Irish ace steals hot rod thunder

Ipswich's Foxhall Stadium hosted the official warm-up race for next month's World Championships.The National hot rods Thunder 500 event took place last Sunday and featured a high standard in the line-up.

Ipswich's Foxhall Stadium hosted the official warm-up race for next month's World Championships.

The National hot rods Thunder 500 event took place last Sunday and featured a high standard in the line-up.

As well as most of the best English drivers, there was also strong representation from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Germany in the field of 30.

The visitors gained an early success when Andrew Murray and Keith Martin took the top places in the opening heat.

However, the English bounced back in heat two with Dave Longhurst winning in front of Ipswich driver Carl Boardley.

Boardley finished seventh in his next heat, but worryingly for the English, Martin was third from the back of the grid. It was no surprise when he jumped into the lead of the main race later in the afternoon.

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He was soon well clear, although he had to survive a few tricky laps when Mark Willis caught him up after a mid-race stoppage before Willis spun at the vital moment and Martin was away.

English stars Malcolm Blackman, Dave Longhurst and Carl Boardley gave chase but the gap between him and the rest never closed giving Martin his second successive win in the event.

Part of an attractive support programme of racing was provided by 33 Superstox, who were competing for the annual Neil Bee Memorial Trophy.

The cup has been raced for every year since Neil, who won the World Championship four times, had his career ended by cancer in 1991.

During that time Gary Sparkes was the only driver to have won the cup twice.

But he made it three victories on Sunday with another faultless display and got past Steven Jackson with about six laps to go.

Neil's last car, which has been lovingly maintained and looked after by his brother Kevin, made its annual appearance in the race.

This year it was driven by Ian Sutton who went to school with Neil in Downham Market. Ian managed to bring the car through in a very creditable tenth place.

This was two places behind Jason Cooper, who carries Neil's 482 number these days and is supported by the team who looked after Neil's career.

All the family were on hand to present the trophy, while the National Trophy was presented by Louise, a keen follower of Oval Racing, despite being 94 years of age.

The stock rods completed the programme with three well subscribed fields of 34 cars. Local drivers got the first three places in heat one and two of the top three in heat two.

They could only manage one of the top three in the final when Bury's Rob Sore rounded off a good day by finishing second behind former European champion Stuart Smyth.

Sore had won his first heat earlier in the day, while Felixstowe's Ian Green had a good afternoon on his return to racing after an absence of several years.

He won heat two and finished in fifth position in the final.


National Hot Rods

Heat One

1 Andrew Murray (Northern Ireland) 2 Keith Martin (Northern Ireland) 3 Mark Paffey (Portsmouth).

Heat Two

1 Dave Longhurst (Worthing) 2 Carl Boardley (Ipswich) 3 Colin Smith (Southend).

Heat three

1 Phil Spinks (Pinner) 2 Colin Smith (Southend) 3 Chris Haird (Cambridge)

Heat Four

1 Colin Gomm (Chesham) 2 Mike Holtby (Barrow) 3 Keith Martin (Northern Ireland).


Thunder 500: 1 Keith Martin (Northern Ireland) 2 Malcolm Blackman (Buckingham) 3 Dave Longhurst (Worthing).


Heat One

1 S Jackson (Harleston) 2 S Day (Royston) 3 Stuart Thompson (Felixstowe).

Heat Two

1 S Jackson (Harleston) 2 Russ Williams (Cheshunt) 3 Stuart Thompson (Felixstowe)


1 Gary Sparkes (Felsham) 2 S Jackson (Harleston) 3 Russ Williams (Cheshunt).

Stock Rods

Heat One

1 Rob Sore (Bury St Edmunds) 2 Andy Jones (Bury St Edmunds) 3 Adi Wright (Ipswich).

Heat Two

1 Andy Jones (Bury St Edmunds) 2 Ian Green (Felixstowe) 3 Paul Freeman (Croydon)


1 Stuart Smyth (Uxbridge) 2 Rob Sore 3 Kym Weaver (Hailsham).

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