BANGERS SOUTHERN OPEN
RINGWOOD - SATURDAY 27 NOVEMBER 2004
Report and pictures by Mark Baulch
We had an absolutely fantastic night at Ringwood Raceway on
Saturday 27 November, as some of the best Banger drivers around came to contest the 2004
UK Open Unlimited Banger Championship.
In fact, well over 100 drivers made the pits look set to burst at the seams. The first job
of the evening was to decide the Best Dressed Banger. 13 of the best came on to the
infield for the crowd to decide their favourite by means of the old
cheerometer It was clear from the start that they had all decided upon their
favourite, with the biggest cheers leaving a straight competition between the 24-year old
Ford of Michael Pidgeley 177 and the nicely painted Japanese Car of Mark
Mitchell 4 (Mr. Happy). I thought that 177 may win it just because it was such an old an
unusual car, but the crowd seemed to like the cut out Mr. Man on top of the number 4 car
and he just clinched the £50 prize.
Then it was on to the serious stuff of racing. 27 cars lined up for the first group, with
only 5 of them able to qualify in each heat. This evening opener went fairly quietly, as
Lee May 500 led for a while, before being displaced by Shane Davies 158. There was only
ever going to be one winner out of the 26 cars in group 2, as Brett Ellacott 162,
three-time winner of this event, made sure of his place in the Final by leading from flag
to flag. The third group was the smallest but the liveliest, as 25 cars battled it out.
Mike Hilton 155 looked like a winner for quite a while, but David Wilde 44 was having none
of it, watching carefully and closely behind him. Then, as they approached a car stranded
in the middle of bend 1, Mike Hilton 155 decided to go wide and David Wilde 44 needed no
further invitation to take the lead and go on to the win by moving to the inside line.
Group 4 consisted of 26 cars but was equally sensible, as Lee Treasurer 282 led the
Fireworks winner, Steve Bailey 190, home to safe qualification.
Results Heat 1
Group 1 158, 500, 349, 114, 315, 74, 408, 1
Group 2 162, 42, 262, 245, 151, 66, 936, 83
Group 3 44, 155, 364, 172, 239, 465, 18, 205
Group 4 282, 190, 53, 326, 97, 73, 889, 311
As the four groups combined into two, the stage was set for things to hot up! 31 drivers
took their places for the first of the second heats, but this was to be a short-lived race
as Mark Dawson 64 took a huge hit on lap 3 and proceedings had to be stopped for him to be
checked over. We had already lost 10 cars by this stage and the metal bending continued
once the green flag flew again. Simon Wilkins 778 looked like he had the race all sewn up
until, suddenly, his car began to slow as it rounded bend 1 for the last time. It appeared
that his car had overheated and it ground to a halt on the back straight, handing the win
to Jamie Wyatt 199 on the very last lap after a rotten evening up until that point for the
Posh Wash gang. 29 cars appeared for the other heat 2 and it looked like things may ground
to a halt fairly swiftly as a big logjam formed on the pit bend. But several drivers
managed to pile in with enough force to clear the wrecked cars, briefly! Danny Smithson
311 was the first of these and wisely avoided piling back into the melee on his return
visit. By backing away and awaiting the reds, he successfully clinched the victory.
Results Heat 2
Groups 1&2 199, 338, 1, 157, 446, 408, 288, 4
Groups 3&4 311, 355, 205, 614, 24, 120, 514, 18
With 30 cars having qualified at this point and countless having been loaded up ready for
scrapping, this left us 20 drivers in the Last Chance race. Always one of the hardest of
the evening, this was no exception, with some heavy action all around the circuit. We all
held our breaths as the recuperated Simon Wilkins 778 took the lead once again. But this
time he made no mistakes and his car did not let him down again, a triumphant win being
his just desserts after trying so hard for so long!
Last Chance 778, 517, 47, 399, 733, 66, 136, 48
This gave us 35 qualifiers for the Final, plus the three drivers that had automatic entry
into this race after the Qualifying Rounds during the course of the year. However, luck
was not on their side when the grid positions were drawn out of the hat. Stuart Dunn 231
found himself 36th on the grid, with Mike Kilford 202 and John Swanborough 523 fairing
little better in the 20s! Mike Kilford 202 was to have the shortest and unluckiest race of
the three though, as he was terminally punted into the Armco on bend 1, almost as the
green flag fell! Pole position belonged to Jason Ayles 315, with Scott Weldon 517
alongside him. The 1997 Champion, Gary Jackson 97, headed the second row and was joined by
Jason Cuddihy 24. Tom Terry 151 started in fifth, with Simon Wilkins 778 very happy to be
in sixth, after so nearly failing to be in the race at all! The fourth row belonged to
Simon Byrne 172 and earlier heat winner Jamie Wyatt 199. That left top tip Brett Ellacott
162 and Phillip Cullen 399 to make up the top 10. Jason Ayles 315 was to keep them all
waiting and guessing, as he crawled around the track, bunching up most of the field behind
him, although a curiously large gap appeared about halfway down, where it appeared that a
couple of drivers may have thoughts of building up significant speed before piling in!
Finally, the green flag was waved as Jason Ayles 315 let rip into bend 3. A great final
ensued, with some fantastic displays of speed and determination, as well as outright
destruction! In fact, only 9 cars finished the race! Simon Wilkins 778 just missed out on
a podium position, as he finished fourth behind Kenny Watling 42. With the exception of
sixth-placed driver Martin Lake 114, all of the top eight had finished first or second in
an earlier race, which probably just demonstrates how good their cars were on the night,
as well as a certain level of skill in the driver! Danny Smithson 311 was the runner-up
after his earlier heat success, but the new 2004 UK Open Unlimited Banger Champion was set
to be a new name on this particular roll of honour. David Wilde 44 stormed to victory,
despatching quite a few unwary back markers as he went on to glory!
Final 44, 311, 42, 778, 190, 114, 155, 158, 205
23 cars returned to the track for the Demolition Derby, but, unfortunately, this had to be
abandoned as one driver became trapped in his car on the infield side of bend 3.
This may bring the season to a close, but we return on Sunday 26 December, so you do not
need to stay in front of the television for the whole of the festive weekend! The 1300
Stock Cars and Junior Rookies will be in attendance, together with Superstox and the
Ringwood Rookies for some great Boxing Day fun.
We are also here on New Years Day. A dose of Ford Rods, Special Rods, Hot Rods and Rookies
Over 1800cc should soon cure that hangover! Both meetings start at 2.00pm, with gates open
at midday. See you then!