Smeatharpe Stadium - Saturday 22nd July 2023

A relentless day of torrential rain dampened the hopes and spirits of racegoers at this year’s National Bangers Championship of the World, even though the title race served up plenty of action and drama.  Despite the weather, the BriSCA F2 Stock Cars continued their top notch efforts for the month of July, and the Stock Rods produced a quartet of close races as they returned to Smeatharpe for the first time since early May.

Plans for pre-meeting poster signing had to be abandoned, because of the atrocious weather, but Corey Hunt, Harry Gelsthorp and Stacey Holdsworth gallantly accepted the invitation to each race against the clock in the Saloon Stock Car of Rich James.  Hunt set the fastest time, whilst Holdsworth spun on her last lap, just when it looked as though the quick time was under threat.

National Bangers

The entry of 33 drivers was divided into 29 seeded entrants for the World Final, and four non-seeds who gridded at the very rear.  Defending Champion 582 Corey Hunt led the seeds on to the track, with the random public draw being conducted in the pouring rain.  Despite the miserable conditions, all efforts were made to adorn each car with a PAPYRUS sticker, in deference to the UK charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide.  The draw resulted in 246 Ryan Sparks and 714 Paul Smaldon sharing the front row, with the used Rolls Royce of 383 Andre McLellan and gold top teenager Hunt on row two.  Last year’s runner-up, 625 Josh Gooch drew fifteen.  To a crescendo of fireworks, the grid set off on the rolling lap, and when the green flag flew, Sparks was quick to carve out a lead.  The stretch limo of The Viking 162 Brent Shaw spun around, which helped 639 Tye Williams to speed by as he made an excellent start.  However, by the end of the second lap, Sparks was already a long way clear, with 114 Liam Lake, 887 Rob Browning, 133 Terry Hill, Williams and Hunt trying not to lose sight of the distant leader.  The heavy action came, almost exclusively, in the west bend.  Spins for Smaldon and 662 Jared Roe were the trigger, with Roe receiving a heavy attack from 838 Jamie Peters.  That also took 272 Shaun Ross into the start of the pile-up, but as he rejoined, Browning and Hill tangled, which saw Browning nudged into the stationary Peters car.  McLellan arrived on the scene at speed, and blasted Browning, and that was the invitation for The Viking to storm in, whereby he was thundered into by 252 Nemo Llewellyn, which left him wide open to a rasping hit from 77 Aaron Charles which resulted in the Mk 2 Granada being sat with the back wheels off the ground.  As Charles tried to rejoin, he in turn was clobbered by 59 Mike Hamley, and then, as Hamley tried to rejoin, 282 James Rowe tangled with him and was instantly blitzed by 648 Jamie Smith.  All the while, Sparks was powering on at the front, and as the race approached the midway stage, 890 Leszek Malinowski rattled into the Llewellyn Granada and swiftly came under fire himself from the lively Hamley.  With Sparks clear, the attention switched to the battle for second between Hunt and Hill, who were a little way ahead of Williams and 634 Ben Green.  Up front, Sparks finally encountered some problems, as 348 Sonny Sherwood tried to unlap himself, having been spun around in the first quarter of the race.  Sparks eventually gave up the ground, as Sherwood got past the leader, but that had crucially cost Sparks time, and with Hill having wriggled free of Hunt, it was Hill who had Sparks in his sights.  Out came the five-to-go board, and Hill now had a clear run at Sparks, with no backmarkers separating them.  As Sparks looked to lap 555 Harry Gelsthorp, Hill closed markedly, and as they entered turn one, Sparks was nudged wide.  On the soaked track, he slid into the west bend pile-up, and Hill was away.  Sparks reversed out, but was instantly in a tangle with Ross, 278 Shaun Brokenshire and Smith, before 327 Mikey Maskell turned him around on the back straight.  Hill, however, was untroubled, and he sped home to take the win and the title, whilst Williams just pipped Green to the line in a near photo-finish for second.  Just ten of the original grid went the distance.  The two Allcomers races which followed were routine and processional, with precious little action to report in the incessant downpour.  There were spins for Malinowski and 827 Laiton Disdle in the first Allcomers, which 717 Jack Tuffen won, despite an attempt at a last bend dive by 62 Harvey Webb.  In Allcomers two, Webb was second again, as Gooch took the honours this time.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

After the Bill Batten Tribute Weekend only a week previous, the BriSCA F2 element of the meeting had a much more domestic feel to events, with 33 cars present, of which only half a dozen drivers were from outside the westcountry region.  Carrying on where he left off the week before, Cornishman 540 Dayne Pritlove stormed to victory in the opening heat.  As he forged on in the lead, 528 Shane Hector, 605 Richie Andrews and 777 John Vickery squabbled over second place, with Andrews grabbing the place at the flag.  Heat two was led to the midway point by 291 Dan Baker, who was being reeled in by 460 Adam Pearce.  In turn, star grader 127 Matt Stoneman was closing on them.  Pearce nudged Baker wide, and as Baker got back in line he baulked Stoneman but spun himself.  That all allowed Pearce to make good his escape, and he took the flag ahead of Stoneman.  Baker was to the fore again in the consolation, and this time he held on for a fine runner-up finish behind 315 Charlie Fisher, who was the only driver to get on terms.  The Roy Goodman Perpetual Challenge Trophy final stopped almost as soon as it began, when 475 Leah Sealy upended 121 Vinnie Neath-Rogers who had come to an abrupt halt on the start-finish line.  To add to the mayhem, Hector and 232 Dan Abbot tangled, leaving the home straight particularly untidy.  The race was a complete re-run, with Pritlove swiftly establishing a healthy lead.  Andrews settled into second and that was the order of the front pair at halfway.  With grip at a premium on a soaking wet track, Pritlove and Andrews maintained the air advantage at the front, until Pritlove got out of shape on the exit of turn four just as the five-laps-to-go board was about to appear.  Andrews pounced, and relieved Pritlove of first place.  Heading into the west bend, Pritlove tried to fight back, but his chance was to come entering the pits bend.  Andrews slid deep into the bend, and as he glided wide, Pritlove regained the lead.  As Andrews struggled to regain momentum, he lost second to Stoneman.  Three to go, and Pritlove had Stoneman chasing him down.  As they completed the next lap, Stoneman made two dives at Pritlove, missing each time, and so it was Pritlove who led into the last lap.  However, as he slid into the pits bend, it took just the slightest of touches as he edged past backmarker 259 Daz Purdy to send the Cornish racer into a spin.  Stoneman nipped ahead and saw out the rest of the lap to make a successful defence of the trophy.  915 Jamie Jones took second and Pearce just claimed third, tangling with Andrews as they crossed the line.  Fifth went to Sealy, and the unfortunate Pritlove bounced back for sixth, and unavoidably crashed into the spinning Andrews.  Ahead of the Ash Sampson Trophy Grand National, former racer Mick Whittle led the grid on the first of two warm-up laps, driving Ash’s last car.  Pearce got to the front but was hunted down by Jones.  It was Jones who forced a way past, leaving Pearce in second, with 980 Charlie Lobb third.

Stock Rods

The non-contact Stock Rods again appeared in great numbers, with the 26 drivers contesting a two from three format.  Amongst the entry, 313 Brad Seymour made his return with a first appearance of the season, 311 Liam Shipway raced a Stock Rod for the first time and 208 Dave Simpson took a guest outing in the car of 426 Keith Channon, who was unavailable through poor health.  Returning after his heavy crash in early May, 375 Jonathan Salvage led heat one beyond halfway.  He was still there when the race reached its final quarter but fell back down the order when 275 Jeremy Hatch and Shipway overhauled him.  Hatch went on to win, with new English Champion 909 Justin Washer the runner-up.  220 Richard Short was disqualified for spinning aside 913 Ashley Bates.  In heat two, Seymour contested the lead with 51 Aiden Vincent, but yellow flags were called when Seymour cruised to a halt.  By halfway, Vincent was being pursued by Shipway, 101 Dave Horwell and 944 Callum Hosie.  Soon enough Hosie hit the front, but with the race seemingly in the bag, his car ran out of power at the start of the last lap and silver top 351 Rhys Langdown inherited the lead and the win.  For more than half of heat three, Vincent and 982 Sophie Daughtrey set the pace, but 9 Chris Drake took command in the latter stages, and won by quite a distance from Hosie and Washer.  With the rain still lashing down, Vincent and Seymour led the final, as the chasing pack bunched up behind them.  Vincent suffered a puncture mid-pack, and in the subsequent chaos the order was significantly shuffled to leave 32 James Horwell at the head of the race.  However, he had Hosie and Langdown swarming all over him, and in a dramatic last lap, Langdown made his move around the outside stick.  Langdown took the win, Hosie stole second and Horwell was left wondering how he dropped from first to third so swiftly.

BriSCA F2s 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 540 605 528 325 475 542 895 777 first 8 to final
Heat 2 460 127 12 979 259 980 467 776 first 8 to final
Consolation 315 291 27 121 915 232 572 663 24 856
Final 127 915 460 605 475 540 325 315 528 467
Grand National 915 460 980 12 467 475 979 127 325 259
Grade Awards: W 540 Y 460 B 315
National Bangers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
World 133 639 634 455 360 62 348 670 555 827
Allcomers 1 717 62 355 360 133 114 625 582 555 838
Allcomers 2 625 62 133 838 582 114 246 360 278 890
Best Presented 59 355 582 648 662 714 827
Stock Rods 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 275 909 311 351 522 151 77 149 313 913
Heat 2 351 32 522 311 51 208 913 101 149 220
Heat 3 9 944 909 275 151 862 231 208 77 51
Final 351 944 32 311 909 151 231 862 208 77
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