Ipswich host the main event

ONE of the biggest motorsport events of the year is taking place at Ipswich's Foxhall Stadium starting on Saturday.The Spede-weekend is described as the main hot rod meeting of the season and more than 6,000 people a day are expected to watch 34 action-packed races.

ONE of the biggest motorsport events of the year is taking place at Ipswich's Foxhall Stadium starting on Saturday.

The Spede-weekend is described as the main hot rod meeting of the season and more than 6,000 people a day are expected to watch 34 action-packed races.

The highlight of the two days is the National Hot Rod World Championships, which sees the 32 best drivers competing for the prestigious title as the world's best.

It is an annual event always held at the Foxhall Stadium and stadium manager Nick Thomas is looking forward to the race which could be one of the best ever.

"National hot rods is on a real high at the moment," said Thomas. "I remember going to a national hot rod meeting back in the 1980's and getting half a dozen cars turning up. Now we have to turn cars away because it is that full."

At the media day last Friday the drivers tested their cars on the track in wet and cold conditions and Thomas is hoping the weather improves after the effort to make sure everything is ready for the weekend.

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"I hope the sun shines, that is the main thing," said Thomas. "When you get an event like this there is an enormous amount of hard work that goes into organising it and we have been working on it almost since the last one finished.

"We have a team of guys working here from eight in the morning until it gets dark. It is a constant painting, mowing, strimming and maintenance exercise in a place like this especially in the run-up to an event like Spede-weekend.

"The NHRPA and in particular Neil Rowe, Angie Rowe and Graham Brown have worked very hard to bring national hot rods back from what it was in the 1980's when it was really struggling.

"On the Saturday and Sunday the adrenaline and buzz of it all takes you through it but coming here on Monday morning is the worst feeling in the world and is soul destroying. You don't know how depressing it is as you have been on this massive high for weeks and weeks and on Monday morning you don't want to be here. The place is a mess and you've never seen rubbish like it in your life. It really is horrible."

With the cars travelling at speeds of 90 to 95 mph, safety is obviously a major issue but Thomas insists accidents are very rare and that hot rod racing is a safe sport.

"The cars and the tracks are built to a very high safety standard," said Thomas. "Everyone works very hard to control the cars and the advent of space-frame built cars means they are damn near impossible to right off. You can get a car that looks like it has got a lot of damage but what it has actually done is just torn the body panels off, but the structure of the car is still there."

"At Foxhall we no longer have the post and wire fence, it's now an arco fence so if you drive into it you slide along it so you don't damage your car or yourself."

"The lovely thing about hot rod racing and oval racing in general is all the action is going on right in front of you and you can see every bit. I like other people have spent £100 to go to the British (Formula One) Grand Prix but here you can stand anywhere and see the whole circuit. You don't watch the cars fly by and wait a minute until they come round again, for me that's the good part."

The Spede-weekend starts at 9.45am on Saturday with the Hot Rod World Championships starting at noon on Sunday.

See tomorrow's Evening Star for an interview with local driver Carl Boardley who is confident this could be his year to win the world championships.

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