2017 News Archive

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JULY 2017 ....

JULY 29/30 .... The pre-Nationals weekend is often a quiet one for Autograss but this year there was a busy schedule with  meetings at Gloucester, North Wales, Melton, Sturton & Stow and Scarborough, although York's meeting was cancelled. Central Scotland had their annual Jock Rankin Trophy event to honour the man who did so much to bring Autograss to Scotland. Carlow held their annual trophy meeting. The Rolling Thunder Show raced at Arena Essex on Saturday night. There was no shortage of Hot Rod action in Ireland; Tipperary Raceway had an extra fixture for their domestic classes on Saturday - report and photos here. Ballymurn Hot Rod Club, nearly a year old now, staged their first trophy meeting in Wexford - report and photos here. Racing also returned to the Araglen Carnival, courtesy of East Cork Hot Rod Club.

JULY 22/23 .... The All Ireland Autograss Series reached its fourth round at Cork - full report and photos here. The Southern League's "Ladies' Day" meeting had to be postponed to 3 September after heavy rain. Other Autograss meetings were Invicta Kent, Trent, Nottingham, Yorkshire Dales and South Wales. Spalding was cancelled while the latest round of the Stock Hatch tour series was switched at short notice from South Wales to Nottingham. Standlake Arena drew a good attendance for its annual F2/Outlaw Stock Car Open and Angmering was also in action although Tongham's meeting was rained off. Waterford Raceway held round 7 of their championship at the Pike, with an encouraging growth in entries in the quicker Hot Rod classes, while Ballyshannon and Coolronan both had meetings.

JULY 15/16 .... Another championship weekend for UK Autograss saw the British Autograss Series' third round hosted by Stoud & District club at Javelin Park, while the Ludlow club enjoyed great success with their first major meeting for many years when they hosted the UK Autograss Championship at Pencombe. The only alternative events were in Ireland where West Waterford Autograss were racing along with dirt Hot Rod events at East Cork and Ballymurn.

JULY 8/9 .... A relatively quiet Autograss weekend with meetings at Invicta Kent, Scunthorpe, York and Central Scotland, plus Carlow. There was plenty of Hot Rod action; the Rolling Thunder Show had their English Championship event for their regular classes at Arena Essex - report and photos here. Angmering staged the second leg of the Scott West Memorial Hot Rod Open - full report and photos here. Tongham ran the Celia Rumary Memorial event at Four Marks. Standlake Arena had an event while the Irish Hot Rod racing was provided by Ballyshannon and Coolronan.

JULY 1/2 .... One of the highlights of the Autograss calendar, the annual Stock Hatch Nationals, now combined with the F600 Nationals, was held this year by Yorkshire Dales club as part of the Yorkshire Open weekend - full report and photos well be here. MAP staged an interesting double-header with the Worcestershire Championship at Radford on Saturday before the Alf Cope Memorial at Evesham on Sunday. Other Autograss meetings were at Cambridge, Melton and Mallow. East Cork Hot Rod Club finally started their delayed season at their Midleton track and Ballymurn Hot Rod Club had another well supported day in Wexford.

JUNE 2017 .....

JUNE 24/25 .... It was a big day for Hot Rod racers in Ireland with meetings on Sunday on tarmac and dirt. Waterford Raceway held round 6 of the Driver of the Year Championship at the Pike, while Ballyshannon Hot Rod Club in Kildare celebrated its 30th birthday with what was described as a "make or break" event which saw an excellent turnout - full report and photos from Ballyshannon should appear here. Both unfortunately clashed with West Waterford Autograss and Coolronan Raceway also had a meeting. There was a unique double event at Scarborough; on Saturday the Outlaw Stock Cars took over the Hunmanby Raceway for a full programme of open-wheel Stock Car action, supported by dirt Hot Rods. Scarborough Autograss then resumed control of the track on Sunday for their Junior Challenge meeting. The other major British Autograss event was at Sturton & Stow, with the British F600 Championship visiting the Caenby Corner track. There were also meetings at Invicta, Penhow, Pennine and Spalding.

JUNE 17/18 .... As a contrast to the fifteen Autograss meetings held the previoust weekend, this week there were only three; the BAS round hosted by South Wales League at Red Roses, round two of the UKAC staged by the Gloucestershire League on Bredon Hill's Hilltop Raceway, Tirley, and a one day meeting for Leewood at Castle Hill Farm, Ashley. The Rolling Thunder Show's proposed "away weekend" at Swaffham Raceway in Norfolk was unfortunately cancelled, although although a few of the RTS regulars joined in with Swaffham's own two-day event run in its place. Angmering's Sunday meeting was Banger-orientated this time with a "World Final" for 1400cc Micro Bangers although all Hot Rod classes were also on the programme.  The Ballymurn club in Wexford provided the Irish Hot Rod action.

JUNE 10/11 .....  Down Autograss staged one of their regular double-header events on Saturday and Sunday Full report and photos here. Sunday's meeting at Down's nearest neighbours south of the border, at Carlow, was cancelled  due to waterlogged access to the track. There was a very long list of Sunday Autograss events, with some leagues holding their final qualifiers and others having completed qualifying. Meetings took place at  Invicta, Gloucester, Ludlow North Wales, Radford, Scarborough, Southern League, STAR, Trent and York. Cambridge's meeting was the first this week to get rained out and Central Scotland also succumbed to the weather. There was a Rolling Thunder Show meeting at Arena-Essex on Saturday night, where the Sprint Cars ran for the first time in wingless form, while the main Irish Hot Rod event was on Saturday night at Tipperary Raceway, Rosegreen, with the local Production, 1400 Hot Rods, International Hot Rods, Premier Rods and Juniors on the bill as well as ORCi classes. Ballyshannon's scheduled Hot Rod event was cancelled but Coolronan in Co Meath ran on Sunday.

JUNE BANK HOLIDAY ..... It was Ireland's turn for a Bank Holiday weekend although for many UK racers it was also another long weekend with the annual MAP Open, still one of the best attended events of the year, if no longer invariably the biggest, attracting 539 entries. The only English club to run against MAP was Yorkshire Dales which also attracted a good turnout. Unfortunately the same couldn't be said for the All Ireland Autograss Series' annual trip over the border. With Causeway hosting this year's Northern round just 40 cars showed up at Bond's Glen. Full report and photos here. Despite torrential non-stop rain on the Bank Holiday Monday a much better supported day was had at Waterford Raceway for the Ian O'Leary Cup meeting - report and photos can be found here. The Irish dirt Hot Rodders had a good day's racing at Ballymurn in Wexford.

MAY 2017 .....

LATE MAY BANK HOLIDAY ..... Another Bank Holiday (in the UK - the Irish holiday was the following week) saw the start of the traditional 2-day Open meetings, although York's North of England Championship on Sunday and Monday was preceded by the stand-alone "Cock o'the North" meeting on Saturday. STAR club ran their smaller scale but still popular Middle of England Championship at Crudgington while Hereford staged an additional two-dayer to replace their cancelled Easter fixture. South Wales and Trent ran single day meetings and West Waterford held a well supported meeting on Sunday. Other events included a highlight of the year for independent Hot Rod racers with the first leg of the Scott West Memorial at Angmering giving all the Hot Rod classes almost unlimited racing. Full report and photos here. You can also find coverage of the latest Rolling Thunder Show Saturday night meeting at Arena-Essex here. Angmering and Standlake Arena were also running on Monday. Sunday saw Irish Hot Rod racing on dirt at Ballyshannon and on tarmac at Coolronan.

20/21 MAY ..... After several weeks of fine weather, there was another spate of cancelled Autograss meetings, with rain-outs at Invicta Kent, Southern League and Scunthorpe, while Cork cancelled their meeting as a mark of respect for Donal O'Brien. The meetings that survived enjoyed fine conditions; our choice to attend was Penhow (report and photo galleries here). Andrea's camera went to the inevitably fraught final West Midland qualifier at Cwmdu (see www.absnapshots.co.uk), Nottingham and Yorkshire Dales both had busy qualifiers and Abram ran their annual qualifier on the North Wales track. Down ran the second NI league qualifier on Sunday after cancelling Saturday's racing.

13/14 MAY .... After a busy schedule of Autograss and other events, the weekend was dominated for most of us by the tragic news of the death of Donal O'Brien in a cycling accident. The major event on the Autograss calendar was the Scottish Open Championship, incorporating a double-header round of the British F600 Championship. We'd hoped to be there but unfortunately other commitments saw us running out of time for the trip, so it was local events for us. National qualifiers were held at Cambridge, Causeway, Evesham, Ludlow, Pennine, Scarborough, South Wales, Sturton & Stow and York, while North Shropshire sadly staged the last ever meeting at their Hinton Hall track, which over the last 22 years had proved a worthy replacement for the iconic Black Park. Just one Autograss meeting was cancelled, at Gloucester. The Rolling Thunder Show had another Saturday night event at Arena-Essex, a highlight being the return of the UK Sprint Cars (click here for coverage) while on Sunday the fourth round of the SEGTO Championship saw the series hit the dirt for the first time at Tongham - coverage here. This clashed with a meeting featuring the Prod As and Hot Rods at Standlake, while the only Irish Hot Rod event we know of was at Ballyshannon.

 

DONAL O'BRIEN

We were shocked to hear of the tragic death of Donal O'Brien on Sunday 14 May, following a cycling accident. Just two weeks earlier Donal had played a major part in the team that delivered probably Ireland's biggest ever motorsport event at Mallow and the previous weekend he'd been catching up again with all his Autograss friends at Carlow, while daughter Nicole raced her Class 8. Donal was already a successful rally driver when he entered Autograss in the early 2000s, establishing himself as a top Class 8 driver before switching later to Class 7. Donal raced with Cork club before being part of the group that successfully established the new club at Mallow. He was one of the first Irish drivers to travel regularly to all the major UK meetings and became a firm favourite with fellow racers and supporters on both sides of the water. More recently Donal returned to Rallying with every Irish driver's dream car, a 2.5 Millington-powered Mk2 Escort, but he, together with Sandra and Nicole, remained committed to helping his club and other members in the Autograss scene. Donal was also one of the key organisers of the annual New Year "Fun Sprint" event at Watergrasshill, which brings together drivers from all Irish motorsport disciplines. Manning the entrance gate at the crack of dawn at Watergrasshill, Donal was the first person to greet us at the start of each new motorsport season. The last time we saw him behind the wheel was this year at Watergrasshill; impressed with the amazing speed of the Autocross Buggies, Donal typically couldn't close the track until he'd had a go in one! This is just one of the many events that will never seem the same again in Donal's absence. Our sincere condolences to Sandra, Nicole and all Donal's many, many friends in both Ireland and the UK.

 

6/7 MAY ..... Just a week after the biggest ever Autograss event on Irish soil, the all Ireland Autograss Series kicked off with round one at Carlow (full report and photos should be here. Yorkshire Dales ran the annual Stu Nicholls Memorial event, while Melton hosted round two of the Stock Hatch Tour series. Elsewhere, National qualifying was in full swing with events at Hereford, Invicta, Leewood, Radford, Southern League, and STAR. On Sunday there was also the fourth round of the Waterford Raceway Championship at The Pike and more dirt Hot Rod racing at Ballymurn in Wexford, but the planned opening grass meeting for the East Cork Hot Rod Club at Midleton had to be cancelled.

MAY DAY HOLIDAY .... After the damp and chilly conditions at Mallow, the Irish weather turned to blazing hot sunshine for the Monday event at the Tipperary Raceway, Rosegreen. Our full report and photo galleries are here. In the UK, the usual northern bank holiday event took place at York. On the independent oval scene, racing action thankfully returned to Grimley Raceway in Worcestershire, while Standlake Arena ran on Monday featuring F2 Stox, Prod As, 1600 Productions, Juniors and Drift Rods while Angmering held their usual popular bank holiday meeting.

APRIL 2017 ...

BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND ...... The Saturday and Sunday of the holiday weekend both fell in April this year, but for the Autograss world it was still time for the opening rounds of the British Autograss Series and UK Autograss Championship. The eagerly awaited BAS round at Mallow lived up to expectations with the 250 or so overseas travellers, who joined around 150 Irish racers for the weekend, overwhelmed by the Irish welcome, hospitality, organisation, venue and track conditions (not always in that order!). Our coverage and photo galleries should appear here as soon as we finish sorting through the masses of material. Andrea Boerngen returned from her self imposed exile and you can find her photo galleries at www.absnapshots.co.uk. The UKAC round at Trent attracted a capacity 400 car entry, less the usual handful of no-shows, and although it took a lot of work by the Trent team to get the track the way they wanted it, and there were a few thrills and spills along the way, it proved an excellent opening to a promising UKAC season. The traditional club racers' alternative to these big events was held by Leewood, the north western club bouncing back with an excellent meeting after last year's weather-blighted season. The SEGTO Championship had its third hard-surface round in quick succession, at Angmering's regular bank holiday Sunday "non-contact day" while the Rolling Thunder Show ran its latest Saturday night session at Arena-Essex, although sadly without the Outlaw Hot Rods due to a lack of entries. The independent Hot Rod clubs in Ireland mostly had a weekend off, with a lot of their members off to spectate at Mallow, although there was racing at Ballyshannon on Sunday.!

SUNDAY 23 APRIL ..... For the first time in 2017, the scheduled Autograss programme wasn't affected by any cancellations. The sun shone in Scotland for the season opener at Avonbridge. Cambridge kicked off the East Anglian season and the Formula 600 Championship began at Nottingham. Penhow had a successful day on the long awaited re-opening of their Magor track. Cwmdu had their opening event on this year's Nationals track and North Wales started the year with a closed National qualifier. The season continued at Invicta Kent, Spalding and Yorkshire Dales, while Ireland already reached its fourth and last qualifier, at Cork's Castletownkenneigh track. On the tarmac, Waterford Raceway had their third championship round (click here for our full coverage) and there was dirt Hot Rod racing with the newly formed club at Ballymurn in Wexford.

EASTER WEEKEND .... Scunthorpe staged the first official two-day meeting of the Autograss season on Saturday and Sunday, with a bumper turnout enjoying a good meeting until tthe rain arrived during Sunday's event. Scarborough's Sunday meeting was also affected by the rain, but there were no such issues on Monday for York, who attracted their usual big Easter Monday turnout and Spalding, who hosted the second Stock Hatch Tour round. Evesham, Gloucester and South Wales ran on Sunday and STAR moved their scheduled meeting from Monday to Sunday. Down Autograss also had a double-header in Northern Ireland and West Waterford hosted the third southern National qualifier at Ballysaggart. Hereford's and Southern League's meetings were again cancelled. The Oval Raceway at Angmering had a double header with the second round of the SEGTO Championship on Sunday followed by a points meeting for the local Hot Rod racers on Monday - click here for coverage of the Sunday racing and here for Monday. Standlake Arena also ran on Monday, one of the rare 2017 events to have both of their top classes, the Hot Rods and F2 Stox, on the same bill. Irish Hot Rod racing took place at Ballyshannon and Coolronan - there was an idea of the East Cork club racing on the track at Kilflynn in Kerry but we don't think it actually happened.

SUNDAY 9 APRIL .... The Irish National Qualifying rounds continued at Mallow while Causeway opened the Northern Ireland season. In England there was Autograss action at Invicta Kent, North Shropshire, Pennine, Radford, Sturton & Stow, Scarborough and York. Click here for coverage of the excellent Kent opener. The Cambridge, Southern League and Hereford meetings were cancelled, Standlake Arena ran on Sunday, with Production A, 1600 Productions, Juniors and Drift Rods on the programme.

SATURDAY 8 APRIL .... The first round of the 2017 SEGTO Championship takes place at Arena-Essex in a very full programme featuring all the regular Rolling Thunder Show classes - click here for full coverage.

SUNDAY 2 APRIL .... Autograss clubs in action were  Melton,  Trent and Yorkshire Dales, while the scheduled meetings at Central Scotland, Leewood and South Wales were cancelled. In Ireland, Waterford Raceway staged round two of their 2017 "Driver of the Year Championship" plus the rescheduled annual Demolition Derby. Other Irish Hot Rod events took place at Ballyshannon and Coolronan. In the UK, the Oval Raceway at Angmering in Sussex re-opens after its winter improvements, while Tongham hold the first SEGTO dirt meeting of the year. Our featured meeting this week was the Angmering opener - click here.

MARCH 2017 ...

SUNDAY 26 MARCH ..... The Irish Autograss season started with the first National qualifier at Carlow - click here for a full report and photos. Nottingham's Mick Wyld Memorial meeting featured the first round of the Stock Hatch series and attracted another 160-car entry. Other UK Autograss action is scheduled at Scunthorpe staged a practice day on Saturday to replace the cancelled "shakedown" event, before a full day's racing on Sunday, although Evesham, STAR and York's Autograss events were cancelled. Scunthorpe plan to. Standlake Arena was back in action with its first completely dry meeting of the year featuring the F2 Stox.

SATURDAY 25 MARCH ...... The Rolling Thunder Show held its second meeting of the year at Arena-Essex which also completed the overlapping Winter championship.

SUNDAY 19 MARCH .... The entire weekend's grass racing schedule was wiped out by wet weather. NASA Autograss racing had been scheduled at North Shropshire, Pennine, Radford, Scarborough, South Wales and Spalding. The SEGTO season opener at Tongham also had to be cancelled. In Ireland Carbury Hot Rod Track's opening meeting was cancelled but the Coolronan Raceway in Co Meath opened its season with a good turnout at the tarmac track including visitors from as far afield as Cork and Donegal.

SUNDAY 12 MARCH ..... Nottingham Autograss Club held the first race meeting of the NASA season at Oxton Raceway, with over 160 drivers signed on to enjoy dry track conditions. Standlake Arena was in action again, this time featuring the Hot Rods. Waterford Raceway (The Pike) held its first championship round of the year - click here for full coverage of The Pike. The planned dirt Hot Rod event at Ballymitty (Wexford) was cancelled.

SATURDAY 11 MARCH ..... The first Saturday night meeting of the season for the Rolling Thunder Show took place at Arena-Essex Raceway. We had clashing commitments but full video coverage is available from Barry Eaton - www.emvideos.co.uk

SUNDAY 5 MARCH ..... Scarborough Autograss club were forced to cancel the first scheduled race meeting of the NASA Autograss season. The rescheduled Scunthorpe Practice Day was also cancelled.

FEBRUARY 2017 ...

The Waterford Raceway staged a very special season opening event on 19 February. Click on the photo below for our full report and photo galleries.

 

 

February proved relatively quiet for racing action in the UK. Standlake Arena was, as usual, the first of our featured venues to open for the season, with events featuring Hot Rods on 12 February and Superstox/F2s on 26 February. The other track we'd normally expect to be running at this time of year, Angmering, was closed for resurfacing and refurbishment, with the scheduled re-opening being on 2 April.

NASA Autograss was planned to kick off with the Scunthorpe club's practice day on 26 February but this was rained out.  

JANUARY 2017 ...

January was dominated by two of our biggest events of the year; the Autosport International show at the NEC, Birmingham (click here for our report and photo galleries). Just a week later was the Oval Racing Expo at Arena-Essex Raceway - our coverage of this packed event has had to be split into three pages, so follow the links for SEGTO and NASA classes, RTS and visiting oval formulae, and the Ninja Sprint World Cup.

NEW YEAR 2017 ...

Our motorsport season started, as is becoming our tradition, at Watergrasshill, Cork, for the McNamara Motorsport/Mallow Autograss hosted Fun Sprint. Click here for our full report and photo galleries.

CHRISTMAS 2016 ...

We received the worst possible news just after Christmas when an accident during a Ladies' race at the St Stephen's Day meeting at the Waterford Raceway claimed the life of the club's devoted and universally loved secretary, Mairéad D'Arcy.

Mairéad was rightly regarded as the heart and soul of the Waterford Raceway (better known to Irish racers as "The Pike") and her personality and dedication to her local racers played a major part in making The Pike such a special and enjoyable place to go racing. When we paid an unannounced visit to The Pike in the summer we experienced at first hand how Mairéad's smiling, welcoming and helpful presence made such a difference to every racer's and visitor's day at this historic track.

Having been brought up in a family who had all made a massive contribution over the years to the Waterford Raceway, Mairéad loved her racing and was known for her ability to get into a great variety of cars and get the best out of them, whether in ladies' races or competing against the men. In November she'd raced for the first time at the Tipperary Raceway (Rosegreen) and came away a winner.

However, it's not just the racing world that will feel Mairéad's loss. As a devoted early years teacher, she'd recently realised a dream with the very successful opening of her own school, "Maud's Little Learners" in her home village of Stradbally, Co Waterford.

To the D'Arcy family, the racers and supporters at Waterford Raceway, to everyone on the Irish racing scene who'd been touched by Mairéad's influence, and to all in her local community, we offer our heartfelt condolences.

RIP Mairéad

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