While Nigel Green celebrated a well-deserved World Final victory, Stuart Smith Jnr came away with the Harry Smith Memorial Trophy at Ipswich later in the evening.
Smith Jnr was handed the final victory after finishing second to runaway race winner Harry Steward, who was docked two places for jumping a restart.
The meeting had earlier began with the Last Chance Qualifier event with the first two qualifying for the back of the World Final grid on row 15.
With 16 cars lined up, Neil Scriven led from flag-to-flag, with Luke Davidson coming through to take second place with two laps to go from Colin Goodswen. Goodswen gave it a bold shot to regain the place into turn three but failed to make impact and lost third place to Michael Steward.
Heat two fielded 28 cars and Aaron Leach led from the green flag to the finish for a comfortable victory ahead of Harry Steward and Neil Hooper. Micky Randall, John Fortune and Shaun Webster rounded out the top six.
After the World Final 34 cars took the start of the consolation event, with a number of drivers who retired in the big race out for compensation. And after a restart on lap two after it was Scriven again who once again dominated the race, soon taking the lead from Richard Howarth, to romp to an easy victory ahead of Drew Lammas, Daz Kitson and Ben Hurdman. Frankie Wainman Jnr Jr was fifth, ahead of Howarth, Paul Hines and Mark Woodhull.
The 36-car final for the Harry Smith Memorial Trophy was an action-packed affair. Leach set off in front at the green flag, while behind John Fortune got sideways past the starter’s rostrum and collected Micky Randell, with the pair careering across the track in front of the pack and on to the infield.
As the was happening, down the back straight Michael Steward was dragged onto the infield in a tangle with Michael Scriven and Karl Hawkins.
The race with soon stopped after Lammas clattered the turn four fence and needed attention. Leach led the restart from Howarth, Scriven and Steward.
Leach anticipated the start to maintain the lead, with Scriven now second. It was soon clear, however, that Open champion Steward, in only his second outing in an F1 stock car, was the quickest man on the track. The Essex youngster, driving the Todd Jones Tarmac car, caught and passed Scriven and then closed on Leach to take up the running before halfway and began to pull away to an impressive lead.
But before halfway, the yellows were out again as Paul Hopkins and Neil Hopper tangled and hit the Armco in turn four. It was on this next restart that Steward was deemed to jump the start. Clearly setting off far too early, before the cars had even entered turn three, Steward had already a sizeable lead as he passed the starter.
As Steward extended his lead at halfway, behind Leach was soon passed by Scriven, with Davidson also sweeping by Leach to go third. Lee Fairhurst and Smith Jnr were closing fast behind these.
Davidson looked in the best position to try and catch the runaway leader, and was up to second place until the clutch gave out and he cruised to a halt into turn four. Scriven re-inherited second place, but was soon under pressure from Smith Jnr who had earlier got by Fairhurst, who in turn had been passed by Dutchman Ron Kroonder and Frankie Wainman Jnr.
Steward comfortably maintained his lead by the length of the straight to the flag, with Smith Jnr finishing second, ahead of Kroonder, Wainman Jnr, Fairhurst and Michael Scriven
Steward’s joy was soon replaced by bitter disappointment after it was announced he had been docked two places for jumping the restart. Smith Jnr was given the race, with Kroonder promoted to second. A crest-fallen Steward was demoted to third.
“It’s not the way I want to win,” said Smith Jnr. “Harry was quick and I was never going to catch him.
“The car was 1,000 per cent better by going back to the set-up we had before the World Final. It makes me look like I don’t know what I’m doing!”
“He doesn’t think he jumped the start, but he did,” said car owner Jones. “He didn’t need to do that, he was quicker than everyone else anyway. But he’ll learn from it, hopefully!”
Steward was still musing over the stewards’ decision afterwards. “I don’t know why they docked me,” he said. “Everyone else was doing it. Aaron Leach did when he led the first restart.”
The last race was the best race of the night. The 31-car Grand National for the Ben Turner Memorial Trophy began with a yellow flag after H6 hit the turn one Armco. The restart saw Steward’s hopes of a consolation win dashed when he was collected by Michael Steward and Wainman Jnr Jr on the homes straight and ended up on a infield marker tyre.
Leach led until Hawkins and Fairhurst took over, with Wainman Jnr closing fast. With five laps to go Fairhurst had the lead but was shoved wide into turn one on the last lap by Wainman Jnr. Entering the last bend the now former world champion had to withstand a huge hit on the last bend in return from Fairhurst.
A lap down Wainman Jnr Jr went up the inside of both, which meant Fairhurst was momentarily blocked, and this gave Wainman Jnr enough momentum to ride around the Amrco and veer across the track to take the win by inches on the line. Behind these, and not that far away from stealing the victory Hawkins finished third.
While disappointed not to retain his World crown, it was an emotional Wainman Jnr who received the Ben Turner Memorial Trophy after such a thrilling finish.
Ben Turner passed away two years ago after a long fight with cancer at the age of 16. The Wainman team were a major support to the youngster, who was a big Wainman fan.
“I really wanted to win this one,” said a tearful Wainman Jnr alongside Ben’s father Howard and younger sister Milly. An appropriate end to a great night’s racing.
Photos courtesy of Neil Randon