Sunday start for National Hot Rods
MOTOR SPORT: This weekend's motor sport at the Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich, is on Sunday afternoon rather than the regular Saturday evening, so that the main race, the National Hot Rods Thunder 500 can be run under conditions as near as possible to next month's world championship.
THIS weekend's motor sport at the Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich, is on Sunday afternoon rather than the regular Saturday evening, so that the main race, the National Hot Rods Thunder 500 can be run under conditions as near as possible to next month's world championship.
The Thunder 500, the official warm-up for the world final, is scheduled for 50 laps, which although less than the 75 for next month's show piece, is still the next longest race to be staged at Foxhall this year, and will feature 32 of the world's top drivers.
Most of the English and Scottish world finalists are expected, along with three from Northern Ireland and five from the Republic, although reigning champion John Steward is likely to be missing as his car is currently undergoing a rebuild. Most of the others, though, see this as a vital last chance to set up their cars, and to make any last minute modifications in advance of the big race. As reported last week, Ipswich ace Carl Boardley lodged an official appeal with the governing body over his disqualification from round 15 of the world series, held at Ipswich on Jubilee Monday, and at the recent hearing, his appeal was upheld.
This took him back into the important top four of the English points, a position he managed to sustain with some more good drives at Northampton's round 16 on Saturday evening, which means he will have a chance of pole position for the world final – and the worst he can get will be grid six.
Although the National Hot Rods are a saloon car formula, with the current line-up a mix of Fiestas, Corsas, Clios and the like, the Superstox are purpose built single seat specials where pushing and shoving is allowed. Although not as quick as the Hot Rods, they still get round the quarter mile oval track at some very rapid speeds, so when the contact comes, it is often quite spectacular.
This week they are racing for the Neil Bee Memorial Trophy, an annual race to remember the Downham Market star who died of cancer in 1991, when only 36, cutting short a racing career that included winning the world championship a record four times. His family have lovingly maintained his last car, which always take part in this event with a guest driver at the wheel, while the team that supported Neil's racing have looked after the career of young Jason Cooper since he was 10 years old. He is now studying at University, but still manages to get home most weekends to race, his finest moment coming in this event last year when, to great emotion, he won the race from a star studded line-up. He will be back at Foxhall on Sunday to try for it again, but as last year, all the big names will be present, including Felsham's Gary Sparkes, who has subsequently also won the world title four times, and recently won both the English and the East Anglian championship at Ipswich.
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Another saloon formula, the 1400cc Stock Rods, complete the programme, and while they will inevitably be overshadowed by the other formulas, they always provide some very competitive race.