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Added: 07 Mar 2017 Category: 2017 Oval Racing
F1s at Wimbledon
Making the trip to Wimbledon has been on my bucket list for a number of years now, but the Superstox Best in Britain and a few years ago the Superstox World Final always looked the pick of the meetings I’d have wanted to attend, and for one reason or another I just hadn’t made the trip. Wimbledon’s winter season makes it hard to fit in around other meetings and a Sunday night meeting means a Monday off work, it’s all quite a big commitment when you look at a meeting and think you’re only interested on one or two of the formula on the race card.

With the news that Wimbledon would be closing this month it had ramped up the urgency to get a trip over to it, it became now or never and I knew it would eat me up down the years when people speak of Wimbledon and I would have known I could have gone but didn’t, much in the same way when people talk of Newtowngrange, Long Eaton, Boston and Bradford I wish I had been there and seen racing at them. When the F1 meeting was announced it was a done deal, I was going, a few of us have been going away for a weekend every year for around the past 10-12 years and after a few e-mails back and forth it was agreed we’d do the F1’s at Wimbledon and as it worked out we’d also get to take in the opening F2 and Saloon meeting at Kings Lynn on the Saturday night. The flights were booked weeks before the tickets went on sale and within 5 minutes of the tickets going on sale they were ordered.

Over the weeks inbetween there was mixed expectation on the F1 pages on facebook about what to expect, would it be a demo meeting incase the F1’s flattened the place, would it be a good turnout or how would it turn out, some people moaning, others with the same mindset as myself that it didn’t matter, it was about being there, it was about the noise, the history and one last chance to see the big league in the capital. The Saloon men seemed to get it and there was around 40 saloons, the F1 men less so, there was only about a dozen F1’s and I think the Superstox hit 30 cars and they still have a further meeting there, but they are a more regular attraction.

Going to Wimbledon was all about the experience before the track closes, unlike most of our trips away there was no major championship, no feature race, it was just about being there. To set the scene for those who haven’t been, Wimbledon is an enclosed arena, stands right round the track, but only one side of the stadium is open to the public, a large glass fronted stand on the main straight and some terracing, which was where we were. A tarmac/ concrete surface track with wire and post fence, like the old days. The sound of the F1’s thundering around the place was awesome, the cheers everytime a car went into a post was an atmosphere you’ll struggle to replicate at any stadium, even on a world final night the crowd will be split, but this was just unison oohh’s and yeah’s, a reminder of what the sport should be about.

All 3 classes put on a show, several fence posts were broken and repaired throughout the evening and the sport did itself proud. It wasn’t until it was all over that it started to set in, this once majestic stadium hosting stockcar racing in the capital nearly since the sport began, a stadium that has had a cameo role in many a TV drama, was once a regular feature on sports shows on the TV back in the day, has seen so many greats race round it, battles fought, scores settled will soon be bulldozed and racing in the capital will be no more. Perhaps the saddest part is that it took the news it was closing to get people like myself through the gate, to get an all contact meeting that was enough to get fans to the stadium. The haters will accuse Spedeworth of profiteering from it, but they what they’ve actually done is levelled up on some of the last few meetings to give people like myself the incentive that was needed to go to Wimbledon while we still can. It makes you wonder if there is any more we as a community could have done to save it? What if we’d all have had that enthusiasm earlier? But as well as that, how many other tracks do we take for granted? How many promotions are going through the motions not really putting the meetings together that get you out of the house and through their gate? How many stadiums need to close before fans waken up that we need to go and support our local tracks, and while I don’t think it’s relevant to Wimbledon’s case, when will promotions waken up that in fighting is doing nobody any good.

If you haven’t been to Wimbledon before there is only a few meetings left, if you can make it I highly recommend it, even just to see what the fuss is about. There are meetings on the 12th, 19th and 26th of March and then that is it, gone, closed, you missed it. I’m glad I got my finger out and made it to a meeting there, but I’m equally sad I’ll never be there again.

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