What a scorcher! A beautiful day for the Euro-Vets annual “KO Cup” type competition held at Glasgow to coincide with Chic Mackie’s 80th Birthday celebrations. It’s a pity the track was so parched but that’s been the way of things for some weeks now (months in my own case) for a lot of tracks without a decent water supply. With such conditions of course there was less passing than may have been expected with grip at a real premium and only those willing to take real chances doing the overtaking.
Before I move on and forget, I have to say Thank You on behalf of us all to Team GB Manager Geoff Gamage who covered both Pits Marshall and Announcer jobs very efficiently after a long trip up from the Home Counties on his own. Geoff has been as regular as our regulars this year! Thanks also, as usual, to the hardworking Mackie family who lay on super refreshments for us whenever we hit town. Longest travellers at this one were Paddy Wenn and family, and Martyn Hollebon and Eddie Ridley who had taken in Edinburgh Speedway the previous night. I know Chic was thrilled to see so many travelling as far as they can go northward to help him celebrate. Any data analysts out there could note that the magnificent Leicester club together with Glasgow and Northumbria provided enough riders to fill one of the group matches themselves but let's not forget there's so much going on elsewhere, particularly the vital junior racing, that it would never be easy for "foreigners" to attend this one, which tempered my own slight disappointment at the overall numbers. However if my memory serves correctly (for once) there were at least 8 past or present World, British, Euro and Scottish Champions here today out of 23 participants, and I believe another one at the party afterwards!
The rider numbers present made it necessary to field two mixed age groups of 12, just about sharing the age categories between them – well done Fred! (again).
Group 1 led off for heat one with World Champion Norman Venson heading up Mick Knowles and welcome one-off E-V visitor, the “retired” John Murphy! How could John, that other Scottish CS icon, not turn out to honour his long-term friend Chic? Here they are with old pal Ian McKinley:
Triple Crown World Champion Dave Hemsley had the pleasure of heading up Group 2’s first race with an easy win over Steven Mackie and Chic himself after Ashie Patterson had come down heavily in the first attempt to get away.
Dave went on to an untroubled 5 ride maximum in the qualifying heats with Mark Winwood on 19 and Dave Frith on 18. I need to find out how Dave makes racing look so effortless. Group 1 was won by immaculateTeam GB skipper Craig Marchant closely followed by the in-form pair of Martyn Hollebon and Jason Keith on 18 apiece. There was plenty of squabbling for points going on behind these, although as indicated the track didn’t lend itself to too much passing, but as usual the cream rose to the top and we were set for some splendid action come Knockout Time. For the title-deciding run-offs each qualifying rider (from their scores in the heats) takes his turn to select which of two Semi-Finals he wishes to ride in and at which gate position. Unsurprisingly the favoured grids were 1 and 2 to try and avoid the dust storm and the loose material around the edges when the bends loomed up!
Although there was again, as we’re used to, an age group separation for the semis the Knockout formula allowed a bit of overlap which saw Leicester’s dynamic Over 50 duo of Dave Frith and Norman Venson make it the Over 40s semis, Paddy Wenn just missing out on countback. Ditto the Over 50s but mainly due to low numbers.
Dave Hemsley continued his immaculate run of wins with another in 40s Semi1 followed by Martyn, Jason and well-on-form Eddie, while Mark Winwood lost out in Semi2 when he was re-visited by Lady Luck’s Dark Side sister who has plagued him for two years and fell leaving the final bend on lap three. Craig won that one with the other Dave 2nd and Norman 3rd. Norman and Paddy qualified from 50s Semi1 while Dave Frith and Joe Beuckmann made it from Semi2. Terry Kirkup and Ian “Caveman” McKinley claimed top 60s Semi2 spots with Fred Rothwell and Chris Ward doing likewise from the other one.
The Over 60s Final was first up and this time Terry got the better of an effervescent Fred who’d already beaten him twice in his surprise resurgence to decent form. Chris gave good chase with Ian in 4th place. While we could have expected some good old shenanigans in the Over 50s Final between Dave, Norman and Paddy as we’ve seen for a year or two, once they broke free of Joe on the first turn they were all three going as fast as they dared and thus almost forced to stay line astern for the duration, finishing in that order. Here’s another great shot from ace camera wielder George Swanson that sums it up nicely.
The “pièce de résistance” should have been the Over 40s Final (with Dave Frith!) and so indeed it looked for the first ten seconds after a tangle at turn one between Dave Hemsley off grid 1 and Craig with a fantastic start off 2 leading to an almighty scramble down the back straight. Half way down there a very determined Craig just got his nose in front, somehow and spectacularly, after Martyn who was following the kerb had dive-bombed the pair of them, with Dave Frith keeping a watching brief, ready to pounce. Here's another of George's brilliant captures:
When Craig, leaning well into Martyn but still allowing him an inch of track, reached the third bend the ferocity of his arrival saw the front wheel dig hard into the loose top dressing and throw him off the bike, the two Daves taking a rapid diversion around the outside and Martyn somehow staying upright with his bike. While Craig dusted himself off the discussion in the gallery was all about a possible repeat in the re-run, but astonishingly that chance was blown away by the Referee’s decision to exclude him from the re-run. You could almost hear the communal question mark rise up into the air and explode! So what could have been a much more memorable, and indeed worthy end to the on-track proceedings fizzled out somewhat as Dave Hemsley gated clear to claim first prize from Martyn and Dave Frith.
We was robbed!