The BriSCA F1s line up for the penultimate World Qualifying round at the Thunder 500 at the iconic Foxhall Heath Stadium, Ipswich on Saturday night, with the BriSCA F1s proudly sponsored by Advanced Industrial Engineering (AIE).
The super-fast Tarmac raceway has its first event since the 2017 BriSCA F1 World Final last season, where Nigel Green blazed a trial to win the gold roof, with Dan Johnson making a do-or-die attempt at a last-bender which ended with the Worksop star in the Armco and out of the race. Green took the prize with Ryan Harrison and former world champion Frankie Wainman Jnr finishing on the podium.
The Ipswich oval will give the 700bhp-powered V8s space to really open up down the straights and sport’s Tarmac superstars will have their work cut out to catch the flying young guns who start closer to the front of the grid.
Hot favourite to reap plenty more World qualifying points is Tom Harris, who blazed a trial in Scotland last weekend. Harris scored a heat and final double at Lochgelly, to follow heat and Grand National victories at Cowdenbeath, where he also finished a fast-finishing runner-up to runaway winner Martin Spiers in the Scottish Championship final.
“I started at the back and again the car was really fast,” said Harris. “I could see I was catching the flying white top, Martin Spiers, who was racing in a new-self built car. Another lap and I would of had him, I’m pretty sure, but fair play to him.
“At Lochgelly, I felt good and confident we could win. we set the car up well and we had some good racing. Many drivers and fans commented on how fast we were all weekend so I will take that!”
Spiers was the surprise package at Cowdenbeath with a pillar-to-post victory to take his first final win and has high hopes of further success at Ipswich. “I’m hoping the track suits the car as it’s got quite a long wheel base,” Spiers said.
Another Tarmac hotshot, Harrison makes his F1 seasonal debut at Ipswich on Saturday night, having focused more of his attention on racing his 360 winged Sprint Car in the United States. The 26-year-old will be expected to be soon on the pace at a track he often goes well at.
But it could be the young guns nearer the front of the grid who could turn out to be hard to catch. Finn Sargent is a 16-year-old with a bright future in the sport.
Sargent has already won a final this season at Skegness, and will be joined at Ipswich by another 16-year-old, Charlie Sworder. The son of Mick Sworder makes his debut in a F1 stock car on Saturday racing as No.5, made famous by the late Johnny Goodhall.
“I would like to give a special thanks to the Goodhall family who gave me their blessing to race under the No.5,” says Sworder. “I hope I do them proud.
“As far as the night is concerned, I’m not expecting to set the world alight, to be honest. I’ve got to get use to everything first and get a decent feel for the car with the other drivers being out there. Obviously it’d be nice getting a win, but I’m starting from the back so it’ll be impossible!”
The following afternoon, the F1 circus heads to Northampton for its first-ever meeting in the modern era as a shale venue. With plenty of cars heading to the venue for the final qualifying round, and with no previous form to act as a guide, the racing should be wide-open.
The favourites to come out on top will be National Points champion Stuart Smith Jnr and British champion Frankie Wainman Jnr. The old sparing partners have dominated shale racing this season, with Smith Jnr winning at Stoke, Mildenhall and Sheffield, while Wainman Jnr took three shale finals in a row with two at King’s Lynn and one at Belle Vue.
Ipswich start time is 6.45pm on Saturday with National Hot Rods also on the bill, while Northampton starts at 1pm and includes the BriSCA V8 Hotstox European Championship and National Ministox.
Neil Randon 2018
Photos courtesy of Colin Casserley, Philip Silver and Neil Randon