exploiting the current rules to allow for more power and control but hopefully optimising performance.

Ringwood Raceway
4th February 2007

Why do people hate the fact that Ringwood has been taken over by a new promoter and also think that Trojan International will fail. Shouldnít oval race fans be behind a promotion that provide the entertainment that we enjoy. Trojan are trying things that other promoters havenít and so far havenít been able to get a suitable venue, Ringwood isnít their first attempt to get into oval racing but is their first track they can promote racing.

The reasons behind Ringwood now being run by Trojan are still a bit cagey, the fact is Spedeworth walked out or were forced out in the middle of last year. Rumours still fly about how the owners could only offer a short term contract that Spedeworth didnít want, maybe Trojan snuck in under their noses or the site will be developed soon, the list continues. Iím not going to judge whoís right and wrong here, without knowing the full facts how can I, and those are never going to surface.

The truth is that Spedeworth want a southern based track and Ringwood will be missed, they are still looking for an Aldershot replacement. The rift though has been started by Spedeworth and the Oval Racing Council not allowing drivers to race at Ringwood. Before Spedeworth ran the track a few years back it was never a serious problem. Spedeworth are part of the ORC and as the largest promoter they probably have a big say in the running of the group. I think that itís unfair to ban drivers racing at Ringwood. If there is a clashing meeting then a promoter should punish their driver, but to ban at all costs is unfair and spiteful. As far as I know this type of ban as never been in force for non-ORC tracks.

Trojan has been pushed into an us-v-them war, that they probably didnít want. Attracting drivers will be a lot harder with ORC ban on visiting drivers to the track, plus Ringwood drivers will not be allowed onto the ORC tracks. This will seriously effect driver counts and that in-turn makes the track and promotion look bad for the fans. Trojan will have to work hard to keep the fans returning and make money or break even from the track.

I canít get it how Ringwood can be criticised for running a meeting on the same day as the civil war at Hednesford. It might be a big banger meeting but it is over 100 miles away. The majority of people that attend racing at Ringwood (and all other tracks) will probably not be the type of people of want to travel a long way to see racing. Things might be different if the venues were closer, but Mildenhall doesnít get criticised for running a meeting same date as the Spedeweekend.

Let Trojan do their own things, if something goes wrong then they will learn by their mistakes. If Trojan are good at promoting oval racing it wonít matter what else is going on at other tracks, the fans will want to be at Ringwood.

Yes I agree that its seems there is a 'them and us' situation. what I don't like is the way the whole saga has been handled. There must be something going on behind closed doors for Trojan to have their membership to the ORCi declined. But aren't the promoters in general forgetting one vital thing? they are there to promote the sport not dictate as to where and when people can race. Lets face it, its not the first time that Ringwood has been at the centre of controversy. Are we going to face the prospect of a similar kind of split as we did with the whole Brisca/Spedeworth thing all over again? I do hope not for the love of this sport. There is one ting that I thought I would never see happen and that was the F1s at Wimbo. Come on guys there must be an amicable solution to this?

One thing that I have always found refreshing about Stock Car racing as a whole in this country is its not as politically based as some of the bigger sports in the UK. Thank godness.

Rich

what happened to WORKING TOGETHER FOR THE GOOD OF RACING, this smacks of people trying to get one up on somebody else I'll travel anywhere to see racing so why cant all promoters try to work together cos soon enough the public will lose heart and patience and go elsewhere........

Rafafan

Well have been on the ringwood raceway page and a company what to build 40 houses and some flats. Myself have been a fan of motor sports for a long time I find it very upsetting if ringwood raceway closed down because it someware for everyone and holidaymakers.

James


Selling a hot Rod on ebay
2nd February 2007

To me this is one of the craziest things to do, but probably ties in with a friend who purchased a car through ebay and it died after a week. It seems people are obsessed with ebay, itís great Iíve bought some great things from there and made money selling. I canít though get my head ahead people selling vehicles on the site.

This week there are 4 hot rods for sale
2 Litre Hot Rod Fiesta, Escort mk2, Toyota Starlet, and Stock Rod Starlet none of them Iíve seen elsewhere. Hereís where the problem starts, if the car is advertised elsewhere technically you canít sell if in-case a bid is made for it on ebay. That limitís the viewers seeing the car and restricts the amount of people could potentially buy the machine. Come on guys widen your horizons and let more people know what you have got for sale. I would love to hear from someone whoís tried to sell a car on ebay, or if they successfully did.

Personally I would be very sceptical in purchasing a second hand object for hundreds, if not thousands of pounds without seeing the item first. Once youíve placed a bid there is a legally binding contract you have to act to. Plus you have the item being bid for and to me it seems to never reach the reserve set on the car. As a write this blog entry only one will sell as the other reserves have yet to be met, although my link to them might help find that buyer. Adding high starting price costs more to list the item so becomes uneconomical, plus the final selling price has around 5% scooped off from ebay. Thatís about £20 for the advert, four times more than most of the oval based classified adverts, some like this site are free!

There are plenty of magazines and websites with a Classified Section that have a bigger audience for a specialised item and surely would get a buyer. Please note this isnít at dig at ebay just the people who are using it for the wrong purposes. Come on people stop being insane, if you want to sell the hot rod do it properly.

George Polley 'The Driver'
23rd January 2007

When scanning through the many oval related racing sites around I love coming across a new selection of pictures, especially one that evokes memories of yesterday. The latest selection that Iíve found to be a gem are Keith Dukeís George Polley Selection.

The pictures show George The Driver racing all his cars, the Anglia (original and replica), the Super Rod Capri and the Starlet in various forms. My personal favourite being the wide arched glass fibre Kent Cams sponsored car that he raced during the late 1980ís and early 1990ís. This was when I first got into hot rod racing and in those early days I was a Polley fan, though that was probably past down to me from my father who watched him in the seventies. For all those Polley fans out there who think the pictures are not enough try purchasing ĎGeorge Polley The Driverí on DVD from Martin Hunt. Great footage from the 1972, Ď87, Ď88 and í89 world finals of George.

The Polley Collection is worth a look, Keith has many collections old and new. Thereís a Duffy Collard page, Iím expecting a Barry Lee to appear soon.

Autosport Show 2007
16th January 2007

Another year passes, the oval racing world yet again gets an opportunity to shine to the rest of the motor racing world, yet I feel once again itís presence at the show does nothing in attracting new fans or drivers but keeps the regular fans happy they have a fixture for the year.

I like attending shows like Autosport, its big and keeps me busy for the whole day (even if the food is overpriced). I do like most forms of motor sport, the Group C Sportscars of the late 80ís were amazing, so was the Aston Martin that competed recently at Le Mans. I liked in the indoor arena pamphlet the Super Silhouettes had a National Hot Rod picture attached to it. How Colin Gomm can still race his National spec car in another class of racing and still not get a ban surprises, he could probably get away with racing at Ringwood as well.

I want would have liked to see more new hot rods though, new models in particular. I thought Andy Tidmarshís Grimley spec BMW was very nice, would be good if someone put one of those in Super Rods. Neville Stanley had a new National 206cc and Mark Paffey a 2 Litre Saxo, although nice they werenít anything different.

Super Rods werenít there and the National Hot Rods were incorporated in the Spedeworth stand, the oval racing scene was mainly made up of constructors. I felt the autograss scene gave a better impression of itís racing.

Not sure if Iím just being negative or been to too many but the shows donít seem anything special anymore. There seems to be no excitement anymore. It could just be how Iím feeling at the moment but what do the shows actually do for the sport, Iím sure the money could be spent better advertising through other forms of the media. I used to love getting the fixture lists and deciding what meetings I would or could go to, but now I know this information through the internet. To make the shows exciting they need to make the action arena more exciting and longer to keep me content.

What did you think of the show, vote on the
opinion poll page

National Hot Rod Resurgence
6th January 2007

Are we about to see the popularity of Nationals increase? Over the years the class has had itís ups and downs. Drivers racing in the class have significantly dropped since the golden age but the cars have developed and cost more to run, plus other cheaper alternative formulas exist.

Over the last 12 years the class has only had one major rule change and that was the introduction of the 16 valve engine. It was very successful and although some didnít find it cheaper it did bring driver back or new ones to the class, most notably Dave Longhurst.

Other rule changes have affected the class but done as much as the Vauxhall during these modern days. Now though the Vauxhallís arenít drying up or difficult to find parts like the Ford crossflow but the NHRPA are trying to keep up modern technology. The Ford Duratec has been tested and drafted into the rules, read
Roy Eaton's end-of-year letter for further explanation. The Duratec are plentiful and should have the power to match the current Vauxhallís and Ford Zetec 16 valves but weigh around 10 kg lighter. This straightaway is a huge bonus, also Iíve also heard £2k tag floating around for this engine, but not sure if that would be to NHRPA specification.

But why would a driver use an unproven engine? The Peugeot 16 valve is an awesome engine, but only been used by a few in Nationals and currently no one uses it. For the Duratec to succeed it needs a top line driver using it and winning with it. So far only John Steward and Barry Lee have raced it but with no real success. The Vauxhall had Jeff Simpson dominating proceedings and people want to follow to best. The Haird Fiesta really needs Chris behind the wheel to get some results. David Haird may have put up the money for the development of this engine but the class still needs a driver to compete regularly with it and do well.

Once the results come so will more drivers, the formula could be booming come the World Final. There are plenty of cars about, lots on the market plus several drivers have the 2 machines at their disposal. Most fans have a driver in mind that they would like to see in a National if they could afford to run one, now with this cheaper alternative available they might. The Duratec doesnít just end with the Nationals, the Outlaws will always prosper when the Nationals do plus it could be the replacement for the Ford Pinto, about time too!

Wasted Opportunity
5th January 2007

Short circuit promoters just keep on surprising me. December at Excel saw the London Motorsport Show with around 100 exhibitors. London has only one racing venue (barring arrive and drive go karting) that is Wimbledon home of stock car and hot rod racing. Yet an opportunity to show off the sport, the track, the promotion, etc to a local group of motor racing enthausists is again wasted.

I can't possibly say that presence at the show would bring masses of people to the tracks, but the sport does need to be brought into the public's eye as often as possible. On the otherhand the major promoters and clubs will attend the NEC show in January. The people attending this will most likely be oval racing fans and just picking up new fixture lists for the forthcoming season.

Being at non-oval shows gives non-oval fans an opportunity to see the sport and the cars. How can the sport get bigger and more coverage if the sport doesn't try to get a larger fan base and greater media exposure. Attending the same show year in year out just keeps the regulars happy to see a brand new Hot Rod for the season.

Does it suprise anyone? cant be bothered? complacent? i went to wimboldon on new years day and you would expect to be handed a fixture list for the new years.... no in the end went and found one with the program seller. you would have thought with a holiday crowd, people having a day out as a one off , they would have took the opportunity to blitz them with up and coming dates.....no so it doesnt surprise me one bit with no attendance at the london show ?? dont know what the answer is??

Big Macca 1


The Beginning
24th November 2006

Welcome to my new blog, this isn't going to be your typical blog. I'm not gonna tell you about the weather, or what's going on in my life. Not that you won't find my student antics interesting just this website is about motor racing, specifically hot rod racing and I would like to keep the blog connected to that.

The blog will carry my other thoughts on other motor racing, that are loosely connected to hot rods (maybe in my mind they do). I've always received emails from companies or promotors that have nothing to do with short oval racing. They interest me but would appear out of place on this site, and I've keep them out until now, so prepare yourself for some random items to appear.

Over the last few years I'm not attending as many meetings as I would like. That doesn't mean I don't like the sport less, just university comes first. That in turn reflects on the site which I wish could have more features on it. This blog will hopefully get my creative juices flowing. I intend to write about my thoughts of the sport, many of which could have been done through a forum.

The problem I have with forums are although they are great for the latest information, they have bad points. The threads become distorted or just become a conversation between friends that has drifted away from the original question, and in my opinion that isn't the point of forums. I do though still read messages in forums and occasionally I post a comment when I feel its neccessary.

Each blog will not have an automatic comment reply because I don't like the fact that anyone can type their thoughts onto my site without my permission, I've spent too long producing and refining this site to let someone type silly messages on it. Each blog will though have the opportunity to reply if you feel compelled to do so through an email.


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