World Championship underway for Cowdenbeath Racewall drivers

Fife's Ross Watters on his way to finishing fifth in the UK Open Championship
Fife's Ross Watters on his way to finishing fifth in the UK Open Championship

The stock car fraternity was saddened to learn of the death of Horry Barnes who died at the start of the week.

Horry had been in stock cars for an amazing 54 years and we pass our condolences to his family and friends.

For the first time in many years I went down to Skegness for the busy programme of racing and for most of the time was treated to beautiful sunny weather. However on Thursday, almost as soon as I got to the track I was greeted with a thunder storm and boy did it rain!

The rain stopped just before the meeting got underway but it didn’t stop the drivers from turning in an exciting meeting.

As a bonus I got to see my grandson Darren Turner (Barnsley) having a run in Lee Sampson’s hire car. Whilst he did well he wasn’t classified although he managed to damage the fence in one of his races!

In the Formula IIs Liam Bentham won the Formula II Final from James Riggall and Gordon Moodie (Windygates).

The 2 Litre Saloon drivers were in cracking form with Stuart Shevill Jnr (Motherwell), back in the Saloons, taking his new car to a debut heat win with Euan Mathieson (Lochgelly) winning the consolation.

At one time it looked as if it was going to be a Scottish 1-2 in the Final only for Deane Mayes to send Ross Watters (Leven) into the leader Shevill Jnr who spun on the last bend. Mayes just got to the line ahead of Watters with third being Adam O’Dell.

Saturday started the World Championship challenge where the World champions in Formula I, II and Saloons have time trials in each other’s cars. This year Gordon Moodie won from Andy Smith and Max Stott.

On Saturday the drivers for the Formula IIs and 2 Litre Saloons were participating in qualifying heats for their UK Championship with big turn outs of cars in each formula.

Moodie won two heats, the others went the way of Amy Webster, Dale Seneschall and James Riggall. Andrew Palmer and Jordon Thackra won the consolation races with Jack Cave winning the final.

The Saloons raced in six heats with Shevill Jnr winning two, Michael Allard, Eddie Darby, Georgie Boult Jnr and Diggy Smith one each.

John Fortune and Shevill Jnr were racing their Formula Is with Fortune qualifying for the final but he wasn’t classified in that.

On Sunday it was bright and warm and there was an international feel about the Formula II racing with Thackra winning heat one Belgian Jan Bekkers heat two and Dutchman Pieter van der Beek heat three. The consolation race was won by Julian Coombes.

The grid for the UK paired Moodie and Riggall on the front row with Cave and Luke Wrench on row 2. When the race started Moodie made a good start and managed to open up a gap on the first bend and with the others fighting over second he eased away to an easy win.

In the end Kelvyn Marshall brought his car home in second place with Kay Lenssen third.

The Grand National saw Wrench go through to win.

The Saloon drivers carried on where they left off with Mathieson taking an exciting win from Lee Sampson and Jordan Cassie.

The grid for the UK saw Shevill Jnr and Smith on the front row with Trent Arthurton and Boult Jnr alongside. However when Boult Jnr’s car was left hanging from the fence the race was stopped and the grid reformed. Shevill Jnr again led but by the end of the lap Smith was through into the lead.

Shevill Jnr was then spun and restarted and whilst Allard was beginning to close he was taken wide and lost ground. This let Smith pull away to win from Darby and Graeme Shevill.

Steve O’Dell won the Raymond Gunn Memorial from Shevill Jnr and Barry Russell whilst Austen Freestone the Allcomers.

Returning to the Racewall over the weekend of the 17/18 August is the exciting and unpredictable Saloon World Final where the participants will be blitzing their way through a crowded field of cars in an attempt to with the title and race with the gold roof on their car.

The first World Championship was held at Kaldenkirchen in 1982 and it turned out to be almost a banger meeting where car after car was sent out of the race with Datlev Katstein winning.

The following season it moved to Cowdenbeath where the likes of Robert Bruce, Bob Jones and Keith Jarman were perhaps the favourites but it was Gordon Brown who drove the race of his life to win as the favourites ran into trouble.

The roof near came off the stand as Gordon crossed the finish line and the scenes of delight on his victory lap will long be remembered.

The World was back at Cowdenbeath in 1986 and that was the year of the Jones boy who was having his 5th attempt to win the title. On the grid that day was Gillian Philp, the first GMP registered driver to do so although her race didn’t last long when she was spun early on.

The race had its usual ”sorting out” early laps when the Scottish and English drivers removed as many cars as they could. Jones sitting behind Conrad Self for many laps until the opportunity of pass presented itself.

Once ahead Bob eased away but as the laps dwindled he closed on four English cars that were ahead. Luckily the chequer appeared before he had to try to pass them. The only other Scot to finish the race was Keith England who was seventh. Again the roar of delight was tremendous as Jones received the chequered flag was something else coupled with the scenes of delight at the trophy presentation.

Bob went on to retain the trophy the following year at Buxton although he finished in second place. He had been leading with only a few laps remaining but was taken out by a driver who had been on the centre green for a few laps. A rule had been introduced to counter a move like this.

In ’89 the World was held at Armadale where Ray Goudy became the first visiting driver to win the title in Scotland.

In 1991 the World was back at Cowdenbeath now under the GMP banner. The atmosphere was electric on the Saturday night as the non seeded drivers fought it out for a place on the back of the grid.

Gordon Barclay and Kenny Stewart shared the front row with Conrad Self and Davie Duncan on row 2. The race was suspended early on after Keith Jackson rolled.

On the restart Self went through into the lead only for Ernie Burgoyne to half spin him as he took the lead. Once ahead Ernie drove the race of his life picking off back markers when he needed to before picking up his win.

Again the scenes of delight had to be seen to be believed.

The World was back at Cowdenbeath in 1995 but the fans at the Racewall were still in shock after the death of Gordon Barclay who had died in a car crash.

It wasn’t a low key meeting but the fans weren’t quite as vocal as usual although John Halifax did receive a good “Bad Lads” reception when he won.

Three years later the World was back at the Racewall and this time there was plenty to shout about with Harry Burgoyne going through to win his second World title when he led home Neil Williamson.