Before I start, on behalf of the whole Euro-Vets family I’d like to pass on our best wishes for a speedy recovery to our CS Grandad, the ever-willing, ever-cheery Chic Mackie after he suffered a suspected stroke which prevented him travelling to Norwich today.
Another marathon trip for the two Northumbrian regulars, now even more appreciative of the efforts of the South East, South and South West riders who regularly trek north to support what we think is a very worthy cause for the Euro-Vets and our favourite charity, Orchid Fighting Male Cancer.
Most of the pics used here are taken by and displayed with the consent of ace photographer Andrew Davison.
Jason Keith and I set off at 6:00 am to head south for our meet with Heckmondwike’s diehard Euro-Vet Mick Knowles on the A1 at Worksop but just before we reached the junction we tagged onto Fred Rothwell who was making his own way down from Sowerby Bridge. We collected Mick who jumped in with Fred to keep him company, but as the Old Stager was staying over to compete in some 80 mile roadie thing somewhere in East Anglia on the Sunday Mick would be travelling back home with us after the meeting.
It looked fairly bleak until we’d cleared Yorkshire into Lincolnshire when the temperature began to rise and the misty sky cleared to reveal a sparkling blue canopy, could the forecast have been right? Arriving at Eaton Park it was indeed, a fabulous sunny and at last hot day, all of 21 degrees! Brilliant for most of us but nothing to shout about for ace photographer Andrew Davison who’d just returned from enjoying double that in Texas! Let me say a big “Thank You” now to Andrew for allowing me to grab a few of his excellent shots to use on here.
If I had a problem remembering some of the action at the Poole round you’ll have to forgive an even worse recollection here as there were things going on through the park today that clearly had me distracted at least some of the time. We’d landed on the same day as a mammoth charity wheelbarrow race through the area, and for that event dress was not optional, it was minimal. Very entertaining, even at times quite uplifting, mmm. (photo courtesy of DENISE BRADLEY and eveningnews24.co.uk)
Ah yes, Short Track Racing… The very efficient hosepipe was working overtime on the beautiful looking Eton Park circuit but did little or nothing to make the track grippy, it suffering the same problems as everyone else’s just now – drying out rapidly and having a fairly thick, loose coating up top. That waste of time radial sweeping idea is also used here for some reason, and all it does is spread loose shale everywhere and cover the grippier bits with crappy marbles. Is it just me who can’t fathom the use of this method?
Our disappointment at losing a bunch of Midlanders who had commitments elsewhere today was somewhat tempered by the presence of two Great Blakenham lads, Steve Johnson and Malcolm Redpath, both making their Euro-Vets debuts (this year at least) and both seemed very happy to be part of the gaggle. Welcome indeed to both of you. John Sidwick made the lengthy journey from the Valleys for another outing as indeed did our wonderful trio of Brian Davidson, Eddie Ridley and Martyn Hollebon from Hellingly while brilliantly dedicated Pete Chant hauled up from the South Coast again – fantastic support. So although numbers were down a little, a bit surprisingly given the location, another successful event ensued.
Once again Leicester dominated the numbers overall and indeed dominated the proceedings with another fabulous display, hard to see how they’ll be knocked off their perch any time this decade especially after their impressive “stroll” around Wednesfield a week earlier to comfortably win the British Over 40s Club Championship. (I’m thrilled to say my puny little Northumbrian outfit finished second thanks to Gavin Parr and Jason Keith!).
One man’s meat
“You make your own luck” seems a popular premise but if it isn’t running your way there’s not much you can do about it. Once again defending Over 40s Champion, Birmingham’s Mark Winwood suffered yet more of the devil’s own when the shiny new, freshly painted grid lines ruined his getaway in heat 1 prompting another fairly vocal outburst à la Poole, this time not aimed at the Referee but against the local paintsmith, whomsoever (s)he may be! Most people were unaffected but it sure caught me in my second race although I wasn’t bothered by it. World Champion Craig Marchant and his Leicester teammate Mark Whitehead were both drawn outside him and might well have expected to finish behind the Brummie in this one. Craig had to settle for second to Kev in his only defeat of the day on his way to another scorching top score. Precious points dropped again which couldn’t be glossed over (sorry!) in the wider scheme of things as Mark W again found himself relegated to the “B” Final, unable to shake off the current curse.
Pete Chant chose today to come back to his best with three straight wins in the best start of them all, defeating Eddie Ridley and Mick Knowles in a close fought heat 2 while the next race proved decisive in the quest for the “A” Final, home favourite Paddy Wenn and unlucky Jason Keith losing out to Kev Burns and Martyn Hollebon after a great scrap.
As usual there was plenty of close, exciting action throughout the mainly 3-in-a-race programme with the track surface claiming several victims at least momentarily along the way. Most boring “race” of the day came in the Lucky Thirteenth when Jason wasn’t even called from the pits to collect his 4 points, being the only rider in that one!
Step aside Young Folk
There were only nine Over 50s but that made the programme easier to compile for Fred, a solid 3-per-race combined with the Over 60s trio all the way through so plenty of points up for grabs and no last places. That’s only right you know, we’re getting on a bit!
Ray Oliver scorched away from grid one to head Norman Venson and Fred Rothwell in the first race, the Leicester man in no hurry to try any heroics until he’d got the track weighed up. A very quick Dave Frith on his immaculate new bike won comfortably from Terry Kirkup and Brian Davidson in heat two. The new boys did battle in the third with Malcolm Redpath just holding off repeated challenges from teammate Steve Johnson in a great scrap with John Sidwick looking on and waiting for a gap.
The Big Three of the Over 50s then proceeded to overcome their opponents comfortably, winning every heat apart from Fred’s in heat 5 and Terrys in heat 11 to cement their places in the “A” Final along with the Northumbrian. Unluckiest man was Steve who had problems slipping his pedals out of the second bend several times which may have cost him a few places but as usual there were some good races and chases throughout the field.
Countback was needed to decide the grids for the Over 50s “A” Final with Dave, Norman and Ray tied on 15 points. A bit further back down the scoresheet saw Steve, Malcolm and Fred also tying on 11 each.
The Over 40s “B” Final had Pete on grid 1, Mark Winwood on 2, Paddy on 3 and Jason on 4. A bit of bunching on the first turn saw Jason loose out after a good start, Mark going on to win with Pete and Paddy having another close dice for second and third.
Craig maximised his inside gate again in the “A” Final, pulling clear of the battle for third after Mark Whitehead had nullified the threat from Martyn on his inside off the line, Kev getting around Martyn after he’d slid out of turn two for a Leicester clean sweep (see video).
Malcolm got the better of Fred from his outside to take the Over 50s “B” Final, Steve following his teammate to the flag with Fred holding off a spirited John Sidwick.
It took FOUR attempts to get the “A” Final away after a couple of first bend skirmishes and falls with Norman, Ray and Dave all unwilling to settle for second best. It settled down eventually to a win for series leader Norman from a hard charging Dave and Ray, another of our Brethren seemingly going through a spell of ill luck at the moment.
The Over 60s Final with just three qualifying riders available on the day went the way of the grid positions.
Many thanks to Norwich Superstar and Euro-Vets regular Paddy Wenn who together with his little team of helpers made it all happen and also helped stick a few quid in the charity pot from their 50-50 draw.