The Off Season Gallery starts again this week. Same pattern as last year with a mixture of all sorts.
We begin with a look at the early season visit to Yarmouth by the V8’s, a few pics of new/refurbed V8’s at Stoke, a handful from the F2’s at an April Cowdie & the F2 Qualifier and F1 Heritage meeting at Barford.
The origins of the stadium can be traced back to two professional gamblers who had made their money in stocks and shares. They decided to invest in a new venue at Yarmouth. The stadium was built on a field alongside a flapping track, which ran unlicensed and unregulated horse races and grass track speedway. Building work commenced in 1939, and the place was up and running for the grand opening on the 11 May 1940. On this particular day Germany invaded Belgium and the Netherlands resulting in Yarmouth being evacuated. The meeting still went ahead however, followed by weekly events until closure was necessary owing to the staff being called up for war service.
It reopened in 1946 and was run by the Norfolk Greyhound Racing Company. The adjacent field containing the flapping track was redeveloped and eventually became a heliport to service the gas platforms in the North Sea.
Speedway arrived in 1948 running until 1961. The team were known as the “Yarmouth Bloaters”, owing to the towns connection with the fishing industry. In 1963 Spedeworth brought stock car racing to the venue. 1969 saw a new 3000 seater raceview grandstand and restaurant opened.
In 1987 the track had a totalisator turnover of £1,000,000. In those days there were 3 meetings a week for the stock cars, a Sunday market, bingo nights and an amusement arcade for the kids.
2006 saw a new £2.5 million grandstand and 250 seater restaurant opened.
Greyhounds are definitely the main event here and as of 2018 are racing 3 times a week.
The stadium is immaculate and very well maintained and a pleasure to visit. It’s a shame an F.1 tarmac double header weekend with Ipswich has’nt materialised.
The April 1st meeting was the 3rd WQ for the V8’s and saw 15 cars in attendance. They raced to an all in format and race top 3’s were as follows:
Ht 1. 490, 1, 288.
Ht 2. 288, 1 ,490
Final 288, 490, 498
GN 187, 324, 131
Jon Brown 288 was top scorer coming 5th from the lap handicap.
Stoke Apr 8th
V8 WQ4 26 cars
Ht.1 409 in new car, 1, 288
Ht.2 491, 288, 490
Final 485, 117, 491
GN 491, 117, 64
Steve Thompson 485 was top scorer.
Cowdenbeath Apr 21st
A warm evening saw 22 F2’s in the pits.
Heat one had an opening lap crash between Liam Rennie(3) and Willie Lindsay(640) which resulted in both taking no further part in the meeting. The bright sunlight made it difficult for drivers down the home straight to see the yellow flags/lights, and Rennie hit the Lindsay car which was stranded on the track. Craig Wallace(16) took the victory. Steven Burgoyne(674) won Ht.2 and the Final from the “B” grade, and Wallace got the GN to finish a good night.
The Saloons were on the bill with Tommy Barnes(26) claiming the Final win but being taken out of the results later.
Barford Apr 29th
The entry of 20 F2’s for this QR is a disappointment, especially as this is the venue for the semi-finals later in the season.
Long distance travellers for this one were Matt Stoneman(127) and Steven Gilbert(542) both from the South West.
On a bright but cold afternoon Heat wins went to, Jack Cave(801) on his first visit & Chris Burgoyne(647).
19 of the 20 cars came out for the Final but the start was aborted after the star men were amongst the blues before the green had flown. Early yellows for John Hogg’s(92) errant wheel saw Charlie Whitfield(301) and Ollie Hertzog(787) trying to disengage themselves to no avail on the centre green. A second yellow within a lap for a 3 car blockage saw the star men ready to swoop on the restart with 647 into the lead which he maintained unchallenged to the end. Craig Wallace(16) and Luke Wrench(560) followed him across the line with 560 rounding out the day with the GN victory.
F1 Heritage cars were on the bill and gave a good show powering around this small oval. The superb Des Chandler car made its debut here.
A visit to Brisca’s most southerly outpost. The unique 5 cornered United Downs Raceway at St.Day for the Saloon’s English Championship and a look around a remarkable collection of one American family’s auto obsession.
Every week through the close season i’ll be putting some pics in an off season gallery. They were all taken throughout 2017 and a variety of places/events are featured. There is non F.1 stuff as it’s out of season and it gives an opportunity to have a look at something different. For the diehard fans there will be some F.1 related things of interest as well. I’ll put an update on this post weekly with a bit of info relating to that weeks pics.
So, we start this week with a trip to the last ever Wimbledon back on March 26th, billed as “The Final Farewell” . For me the loss of this track is equally as devastating as Coventry going. It gave people an oval fix throughout the winter months. I was chatting to a chap in his 80’s who lived 5 mins away from the track and had religiously attended every meeting for years. His knowledge of all formulae that had raced there was encyclopedic. It got him out of the house to meet up with his racing pals and gave him something to look forward to. He said to me, “What do I do now, i’ve got nothing left?” I felt so sorry for him. Like many there were tears in his eyes that night.
A standout memory for me was watching the Hot Rods “Big 3” of Barry Lee, George Polley and Mick Collard racing on the shale inches from the fence. The first time I saw the big league was here on New Year’s Day 1976 when the SCOTA F.1’s were racing. For aficionados of all things oval there have been some monumental events here. In the saloons Deane Wood had a war with the Colliver’s which ended up with him continually ramming Terry Colliver’s car until there was nothing left of it. It was dragged off in bits minus it’s roof. Then the infamous Colliver Cartwheel crash where all 3 saloons went airborne simultaneously going almost as high as the scoreboard was another not to be forgotten incident.
A tradition was to dim the stadium lights when the race started. The rolling lap would be accompanied by Mouldy Old Dough, Swingin’ Safari, Nut Rocker etc, depending on which formula was on. At 5 laps to go the starters rostrum would then illuminate. Great days.
Anyway, on with this last days events. For the early arrivals a track walk was possible before the evening began. Mick Sworder was out in a Hot Rod and ex 497 Roger Warnes in an Old School Superstox. Alan Wardropper was in attendance but unfortunately a car was not available for him. 1300 Saloons and Superstox completed the bill. Mick did’nt record a top 10 in the Rods but had a good time nonetheless. Billy Smith won the 1300’s Final. After the meeting the track was opened up for a walk around. A spare fence post made its way home with a couple of fans. Within 48hrs pit gate and fence had been removed from Plough Lane. As of this week nothing further has occurred at the stadium and rumours are circulating about the redevelopment funds may not be forthcoming. Typical!
It would be great to read any anecdotes, memories etc of this iconic venue so please add to this post.
Next time we take a look at the Classic Hot Rods at Northampton, Keir Millar’s Memorial meeting at Barford and Pistol Pete Winter’s, “One Last Shot” at King’s Lynn.
A great turn out of 92 F.1's for the weekend. The turnaround between races was quick with the cars coming out in grid order. The clay was graded between every race so no build up against the plating. The surface looked smooth but had a few roller coaster parts which mean't drive train issues for our lads at some point. There were 15 qualifying heats over the two days with each driver given the option of racing 4 times. The B final then had two further cars go through to make a 36 car grid for the A final which lined up in qualified order, quickest at the front. Our lads lined up as:
25, 152 & 166 non starters.
On the first day Craig had a couple of wins and a 2nd and was looking good for pole. When asked by the roving mike how he does it Craig replied, " Keep turning left".
Sunday saw him out with a flat in one heat and then a car turned right on him in the Final breaking the shocker top mount.
Paul was top UK finisher with a 5th in the A and Brad had a great win in the B. Really pleased for him as he found the track a handful on his first few laps on Sat. He decided to save the car for King's Lynn so did'nt start the main event.
Mark Woodhull had a good battle with red H47 in heat 5 and held his line against S/Star H228 in Ht.7 until Wijbenga cut across his front resulting in both tangling and Mark hitting the plating.
Danny had a couple of spins in Ht.1 and tangled with blue H152 in Ht.4. He then drove a blinder of a last race on Sat with a class last bender for the win.
Noddy had half shafts go in Ht's 4 & 9.
Sarge had the rear axle shift in his first race resulting in a fair bit of repair work, got a well deserved 4th in his next and then the panhard rod unscrewed itself in his 3rd. Finn was working hard on the car all weekend.
Bobby G had a gearbox main shaft let go in his first race on Sat, got a great heat 3rd on Sunday but then oil pressure dropped before next race so loaded up.
Neil Scothern had a 2nd in Ht.2 but out of luck after that.
Will Yarrow placed in all 4 heats.
The main event saw a tremendous battle between H226 & H405 with neither giving an inch and the lead changing hands several times. Pieter can be a psycho at times and is brilliant to watch but this time kept it cool for the win. He hopes to be at King's Lynn this weekend with a new car.
The promotion had a lap of honour for Willie and Frank Snr for their contribution to the sport over the years. I thought that a nice gesture as was thanking all UK visitors for coming over and enhancing the weekend and wished us a safe journey home.
A big thanks for the great hospitality and making everyone feel so welcome. 15 Euros for the two day ticket was an added bonus.
Craig and Danny did us proud with some great results at Blauwhuis.
Craig had a vibration in the gearbox after his first race on Wednesday evening so changed it before the Final which he won in fine style. He gained a lot of ground in the corners with keeping a really tight line around the inside. Very close to winning the GN as well from the lap handicap.
Another gearbox change on Thurs morning as gear teeth stripped during the GN the night before. Steering damage in his first race meant a non finish and with 7th in Heat 3 gave him a 23rd start position for the King's Battle. He made it up to 3rd by the end for a good finish to his 2 days.
Danny had Heat 2nd and Final 3rd on Wednesday but his best was to come on Thurs with a belter of a Heat 4 victory. On the last lap he was sent wide with a hit going into turn 1 but recovered to take aim going down the back straight, firing both cars ahead into the plating in a shower of sparks to sweep through for the win. The quality hit of the two days for me. Gridding on pole for the main event he held the lead for a number of laps until a couple of caution periods closed the field up. He came in 4th to cap a fine 2 days.
Commiserations to Chris Clare who had carb trouble in his first race and a blown engine in the GN which prevented him from taking part on the second day.
Track prep between races saw a crumbler score the top surface of the clay to rough the surface up and this was followed by a leveller/scraper, a roller occasionally and then the water sprayer similar to the one at King's Lynn. This routine worked well and stopped the clay from glazing over.