Sunday, 21 September 2008

What to do with an old Ford Capri... Stock Car racing

This afternoon we went to the stock car racing at United Downs near Redruth. We've been to a few meetings recently at a variety of tracks in Devon and Cornwall. This is by far the most professional set up with a permanent track (rather than simply half a field), banking all round so you get a decent view and enough drivers in each class that all the races are competitive, even towards the end of the day when some drivers have dropped out.

Stock car racing at United Downs breaks down into four classes:

There are the stock rods which are small production cars souped up for the track - basically Fiestas, Corsas and Novas with no glass and garish paintjobs.

There are Ministox which are old style minis driven by juniors aged 11-15. At previous meetings the junior classes have all been non-contact (ok there are some crashes and certainly some 'rubbing' but no deliberate hitting). Here, the rules are different. Front and back collisions are allowed and the cars have bull bars to make this safe.

The fastest cars are the stock cars. These are hot rods with huge spoilers to make sure they don't flip. They ran the opposite way to the other races but managed to fit 20 cars onto a 385 metre track so there was action all the time.

Finally there were the bangers. These are the full contact cars with random bits of bodywork hanging off them. At the end of the day some were entered for the demolition derby - last car capable of moving wins. This is where the Ford Capri of the title comes in. One fine specimen failed to finish every heat (they ran four times in the afternoon) but was dutifully hammered out and repaired each time.

At a previous event in Devon the safety barrier consisted of a roughly ploughed field which would stop a careering car before it reached the spectators (probably). Here the barrier was a permanent wall as well as a stout fence.

I have no idea why, but many people seem to have a thing against stock car racing. I know that it is noisy, but tracks such as United Downs are a decent distance from any houses and the racing itself takes place on only about a dozen days a year. For the spectator, it's lots of fun and, so long as you obey the safety instructions and go to a well managed track, there is no real risk.

A word of warning however, as with speedway, sitting at the ends of the track is not the place to be unless you enjoy being caked in dust and dirt!

Pics: A mass of bangers heads for the bend; Vauxhall Nova stock rod; Ministox; Formula 2 Stock car; An old Capri lives out its days as the centre of attention; A junior climbs out after rolling his mini.

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