Lightnings strike to delight crowd
MOTOR SPORT: Well over 120 cars raced at Ipswich's Foxhall Stadium in front of another big crowd with fans clearly enjoying the huge entry and the number of races each meeting provides.
WELL over 120 cars raced at Ipswich's Foxhall Stadium in front of another big crowd with fans clearly enjoying the huge entry and the number of races each meeting provides.
The National Hot Rods and the Bangers are still the fans' favourite formulas.
But the Lightning Rods are continuing to gain in popularity, having come from virtually nowhere to be top of the bill for round one of the season-long Budweiser Series – in association with the Evening Star.
So many new drivers have come into the formula over the last year or so that the promoters had to organise an extra race just for these lower-graded drivers – 28 of them getting a rare chance to shine without having to contained with all the established big names.
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Ipswich drivers Jamie Austin and Chris Smith were second and third respectively in this – behind 17-year-old Hayes driver Daniel Smith – and then the stars had their own race.
After that, all the cars went in together, which made a very impressive sight, although it was probably too many even for the big Foxhall track.
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Inevitably, there was a lot of damage, but it was mainly body panels rather than anything serious as they raced nose to tail, and often three abreast.
Woodbridge driver Garry Farrington did well to keep them all behind him in a race that produced an East Anglian top three, as did the final where Darren Goudy – last year's Budweiser 500 winner – just got to the line ahead of the former Stock Car World Champion Diggy Smith who, as usual, finished very strongly.
Austin drove another good race to take third which was no mean feat in this company, although Farrington didn't fare quite so well, spinning out early on.
The smaller Stock Rod formula also attracted a good entry of 33, which was the biggest line-up seen anywhere this year.
The Peterborough pair of Wayne Leedell and Steve Brattan, who had already taken several top places at Swaffham this season, had another very successful night, as did Essex racer Jon Evans, now back with a new Vauxhall after his Fiesta was written off in a very big crash at Yarmouth last year.
Around 50 Rookie Bangers provided the bash and crash element of the meeting, which included a spectacular double roll by Clacton's Terry Rollings in heat one.
But Rollings was racing again in the subsequent events where his seaside team-mates Ken Denby and Simon Fennell both had race wins after Ipswich driver Philip Powles and Lowestoft's Shaun Bussey had taken the opening heats.
The V8 Hot Rods were also on the bill for their first appearance of the season.
While it has taken a long while for these to become established, last weekend's racing will have helped their cause.
It may only have been a modest entry but the cars were very fast, and the racing quite competitive, with a different winner in each of three very close races.
Lightning Rods – Heat One: 1 Daniel Smith (Hayes), 2 Jamie Austin (Ipswich), 3 Chris Smith (Ipswich).
Heat Two: 1 Neil Allgood (Watford), 2 Mark Cooper (Poole), 3 Terry Gant (Stowmarket).
Heat Three: 1 Gary Farrington (Woodbridge), 2 Kevin Head (Sudbury), 3 Ed Glendinning (Creeting St Mary).
Final: 1 Darren Goudy (Bacton), 2 Diggy Smith (Diss), 3 Austin (Ipswich).
Stock Rods – Heat One: 1 Wayne Leedell (Peterborough), 2 Damon Wellman (Eastbourne), 3 Ian Whayman (Eye).
Heat Two: 1 Jon Evans (Saffron Walden), 2 Whelman, 3 Mark Southam (Cheshunt).
Final: 1 Evans, 2 Steve Brattan (Peterborough), 3 Leedell.
V8 Hot Rods – Heat One: 1 Peter Scott (Romford), 2 Roy Eaton (Ipswich), 3 Julian Menbus (Redhill).
Heat Two: 1 Eaton, 2 Scott, 3 Menbus.
Final: 1 Chris Bradbury (Reading), 2 Eaton, 3 Scott.
Rooky Bangers – Heat One: 1 Philip Powles (Ipswich), 2 Kevin Burt (Ipswich), 3 Jason Langley (Braintree).
Heat Two: 1 Shaun Bussey (Lowestoft), 2 Simon Fennell (Clacton), 3 Scott Griggs (Sudbury).
Heat Three: 1 Ken Denby (Clacton), 2 Langley, 3 Nicky Bloomfield (Wickford).
Final: 1 Fennell, 2 Stuart Lugo (Lowestoft), 3 Bloomfield.