Delivering on a Promise22.09.14 Yorkshire Dales produce a fantastic meeting to conclude the series.
Crucially, the final round of the Kent Cams/Simpson Race Exhausts British Autograss Series was the kind of quality event we hoped it would be, but it will also stick in the memory through the winter because of Daz Nutter’s and Scott Aldridge’s enormous accidents.
It would be unfair to reflect on such an excellent event and begin by recounting the unfortunate events of the second heat because the club deserve enormous praise; not only did the meeting rectify some of the ill feeling from the weeks prior to it, but it was so good that it would have stood out as a great event even in the most consistent of seasons.
Because of a number of excellent Men’s Nationals events it was beyond doubt that this had the potential to be a well run meeting. From the moment you arrived it was clear the venue was spacious, organised, well laid-out with more than enough space in the pit and trailer park areas; there was plenty of room for the trade stands, good toilet facilities and good quality refreshment vans on either side of the circuit.
The memory of the way the track held together in the soaking conditions of the 2012 Nationals suggested that we could expect excellent standards at Thornborough, and throughout the course of the weekend it turned out to be somewhat of a lesson in good track preparation and maintenance.
As we said in our preview, it’s in landowner Peter Almack’s best interest to ensure the track is worked properly and used to its potential; compared to many other venues though, this needed very little work at all, providing a fast, flat and flowing circuit that encouraged some of the closest racing we have seen all season. There were a few small ruts that appeared, but the track markers were moved accordingly and then the holes were filled as soon as possible. There was also intelligent use of the bowser, with the usual strategic application on the inside line to keep drivers off the cones – not that it worked some of the time – and also short periods of downtime to allow the water to soak in so at no point was the track like a skating rink as we have seen on several occasions at different venues. The success here comes from a depth of understanding of the finer details of general track work, applied to a circuit that has personal value, together with a sense of urgency to keep the momentum of the meeting going, and Almack’s team raised the bar to a level by which others should measure themselves.
The marshals too were certainly slicker than we’ve experienced at times this year; maybe not quite up to Stroud standard, but excellent nonetheless. Dave Shields had employed a good team who appeared confident in their own decision making and only asked to refer to the camera footage at times when they were genuinely unsure or unsighted, which, refreshingly, is exactly how the situation should be. We were privy to a couple of conversations on the infield that highlighted one of the only real criticisms of the meeting; the fact that the wrecker drivers weren’t always quickly in attendance to relieve stricken machinery, but with only just over 300 cars at the meeting, time was on their side so perhaps it didn’t matter too much.
When there’s an accident of the magnitude of Daz Nutter’s, however, a smaller entry and shorter programme of races is a big advantage. On full power away from the line, Nutter’s throttle cable touched the exhaust and melted which held it fully open, sending him on an unstoppable ride through the barrier at the end of the straight and into the spectator area. The downtime of around an hour and a half that followed meant that a lot of the ladies second heats had to be held until Sunday morning. It was little surprise that the extra races on day two were dispatched efficiently and we still had an early finish, but where the club shone was in the way it dealt with Nutter’s incident and its aftermath.
This was the most notable incident but there were a number of others too that required the ambulance, but from which the drivers emerged largely unscathed. We singled out Aldridge’s accident at the beginning as being particularly memorable purely because it was such a spectacular roll, but he was uninjured save for a sore neck and arm. Nutter was hospitalised and thankfully, at the time of writing, he is recovering well having undergone surgery and is due to be released in the next few days. It’s good to hear too that the car withstood the impact well, despite rumours that it was wrecked, and the same can also be said of Aldridge’s chassis, both of which are testament to John Gay’s standard of construction at XCworx.
It was heartening to hear people already speaking about next year’s Ladies and Juniors Nationals which will be held at the venue, and this event was timed perfectly because not only did it quell the unrest after this year’s L&J, but also by way of contrast has already started to create real excitement about the potential for next year’s event. The club should feel justifiably proud for producing a well-organised meeting on an excellent track, which encouraged close racing to decide many of the class champions and leave a good impression of the season over the winter months. There’s no better way to conclude the BAS than that.
Main: This is Scott Aldridge in one of the reruns of the class eight final, executing the first few twists in one of the season's most spectacular rolls (photo: Sam Barrett).