Chris Fort marched to a Buxton final victory on Sunday afternoon in only his third meeting of the season, having finished sixth in the UK Open at Skegness the weekend before.
Fort, from Silsden, is only racing Tarmac this season and is using the car of Carl Pickering. “Carl had the car built but it has been sat around for about five years – it was a brand new car but nothing was being done with it,” Fort said.
“So, it wasn’t going to sell being sat in the garage so he decided to put a driver in it and he elected me.”
The 36-year-old began his stock car career in V8 Hotstox in 1998 and raced on and off in the formula until 2009. In 2008 he was invited to drive the F1 stock car of Graham Mould, which he did until engine problems curtailed his season halfway through the year, but he still managed to win a final at Skegness.
Fort took time out from racing in 2014 after injuring his neck when competing with the British Lions in Auckland prior to the New Zealand Teams Championships and returned to racing this season at Skegness.
Living in Silsden, just five minutes away from the Wainman’s farm, it comes as no surprise Fort has worked closely with the family since he was a youngster.
“I’ve been involved in the sport through the Wainmans since I was about 14,” Fort said. “I helped them out and they have helped me. It’s been brilliant really. I help them in the V8’s with Phoebe and I do a lot with Danny now and help build his cars with him. It’s good all round.”
Fort started the World Championship qualifying round at High Edge Stadium on Sunday finishing second to Tom Harris in the 19-car opening heat, with Frankie Wainman Jnr third, followed by Mat Newson, Michael Steward and Stuart Smith Jnr.
Heat two fielded 17 cars and it was Dan Johnson, using a spare engine in his Tarmac car after blowing a head gasket at the Skegness UK Open meeting, who celebrated his birthday with a convincing win. Northampton final winner Shaun Webster finished second ahead of impressive novice Tristan Jackson in third place. Steward, Smith Jnr and Danny Wainman rounded out the top six.
Sean Willis led the 20-car third heat before an early stoppage. Luke Davison took over the lead, with Johnson closing, when the yellows came out with two laps to go.
The two-lap dash for the flag went to Johnson, ahead of Newson and Davidson, followed by Harris, Paul Harrison, Fort and Danny Wainman. Harrison was subsequently docked two places for jumping the restart.
The 25-car final was red-flagged after two laps when Ben Riley, at the front of a train of star drivers, piled into the fence into turn one, resulting in the 422 car riding the wall and ending up on its side.
It’s only my third meeting in the car and I got it really good for the final
Riley emerged unscathed, and the race restarted with Willis leading from Jackson and Fort, who made a fine start and was already up to third. On lap five Fort took over the lead from Willis and by halfway had built a healthy lead. Davidson had forced his way into second place, with Scott Davids third, ahead of Wainman Jnr and a flying Johnson, who had found himself shuffled to near the back of the grid for the restart after the first bend pile-up. Smith Jnr rounded out the top six.
As the lap boards came out Fort still had a quarter of a lap lead over Davidson. Johnson was challenging Davids for third but clipped a tyre marker into turn three and spun out of contention. By now oil had been laid down on the track as a result of Danny Wainman’s gearbox, and while Davidson closed down the leader, Fort took the flag to win his first F1 final on British soil in nine years.
Davids finished a comfortable third, ahead of Wainman Jnr, Smith Jnr and Wainman Jnr Jr.
“It’s only my third meeting in the car and I got it really good for the final,” Fort said. “I knew it was good at the start so it was a case of “run rabbit” if you know what I mean!”
Fort didn’t take part in the 18-car Grand National which was comfortably won by Davidson, ahead of Lee Fairhurst, Harris, Bradley Harriosn and Davids.
Photos courtesy of Colin Casserley