ANOTHER pleasantly warm evening greeted drivers, teams and fans as they gathered at HRP Lochgelly Raceway this past Saturday night for the first meeting of the second half of the Scottish Stock Car season, writes our Raceway reporter Les Waller.

Many drivers, teams and fans had taken advantage of the summer break to travel to Ipswich for the annual Spedeweekend event which sadly saw no major titles come the way of the Scots – but they made their presence felt on the track and on the terraces as always.

The Ipswich Spedeweekend’s headlining act is the National Hot Rod World Championship and this year’s race proved to be a classic with Glenn Bell leading much of the race before mechanical woes saw him spin out of contention and handing the lead and subsequent victory to Billy Wood who took the title for the first time! Scotland’s best result went to Robert McDonald who claimed a fine fifth.

This past Saturday saw the National Hot Rods return to action in Scotland and it was also the first round of World Championship qualification for 2019.

Eight cars arrived to do battle with McDonald, now electing to race in England; but it was fantastic to see the Billy Bonnar machine back on track to begin a home campaign for 2019.

The first heat saw Steven Armit quickly take up the lead and he looked, for all intents and purposes, to be heading to an easy win before an errant backmarker caused Armit to lose the lead to Ian Donaldson who took the win with Bonnar also sliding through for second while Armit took third for all his efforts.

Heat Two saw Armit make no mistakes as he cruised to victory ahead of Bonnar and Roy Anderson. The Feature Final looked like being another Armit walkover as he took full advantage of his favourable grid position in comparison to Bonnar and Donaldson; but two backmarkers were battling for position and slowed the flying Armit down to the point where Donaldson and Bonnar were nose-to-tail with the race leader. However, in an excellent display of hot rod racing from all three drivers, Armit was able to hold on for his second win of the night.

The CC Rods were back on track after what has felt like a very long time and a good grid of cars appeared as always in HRP Lochgelly Raceway’s low-budget, non-contact formula.

The first heat of the night saw Gary Paul shoot straight into the lead from his white grade start and, despite this being his first race of the season, Paul went on to take a relatively comfortable win ahead of Pete Honeyman and Craig Watson who had pulled off a great move around the outside to steal third place from Brandon Gourlay in the closing stages of the race. Heat Two saw Paul surge into the lead once again and it looked like he had his second win in the bag before smoke started to rise from the engine bay of his car. That smoke increased as the race went on and Paul’s car ground to halt just after the end of the race in a comparatively low sixth spot with Honeyman, Gourlay and Watson taking the podium places. The Feature Final was sadly without Paul after his earlier woes and Pete Honeyman took advantage to put on an absolute clinic as he stormed to victory for the second time on the evening with a very comfortable win ahead of Shane Allen and Ian Hotchkies – Honeyman was that fast in the final that he lapped some of the star grade drivers!!!

The Ministox are always a highlight when they race at HRP Lochgelly Raceway and this past Saturday was no exception as twenty cars arrived to do battle with Aaron Richards and Abbie McGuinness making the trip up from south of the border.

The first heat saw Jay Paterson and Jay Carruthers battling it out for the lead in the early stages of the race before Lewis Burgoyne led the charge from further down the grid as he sliced his way to the front to take an excellent win ahead of English duo McGuinness and Richards. The second heat followed a very similar pattern to the first to point that the same three drivers occupied the same three positions on the podium with Burgoyne taking his second win of the evening. The Feature Final did not go so well for Burgoyne as he had a heavy impact with the barrier on the exit of turn four which caused a fair amount of damage to his car. As the battle for the National Points Championship heats up; it was reigning and defending champion Sean Naismith who came through to take the win with his arch-rival Michael Mitchell in second place while the ever-improving Kai Gilmour took home another trophy with a fine third place finish.

The Stock Rods had also been racing at Ipswich Spedeweekend with National Champion Siobhan Martin claiming the best of the results with a third-place finish in the East Anglian Championship.

It was back to domestic business and the final points-scoring round of the 2017-18 National Points Championship which saw Chris Lattka start the meeting with an unassailable gap meaning he would wear the silver roof for another season. The first heat got underway with David Crichton showing further progression as he led from the front before eventually being overhauled by the pack. The returning John-Lee Green and Connar Venters both enjoyed brief spells in the lead before a fast-moving Gary Dean led the red top train to the front to take the win ahead of Siobhan Martin and Chris Lattka. Heat Two saw Crichton lead briefly before Green took up the mantle. Green led until around the halfway point before a flying Doug McLean romped to the front to take yet another win to add to his collection for 2018 – Green held on for second place ahead of Ricky White who had survived in third despite severe pressure from Lattka, Darren McAlpine and Gary Dean.

The feature final saw John-Lee Green use his vast experience of HRP Lochgelly Raceway to take a fine win on his return to Stock Rods ahead of McLean and Lattka but spare a thought for Pete Thomson whose stunning new car ground to a halt while on fire during the evening.

The Superstox drivers who headed to Ipswich did not enjoy the best of results so may well have been glad to get back to more familiar territory as they recommenced racing at their home track. Heat One doubled up as the 2018 Thomas Michie Memorial Trophy which would be given to the highest finishing white or yellow grader in the race. It looked like Lewis Willacy was going to scoop a double victory for a long time as he led most of the race from his yellow grade start but he was eventually overhauled by the trio of Stuart Gilchrist, Scottish Champion Bryan Forrest and Allan Gibson, with Gilchrist taking the win for the heat while Willacy’s fourth place earned him the coveted Thomas Michie Memorial Shield. The second heat saw Bryan Forrest go one better as he took the win ahead of Jordan Black and Gilchrist – Forrest’s car suffered from a misfire in heat one but there was no sign of that in this race!

The Feature Final got underway with expectations high of a great race between the likes of Forrest, Gibson and Gilchrist but Forrest’s hopes essentially ended before the green flag as he spun round before crossing the start line to find himself a lap down. Forrest soon un-lapped himself as Jordan Black continued to lead the race.

However, Black must have been devastated to see the yellow flag come out with just one lap remaining as Allan Gibson’s car shed a wheel. It would be a one-lap dash for victory with Black leading from an on-form Aaron Riddell and Gilchrist. Black made the perfect start to keep his car in front to take an excellent win ahead of Riddell and Gilchrist while Forrest came home in seventh.

This weekend sees CHAMPIONSHIP FEVER begin in earnest as every Saturday night event between now and mid-October features at least one Championship race and it is the Rookie Bangers who start Championship Fever with their Scottish Championship on Saturday July 28 from 5:30pm! The 1300 Stock Cars, Ministox, Junior Productions and Ninja Karts will also be in action.

Robbie Armit successfully defended his Ninja Kart European Championship at Aghadowey in Northern Ireland this past weekend with fellow Scots Charlie Hardie and Rachel Kidd coming home in fourth and fifth.