The end of season stadium meetings have long been a feature of Autograss, going back to the long running series of Birmingham Wheels and Hednesford meetings organised by the late Eric Carlin. Back in the early ‘90s we can recall being hauled in for a disciplinary hearing in front of a couple of NASA directors, after we’d been involved in putting on meetings at Scunthorpe’s Ashbyville stadium, Boston, Mildenhall, Northampton and Buxton. Unfortunately we didn’t realise at the time that it was supposed to be a disciplinary and we thought the directors wanted a chat about what excellent promotion these events can be for Autograss – after all, it was the Birmingham Wheels meetings that had attracted us to Autograss in the first place!


More recently the Kevin Hurdman-organised Northampton meetings reached the end of the road, Coventry of course shut its doors and the “new” Scunthorpe speedway, after running successful mixed meetings for grassers and others for several years, couldn’t find a suitable date, so it looked as though there’d be no “extra” meetings in 2018. However, Cambridge club chairman Lee Forster managed to do what many had assumed to be out of reach and persuaded the Adrian Flux Arena at King’s Lynn to offer a mid-November Saturday for the grassers to have the run of what’s now considered the best equipped shale oval in the country. Despite being new to this sort of event, Lee did everything right in the run-up to the meeting; taking enough pre-paid entries to ensure the event would be viable, building a strong team of officials and planning a race format that minimised the chances of unwanted damage and disruption. All Lee’s efforts were rewarded when the sun shone on North Norfolk, track conditions were perfect and the meeting ran virtually without a hitch. These meetings are supposed to be a bit of end of season fun, and it’s so much more fun when (nearly) everyone takes home a clean and undamaged car! The final entry list stood at 114 cars; 16 of those didn’t turn up but with one late entry the field of 99 was pretty much the ideal level for a smooth running day. There was obviously a strong local entry from the East Anglian and Fenland leagues, but longer distance travellers included half a dozen SEGTO cars, a couple from west wales and a couple from Scotland.


After an early start and three quarters of an hour of practice, the first grid of CLASS 1s lined up at 10.45 for the first of two eight lap heats (with pre-drawn reversed grids) and a ten lap final. With 19 cars on hand, the heats were sensibly split with Spalding Micra drivers Caine Parnell and Ricky Beale winning the first round of heats. Second time out James Parnell and Yorkshire Dales drivers Mark Grant were the winners. As everyone had behaved in the heats they were all thrown in together for the final, with 16 starters after Carl Secker’s Micra, Nick Adridge’s Yaris and Mick Hassell’s Mini dropped out. Class 6 Champ Dalton Thomas, out in the “Allstars” prize Micra, took an early lead and, despite Tongham driver James Simmons briefly getting his nose in front, Dalt held on to win from Caine Parnell, James Simmons, James Parnell, Mark Grant and Craig Conway, out in Ollie Hall’s Micra. There was a fair amount of “optimistic” overtaking in the pack, with Kieran Mackenzie p[icking up a black flag, but in the end Peter Tilley’s Prod A Nova came through to 7th from fellow SEGTO man Steve Diaper, Russ Tillson, Simon Burgess’ AX and former Class 3 driver Mick Whitlock’s Micra. Joining Kieran on the infield were the Minis of Justin Chapman and Simon Rucroft and Josh King’s Micra.


Four CLASS 2 cars were joined by two PRODUCTION Bs, but at the front of the field there was no stopping former Stock Hatch racer Kevin Atkins in his Micra. Martyn Johnson took three second places in his Nova, but in the second heat and final only just held off the Prod B Micra of Jason Cornell. Alan Lakey boiled up in the first heat but made it out again for the final, in which he blew his Corsa up altogether, so the remaining finishers were the shared Corsa of Michael and Alan Knowles, and Tongham driver Mark Davis, stepping up from Prod A to B with an immaculate pink Nova.


The first CLASS 3 heat was led all the way by Richard Spavins’ Chevy V8 Micra, with Viv Cole’s Volvo-powered Starlet closing right up at the end. Richard then lost a front wheel to bring out the reds in the second heat, which Viv led all the way. Honours again went to Wales in the final when Viv got the better of a first corner clash with Steve Goodwin’s Starlet and then put on a stylish drive to lead all the way. Steve recovered to pass Pete Lemmon for second, a lap from home, while Rhys Puddiphatt was the last finisher in fourth. Kevin Gabriel brought out his beautiful Anglia for the occasion, but sadly went home minus a front wing after an encounter with the infield tyres while Charlie Marjoram’s Zetec-powered Polo got too warm after the first race.


The CLASS 4 entry looked non-existent until the last moment, but in the end four cars turned up. Unfortunately Sam Goddard’s Mini Pickup found out how solid those infield tyres were, while he was leading the first race, and all three wins went to Andrew Wood’s Mini, chased by Dave Squire’s Saxo and former Concord and Stanstead driver Danny Osborne, returning in an ex-Steve Olive Mini Pickup.


A seven car grid of CLASS 6s provided fast and furious action. Essex’s Glen Embling held of Pennine’s Jordan Hampson to win the first heat, while the second race saw an epic duel between Harry Tillson and Glen – the St Neots driver’s immaculate Micra crossed the line inches ahead, but in a cloud of smoke that meant he didn’t appear for the final. Glen Embling won again, chased every inch of the way by James Armstrong and Jordan Hampdon, with Jordan Spavins taking fourth after various problems stifled his expected challenge, holding off Michael Edwards and Peter Grimwood.


With seven CLASS 7s entered, action was expected, and delivered. Simon Pallett and Rick Finnerty won the two heats, while Trevor Martin was the first casualty after clouting the wall. Simon led the final away, but under pressure from Phil Such, Simon spun and was collected by Scottish visitor Shuggy Brown’s Pickup, with Rick Finnerty then running up the back of Shuggy. With Simon and Shuggy sidelined, the others were sent off, reappearing at the end of the day when Rick took the win after passing Phil Such. These two were the only finishers after Darron Young and Andy Rahn both retired.


The four car CLASS 5 entry was reduced to two on the day so they tagged on with the Sevens. Wes Green’s Corsa took the win from Tim Daly’s Cinquecento.


CLASS 8 brought out seven cars but lost Shawn Winters right at the start when he went straight on into the wall and was followed in by Matt Berrisford. The restart provided an impressive win for Lincolnshire-based Sussex driver Sam Matthews. Second time out Matt Berrisford drove well to stay in front of Sam, who took a good second despite a quick spin. The Cambridge boys had more bad luck when Malcolm Lane backed into the wall. Sam Matthews then ran away with the final, while Barry Hathaway held off Matt Berrisford, fifty years his junior, for second! Two older generation cars put up a good show with Stephen Allison taking fourth ahead of SEGTO’s Ashley Lock who’d swapped his trusty Zetec-powered car for what looked like a very early Honda CBR-powered Z-Car.


CLASS 9 brought out five cars, including local man John Shepherd, making a racing comeback under the Radford number his car was bought with, although the grid was one short after Martin Bugg had a coming together in practice. Joining them was the lone F600 of Scott Ayres and it was no surprise when Scott was battling for the overall lead with the quicker 9s. Tony Wilson spun out of the lead of the first heat but recovered to snatch a last lap win after Scott had fought for the lead with Ian Robins – Ian probably having his first King’s Lynn race on four wheels! The second heat saw Tony and Scott swap the lead several times before the 600 nipped inside the Class 9 on the last lap to win. Tony made no mistake in the final, though, leading all the way with Scott and Ian in close pursuit. John Shepherd was the third nine home, holding off Steve Goodman.


CLASS 10 had the strongest Specials grid at nine cars. It took them two efforts to get away; Jack Rawlinson checked up into the first corner causing Adam Veall to clip him and spin out. On the restart Stu Rangecroft spun and Danny Wade took off a front corner, rather defying Danny’s prediction that he’d end up in the wall. Jack Rawlinson made a clean getaway the second time and led all the way. The second race was a Burbidge family show, with terry making the early running before Sam took over to win. More often seen behind a camera, Stu Stretton had a good run in his twin Aprilia powered car but didn’t make it out for the final. Adam Veall led virtually all the way but Jack Rawlinson closed in fast after spinning at the start and a close encounter entering the last lap saw Jack through to take the win from Adam. Mick Hardy came in third from Stu Rangecroft and Tom Parr’s Essex V6-powered car, while Danny Wade spun out on the last lap to join Burbidge senior and junior on the infield.


STOCK HATCH was the second class to need a split grid, with fourteen cars showing up although unfortunately Lee Forster’s AX refused to go. Jimbob Johnson won the first heat in his Saxo while former Class 9 man Darron Williams won a heat dominated by Cambridge cars. Second time out Phil Peek’s Peugeot headed Jimbob and Jake Mears beat Daniel Pearce in a battle of the Spalding Saxos. However, Jake went out in a first corner pile-up with Darron Williams and James Packman’s AX in the final, and Daniel later got spun out. Up front, Phil Peek held off Jimbob Johnson all the way, their only worrying moment coming when James Packman rejoined a lap down and gave the leaders a race. Luke Ransome’s Saxo had a good run from ninth at the start into third, ahead of Josh Bates’ Saxo, Adam Golding’s Seat, Dan Crosby’a AX, Dan Pearce, the shared Citroen C2 of Matt and Danny Whalley and/or Ben Allen, and Scottish traveller Scott Pratt’s Saxo. Viv Chapman came in a lap down after a stop-start day for her Corsa.


JUNIOR CLASS 1 brought out eight cars (six Micra, two Yaris) with close duels in every race. Baxter Pargeter just fended off Ollie Tillson in the first race, and Ollie then took another close second behind SEGTO driver Riley Diaper, who’d battled with Alfie Tomlinson until Alfie bounced off Riley’s car and spun onto the infield. Ollie then featured in an even closer fight in the final, but this time he was in front, defending every move that Baxter Pargeter could make, ending up locked together side by side over the line with Ollie winning from Baxter. Riley diaper came third with Alfie Tomlinson, doing double duty in saloons and specials, taking fourth from Niall Finnerty, Alfie Warren, Joe Aldridge and Maddie Tillson.


Just three JUNIOR SPECIALS turned up, with Alfie Tomlinson taking three dominant wins ahead of the much less experienced Leo Goodman and Leo Orton.


Although Open racing was on the programme, everyone had already had their money’s worth, so it was straight into the two CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS races. Baxter Pargeter and Ollie Tillson resumed their Junior battle, but Ollie caught thev wall as they lapped one of the specials, leaving Baxter to win comfortably from Alfie Tomlinson, Leo Goodman and Leo Orton. Eleven cars lined up, by now under the floodlights, for the senior race, out of the 23 potential qualifiers. Phil Peek made the early running, but Sam Matthews was flying – unofficially putting in the fastest four-wheeled laps the track has seen. Sam took the lead and was pulling away when the race was red flagged as Phil Peek ended up hard in the wall after a coming together with Jack Rawlinson. The result was declared with Sam the winner from Phil and Kevin Atkins in third, while the approximate order behind featured Scott Ayres, Barry Hathaway, Wes Green, Martyn Johnson and Steve Goodman, with Viv Cole and Tony Wilson pulling off.


A slightly controversial end, but there was no denying the impression that Sam Matthews’ speed had made on everyone present – and there were quite a few interested Stock Car regulars among them. A superb job by Lee and his organising team must mean there’s a good chance of this becoming an annual event – and it’s guaranteed to be a lot more crowded next time.


Anyone who missed it can catch up with the official video of the full event, produced by Barry Eaton – catch up with him through the event Facebook page.