By Terry Kirkup via

The Vikings got their chance to once again play host to the Orchid Male Cancer Charity Euro-Vets, a privilege indeed to be allowed to host a round two years in succession outside of Wednesfield, so I doubt if we’ll make it a hat-trick as there are quite a few clubs who’d like to run one and aren’t as lucky as us.
So, could the locals repeat their splendid performances of 12 months previous when a handful of the much sought after trophies remained on Geordie mantelpieces?

There was a slightly lower than hoped for turnout but once again those present put on a great show, although most spectators were either in an EasyJet flying skip overhead, or else a screaming Virgin 125 whizzing through Crammy on the East Coast Line.

The meeting followed a familiar theme, with 11 riders using the standard 16-man format for the Over 40s and 9 current and not-so-future pensioners adopting the 9-man layout as we’d used at Hull in Round 7.

Praise Be to our massively dedicated long-distance travellers Pete Chant of Southampton, Jim Collier of Swindon with Eddie Ridley and Martin Hollebon of Hellingly who once again demonstrated their incredible support for a great series and a worthy charitable cause. We really appreciated them trekking all this way into the Northumbrian Unknown and hope they had a decent trip back home to the South of England.

Apart from the real diehards from Birmingham (Messrs. Timms, Hodgkinson and Winwood) and Yorkshire (Mr Burke, Mr Knowles, Mr Dyson and the incomparable Mr Rothwell) who remain fully committed and will go anywhere, it was great to see our latest recruits to the Euro-Vets, Colin Gray and Joe Beuckmann take the trouble to hike down from Glasgow to support the meeting and our Club. And extra special to see Coventry’s Main Man Joe McLaughlin come up quite a long way on his own to sample our humble facility.

Speaking of which, there were a few quiet murmurings of “it’s a bit slippy” as several of our newest visitors sampled the delights of their first ever race on the AstroDrome but once they’d strung a few laps together they all looked happy, and fast enough. With the extra length of the straights, terminal velocity is always going to be high on reaching the turns and we Vikings know from experience that you simply need a speed adjustment to keep everything in line around such comparatively tight bends, a fact readily discovered by most of the entourage today after a short while. Although we’d brushed it fairly well, the east wind was up and yet again the shale had swallowed a huge amount of rainfall with little or no retention. Lack of sufficient bodies as track staff meant we had no opportunity to roll out that ridiculous length of hose just for a bunch of old far…

And before I finish handing out the praises, gotta mention Gordon Stobbs, age-old Viking (yes, like the rest of us!) now domiciled in Lancashire who resisted the temptation to stay in the tin hut to help us out with the starting gates all day. Cheers Gordon mate. Also thumbs up for Neil Magee, suffering nicely with some sort of bug after his Canadian holiday – probably Brown Bear Fever. And the handful of folk who provided raffle fodder. Not very many but enough.

That just leaves a rollicking to dish out to Treasurer Smithy, who (twice, I think) lifted the chequered flag a lap too soon, causing much grimacing, grief for his great pal, Referee Keith Dyer and plenty of “discussion” amongst the riders!


The Winner’s Enclosure

So on to the racing, if I can recall any of it. There were some great scraps in this one. Again it was Mark Winwood and Martin Hollebon who looked most likely to top out the Over 40s, joined today by home favourite Jason Keith and Vikings third heat leader Michael Parr (“Who’s that?” – pit whisper) who had a fantastic day in the only round he gets a chance to ride in due to permanent Saturday working. But of course always in the mix would be Pete Chant and Jason Burke who started steadily, weighing up the surface before getting fully up to speed. With these six taking the odd point off each other and only Mark remaining unscathed for his SEVENTH maximum score, the selection of “A” Finalists was going to be tight, and it was the home duo who squeezed in with the series leaders at the expense of JB and Pete. Significantly, EIGHT riders won a heat with Eddie Ridley and Pete Chant the last to do so towards the end of the match.

The Big Race was yet another win for the amazing Mark, easing out of the gate off the inside just ahead of Mick Parr, who pressed the ultimate winner to the flag with Martin snapping at his heels, keeping a weary eye on Jason who looked a bit slower than of late, but still gave chase. It looked like they were all waiting for a mistake, but none were made.

The only real crash of the day occurred when Pete drove under Mick Knowles going into the first bend at the start of the final lap of the Over 40s “B” Final. Because Mick was already fast approaching the inside kerb, the concrete lip (fortunately nicely rounded) provided a somewhat intrusive landing strip for his derriere, with Pete landing on top of our Sheffield pal to exert a bit of extra pressure, and it took a few minutes for enough of the pain to disperse so that he could be dragged back to his feet by a bunch of ridicule-throwing morons! I must add that in all of his races, Mick looked very fast on our long straights, but with Pete again looking rocket-powered behind him there was only a one percent chance of a clean pass coming off here!

Over 40s A Final
1st – Mark Winwood – Birmingham
2nd – Michael Parr – Northumbria
3rd – Martin Hollebon – Hellingly
4th – Jason Keith – Northumbria

Over 40s B Final
1st – Jason Burke
2nd – Eddie Ridley
3rd – Mick Knowles (awarded)
with Pete Chant excluded

Over 40s Winner - Mark Winwood

Over 40s Winner – Mark Winwood

The combined 50s and 60s meant only four rides for each rider under the fairest formula which is a nine man twelve heat affair. Paul Dyson was destined to finish top scorer after getting the better of Terry Kirkup superbly in the first heat, losing only to series leader Paul Timms. However, the latter made an amazing, completely uncharacteristic mistake in the final race when, facing the other Paul off his inside, he made a distinct movement at the gate. Believe me, the rest of us watching from the pits issued a clearly audible, communal gasp, this being probably the most unexpected event we’ve seen in the whole series!

It left Referee Keith Dyer with little option but to wave a furry finger, sending Paul back to the pits. With Joe McLaughlin and Terry level on 14, PT found himself level with Fred on 12 after Stevie Hodgkinson one point behind had allowed an error to lose him a certain win earlier in the meeting. Because TK had managed to overcome Joe when they met, he got grid 2 in the “A” Final with Paul D on 1, Joe 3 and Paul T outside. A fluky quick start saw Terry away leaving the second bend following a handy bump from PD and fortunately for him the other three kept mauling each other for the rest of the race, leaving him clear for a lucky win.

Over 50s A Final 1st – Terry Kirkup – Northumbria 2nd – Joe McLaughlin – Coventry 3rd – Paul Timms – Birmingham 4th – Paul Dyson – Bury

Over 50s B Final 1st – Steve Hodgkinson – Birmingham 2nd – Fred Rothwell – Pedal Sport 3rd – Jim Graham – Northumbria 4th – Norman Carson – Northumbria

Over 50s Winner - Terry Kirkup

Over 50s Winner – Terry Kirkup

With only four Over 60s present it wasn’t hard to figure the entries for the “A” Final, and that meant Terry got the inside courtesy of being highest scorer of the quartet in the match from Fred, Jim Graham and fellow Viking Norman Carson, giving the old plastic knee a rare run out. Another decent gate got TK into the lead again while Jimmy and Fred scrapped it out for second, the Yorkshireman finally getting the better of the home man.
Over 60’s A Final 1st – Terry Kirkup – Northumbria 2nd – Fred Rothwell – Pedal Sport 3rd – Jim Graham – Northumbria 4th – Norman Carson – Northumbria

Fred laid on an extra race to ensure everyone got at least five attempts to conquer the AstroDrome, and this one was won well by Glasgow’s Joe Beuckmann after Andy Knowles had taken an early lead, only to run out of steam following his very competitive “engagement” with brother Mick a few races earlier. Colin Gray continued his rapid improvement to get the better of Jim Collier before the end of the final race.

Consolation Race
1st – Joe Beuckmann – Glasgow 2nd – Colin Gray – Glasgow 3rd – Jim Collier – Swindon 4th – Andy Knowles – Northumbria

Next event in this series – the penultimate Round 9 at Ipswich on Saturday 4th October at 1:00 pm. Please come and join in!