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WHO Nascar - 3 August 2016

Race Report

Our first race of the summer holidays saw a very healthy twenty-six on the grid, including WHO debuts for Lucy and Mark. Also making their first appearances at the Barn were the new AFX Mega-G+ club cars, fitted with some good-looking 2015 Sprint Cup liveries.

The Barn looked different from a normal Nascar night - the track was most definitely not an oval. As per WHO Nascar tradition, it was time for our biennial road course and Keith had made the inspired choice of a layout based on Road Atlanta. The big, fast and flowing track was certainly easy on the eye and drove very nicely.

Practice came and went. The club cars were quick and survived their first few crashes. An unwelcome drama with an unwelcome visitor was thankfully resolved quickly and we were ready to start the heats.

The heats were particularly interesting as everyone was watching the performance of the new club cars. Three were on the grid for the first race of the night, with Andy accidentally giving a first run to the white KFC car, alongside Aiden racing the blue #32 car and Nye rocketing off the line in the red Brandt Chevy. That first race ended with club cars in the top three places - and with big scores - all eclipsing WHO top dog Corey.

The heats continued with an electric atmosphere. We had nine rookies using the club cars, all scoring points in the Gen6 Cup and they were all doing well. That was putting real pressure on the regular Gen6 runners to get the most out of their Mega-G+ cars on a favourable track, pushing them further up the grid than usual. At half way we had John and Neal up top with their Super-Gs, followed by three Gen6 cars (Andy, Keith and Simon), top rookie and club car runner (Mark) in eighth and Nye was top junior in eleventh. The top lane scores were held by Andy (yellow), Simon (blue), John (red) and Neal (white).

There was some determined racing in the second hour to improve scores and move up the grid. Most notable was Deborah, who needed to recover from a disaster in blue lane that had put her dead last. Three massive scores in red, white and yellow put her third on the grid going into the final pair of heats. However, Deborah's joy would soon turn to pain. Andy had transferred from the first group to the last, having played the convivial host to PC Pearson for much of the evening (although he couldn't persuade him to race). Mr Player banged in two big scores at the end, leap-frogged both Deborah and Neal to end up second behind John and dumping Ms Grant down to the B final. The cad...


First up was the I final which saw Rachel go head-to-head against Hayley. It was a bit of a scrappy one, but the race went to form with Rachel taking the win with the red club car. It was back to race control duties for Hayley.

Rachel stepped up to the H final and the yellow #38 Loves club car. She'd join Lucy, who was racing the white KFC club car, alongside WHO regulars Aaron and Corey. And it was an exciting race. Corey lead from the start, but almost blew it, letting Aaron get back to within a third of a lap by the end. Lucy was always in touch with the leaders, but a few offs going in to the tricky turn five after the Esses left her just over a lap behind - an impressive debut nonetheless. Rachel battled on in yellow lane, beating her heat score in yellow by nearly two laps.

The yellow and white club cars stayed on track for the G final, this time piloted by Sharon and Barry. In between them were Jamie and Corey, who was stepping up into blue lane. The race got off to a cracking start with Jamie, Barry and Corey neck and neck for much of the first minute. Jamie gradually eked out a lead over Barry, which he stretched to a lap and a half by the end, but it had been an impressive race by the rookie in the KFC car. Behind them, Sharon had kept things neat and very nearly caught Corey for third.

Jamie's Super-G+ joined three Mega-G+ cars in the F final - Tony with his own #88 Bud Lite car, Dave and Aiden using club cars. It was another incredibly close one with all four cars running in close formation lap after lap. Eventually the gutter lanes tripped up Tony and Aiden and they dropped back just a little, leaving Jamie and Dave up front. It looked like Jamie would take his second win of the night - experience and the faster car were certainly on his side - but Dave gradually reeled him in, made the pass and held on until the chequered flag fell. An impressive win. Aiden came in third, just a lap behind the winner - another excellent performance. Tony was another half a lap back, so all four cars were separated by just over one hundred feet.

Dave surrendered the blue club car to Nye in E final and took charge of the KFC car for a run in white lane. They'd be up against Alex and Andy Phillips, both in Life Likes. Alex and Nye would be battling it out for the junior medal. The first thirty seconds was fast and it was neat - Andy and Alex lead the way with the two club cars side-by-side a few feet behind. Dave was first to blink with an off going into the chicane at turn nine. As we passed the halfway point, Nye took the lead ahead of Andy and Alex, all on the same lap. But then it got a little scrappy - Dave fell further back, Andy dropped off the lead lap and a couple of offs for Nye allowed a cool-headed Alex to cruise to the line a quarter of a lap ahead, taking the win and the medal. So close for Nye - and he knew it...

Alex remained in yellow for the D final and if he could repeat his 19.50 lap score, he'd be in with a chance of another step-up to add to his medal. Trying to stop him were Simon and Mark, both racing Mega-G+ car and Neil with his older Mega-G. It was Alex who lead the early stages before the chicane caught him out and let Neil through. That's as good as it got for Neil, he was soon at the rear, with Simon up top at halfway, followed closely by Alex and Mark. The second half belonged to the Mega-G+ racers, Simon coming home three quarters of a lap ahead of Mark, who was disappointed not to have been closer. A couple of laps back, Neil just pipped Alex for third.

Our rookies had given the club cars an excellent debut and we had one last appearance for the red car up in the C final. Colin, in just his second HO race, had qualified a very impressive ninth. He was up against WHO veterans Simon, Duncan and Stephen. This was a close one, but also on the scrappy end of the spectrum - the marshals were kept busy, especially by Simon. Up front, Duncan managed to hang on to a precarious lead over Stephen, which was never over a lap. Behind, Simon came back to sneak past Colin for third and miraculously finished just a quarter of a lap behind Stephen - if only he'd kept it on the track earlier on...

The clock had crept past 9.30pm and, after a busy night's action, we were on to the B final. Deborah was looking to get up to the A final, give Andy some pay-back and get an all-important Gen6 Cup win. Standing in her way were Keith (who also had his eyes on the Gen6 win), Duncan and Mike McCann. Mike had his usual understated heats, but a huge score in white put his very fast Super-G+ right up in the mix. If there'd be close racing in previous finals, then this was closer and it was faster. Duncan was the first to crash and to be dropped, but the other three just went on racing side-by-side.

With two thirds of the race gone, Mike was in the lead, 0.14 seconds ahead of Keith, who was 0.30 seconds ahead of Deborah. Duncan was a lap back. The pressure on Mike was intense, but it was the other two who cracked, giving the leader just a little breathing space. It looked like Deborah would beat Keith, but then a late off gave the silver "Star Trek: First Contact" #21 Ford Fusion a tantalisingly small advantage over Deborah's blue Chevy. Duncan was still just a lap back in fourth.

After such a stonking win and first A final appearance for... er... a while, Mike didn't hang around and leapt off the line into a handy lead. Pole-sitter John was caught napping and it was Andy and Neal left to chase down the usurper. An off saw Neal drop back and then it was an off for Mike that lost him the lead and handed it, very briefly to Andy. However, by this time, John had made good his recovery and soon hit the front. Andy was not letting him get away, at least until a mid-race off lost the Gen6 racer nearly a lap. With Neal finding a good pace, it was Andy under pressure and the top three circulated at a frantic pace and with no more crashes. That ended with the chequered flag, John taking the win, just under a lap ahead of Andy, who was just under a lap ahead of Neal. Mike was just enjoying being in the A final.

Huge congratulations to John on his win, which ties him with Mike D on 21 WHO career wins and sets him up nicely for a crack at a ninth championship. Alex won an excellent junior battle and finished top under-11 racer on the night as well. He now has a handy lead in the Nascar junior standings - could he be looking at his first WHO championship? Congratulations also go to Colin on an impressive run to tenth place and top rookie honours. Andy took a third Gen6 win, but the pressure is still on as the Gen6 championship goes to a four-way showdown in November.

Massive thanks to everyone who made it such an excellent evening of racing - especially to all those who helped set up, run the race and pack away. Special mention must go to Keith for playing a big part in the planning and execution of the track and to Stephen and Hayley for running race control so brilliantly.

- Andy P



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