Smeatharpe Stadium - Saturday 15th July 2023

A feast of contact Stock Car racing featured tribute events for Bill Batten, with the Benevolent Fund Trophy race topping the bill for the Formula Two Stock Cars.  Sadly, the forecasted heavy rain impacted crowd levels and hampered the enjoyment of all those who did attend.  Nonetheless, those present were rewarded with a programme of entertaining races despite the weather conditions.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

Pre-meeting entertainment commenced with the Master’s Champions Challenge generously sponsored by J Davidson Scrap Metals.  The line up of eight drivers featured a late change.  667 Timmy Farrell, nephew of Bill Batten, took the place of the non-attending 101 Kelvyn Marshall.  Semi Final 1 featured NI467 Aidan McFerran, 647 Chris Burgoyne, 183 Charlie Guinchard and 783 James Rygor.  It was Rygor who quickly made his way to the front, whilst Guinchard forced his way past Burgoyne to secure the second qualifying spot.  The second semi-final saw an explosive start.  From pole, 998 Graham Fegan edged clear, but 560 Luke Wrench felt the full force of 918 Shea Fegan’s bumper, the Northern Irishman then tripping over the front of the Wrench machine, with not insignificant damage to the Wrench car.  Farrell, who had also added his two penn’orth to Wrench’s exit took advantage to speed into the second and grab the final qualifying spot for the £500 Winner Takes All final.  After a false start to the big money showdown, Rygor made a quick start as the three remaining drivers scrapped for second, despite there being nothing for the runner-up spot.  That scrap delayed the trio and culminated in Guinchard cue-balling Fegan into Farrell, whose race ended in the plating on turn number four.  Untroubled, Rygor sped to the cash prize.  Farrell sportingly accepted the chance to hitch a lift on the back of the Guinchard machine to the applause of the crowd on hand.  New, novel and dramatic, the Champions Challenge had been a huge success for entertainment.

The Master’s Parade introduced the meeting proper and featured four cars with each reflecting a different stage of Batten’s racing career. There was the replica of the 1970 car, the replica of the 1981/82 supercar, the genuine 2004 World winner and the restored car which Bill raced from 2012 through to his farewell in 2014.  The cars were followed on foot by family, friends and the F2 drivers in attendance, with several from the Saloon Stock Cars and Ministox contingent joining in for good measure.

The weekend’s racing got underway with the annual Ben Fund Ladies Charity Trophy race with ten drivers taking to the grid.  992 Charlie Doe tangled early on having put in some quick lap times in practice.  161 Charlotte Bate led for some time but had a coming together with 572 Chelsea Flegg as they approached the home straight.  That ended their chances and allowed 3 Maddison Gilmour to speed into the lead which she doesn’t relinquish despite being chased home by 24 Peyton Cockerill and 605 Kerrie Rundle.

Onto the main racing programme and the format followed an unusual pattern based on roof grades.  Heat one featured all white graders, and 18 of them gridded to underline the excellent support from the lower graders.  540 Dayne Pritlove led for much of the race but was eventually caught and spun by second placed 547 Lewis Burgoyne.  The spin also delayed the chasing 303 Kurt Selway, thus helping Burgoyne to escape at the front for the win on his F2 track debut.  Heat two for the yellow graders began in dramatic fashion.  Most of the field headed wide and fencewards on turn four at the start of the race, even before they got to the green flag.  844 Jack Prosser was left hanging off the plating resulting in a race suspension with only a solitary lap completed.  828 Julian Combes led but found himself receiving the technical disqualification flag after his rear wheel guard came astray.  That saw the lead pass to 605 Ritchie Andrews, who saw out the closing stages to seal the win.  Heat three for the blue graders also included superstar 35 Justin Fisher on his first appearance of the season, and 717 Mike James who was racing for the first time since 2006.  Each driver was making a rare appearance in tribute to their racing friend of old.  390 Jessica Smith and 581 Dan Fallows come together on the pit bend as 27 Keiran Bradford puts in a dominant performance to lap all the way up to and including ninth place.  The fourth heat doubled as the Benevolent Fund Trophy, and for the first time in many years featured an all-star and superstar line up as was always the original intention for the event.  The race set gets off to a blistering pace until an incident on the pit bend resulted in Northern Irish father and son duo of 998 Graeme and 918 Shea Fegan being entangled, with the latter’s car suffering so much damage that it ended his participation for the weekend.  The defending title holder 890 Paul Rice was also mixed up in the incident and he pulled to the infield with punctures both front and rear.  184 Aaron Vaight led away the resumption but quickly found himself in amongst backmarking traffic including one of the pre-race favourites 127 Matt Stoneman.  With 468 Sam Weston lurking in second, Vaight knew his lead was under threat, and his hopes were hit when he encountered a quartet of tailenders.  From them, 542 Steven Gilbert nudged Vaight wide in the west bend, and Weston was able to grab the chance to attack Vaight’s rear bumper in the pits bend.  Vaight responded to regain the lead, but with Gilbert, Farrell, 979 Paul Moss and 210 Tristan Claydon involved, the front pairing were losing time, and that saw them fall back into the clutches of 183 Charlie Guinchard and Scotsman 3 Liam Rennie.  Heading into the pits bend, Vaight dived at Weston.  As Weston went sideways, Vaight’s momentum took him into the 468 car, and as they slid towards the fence, Guinchard dived up the inside of both of them to take the lead and Rennie grabbed second place.  The two then saw out the remaining quarter of the race, with Northern Irishman 924 Jack Morrow securing third.  There then followed three further heats with a more traditional composition, the points when combined with the previous four races would determine the automatic qualifiers for the evening’s Final as well as being rolled forward to The Master’s Trophy event the following afternoon.  The forecast rain was falling hard by the time the fifth heat gridded.  728 Jack Bunter led for much of the race but was passed by Rennie and 194 Luke Johnson in the final few laps.  Heat six saw 302 Dale Moon cruise (almost literally given the water on the track) to victory in a dominant performance.  Fallows quickly moved into the lead in the seventh and final heat as 467 Aidan McFerran and 776 Dan Roots were a flurry of green and silver when they tangled on the pit bend.  Selway almost caused a stoppage when he spun through 360 degrees on the home straight, but the field narrowly avoided him as Fallows romped home.  The consolation was brought under caution early on after Weston and 454 Ryan Gardiner hit the plating hard in the west bend.  Pritlove led the field off, and a win looked highly possible until he spun out in the tricky conditions.  915 Jamie Jones took up the lead and stormed to the flag.  Further back, the scrap between Fegan and Vaight for the last qualifying spot became redundant when 525 Charlie Knight spun and dropped out of the top six.  The Final, for the 641 Ray Tyldesley Trophy, saw the action commence straight away with 856 Jamie Cocks bouncing off the pit bend plating to come to a halt mid-bend, whilst Stoneman was unceremoniously shoved sideways down the home straight.  The yellow flags were called to clear the Cocks machine, but the restart did not last much longer when Selway was collected by Bradford in the west bend and 676 Neil Hooper clobbered the marker tyres at the end of the home straight.  Fallows moved his way to the front when the race resumed, and he was untroubled to the flag despite the best efforts of Rennie with Bunter, who claimed second and third respectively.

Saloon Stock Cars

A fine entry of Saloon Stock Cars arrived with the weekend’s events providing a helpful chance for a number of visitors to gain valuable track time ahead of September’s World Final. With points from the heats determining the grid for the feature final on the Sunday afternoon, the star drivers were keen to make a quick start in heat one but all that resulted in was most of them ending in a heap in the west bend before even reaching the green flag.  In particular, newly crowned UK Champion 677 Warren Darby and 161 Billy Smith lost considerable time.  561 Aaron Totham moved through into the lead but with less than a lap to go 277 Jack Grandon made his move and whilst he momentarily gained the lead, Totham managed to slip back up the inside on the last bend to ensure victory.  There were changeable conditions for the second heat in which early leader 314 Bryn Finch was overhauled by 399 Cole Atkins.  760 Joey Reynolds ended his race beached on the infield tyres on the home straight whilst track debutant 211 Will Cole found himself having multiple spins.  Atkins held on for the win, and further back 261 Dom Davies retained seventh, despite being turned around by 389 Ryan Santry on the line.  The star graders were delayed again at the beginning of the third heat with Smith the biggest loser – being turned around in front of the pack on the back straight.  84 Carl Boswell moved swiftly into the lead and whilst he eventually held on for the win, he had to contend with stubborn backmarkers like Smith, 319 Richard Regan and World Champion 349 Michael Allard who were rightly keener on their own position than making way for the race leader.  The fourth and final heat saw Reynolds clout the west bend plating with some force, and the race was brought under caution to check on the driver.  Several drivers were sent spinning around or lost grip of their own accord, whilst 27 Jason Kingwell hit the front, but he was being hunted down by 720 Archie Brown.  Atkins also found himself facing the wrong way on the home straight, which delayed Scotsmen 622 Gary Paterson and 661 Graeme Shevill.  Brown moved into top spot to claim his first win of the weekend.

ORCi Ministox

A strong contingent from north of the border joined the local racers to each contest three out of four qualifying heats ahead of the following afternoon’s National Championship.  Heat one was brought under an early caution after 306 Oliver Heron sun around on the exit of turn two.  On the resumption, 505 Louis Herzig spun on the home straight and shortly after British Champion 202 Cody Bradford and ORCi Champion 629 Kerr Paterson both spun near the pit gate with 511 Lexie Crosbie also going around to bring out another yellow flag.  On the restart 207 Alfie Flecken sped off to take the win from 88 Kyle Rogerson, with 290 Alfie Tomkins, 42 Jake Wilson, 27 Rab Scott and 770 Austin Farrell in a fine battle further down the order.  The first of the evening rain had begun to fall by the second heat which made for a slippery track and saw Crosbie and 617 Christina Sillifant both spin on the pit bend.  313 Oakley Hayes led the early stages but also found himself spinning on the pit bend which brought out the yellow flags.  902 Reagan Davies led the field off but was overhauled by the defending Champion 7 Charlie Hardie who had mastered the tricky track conditions to take the win.  Heat three was brought under caution in the opening stages with 014 Demi Ritchie heading into the turn two4 plating backwards and requiring assistance to exit the car. Hardie sped quickly into the lead making the most of the gap left by the drivers ahead on the inside line.  339 Rhys Kelly spun around and was met head-on by 920 Wayne Wadge Jnr but both were thankfully able to continue as Hardie proceeded to clinch another comfortable win.  In a similar vein to the previous heat, the final qualifying race saw an early race stoppage; this time for 922 Kaydi Butcher facing the wrong direction in the west bend.  388 Cole Ford led the field off, but he was overhauled by Hardie and despite the best efforts of Bradford whose challenge faded with a spin on the back straight, the defending champion completed the perfect hat-trick of qualifying wins.  Behind him, Tomkins and Wilson enjoyed a fine battle for second, the Scotsman coming out on top on this occasion.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Ladies 3 24 605 NI918 303 870 980 nof
Heat 1 547 303 728 259 856 762 53 359 141 222
Heat 2 605 931 194 460 736 903 232 533 525 97
Heat 3 27 676 975 315 895 960 35 161 717 nof
Ben Fund 183 3 NI924 647 560 302 776 24 127 NI467
Heat 5 3 194 728 127 53 35 844 390 460 915
Heat 6 302 783 960 359 542 232 NI924 856 667 736
Heat 7 581 605 980 931 895 533 303 24 184 828
Consolation 915 776 161 667 NI998 184 first 6 to final
641 Trophy Final 581 3 728 302 895 183 127 194 980 783
Grade Awards W 728 Y 194 B 581 R 3
Saloon Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 561 277 760 618 661 399 349 389 720 84
Heat 2 399 902 151 84 622 27 261 389 618 349
Heat 3 84 277 27 677 720 389 661 319 349 122
Heat 4 720 27 525 561 161 199 261 329 661 122
Ministox 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 207 88 290 42 27 014 339 770 475 388
Heat 2 7 484 902 29 172 870 60 629 770 475
Heat 3 7 42 88 27 920 902 202 172 617 629
Heat 4 7 42 290 920 172 29 484 27 202 207
  • 15 July - Taunton Ben Fund
  • 15 July - Taunton
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