Season Opener - 13 February 2022


Standlake Arena’s regular season for 2022 kicked off in the middle of February and, to be quite honest, this was one of those days when it was much more fun reviewing the photos afterwards than it was standing on the bank taking them! A cold, windy day with very little let-up in the rain, somehow didn’t dimmish the enthusiasm displayed by full grids of racers in every class. And it was pleasing to see that appreciated by a very well populated spectator area, with the family-friendly sprit of Standlake continuing to attract new followers, although most of those had more sense than us and viewed from the comfort of their cars!


As ever, Standlake’s organisation was second to none, and the 21 race, 120 car, programme was completed in record time so that, despite the time of year, we were well on the way home in daylight.


On this occasion, neither of Standlake’s two headline formulae, the F2s or Hot Rods, were racing, so the bill was topped by PRODUCTION A, with a healthy 16-car grid. There was only one winner, with Andy Passey taking his Nova to the front in all three races, but he had to work for them all. In the first heat Jason Keitch’s Corsa spun away the lead, putting Lee Winter’s Nova in front. Chris Lawrence grabbed the lead by going round the outside with his Corsa, but a slight touch sent him sideways and allowed regular Tongham visitor Thomas Connors to sneak through in his K10 Micra, holding the lead until Andy Passey proved irresistible with two laps to go.


Second time out it was the Saxo of newcomer Ashley Cousins that made the early running, before Chris Lawrence hit the front, racing side by side for several laps with Ricky Jenkins’ Nova. Andy Passey couldn’t wait for them to resolve their battle, saw a gap on the inside and was through and away for his second win.


In the final Chris Lawrence held the advantage most of the way, and this time Andy Passey had to make the outside line work on the soaking wet track, finally getting his nose in front with three to go, while Thomas Connors sneaked into second from Chris. Points Champion Kevin Passey brought his Nova home fourth ahead of the top Mini, Lee Maslen’s “Real Mini Company” backed car, holding off Harry Kerbey’s Nova and Geoff Davis’ Mini. Laura Connors’ beautifully presented new K11 Micra maybe wasn’t yet on the pace of her old Nova, but had three steady finishes, while Katy Kerbey started the day with an excellent third place in her Nova, but unfortunately lost a good result when the car fell sick in the final. Others featuring in the day’s action were Colin Passey and Terry Iles in their Novas, while Michael Gault’s Mini sounded as though it had water in the works all day.


The 1600 PRODUCTION class was provisionally scheduled to race in split heats, but with 19 cars making it on the day they all went in together. The first race saw Shaun Baker’s Focus (he also had an identical car in the Bangers!) challenged by Tim Edwards’ Fiesta until Tim had a spin, resuming still in second but a long way back. The Focus was soon dragging its exhaust though, and eventually pulled off, and Tim emerged as the winner, with George Taylor’s Yaris battling to the front of the pack behind him. The second race also saw the early leader lose his exhaust, this time Mike Brayford’s Fiesta, and Dave Quinsee then went on to a good win in his Nova, while Dean Quinsee made it a family double with his Civic by snatching second from George Taylor on the last lap.


Mike Brayford again made the early running in the final, but with a gaggle of non-qualifiers starting from the back, the leaders were soon in traffic and Tim Edwards took to the outside line to shoot through into the lead. George Taylor was closely following and it was George who came out ahead to win from Tim, with Dean Quinsee in third from points champ Dan Powell’s very well presented new Civic. Paul Burgess’ Civic, Shaun Turnage’s Focus, Jimmy Barton’s Fiesta, Nick Taylor’s Yaris, Ash Howard’s Focus and Dave Quinsee were all in contention. Others in the thick of the action were Owen Hunt’s Rover, Jazz Kelt’s Civic, Jack Grey’s Astra and Kyle Escott’s Fiesta, while Alan Cooper’s Fiesta didn’t make the final, Gary Baker’s Peugeot 306 only came out for the final and had blown up by the end of it, and Tristan Staite couldn’t get his Civic running all day.


As ever the JUNIORS, with an impressive 29 Minis in the line-up, are being split in the early season meetings between the novices and the graded drivers. The 14 cars on the novices’ grid included two complete newcomers with the others having at least a few races under their belts from last year. All of them performed brilliantly in the very difficult conditions and it was one of the first-time drivers, Alfie Martell, who ended up winning both the second heat and the final, after Jacob Turnage took the first heat. Ollie Ireson chased Alfie home in the final, with the third trophy going to the other first timer, Daniella Cliffe, who was chased by Morgan Cooper and Jack Umney. Also featuring were Charlie Bendle, Isaac Harris, Gary Weston, Ellie Packer, Chloe Goldup, Charley St Clair, and Alisha and Bethany Lawrence.


The more experienced Juniors put on their usual good show, with three different winners promising a very competitive season. Brayden Richards went three-abreast for the lead with Alexa Ives and Ella Fulker in the first race, with Brayden coming out in front and staying there under pressure from Tyler Rayner, Ella and Aiden Howell. In the second heat Brayden again led the way as the lap boards came out, but Taylor Bligdon got past in the closing stages to win from Brayden and Tyler Rayner.


The final saw a flag-to-flag win for Alfie Harding, who led away from the yellow grade and built up a big lead that was never challenged. The red flags came out just as Alfie took the chequers, with Braydon Richards unlucky to end his good showing in the fence, but it was Ella Fulker who took second after an excellent performance, ahead of Tyler Rayner, Aiden Howell, Michael Weston, Jay Moores and Ellas’s younger brother Jack, who’s also moved well up the grades in his second year. Taylor Bligdon, Harvey Breakspear and Alexa Ives completed the top ten, with Cody Keitch, Ryan Wainwright and Madie Oxlade also featuring. Archie Parker’s car showed off a lovely new colour scheme but was very sick all day, but you’ll see him coming when he gets it on song!


The fourth class on the programme was the DRIFT RODS, with a 16-car line-up. They were headed away in all the races by a late entrant whose name we didn’t get, in a well-used Mercedes CLK, but each time it was Rikki Talboys who came through for three convincing wins in his BMW, his only problem being a close call with Kai Armitage-Gardner’s spinning Lexus in the second heat. Chasing Rikki home in the final were the BMWs of Aaron Rowland and Gary Godsmark, and Morgan Gardiner’s Mazda MK5. Then came Kevin Hardie’s BMW, the CLK and Tracey Green’s BMW. Sammy Cartwright put on an entertaining show in her Carlton, while vying for the “best drifter” award were BMW drivers Simon Scott and Michael Lee, with Michael taking the trophy. Others featuring were Sheldon Gardiner, in a Lexus disguised as a BMW, Chris Deverick’s BMW X4, Tom Evans and Daniel Bucket in BMWs, and Jasmine Hayes, whose BMW expired in the final after two good third places in the heats.


The BANGER racing was of the 1800 Street Banger variety, with a 40-car turnout providing plenty of action, and some good racing from those who emerged at the head of the field. Split heats saw two double winners, Ford Focus drivers Steven Grant and Louis Williams, and these two featured in a close battle with James Gardner in the 30-car final, until James was dispatched on the last lap. It was Lee Smith who took the win though in another Focus, from Steven and Louis, with Louis going on to snatch another win in the “Dash” that ended the day’s racing – with no takers for a DD this time.