Classic Modifieds @ Swaffham Raceway – Saturday 9th June 2012
Despite some rather threatening cloud cover at Swaffham Raceway, a dry Saturday evening set the scene for the Classic Modifieds and round three of the 2012 season on Saturday 9th June.
Welcome returns to the fold included Dave Cumbridge in his No.92 Morris 1000, and the No.69 Mk2 Cortina of Darren Barnes. Bradley Blyth in the No.35 VW Beetle also joined the ranks of Malx Foskett and his Mk1 Cortina, Shawn Mason’s Standard Vanguard No. 01, John Jones’ Anglia 105E, Julian Meakins in the No.32 Mk1 Escort and Jordon Meakins with his No.33 Triumph Stag. As the cars were being readied, news spread that the Julian Meakins had both his Ford Escort and his dad’s BMW 2002 up for sale – another CM build being the reason for this; a different shape yet again in this ever expanding formula.
As per the previous meeting, the grid positions for the first heat were based upon the finishing results from the last outing. This meant that Darren Barnes in 69 and Jordon Meakins in 33 lined up by the start/finish podium. Row two inside was taken by the Morris 1000 of Cumbridge and alongside him was Bradley’s Bug as it has come to be known. Looking back to turns three and four, you was to find Julian Meakins in 32 on the inside of Shawn Mason and his Standard Vanguard , Foskett was then behind Mason and John Jones making up the quartet . The one lap ‘warm up’ got under way andonce they were shown the green flag, the crowds were treated to plenty of action from the Ford V6 engined machinery. From the front four, Jordon Meakins picked up an early lead as Darren Barnes has a temporary retirement due to fuel starvation issues; this seemed to remedy itself fairly quickly so a return to racing was made by the No.69 machine. Bradley Blyth showing good pace once again, but the reoccurring misfiring problem surfaced again which saw him slip down the field. Dave Cumbridge soon got to grips with the handling of his much improved Morris 1000 whilst rapid progress towards the front of the field was being made by both Julian Meakins and Malx Foskett hot on his rear bumper. With two laps to go, an over exuberant Mk2 Cortina of Darren Barnes pirouetted on the turn three which made a few drivers take drastic action, none more so than Foskett who felt that if that weren’t the case, the result could have been very different. The result of heat one was Julian Meakins, closely followed by Foskett, and Jordon Meakins in third.
Once the second race had arrived, the clouds continued to loom threatening in the background, but it continued to keep dry; the first two home from race once saw Foskett and Julian Meakins start behind Jones and Mason on the entrance to turn three. In front of the starter’s podium you were to find Blyth on pole position, with Jordon Meakins on his outside, Barnes taking up grid position three with Cumbridge on his outside. Once again, the beginning of the race was action packed and not without some controversy as the pack entered turns one and two, Blyth managed to out-run Jordon Meakins to the front, but unfortunately the Beetle having a little too much head of steam coming out of turn two which resulted in him spinning out at the front of the chasing swarm. Meakins seeing nothing but Wolfsburg tinwork ahead of him, and unable to take evasive action for fear of repercussions further down the field, had no other option but to tag the Beetle on his way through. As the stranded Beetle was missed by the rest of the pack.
As the Beetle was left in a precarious position at the exit of turn two, the decision was made to race on which saw some frantic duelling throughout the field, each driver knowing that they needed to act quickly as only one line was available as they entered the back straight.
With six laps to go, Cumbridge appeared to slow considerably which resulted in some quick thinking by the first three – Foskett, Julian Meakins and John Jones. As the Mk1 Cortina and Mk1 Escort fought over top spot, Jones made up considerable ground on the leading pair knowing that he wouldn’t need to be asked twice if either of them was caught off guard. Meanwhile, Shawn Mason was holding on to forth in what sounded like a very rough running Standard Vanguard, closely pursued by Barnes. With three laps to go, and it appeared that Julian Meakins had the better of Foskett’s Cortina on a number of occasions but was just unable to make the move stick by the time they got to Bradley Blyth’s temporary chicane on the back straight. As the final lap arrived, Julian managed to get up the inside of the No.48 machine and they entered the pit bend as one, but as the chequered flag dropped, it was Foskett by a bonnet length, followed by Meakins and John Jones. Mason managed to hang on to forth and the No.69 Cortina passed over the line in a puff of steam in fifth – a snapped water pump belt seeing his efforts dashed for the rest of the meeting.
By the time the final arrived, the big question was could a certain Mr Foskett make it three final wins out of three?If the performance from the earlier heats wasanything to go by, the smart money was pointing towards either the consistency of John Jones, the rapidly paced Julian Meakins or previous final winner Foskett.This time, it was Dave Cumbridge’s turn to be pole-sitter with Jordon Meakins alongside him, whilst a greatly improved Bradley Blyth was on the inside of row two. Casting our eye back to the entrance to turn three saw Jones, Mason, Foskett and Julian Meakins.
As the green flag dropped, Foskett realising that the only way to pull off the win was to get some raceway between himself and Julian. Four laps in, and as the racing group emerge from turn four, Bradley Blyth gets the Beetle fish-tailing as he crosses the line, but has to dive towards the infield to correct it, resulting in the most of the pack passing him in the process. Seeing his opportunity, Foskett manages to squeeze past Jones and Mason but the pack soon bunch up again. Two laps later and in an almost identical manoeuvre to Blyth’s earlier, Shawn Mason’s Vanguard gets tail happy as he exits turn four and ends up on the infield and gets a soaking by the biggest water splash on the circuit. This incident unfortunately causes Julian’s Mk1 Escort to hang back slightly to avoid any further chaos but try as he might to gain back the lost time, the Cortina of Foskett and the 105E of Jones were just too rapid at this point. With two laps to go, it was looking like an easy final win for Malx and his Cortina Mk1, but Jones seeing a gap on the final bend takes a lunge down the inside, only to find the kerb and with a shower of sparks and a big handful of opposite lock, manages to recover the Anglia in time so that he didn’t get a rude awakening by the Swaffham Raceway armco. In the meantime, the No.48 car takes the win and despite a fantastic last lap effort by Julian Meakins to catch the others, John Jones manages to keep hold of second place and Julian Meakins in third.
Post-race feedback was that this was the best meeting of the season so far, which can only be improved by the extra numbers hoping to make it to our next race date at the end of July.
The next meeting for the Classic Modifieds is at Swaffham Raceway’s All Cortina Bangers meeting on Sunday 22nd July at 1:30pm – as they will be the supporting formula for 175 bangers to celebrate 50 years of the Ford Cortina, this will be a real retro fest for the senses so an early arrival is strongly advised.
Report by Richard Waldridge