Spedeworth’s legendary Spede Weekend is always a “must see event” but in the modern era anticipation this year is surely at an all-time high with not only the National Hot Rod World Final wide open but mouth-watering tussles in prospect amongst a very strong burgeoning support cast as well. (writes Kevin Wegg)
Only in the last few days defending NHR champion Carl Boardley has declared that this will be his last appearance in the formula, citing family reasons (baby due) and his desire to focus on his Pick-up racing as the main reasons for his decision. There is a possibility that he will compete at the Hednesford National weekend if the Tigra hasn’t been sold which in itself raises an intriguing question – will he be really gunning for gold or have one eye on keeping the car in one piece in order to sell? I strongly suspect the former as he attempts to equal Ormond Christies’ record-holding five title wins, albeit five-in-a-row for the Ipswich-based driver would in itself be yet another monumental record. Boardley and Team Simpson haven’t exactly been bosom buddies this year and whatever is said that small matter will be in the backs of everyone’s minds should the cars get close during the 75-lapper!!
If Boardley isn’t to win the Hoosier Tyres & Kent Cams backed event then John Christie must be a short-price favourite having won convincingly at Foxhall in the T-500 only a fortnight ago, leading as he did an Irish 1-2-3 in the shape of Glen Bell and Gary Woolsey. Ominous signs then for the English who have enjoyed a purple patch with Boardley’s domination. Steve Thompson would have been the choice of many to help lead England’s charge, coming home fourth in the same T500 event however he was sensationally eliminated from the world altogether when he dropped out of the qualifying places at the last Northampton qualifier. English points champion Chris Hard will relish the opportunity to prove that his consistent form can also lead to success in the big one-off events mind, whilst Malcolm Blackman can never be discounted having qualified for front row outside at the T-500 only to struggle with the car. Back to the formidable-looking Irish entry though and of course from the South Shane Murphy finished third last year only to be disqualified so has already had the taste, albeit a short-lived one, of life in the top three…..A healthy twenty plus support entry again underlines how buoyant the formula is and watch out too for newcomer Scott Bourne who was most impressive a fortnight ago and could be a champion-in-waiting……
And that’s not all!....
An Irish jig could be on offer well before Sunday’s main event mind with Spedeworth generously offering the traditional 2.0 Hot Rod and also the Lightning Rod world title shoot-outs as well, sponsored by Image Wheels and Teng Tools respectively. The former have been superb at Foxhall this year as Wayne Woolsey looks to take the gold back home again and heads a ten-strong posse of fellow countrymen whilst the appearance of defending champion Stephen Emerson from across the same stretch of water is sure to send a shiver down the spins of the English in the Lightning Rods but they also need to look out for Gordy McKee who has given him a good run for his money this year. Steve Santry was on top form during their last appearance mind whilst Diggy Smith is likely to be unperturbed having had a memorable dice with Emmerson in the same event at Foxhall a few years back. He won the battle on that occasion and it conjures up a picture in my mind (…with no offence intended…) of Diggy – Clint Eastwood style – rocking back in a chair and saying to Emmerson: ”Well, do you feel lucky punk?” Can’t wait!..... The Stock Rods meanwhile produced a classic finish last year and will be competing for the European Challenge Cup.
The contact formulas often steal the show and there is the promise of memorable action in all formulas with big entries and intriguing sideshows. The Superstox remain the “must see” formula at the moment and compete for the National title, with the Eaton Family trophy having now been switched to their World final meeting. Although the big-hitting Daz Kitson is a surprise withdrawal the action will come thick-and-fast for sure with Nick Smith not afraid to use the steel gloves whilst Ben Marjoram is just as tough having taken the British title only recently. Talking of which, the 1300cc Stock Cars have been the ‘talk-of-the-town’ for weeks with the PRI, Trackstar and Skegness drivers accepting the “open ORC invite” to come and play this year for the Supreme Championship. Julian Smith has already promised them a “warm” welcome and when you add in the fact that there is a forty car entry it all ensures that the hairs will rise rapidly on the back of your heck as the “Sounds of the Swinging Safari” rings out over the speakers.
It will do likewise when the 2.0 Stock Cars (“Golden Helmet”) take to the track and I’m delighted to report their numbers have been boosted significantly in return weeks with a very healthy thirty-five scheduled, including legendary Banger driver and Lightning Rod star Geoff Bowen. Now he will definitely be worth watching as too the on-going battle between Cecil and Colin Farley, whilst both Billy & Diggy Smith are out for a play too. When it comes to playing, Mark Whybra’s appearance in the Historic Stock Cars will undoubtedly be good value where he is joined by top 1300 pilot Aaron Morris. The Historic entries have been superb all year and they boast a magnificent thirty-nine car entry for the Bob Studd Trophy. Sadly Nick Dellar who pilots the famous 499 look-a-like Magnette that Bob used to race won’t be racing due to a broken arm suffered at work, however Ipswich banger star Dave “Canhamball Express” Canham has inherited the ride and this supremely talented driver will be one to watch for sure.
Bringing up the rear in style will be the impressive twenty-one team entry for the Bangers on the Saturday, followed by the All-Jaguar National Bangers ‘Big Cat Cup’ on the Sunday which features nearly forty cars, They will certainly go a long way to filling the sacred Foxhall Oval which will also ring out to both the sights & sounds of some all-new breath-taking pyrotechnic and digital effects too boot.
It’s a cliché but that’s a feast-and-a-half if ever I saw one with racing starting both days at 12 noon. Who’s YOUR money on then?.....Come & ENJOY!....