The diminutive shale track at Mildenhall in Suffolk got a massive vote of confidence after a spectacular Saturday night of shale action on April 7.
It was a long-awaited visit by the BriSCA F1 stock cars since their last sojourn in 2004, and the sizeable crowd were treated to a memorable meeting.
Stuart Smith Jnr, the reigning National Points champion won a dramatic final, surviving a last-bend assault from Mat Newson.
With heats won by Bobby Griffin and Lee Fairhurst and the consolation by Graeme Robson after a last-bend attack on Colin Nairn, the final turned out to be an eventful contest with Chris Cowley rolling over, James Morris high an dry up on top of a post and Daz Kitson’s car on fire.
With three laps to go after a race stoppage, it was Smith Jnr who led from Newson and Nigel Harrhy. Smith Jnr managed to hold on to the lead on the tight track and withstand a last-bender from Mat Newson and win the sprint to the flag.
Dan Johnson, at his second meeting since his return to the sport this season wrapped up a memorable evening with victory in the Grand National.
“It was was good,” said Smith Jnr. “The racing was action-packed. I had problems with my car all night, I had brake problems and was just scraping through but got a bit of luck for a change.
“I was fast enough to win, but it wasn’t perfect as I got a bit of damage at Stoke and it took our eye of things we should have done to the car for Mildenhall.”
The track surface suffered a slight issue as a hole developed into turn one but Smith Jnr believes once the track surface is solved Mildenhall should be here to stay as a regular BriSCA F1 venue.
I think it would stand more than one or two meetings there next year and it might encourage a few more southern-based drivers to come and race there
“It was good fun,” said Smith Jnr. “We’ve had a bad winter so it is no surprise when you race somewhere for the first time you realise how much the F1s can chew a track up.
“If they can sort out the track and make it really smooth, it will be a really good action track.
“I think it would stand more than one or two meetings there next year and it might encourage a few more southern-based drivers to come and race there.”
Dan Johnson was another top name to give Mildenhall a big thumbs-up after the meeting.
The entrance where you drive under the stands on to the track was a bit like Wimbledon and that was brilliant
“We used the wrong gears to start off with in the heats,” said Johnson. “Then I really enjoyed it. The hole in the track that developed was just one of those things. I think the F2s running their new tyre probably didn’t help it.
“But the stadium was great. The entrance where you drive under the stands on to the track was a bit like Wimbledon and that was brilliant. The .]noise made the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.
“There was a lot of close racing, action and crashing without wrecking the cars and smashing them to bits.
“I can’t see why, if Deane has got places, why we can’t go back there again this year, let alone next year.”
Neil Randon 2018
Photos courtesy of Colin Casserley