Well, we enjoyed a very decent turnout for the Glasgow round, the second in the 2016 series, and lo and behold – no rain this time. However, after the first ten heats I think we’d have traded the sub-zero temperatures for a nice flooding of the track, but more of that later. We ended up running two 12-man formats as in many previous events but fortunately the age groups were nicely split so made for easy selection.
I know I keep harping on about this (see older E-V reports) but It’s not until you get here that you appreciate the distances some of our diehard Euro-Vets have to travel. We (at Northumbria) are Glasgow’s second neighbours so to us this isn’t much of a trek but when you consider the presence of Pete Chant, Paddy Wenn, Eddie Ridley, Brian Davidson and Martyn Hollebon you can see how dedicated these lads are to one of the few boom areas of the current Cycle Speedway world (he says, fingers crossed and awaiting negative comments)..
A bit further up-country we have Jim Collier from Swindon and the Midlands fraternity covering huge mileages in pursuit of a fair day’s racing amongst good friends. And as far as the Midlanders go it’s great to see Ray Oliver and Mark Whitehead make it two-on-the-bounce, let’s hope they can take in a few more rounds, preferably all of them. Unfortunately dire Rail travel costs put paid to regulars Paul Timms, Steve Hodgkinson and Phil Hemming making the trip and although they were missed there was plenty of action to compensate, as indeed there always is whatever the turnout.
Our hosts have a bit of a problem with the position of their track in that the first two bends are under tree shade and sheltered from the wind while t’other end is well exposed to sunshine and draught – and today even drought! This has the unfortunate effect of benefitting the first half lap while bedevilling the second. Absence of rain this week meant a bone dry surface there and although we put up with it for ten or so races we just had to clean the top off, being spurred on by quite a few slips around there followed by a nasty crash for Fred Rothwell whose front wheel just dug into an inch of loose dirt right at the crown and spat him off while attempting a cutback. The resulting clean-up then allowed for much faster action around the final turn while the far bend had retained just about enough moisture to remain safely negotiable.
We ran this one using one heat from each programme, starting with the Over 40s which saw World Champion Craig Marchant ease to victory chased by Paddy, Pete and Jim Collier looking a bit sharper than at Stoke. This was the first of six straight wins for Craig, flying out of the gate almost every time to grab an early advantage. In the Over 50/60 set Norman Venson emulated Craig’s performance all the way with another six wins, heading Ray Oliver and Joe McLaughlin in the opener. Martyn Hollebon led Jason Keith, Eddie Ridley and homester Joe Beuckmann in 40s race two going on to 18 points and looking super quick once again on the new bike. Back with the 50/60s Lee Lawrence, returning from injury at last year’s World Vets, made light work of an outside gate to defeat Terry Kirkup, Fred Rothwell and Brian Davidson on his way to a 17 point haul. Mark Winwood was the first to buck the gating trend with an overtake on Mark Whitehead, the firm “nudge” also allowing Mick Knowles to slip through for second. Back to the Oldies and local boys Jim Alexander, Colin Gray and Chic Mackie managed to overhaul a faster starting Norman Carson whose legs weren’t quite ready for racing.
***It's Friday 13th and I've just discovered that Mark Winwood was riding with a lovely gash below one of his kneecaps today, so well done indeed for a) travelling to Glasgow with it and b) still riding like a demon!
That was everyone’s first race out of the way and the Boys leaders were Craig, Martyn, Mark Winwood and Jason with the other Mark just missing the “A” Final by a single point. Mick, Paddy, Pete and Eddie were always in the mix pushing hard in most of their races but there wasn’t too much movement off the safer racing line making passing difficult.
The Old Folks were enjoying a great day again, apart from the bitter chill which saw even Glasgow stalwart Colin snuggling inside a duffle coat between races! Norman Venson was supreme and inflicted Ray’s only defeat in the heats, those two joined at the top of the scoresheet by Joe and Lee. The local boys Jim and Colin had a very productive afternoon taking 15 points each and once again displaying year-on-year improvement since joining and re-joining the Glasgow club respectively.
So to the Finals.
There was only one bad slipup after that early track sweep but it was nowt to do with the track surface, although on second thoughts the extra bite did allow an old Northumbrian to accelerate hard around poor Joe Mac in the Over 60s “A” Final catching him off-guard and sending him tumbling to a very heavy fall. It took some minutes to get the Coventry man stable enough to remove him from the track so the other finals could continue.
Norman Carson and Brian Davidson had their second two-man duel in the “B” Final, Norm again getting the verdict and so glad he didn’t have any more races to do.
The Over 50s “A” Final also went with grid position, Norman maintaining his unbeaten afternoon magnificently chased home by Ray with Lee and Joe tiring somewhat behind.
The “B” Final saw the only change in grid position to finishing order when Terry managed to get over Jim and Colin, Fred splitting the Scots at the finish.
There was a bit of anticipation in the air for the Over 40s “A” Final but Craig was in no mood to drop a point and the first bend proved critically tactical, Jason losing out while Mark could only follow a very watchful Martyn home behind the Champ. Mark Winwood had to dash away early for his train back to Birmingham so Chic stood in for him (below).
The “B” Final produced another good chase behind winner Mark Whitehead with Eddie and Pete chasing Paddy hard but once again gate positions were to prove the crucial factor with plenty of care being taken around the first two bends, still an enjoyable spectacle with so many riders now finding more “oomph” from their fatter tyres.
Many thanks to Glasgow’s main Man Chic Mackie and his team, not forgetting the ladies who once again kept us all well fed and watered throughout, and the raffle was a great success as well as being quite entertaining to kick off our annual support effort for the benefit of the Orchid Fighting Male Cancer Charity.
Thanks also to Edinburgh's Alan Hewitson for refereeing today and ace photographer George Swanson. I'll get some of his magnificent shots on here soon.
Here's a taster from George's ever watchful lens, showing poor Joe McLaughlin just unsettled on his way to that nasty fall:
I couldn't resist slipping another of George's fantastic captures here, this one showing an understeering Mick Knowles chasing an oversteering Pete Chant!