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Added: 19 Feb 2020 Category: Older Oval Racing
My Top Moments of the 2010s
If you told me in 2009 a lot of what was going to happen in the decade I’d not have believed it. Despite constantly being rumoured I wouldn’t have believed Aghadowey would have re-opened, if I thought either promotion was moving out of Nutts Corner I would have expected it to be into the Shale Arena and not Davy McCall’s move to Tullyroan and explosion of new classes would have seemed a stretch. NIOvalTV wasn’t even a thought, I hadn’t considered racing, the idea of the drive to Tullyroan to watch my racing would have seemed a bit absurd, I’d even have had faith Ballymena would still have been there and the scale of the loss of tracks in England I definitely wouldn’t have seen coming, which is a bit of a wake up call to how much the sport can change in 10 years.

I thought I’d pick out and Share my personal racing highlights from the last 10 years from the view of having blogged, photo’d, raced, filmed and heavens knows what other smaller jobs I’ve forgotten.

I’ll start with an easy one, although it’s quite a sad one as well. As you learn more about the sport outside the comfort zone of our own wee country you learn of the big meetings and big venues that would make up bucket list events for most oval racing fans. One of those for me was to attend the F1 World Final at Coventry. In 2014 I got the chance to see the big league at one of their iconic venues, it was the first time I’d got to the F1 World and the first time I’d been to Coventry, but what a stadium, what an atmosphere and it wasn’t a bad race either. But it was quite an eye opener. I got to go back in 2016, again for the F1 World which was also a decent race, but sadly that was to be one of the last meetings staged there, a real shame for such a great, iconic stadium and a keystone to the BriSCA F1’s down the years.

Sticking with the Big League, I also got to the F1 World in 2015 when Rob Speak won it at Kings Lynn. As a Speaky fan I’d seen him take 3 World Finals and various other championships in the F2’s as well as an F1 European, but I’d not seen him win the F1 World, so that sort of completed a set. It was by no means a classic race and will be more remembered for a lengthy stoppage to pull a driver from a car with Speak just driving into the distance.

If I’d to pick the best big race I’d seen over the decade, and possibly ever, it was the 2013 F2 world. It was billed as being a battle of Speak and Moodie, and that battle did indeed come to pass, but it kept both of them out of the honours and eventually out of the race. At one stage while others battled for the lead Chris Kincaid very briefly looked as if he’d got into the lead before ending up in a marker tyre. The race looked to be won by George MacMillan with a commanding lead and a few laps to go, but he got caught up with back markers with just over a lap to go, as did Jack Aldridge who’d been second before he was dumped in the wall by a combination of Neil Hooper and Chris Burgoyne, Burgoyne led into the last lap and rode a huge hit from Hooper but it allowed James Rygor the drive off the corner on the pair and he took the win having led for only a few metres of the entire race, at which point I (like many others) was looking through my programme to see who 783 was. It’s a cracking race, look it up on youtube!

Another from the bucket list, and something it really should probably have done years earlier was going to the Ipswich Spedeweekend, and as it happened I got the best seats in the house to watch it. I’d been working with Spedeworth on their new website at the time and managed to do a deal that got me onto the infield for the weekend, it was also before infield places were just as limited as they are now. So in 2010 I attended my first Ipswich Spedeweekend and did it as a photographer on the infield. It’s something I’ll probably never get the chance to repeat or better so I’m never that worried about going back when it comes round every year.

A few years on in 2013 I did my first Ipswich as a fan, and I don’t think it’ll ever be bettered in terms of NI domination. John Christie won the NHR World, Shane Murray won the 2 Litre World and Gary Butler won the Stock Rods British, all bathed in unbroken sunshine throughout the weekend.

on the up and it felt like anything was possible. So it seemed like a great time to try and do a World Final t-shirt. We got the creative genius that is Clive Marchant on board and coupled it with the reasonable prices that we were offered by Les Waller at Threads N Treads (I think that is the right way round), the result was a fantastic looking t-shirt that we were able to market and sell through NIOvalTV, something I’m proud we managed to do, although we misjudged the numbers for the World Weekend itself when the trends in the sales went from childs sizes to adult sizes, we ended up with a lot of odd sizes left and probably could have sold more of the others if we had them, as a business venture we turned over quite a few quid but we were single digits up or down, something like £7 or £8 for the whole thing.

In 2015 I started racing Autograss in a class of open wheeled buggies in a class known as Adult Specials or F1200, effectively they were Junior Specials but raced by adults, they run a 1200cc Nova/ Corsa engine, they were a budget way to go racing and racing a buggy is pretty cool. In March 2016 myself and Jonny Teggart went to Carlow for their opening meeting, it was my first “away” trip with the Buggy. Despite the fact there was only the two of us in the class that day the racing couldn’t have been closer, with no quarter asked it felt like we swapped the lead nearly every lap, as the person ahead seemed to drive conservative and it gave the person behind the opportunity to get a better drive off the corner. We weren’t in our own club, so it wasn’t for points, it was just two mates having some really close racing and it was probably as enjoyable a days racing as I’ve had…… I should probably mention I won a heat and final, but the class was the real winner as it opened people’s eyes to them and the All Ireland Championships that year had an increase in numbers.

Sticking with my own racing career, in 2017 I moved into Superstox, thanks to Adrian McKinstry who had lent me his car, which seemed to turn out as the only meeting I did three races without spinning in for quite some time. In 2018 the World final was at Tullyroan, thanks partly to unfulfilled quota’s from other regions I managed to get myself onto the back row of the grid in my first season. Unless I’ve quite a dramatic improvement in form somewhere down the line it’ll probably be the highlight of the my Superstox career. While I consider it an achievement and an honour to have taken my place on the grid, I was bitterly disappointed not to have made it to the finish after a rose joint pulled out the nut on the end of the steering arm, which thankfully turned me onto the infield, every cloud has a silver lining though and I managed to take photos by the end of the race, including Lee Davison crossing the line for the win, one which will probably remain up there as the more iconic moments I’ll capture on camera.

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