Rob Cowley signed off from BriSCA F1 at the Gala meeting after 40 years in the sport

Lee Fairhurst, driving the Daniel van Spyker Tarmac car he built this year, won the Dave Leonard Under 25 championship at Birmingham on Gala night during an evening’s racing when the sport bade a fond farewell to one of its finest drivers, Rob Cowley, who was competing in his very last BriSCA F1 stock car meeting after more than 40 years in racing.

The Under 25s race was the first of the bill, with 30 cars lined up. Austin Moore and Sam Render led the opening lap but the yellow flags were soon out after Jacklyn Ellis needed assistance on the pit bend.

Moore led the restart from Tristan Jackson, Alex Wass and Phoebe Wainman as Wainman used the front bumper Jackson and Wass but then ended up in the fence in turn three.

Wass then led from Ashley England with Fairhurst soon up to third from the back of the grid. Fairhurst soon moved into second place before halfway, while Wass was up the road.

As the lap boards came out Fairhurst caught Wass and made his move to take the lead. Wass made a race of it for a lap before Fairhurst eased clear to take the victory.  Wass stayed on to be second, ahead of England, with reigning Under 25 champion Ant Whorton-Eales taking an impressive fourth place, having used the front bumper to good effect to pass Jackson and then superstar Danny Wainman on the last bend, taking the place in the drag race to the line.

Lee Fairhurst, with Alex Wass, second right, Ashley England, left, and Tristan Jackson, far right

“I got a good start and got through the reds quickly,” said Fairhurst. “There’s some quick drivers at red now, like Ben Riley and Danny Wainman was behind me as a superstar and I managed to get clear of them.

“When the yellows came out I knew I had a good chance. I had made a few changes to the car and it felt really good from the off. Alex Wass got away and was going really well but I kept it smooth and tidy and gained a car length with each lap.

“It was good to win a championship race with the car before Daniel takes over with it next year.”

The Rob Cowley Farewell was next up, with a ten lap dash which included Cowley’s son Chris in the Phoebe Wainman car. After plenty of paces and sideways action, including Cowley himself visiting the fence early on in turn three, Cowley remarkably fought back to take the win on the last lap…

Mat Newson finished second ahead of Paul Hines, Will Yarrow, Michael Steward, Chris Cowley, Derek Fairhurst, Danny Wainman, Frankie Wainman Jnr Jr and Frankie Wainman Jnr.

Rob Cowley miraculously won his Farewell race!

In an emotional finale as Cowley took the chequered round for a victory lap for one last time, all the drivers lined up on the infield to the appreciation of the crowd. Cowley would race during the remainder of the meeting.

As is often the case with the Gala meeting, there were a number of new drivers lining up in the heats. Heat One was led by Kelvin Hassell before a yellow flag came out after a number of cars tangled,. Another caution was thrown soon after the restart which was led again by Hassell before Luke Davidson took the lead from England and went on to take the win. James Neachell finished third ahead of Kyle Gray in fourth, Drew Lammas’ brother Marc in fifth and Steve Whittle in sixth.

Heat Two fielded 25 cars, including Cowley. Also in the line up were Courtney Witts in the silver Tom Harris Tarmac car and former BriSCA F2 world champion George McMillan Junior in the Paul Hines car.

And it was Witts who stole the show, with a flag-to-flag victory, including after a race stoppage, to win comfortably ahead of Lee Fairhurst and Whorton-Eales. and a certain Courtney Witts (180) in the 318 tar car on pole. Courtney led, the caution came out – she led again from Paul Spooner (104) at the restart, pulling out several car lengths on eventual second place man Fairhurst (Lee this time, not Derek) but there was no stopping the amazing Miss Witts who negotiated backmarkers with confidence to take the flag, from 217 and 408. Paul Spooner finished fourth, ahead of Wainman Jnr Jr and Steve Shaw.

Courtney Witts impressed in her heat two victory

Steve Malkin led the consolation from Micky Randell and Todd Jones. Jones was up to second in pursuit of Malkin as the lap boards came out, but tangled with a backmarker with two to go as Malkin drifted wide, allowing Danny Wainman to close up and take the lead with a lap to go.

However, the yellows came out before the chequered flag after Mark Osbourne was stranded along the home straight and a last-lap sprint settled the issue in Wainman’s favour, with Malkin Jnr second until Jones piled him into the fence on the last bend.

Neil Scriven came home in third place, ahead of Bryn Tootell in the Stuart Smith Jnr car. Malkin recovered to finish fifth ahead of Moore.

Dave Leonard Memorial trophy winner Micky Randell, with Danny Wainman, right and Neil Scriven, left

The Dave Leonard Memorial Trophy final featured 32 cars and was led from the green flag by Gray from Witts, when the caution flags came out in the early stages

Gray led Witts from the restart, with Wass and Randell close behind. whilke the bumpers flew in behind Gray held on to the lead at halfway from Randell and Witts until he was held up by mackmarkers in turn three, which allowed Randell and Witts to go for the lead. While Randell charge on at the front of the pack, Gray and Witts tangled, resulting in Gray clambering over the Witts car in the home straight to bring out the yellow flags.

Randell led Scriven and Danny Wainman at the restart and was able to maintain his lead to the chequered flag, with Wainman moving into second place and Scriven third. Davidson finished fourth, ahead of England and Whittle.

Photos courtesy of Colin Casserley
Neil Randon 2017

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