WORLD CHAMPION HEADS UP CHARITY MATCH ENTRY
VETERAN RIDERS CLOSE IT OUT
DATE: Saturday 24th October TIME: 1:00 pm VENUE: Cookson Park, Sheffield
EVENT: The TLI British Veterans Championship
on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign
World Champion Craig Marchant of Leicester Monarchs headed up the entry for this one-off event to cap another successful season of racing and fundraising for the UK's veteran racers. Craig was joined by Euro-Vets Over 50s Champion Steve Hodgkinson, outgoing multi-World Champion Steve Harris, Over 60s Euro Champion Bob Prince and the other E-V rostrum finishers of 2015 as well as a host of others and a couple of new faces.
The inspired brainchild of Euro-Vets Organiser Supreme Fred Rothwell, CDM & Bar (you may be too young to remember this!) this meeting was devised mid way through the 2015 season to support a second charity, this one the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign.
It was never going to be easy to promote this event so late in the year, but in stepped Sheffield boss Rob Mawhood with the offer of his Cookson Park track, admirably sited half way between the British CSC clubs' geographical extremities and also having not promoted a veteran or major BC event so far this year - perfect!
Entry fees and the profits from the Bumper Raffle were all going to the charity while TLI themselves provided race awards and champions jerseys, another excellent response from our Euro-Vets backers. The draw was completed just before midnight on the previous Thursday via Fred and Terry by telephone and worked out pretty well on paper with a fairly even distribution of age groups across the two 16 man, 20 heat formulae. Fred pulled random numbers from a hat while Terry used a name scrambler ( see http://www.printyourbrackets.com/tournament-random-matchup-generator.html) to generate the rider lists, ensuring both ends chose randomly.
The weather forecast had been not so good in the days leading up to the meeting which had attracted some of the Sport's top men including current and former British and World Champions and a couple of Euro-Vets champs thrown in, but was also well supported by an influx of rarely-seen riders, hopefully good news for future such events and indeed the Euro-Vets Grand Prix series.
So it was a damp Sheffield that welcomed the riders as they arrived to support this very worthy occasion.
Euro-Vets Over 50 Champion, Scribe and Stats man Steve Hodgkinson of Birmingham Monarchs takes up the story:
30 riders turned out for the inaugral TLI veterans Championship at Cookson Park Sheffield on Saturday. The meeting organised to raise awareness for Muscular Dystrophy.
Rain had threatened all day as journeys from all areas had a rain affected route to the track. However despite a few outbursts come 1PM the clouds had passed an the team in excellent shape for racing.
Two 20 heat formulas were used with heat one from semi 1 followed by heat 1 from semi 2. The draw was made with all age categories involved in each semi. Only after the qualifiers were the age categories were split.
Semi final one featured former veterans World Champion Steve Harris who raced to an impeccable 20 point maximum. Also impressing were local rider Jason Burke along with Hellingly Lions rider Martyn Hollebon.
Of the 50's/60's it was Kesgrave's Ray Pike who impressed along with Phil Hemming, Joe McLaughlin and Steve Hodgkinson.
Semi 2 had reigning veteran World Champ Craig Marchant as star billing and he raced to 4 wins, a fall limiting his 18 points. Leicester's Norman Venson was most impressive and he rode to an unbeaten score whilst Pete Chant and Paddy Wenn also had a solid afternoon.
In the over 50's plus categories it was Birmingham duo Paul Timms and Bob Prince who impressed the most , Prince recovering well from a 2nd race exclusion. Northumbria's Terry Kirkup had plenty of speed on the pacey Sheffield circuit.
Then the age categories split with a new format introduced. The top 4 from each category and each semi were able to 'pick' there places on the grids and on which run off they wanted. The top 2 from each semi would progress to make up the finals.
In the 60's Mick Aris and Kirkup progressed from there run off, whilst Prince and McLaughlin were the ones to make the final from theirs. McLaughlin racing in his first ever over 60's event.
In the 50's Timms and Hemming qualified from 1st race off whilst the 2nd was more keenly fought with all 4 riders in contention. Prince held on for the won whilst McLaughlin snuck a 2nd in the last corner.
The 40's saw Harris continue his winning ways with a win in the 1st race off followed home by Burke, Venson matched that with victory in the 2nd , Marchant claiming 2nd.
So to the finals - Harris triumphed over a chasing Burke, Venson in 3rd in the 40's.
Timms took a win under constant pressure from Prince with Hemming in 3rd in the 50's.
Prince took the 60's title with Aris in 2nd and Kirkup 3rd.
The Sheffield club as always looked after us well. With excellent presentation and referring on the day. Many thanks also go to Robert Mawhood for the excellent pie, chips and mushy peas provided by the club that sent us all home fully fed. A superb gesture appreciated by us all.
Also £315 was raised on the day for the charity.
Terry's Extra Byte:
Extra "bite" would be more fitting after that simply stupendous steak meal Rob and his magnificent Club laid on for the after-meeting de-brief and end-of-season celebration! We are all deeply indebted to you Mr Mawhood for your fabulous hospitality, once again.
For such a comparatively small bunch of riders and spectators I think we can be fairly proud of the amount we raised for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, and while we appreciate it won't stretch very far we can only hope it makes a positive, if humbly small, difference to some suffering soul or those trying to make things better for them.
The racing was as always keen but fair, the only teeth-gritting moment coming when Ray and Joe put their shoulders together, very soon blown over and never interfering with the general Vets calm we're so used to. It was fabulous to see the Glasgow boys Joe, Jim, Colin and the evergreen Chic make the trip and also make a huge impression during the racing, and of course similar distances were covered by regular Euro-Vets travellers Ray, Martin, Eddie, Paddy and multi-British and World Champion Steve. You far-flung lot turning out so readily and regularly really puts the icing on the cake for mere locals like us Northumbrians and it's a real shame more centrally-based riders don't make the effort. Having said that we almost had a full card which was great but far better would have been three sets of 16 riders in each age group.
I have a couple of "Welcomes" to perform which is always nice but writing this two days after the event it seems I also have a "Farewell" to proclaim. Sadly - and totally sincerely - it seems my fairly recently established friendship with Mick Aris will end soon as he has decided he's had one too many injuries, a thought we've probably all had at some time, and it's time to hang up his wheels. I've really enjoyed racing against Mick since we first clashed in the British Final at East Park in 2012. I'll have to check back to see if I raced Mick in my first Final in 1991 at Leicester or the 2005 one at his home Wednesfield circuit. Indeed, Mick swears he got his first full maximum against me and my Newcastle buddies when we raced Kingstanding Monarchs at Perry Hall w-a-y back in 1968! Regardless, if he does retire I'll miss him a lot, a hard but fair competitor, a great lad, a great laugh and a huge cog in the smooth running and vitality of the Euro-Vets series.
So more happily on to my first welcome, and it's to everyone's favourite (!) Coventry Supremo Joe "Mauler" McLaughlin. Joe (or Elbow Joe to most in the pits!) came of age just in time to join the real men in the Over 60s class at this event so we welcome him into the Old Fold, and surely he will be one of the favourites for Over 60s Champion next year? Why don't YOU join us and try to stop him?
Next up another old friend and adversary of mine from way back, Sheffield's own Dave Robinson. Dave's had a hard time of things lately health-wise but now recovering very well and he took the brave step of entering this event on his home track and looked extremely useful, getting quicker as the day went on. Great to see you back on a bike Dave.
I was a bit worried that one of our star attractions Steve Harris wouldn't make it for the start of proceedings after a Facebook conversation suggested he wasn't required to be at the track until after the first semi-final. However, that confusion was thankfully sorted and once again we had three of the World's best veterans in action in Steve, World Champ Craig Marchant and 4th placed local superstar Jason Burke. Could the likes of Martyn, Pete, Norman, Paddy or Jason Keith spoil the party for the Big Three? The Champ was undone by both Norman and Pete when he slipped in his fourth race but with 18 points eased into semi no 2 behind maximum man Norman with Martyn and Jason K filling the other slots. Like Norman, Steve went through the card unbeaten, lining up with Jason B, Pete and Paddy for semi no 1. First two places in each went to the inside two grids so the Final looked pretty juicy. Steve made no mistake to continue his scintillating form, seven rides and seven wins on a badly distorted chainwheel (sic) and a fantastic display of gating prowess. Best effort of the day was Jason Burke's magnificent undercut at the end of the first lap in the Final to take a very well deserved second place from grid four,
The Over 50s saw Paul continue to rebuild his speed and confidence after his early season leg injury and he dominated semi no 1 and the Final to prevent Bob from taking a double win. Phil finished third after a super day, spoiled only by an unsuccessful inside attack in his third ride but winning his last two, Joe in fourth place.
Only Mick stood a chance of spoiling Bob's run at the Over 60s title following TK's apparent lack of interest in racing the latter after those two were joined by Joe and Terry from the semis. As always in such events, Bob posted the slowest winning time of the day when defeating Terry in the heats (TiC). However, once again the inside grid paid off for Bob, that largely being the case for most of the day although the track was decently grippy and did allow for a speedy outside line for those who fancied a blast.
Once again the atmosphere in the pits was extremely amicable and the absence of the expected rain proved a real bonus. I think we can proclaim the meeting a great success and there are definite plans in place now to make this an annual event. Thanks to everyone who took the trouble to attend and also riders and spectators who supported the Bumper Charity Raffle with their pocket money.