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What tracks can be used?

Whistlin' Jack Smith >> Features >> What tracks can be used?

The National Hot Rod circus has gradually decreased over the years, this year has only 6 tracks on the agenda in England. The majority of meetings takes place at Ipswich and Hednesford, which is fine as they are the best circuits to host the class. Birmingham and Northampton have a handful while Skegness has one and Mallory Park has one. The Mallory mile meeting only used for attendance points and grading was not used. In reality thereís only 5 tracks hosting National Hot Rods.

Back in the 1970ís the so-called golden age of hot rodding every track hosted hot rod racing, once the NHRPA was set-up and rules aligned the tracks did drop slightly. But itís not like lots of tracks having been closing down. Over the past 15 years Aldershot, Newton Abbot and Wisbech have been lost but Arena Essex, Buxton, Great Yarmouth, Lydden Hill, Ringwood, Swaffham, Taunton and Wimbledon have been scrapped from the fixtures. Some for political reasons others deemed unsuitable for the current National Hot Rod.

Promoters are currently getting their first drafts for the 2009 fixture lists, so this is an ideal opportunity to see what possible tracks could be used.

In it is former state Fleet would never have been considered as a National track. Now Spedeworth stick up a new fence and splash some paint and things have changed. I know the development has been a bit more sophisticated and costly than that but what I mean is underneath itís essentially the same lay-out. As a started this piece a few weeks back Deane Wood decided to run an open meeting for the class, before the cars even arrived people were having a downer on it. Too much damage, too small, blah, blah. Once the racing was done opinions changed, yes itís not perfect but it can be done.

Arena Essex
The government compulsory buy-out doesnít leave much time for this venue but it is a very good venue. Barring the slight kink the track is good and no wire and posts to worry about. The problem lies with the falling out of the NHRPA and PRI. Through the 1990ís there were plenty of problems, parking on the grass, destroyed cars, cars on fire, drivers boycotting a meeting, dirty track, the reasons go on. By 1997 PRI got sick of it handed in their resignation to the NHRPA and ran their own class. They class has since become Outlaws and although the same spec to National Hot Rods havenít been a threat to them. PRI wonít run Nationals but RTS is a separate thing. Rolling Thunder could in theory get the class to race with them on their Saturday night meetings, as a local boy I would like to see them. Personally Iím not sure they actually want them, maybe it would take the shine off their precious five car Sprint Car grids.

When I started this article it was down as a potential track but since then Spedeworth has since decided to stop running meetings at the track. I still believe the track has a future but maybe not on the ORCi scene, maybe the FMC might take over there. Nationals though definitely no.

This is probably the best chance of a new track entering the NHRPA, the track is unique with turns 1 and 2 dipping down meaning the cars exit the bend they have to climb up a hill. The track has made many improvements over the last few years and hosted the F2 final this year. Hot Rods in Outlaw guise participate and can overtake. A track positioned in the west of the country helps to give a spread of venues nationally.

The Hot Rods have evolved over many years at Buxton up to recently they were full bodied and pinto powered, this year joining with Incarace the class became Central Hot Rods and allowed full National spec cars at all meetings. The track is capable of National Hot Rod racing and used to host the class back in the 1990ís. Drivers are coming up from Buxton to the National class; the open meetings usually get a National driver competing.

Great Yarmouth
Up to the mid 90ís National Hot Rod used to run at this track, but being very short and wire and posts drivers would stay away. Numbers dwindled and the NHRPA filled the fixtures with other tracks. If the rules changed and each track had to have one round each then Yarmouth might have a chance but otherwise it doesnít. The facilities it has though and the summer crowd do make it better than some places.

Lydden Hill
The 2007 fixture was a real eye opener; it was different to the Mallory meeting. The 600 yard track isnít completely oval but that didnít matter the racing was fast and gave the Nationals a different dimension. I originally thought that this meeting would be wrong and too far away from the roots of National Hot Rod racing but the thrill of the faster cars wooed me. For the southern fans itís their best chance.

From 1995 onwards the track held National Hot Rod meetings, the Autospeed meeting on Good Friday with Saloons and F2 became the norm. With Spedeworth taking over the running in 2006 the track had 3 meetings, but that stopped. With Ringwood pushed out of the ORCi, itís unlikely the track will return, it certainly is good enough to host the class.

Running up and down the pit straight and the pit lane of the speedway ridicules the sport we love. Letting the cars use a make shift track while the usual classes get on with their racing on the big track. The Nationals could run on the 1.5 mile track and if adjusted should in theory run as quick as the pick-ups (similar engines on a SHP frame design) but the speed difference between the front and rear would just be exacerbated. Rockingham does have the foundations to be the home of oval racing on two scales. The original designs included a quarter mile combined with an 1100 yard karting track with its own seating within the large oval. The promoters have failed to recognise that the large oval cannot provide enough racing and a shorter oval would provide a stepping stone for drivers and a crossover for fans. It highlights the fact that short oval racing is not seen as a commercial venture for the mainstream tracks that look down their MSA noses in disgust.

Before Spedeworth ran the track it was promoted by Trackstar and they used to have a handful of National Hot Rod meetings. When the track was retarmaced in 1998 Roger Peck won the British Championship (the only major Colin White missed out on that year). Spedeworth upgraded the track, the posts removed; Armco installed and levelled the centre green out. It is another track capable of hosting the class even though it is smaller than others, it's been good enough to host Superstox and 2 Litre Hot Rod world then Nationals can go there too.

Autospeed do host a National Hot Rod meeting (used to be Ringwood now the Northampton Good Friday meeting). The south-west does have drivers who want to race and it would be nice if they could have somewhere closer to home. The track has held the World Championship for Saloon Stock Cars but being small it might not suit the cars. The open meeting in June only drew single figures and although the possibility is there. I canít see this one happened, if the NHRPA felt the need to choose a western track Bristol would win.

The demise of this track is one of the saddest things in oval racing. As the promoters have battled with landowners wanting to turn the site into houses the knife has been dug in further with the low emission zone. £200 a day to drive into the city in an old large vehicle is barmy, every day, itís ludicrous. I live in Essex yet Iím within the LEZ, itís a stupid law that will kill off the track. Even if this didnít exist drivers are still not keen racing here, I have thought it weird that a 2 Litre driver will race there yet once they have a National suddenly itís too small and dangerous. It is a great venue that with a pack of Nationals is a great sight; sadly I canít ever imagine the class will return.

This track launched the racing careers of greats like Dave Longhurst and one-minute wonder Shaun Proudlock. The size of the track would really suit them but not being part of the ORCi would be a definitely no. It is a little bumpy in places and more like a club track but the size of it would provide great racing.

I donít see that all tracks will host National Hot Rod meetings but believe there should be more tracks on the fixture list. There needs to be more variety instead of Ipswich and Hednesford. They might be the best tracks for the cars but the fans need to be considered as well. The only reason these tracks have so many meetings now in comparison to say five years back is the tracks that have been dropped from the schedule.

The Aldershot meeting proved that a small difficult track can provide good racing. An area like Aldershot does lie in a hot-bed of race fans and they want to see Nationals. Birmingham is a small track and does have good racing. Without going into the variations of how the cars should qualify for the World final, letís assume from now to the 2009 World Final there will be 16 rounds. Bristol, Aldershot and Lydden should be added to the agenda at the expense of the other tracks, though not removing them completely from the fixtures just reducing their allocation of meetings.

What tracks can be used? by Webmaster Paul Ballard

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