The 2015 Grand Finale, Saturday 10th October at 1:00 pm.
It's been a very long, drawn-out season in 2015 due to the summer's virtual shutdown of normal fixtures in order to accommodate all the British and World events in the UK. I think this has definitely affected the numbers we've had for the Euro-Vets in the latter half of the year and that's understandable as maybe some of us decided that long weekend drags around the map were no longer worth the effort. However, where the summer activities did bear fruit came in the form of the stunning collection of cash made by one of our most steadfast brothers in this brilliant fraternity, namely Norman Venson.
Single-handedly Stormin' Norman (I kind of like the moniker "Hipster" now!) has almost DOUBLED the now more-or-less standard amount of cash we collect for the Orchid Fighting Male Cancer Charity by dogged persistence and a sheer willingness to help the cause, a remarkable achievement. And who could ever guess the problems Norman suffered last year before his hip operation, now of course looking like one of the favourites for the 2016 Over 50s title!
Anyway, this is supposed to be about the final round, this year's ninth in our Grand Prix series and this time sponsored by the Bury Club, home to our sadly lost fellow racer John Whiting. It's fitting that we came here for the Grand Finale and had a chance to say a collective "Rest in Peace" to John at his last racetrack, a lovely man.
So to the action, with 8 Over 40s racing over a nine man format and 11 Over 50s and 60s combined using the twelve man programme.
The Oldies led off with their first three heats with Paul Timms getting the better of Joe McLaughlin with the welcome appearance of Paul Fisher giving chase. Heat 2 saw Terry Kirkup squeezing past Bob Prince while home rider Steve Mann got the better of Mick Aris and in heat 3 Steve Hodgkinson kept Phil Hemming at bay with Fred Rothwell fending off Jim Graham, three good scraps to get us underway.
The track looked a little lively on the bends, partly damp but unswept and there was plenty of pit conversation on the level of grip available, although it didn't seem to slow anyone down.
As if to prove that, the speed level rose a little with the first three Over 40s heats. Heat 1 saw Paddy Wenn take the win after a squabble with Eddie Ridley and Mick Knowles in another good scrap, Jason Keith and Pete Chant battling likewise in heat 2 after Mark Winwood made his now customary escape with a super start, and once again the action continued in the third, Martin Hollebon getting the better of Norman Venson.
The older group produced more great racing and it ended up very tight at the top after five rides each, Hodgy leading the way on nnnn nineteen in a desperate quest to overhaul Bob for the overall title, who crucially just missed out on the "A" Final after amassing 16 points with Paul and Joe on 18, Phil and Terry on 17 apiece. Phil took the empty slot in the "A" Final on countback.
Back at junior level, Mark continued regally, as befits a Monarch, to an untroubled maximum and was joined in the "A" Final by Martin, Norman and Jason with the scores again extremely tight behind the champion elect.
The last Over 60s "A" Final of the year was first up, and contrary to reports elsewhere it was won by outgoing Champion Terry followed by Bob, Mick and Fred, the final gap between Mick and Terry just 4 points. However Birmingham star Bob had already done enough before today to ensure he stood on the top step of the rostrum as 2015 Over 60s Champion. Well done Bob Prince.
The Over 40s "B" Final was next, Paddy claiming victory over Pete while a slip cost Eddie with Mick nipping past for third place.
The Over 50s "B" Final saw Bob get revenge on Terry with a great gate and Fred overcome Mick for third.
The Over 50s "A" Final could have seen the Title go one of two ways, but Stevie made a good start off the inside to stay ahead of a pressing Paul and claim what he suspected would be an elusive prize, Over 50s Champion of 2015 and just 2 points clear of Bob! Behind these two Joe eventually got the better of Phil at the finish.
There wasn't a great deal of doubt as to who would win the Over 40s "A" Final and so it proved, season-long favourite Mark Winwood skedaddling away from the gate to become 2015 Over 40s Champion, his second Euro-Vets title on the trot. There was plenty of action behind him with Martin staying just clear of a mammoth tussle between Jason and Norman who were separated by just 4 points in the overall title chase.
A fantastic day for the Birmingham Club providing all three Champions after another tremendous season of Euro-Vets competition and as stated earlier, a very successful year of fundraising to support Orchid. Well done everyone and thanks to all who took part, even with just a single appearance. Please come back next year for more, or if you can make it, get to Sheffield for the TLI British Veterans Championship meeting on Saturday 24th October at 1:00 pm. See details elsewhere on this site or our Facebook page.