Classic Hot Rods

Whistlin' Jack Smith >> Formulas >> Classic Hot Rods

Classic Hot Rod racing evolved from a special one-off event between Barry Lee and George Polley at the Autosport Show in 2004 running alongside the Brisca F1 Golden Jubilee celebrations. The two of them wowwed the crowds in replica's of their cars from the 70's or the 'Golden Age' of Hot Rod racing. 306 George Polley raced his usual purple Ford Anglia while 351 Barry Lee piloted the Burtons Ford Escort. The success of that saw the pair tour the country with the Stock Cars in their 50th year anniversary events. At the 2004 Spedeweekend the pair were reunited with 19 Mick 'Duffy' Collard in his Ford Escort mk2 (replica of his World Championship winning car of 1980). Known as the big three in the 1970's, many consider these to be the men that put hot rod racing on the map with the guidance of Les Eaton.

Spurred on by the ever increasing historic stock cars Incarace took the decision to run the class in 2005 after being approached by Gary Witcombe. The class was open to any British built car in production up until 1977. Most Classic Hot Rods have been built for this class barring two, that were modified from cars racing at Arena Essex and Buxton a few years previously by Billy Groom and Iain Grayson.

Then the class hit a crossroads, pursue the original idea of exhibition racing of the Golden Age with replicas or have a fully-fledged race series with cars of the periods modified to be cost-effective. The latter option was chosen and although it has taken close to 10 years numbers are now at their highest ever. Escorts and Anglias dominant the grid, while the Mini has been outcasted due to being uncompetitive. Power comes from the Ford Crossflow or the newer Ford Pinto.

The replica cars have come and gone, the original George Polley Anglia was raced in different colours (by Ivan Russell) and has now became a hill-climbing car while the Barry Lee (Escort mk1), Gordon Bland and Paul Grimer copies been repainted. In 2012 the copies returned with another Polley Anglia and a Barry Lee's Total livery Escort mk2 from Daz Owen and Lee Wood. 2012 was also the first year that a 'Stars of the past' meeting was run, with formers Hot Rod taking over the wheel.

The class has yet to see the numbers like that in the historic stock cars or the replica cars but for many its shows the youngster what hot rods used to be like. The two cars that started the formula are now raced by different drivers. The mixture of drivers range from experienced that raced in the past to relative newcomers, all drivers new drivers (regardless of their experience) have to race in 3 meetings from the back of the grid. There is the occasional title race but the aim is racing for fun so no major championships are held.

In 2009 Ballymena Raceway decided to promote the formula in Northern Ireland, the new year's meeting had three cars and more were expected over the course of the year. Some of the English drivers raced at Ballymena for the Irish Open at the end of August. These cars have now been phased into their Slick Car class, although the province has bundles of history involved with Hot Rods there simply isn't the drivers available for the class to succeed their. Scotland falls into the same category and Scottish based Graham McCabe travels to England to race in 2012.

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