"Big Bang Bonfire Meeting" 3 November 2019



Standlake’s annual Bonfire Bash meeting is always one of the best supported meetings for the Oxfordshire oval, with the crowds packing the arena; some attracted by what’s always one of the best firework displays in the county, some by the heavy hitting Banger racing, while for us it’s now the only chance in the year to see Standlake’s top two classes, the Hot Rods and F2 Stox, on the same programme. After heading to Standlake straight from Lydden, where we enjoyed one of the wildest and wettest race days we can remember, it was a relief to have a mild and dry day, with the sun even appearing at times.


The HOT ROD turnouts at times this year had lapsed back into the “worrying” category, with a typical eight car grid dropping to four cars in their May and July meetings. Twenty drivers had scored points in their first eight outings of the year, but only one driver’s done every round, and only three others have contested more than three meetings. As a Hot Rod track Standlake’s probably an acquired taste, but it does produce really open competition. The short, wide track, with a surface that’s normally left pretty greasy by the Bangers before the Hot Rods are let loose, means that there’s no advantage for a National/Outlaw spec car over the 2-litre types, and a well driven Stock Rod will usually be on the pace.


With ten cars, the best field of the year, lining up, the three FWD cars stayed in front of the RWDs with Pete King winning the first heat from John Bartlett and Les Hatch, all in 8v Corsas, with Martin Faherty’s Redtop-powered Fiesta the best of the RWD entries, chased by Richard Barton in the Vauxhall-powered BMW Mini. Unfortunately Jeffrey Crocker’s 206, potentially one of the quickest on the grid, bounced off the armco in the warm-up laps and was sidelined for the day. Second time out Les Hatch’s Stock Rod-spec car led all the way from John Bartlett and Pete King, while Martin Faherty’s bid for third place ended with him spinning out. Steve Bryant’s 2-litre Fiesta started up front in the final, but Les Hatch was soon round the outside, and Les led all the way to the finish. John Bartlett’s smoky FWD Corsa held off Rich Barton for second place until John came off the last corner a little sideways and Rich couldn’t avoid spinning him onto the infield. Rich crossed the line second but was docked a place promoting Henry Breakspear’s 2-litre Corsa to second, with John Bartlett  taking the flag on the infield for fourth ahead of Pete King, points leader Darren Taylor’s 2-litre Nova, Graham Fulker’s Pinto-powered Corsa and Steve Bryant, while Martin Faherty retired when he was again looking like the quickest RWD car.


The F2 STOX, fresh from their Open Championship at their last meeting, produced another 20 car grid, with a few irregular visitors among them. This time it was the Standlake points title to be settled, with Paul Webb holding a slim advantage over Carl Lewis. Carl kept his hopes alive by carving spectacularly through the field in the first heat, before coming home to a clear win over Grimley based driver, Ash Greening, showing a great turn of speed on his third Standlake outing of the year. Warwickshire driver Simon Edwards, a former Grimley regular who now travels north for his racing with the Outlaws, came in third while Andy, Gary and Paul Webb completed the top six. Unfortunately for Carl Lewis, that’s where his championship hopes ended as he ended up parked on the infield in the early stages of both the second heat and final. In heat two, Jess Webb led away before being passed by Phil Trigg, but James Trigg came through very quickly from the blue grade to take it up. James held the lead through a stoppage when Keith Walding thankfully walked away from a very heavy hit into the armco after a front suspension breakage, and James still led from the restart until with two laps to go Ash Greening caught him, James spinning out as Ash took over to win, chased by Louis Williams, with Gary Webb, Andrew Cornock, Paul Webb and Andy Webb all close behind, Andy having survived a trip over the infield after launching himself off Tracey Green, making her F2 debut in the Terry Butcher hire car, after Simon Edwards and Ben Farebrother tangled in front of them.


The final had an 18 car grid, with Keith Walding and Keith Richens missing. Phil Trigg again made the early running, with Ash Greening flying through from the front of the reds to make it up to third before a tangle on the back straight saw him planted in the armco, bringing out the yellows. Jordan Butcher got the jump on the restart, but it was soon Cornish traveller Dan Moss in front, and Dan controlled the rest of the race, under constant pressure from Gary Webb. Louis Williams came into contention and snatched second from Gary into the last lap, but a last corner hit couldn’t dislodge Dan and the Cornishman came home to a well deserved win from Louis, Gary and Andy Cornock. Simon Edwards, who’d struggled earlier in the day on his Outlaw-issue Dmack tyres, had a good run to fifth, holding off the new points champ Paul Webb and Ben Farebrother, with Roger Mountney, now in the ex-Ricky Jacobs car, Jordan Butcher and James Trigg, after rejoining from the infield, completing the top ten. The other finishers were Phil Trigg, Rob Dobie, Ollie Holford, another Grimley visitor, Jess Webb and Tracey Green. Andy Webb pulled off after sparks flew when he got sandwiched on the restart.


The JUNIORS had enough entries for a split two-out-of three heats format. The first race was red flagged after Taylor Bligden collected the spun car of Callum Martindale. After the restart Louis Rayner came through to take the lead of the first heat at half distance from brother Tyler, with Louis then being chased home by Zak Moores and Tyler holding off Aidan Howell for third. The second heat saw Zak Moores, coming to the end of his six year career in the Juniors, still with his original ex-Sam Smith Mini, take the lead in the closing stages from a driver at the opposite end of his Junior career, Ryan Glendenning again showing impressive form after his debut win at the last meeting. Ryan held off Kyle Rayner, Aidan Howell and Jay Moores for second. Ross Burton ended up spinning out of the close battle in that race, but in the third heat Ross judged it right when the early leader, Tyler Rayner, got squeezed out lapping a backmarker, and Ross then held off Josh Cornish to win, with Louis Rayner grabbing third.


Nineteen cars made the final, missing Alexa Ives, after a heavy shunt in the last heat, and Taylor Bligden. Leading away from the white grade was Jay-Dee Boland, and he held on well as more and more experienced drivers joined the queue trying to challenge him. Eventually Louis Rayner found a gap on the very last corner to cross the line first, but Louis had picked up a black cross on the way so Jay-Dee took a very popular win from Louis, Zak Moores, Tyler Rayner, Aidan Howell, Kyle Rayner and Ryan Glendenning. Ross Burton came in just behind the lead battle, with Michael Weston, Bobbi Ankerson and Kacey Church next up, while Alfie Parker, Callum Martindale, Alfie Butler, who made the final after missing all the heats, Riley Bricknell and novice Rhys Read completed the finishers; Alfie Harding, Jay Moores and Josh Cornish all retired.


The PRODUCTION As had one of their better turnouts of the year with fourteen cars on track. The Micras dominated the results with Chris Gregory taking the first hear from Mick Jones, in the Charles family car, and Rob Gregory. Second time out Mick Jones got away at the front and pulled out a big lead as Chris and Rob Gregory took second and third. In the final Mick Jones spun out on the first lap and Shane Steele’s Nova led before being passed by Chris Gregory, who then held on all the way, under pressure from Kyle Williams’ Micra. Kelvin Passey’s Nova came in third from James Strickland’s Corsa, Rob Gregory, Henry Strickland’s Nova, Gary Hicks in the 1200cc Corsa, we believe the first to take advantage of Standlake’s “alternative” Prod A spec, and Craig Passey’s Nova, with Mick Jones completing the finishers after Colin Passey, Andy Passey and Shane Steele retired, while Katy Kerbey didn’t start the final.


The 1600 PRODUCTIONS had a 15 car field, including a couple of first time visitors, Cameron Daniels and William Watkiss, in a pair of Civics they’ve been running in the Thunder Rod class at Tongham. Cameron ran near the front in all his races, although William had problems and pulled out of all three races. Justin Roff, in a Saxo, led much of the first heat before Dale Hall’s Civic came through to win, chased by David Clarke’s Rover, with Justin Roff holding off fellow Saxo driver Ash Howard for third and Cameron Daniels in a competitive fifth. Second time out red flags were needed after a heavy shunt for Robin Clarke’s Rover into the pit gate. From the restart it was another of the Rover 216s, with sometime F2 Stox driver Steve Goldup, that escaped from all the battles to win by a fair margin, as the Civics of Dale Hall and Chris Wood got to the front of a 10-car train fighting for second. The final saw newcomer Tom Rogers impressively leading to beyond half distance in his Fiesta. Eventually David Clarke was the only one to find a way round the outside of the well driven Fiesta, and he won with Tom Rogers hanging on to second ahead of Dan Powell’s Civic, Steve Goldup, Dale Hall, Chris Wood and Ryan Shelton’s later Civic. Justin Roff and Ash Howard in the Saxos were split by Cameron Daniels and the other finishers were Lee Loxton’s Fiesta and his team-mate Mark Woodward in a Focus, with their other team car, Jimmy McDermott’s Saxo, ending up in the armco.


After a single figure turnout on our last visit, the DRIFT ROD numbers have been getting back to their normal levels. 19 cars lined up this time including a couple of returning drivers and a new shape in Chris Deverick’s BMW Z3, wearing an elegant hard top that you’ll be surprised BMW didn’t think of! The first heat saw cars spinning all over the place on the greasy track, but comeback drivers David Coombes and Steve Argrave led the way before Kev Hardie came through from the back to take the win. The second heat featured Liam Puffett’s Volvo Estate as one of the more spectacular “drifters”, but he also managed to lead the race all the way as Steve Argrave held off Tom Evans, Chris Deverick, Tracey Green, Michael Hayes, despite wiping out most of the back end of his Lexus, and Kev Hardie. In the final Dave Coombes held off Liam Puffett all the way, with Chris Deverick catching them on the last lap, but evidently running a lap down as Steve Argrave took third from Tom Evans, Tracey Green and Kev Hardie – we didn’t catch the rest of the result after Tracey Green was taken hard into the armco after the flag as a car pulled off the infield. Michael Hayes took the “best drifter” award.


The rest of the day was taken up by the Bangers, with a 36 car field for the first 2-litre race leading into a day of fraught action and heavy wreckage. Joey Reynolds was the final winner. 15 or so Unlimiteds produced a bit less action, with David Wilde unbeaten in their four races, while there was only one taker for their closing DD – although the 2-litre DD, with 16 cars still running at the start, more than made up for that.


Then it was time for the bonfire and fireworks, sending the packed crowd home happy with another excellent value Standlake day.