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Added: 24 Jan 2017 Category: Past Oval Racing
And The Year Was..... 2011
A look back at the local oval racing season of 2011, when NIF2 changed from a photo site to a blog site. The 2.0 Hot Rod World was staged at the final full season of Nuttscorner Oval, which also seen the longest run of wet meetings I can remember as every meeting there seemed to be wet from around the July Speedweekend on. Aghadowey was independent track but running the odd class hosted from the ORCi promotions, which included the introduction of Slick Cars and Nutts Corner Raceway did a deal with Spedeworth.

Following heavy snow over Christmas 2010 the festive meeting at Nuttscorner Oval had been postponed and so 2011 began with the 2010 Reliant Robins Irish Championship, which was won by Rab Stewart.
Northern Ireland has always had strong ties with Scottish Oval racing and in 2011 Thunder Valley Raceway Lochgelly hosted it’s first full season under the Spedeworth Scotland banner. Davy McKay became the first NI car to compete there when he raced at a March meeting they held.
Easter was late in 2011 and the local racing season got into gear Mid April the week before Easter. Ballymena held the first fixture on the Friday before Easter before the Nuttscorner Oval season got under way on the Sunday before Easter with Shamwreck 2011. Mike Faherty took the win at Shamwreck as well as best best tin but the meeting will be best remembered for 2010 winner Marc Delgarno and what is fondly known as the “Delgarno Jag” which pretty much disintegrated when following a big follow in on the “Burger bend” from Ace Ash from memory.
A week later and onto the traditional start fixture of the season Scottish ace Robert McDonald won the Stock Rods Yokohama Tyres Championship at Ballymena.

Skipping ahead to June, and a busy June at that, Nuttscorner Oval hosted an England V Ireland Team banger event, a return leg to a previous meeting at Buxton. It was much hyped and had the potential to be a cracking event but it’ll be better remembered for being one of the wettest days of racing ever staged at Nuttscorner Oval. The Ireland team were given a masterclass by Carlos Perez who almost single handedly despatched the Irish team one after another and gave England the win.

A week later and it was onto the F2 weekend, Gordon Moodie headed a visitors list which included Chris Bradbury, Chris Burgoyne, Daz Kitson and Barry Goldin amongst others. Moodie won the Challenge Trophy at Ballymena and Chris Burgoyne won the Irish Open at Nutts Corner. Meanwhile at Ipswich Shane Murray was opening his 2.0 Hot Rod major championships account by winning the National Championship at Ipswich.

At the start of July the 2.0 Hot Rod domination continued with Denver McLean winning the European Championship at the Ipswich Spedeweekend which looked to be setting us in good shape for the upcoming World final at Nuttscorner. Malcolm Blackman won the National Hot Rod World final the same weekend, heading home Shane Murphy and John Christie, who was also looking in good form in the 2 Litres at home at the time.

At the end of July the Nuttscorner Oval Speedweekend took centre stage for the 2.0 Hot Rods World Championship and Lightning Rods British. This was at a time before there was an official Spedeworth affiliation with any of the local promotions and at a time when it was known this would be the last season of Davy McCall’s promotion at Nuttscorner before moving to Tullyroan for 2012. In the build up to the 2 Litre World it had been announced there would be a Spedeworth affiliation with the Nutts Corner Raceway promotion and there would continue to be 2 Litres racing at Nutts Corner in 2012, something which seemed pretty major at the time but didn’t come to much, soon fizzled out and the Spedeworth affiliation switched to Tullyroan in 2013. The 1300 Stock Cars coming to Northern Ireland were born out of the same agreement I believe, pooh, poohed by some at the time and now one of the best classes in the province (at the time of writing in 2017)
On track at the Speedweekend, Will Reed became the first English driver to win the 2 Litre World final in Northern Ireland, Brendan McConnell won the British in the Lightning Rods and it was Alan Haugh who won a 30+ car ProStock Irish Open as they continued to make themselves the talking point of the Saturday night’s action.

At the National Hot Rod National Championship Chris Haird took the honours leading home Gary Woolsey and John Christie. Frankie Cunningham led home Gordy McKee in the Lightning Rods. A few weeks later and Hednesford would also be the venue for the Stock Rod World final as well as the F2 World Semis, it was the first time I’d been to Hednesford and the first time I’d photo’d an F2 race on the mainland when I got out for one of the semis. Rob Speak and Chris Burgoyne took the semi final wins and Stuart Smyth won the Stock Rod world with Micky McFall the top NI driver in 5th.

Later in August and sticking with Stock Rod major championship theme, Ballymena hosted the Stock Rod British Championship as part of their Speedweekend with Raymond Harper taking the win.

At the start of September it was the turn of the National Hot Rods to take centre stage for their Irish Open at Ballymena and British Championship at Nuttscorner Oval. It was a time when our own National Hot Rod turnouts had just started tipping double figures which was topped up by around a dozen visitors, including then World Champion Malcolm Blackman, now touring car racer Matt Simpson as well as Willie Hardie, Jason Cooper, Dick Hillard, Shane Murphy and Jason Kew who raced both his National and Vince Campbell’s 2 Litre Hot Rod over the weekend. Glenn Bell won the Irish Championship at Ballymena, Malcolm Blackman won the British at Nuttscorner Oval in slippery conditions the next day. Denver McLean won the 2 Litre Hot Rod Irish open which hadn’t been raced for since 2004.

With Rob Speak having qualified on the front row of the F2 World there was much hype that he could add to his 8 F2 World titles. The World final took place at Kings Lynn on what looked like the sort of night that made you glad you hadn’t gone, Shale specialist Mark Simpson came through the consolation Semi final and came from the back of the field (if memory serves me correctly) to take the win.

At home the last championship of the year to feature visiting drivers was the ProStock British Championship provided a 32 car grid and was won by the 32 car of Davy Morrison. Tam Agnew had become the first Northern Ireland winner of the ProStock World Cup around the same time of the season and Billy Finnegan had won the Scottish Open as Northern Ireland cars started to dominate the class.

Over September and October there was Irish Championship wins for Stephen Emerson (Lightning Rods), Sean McFerran (Junior Rods), Billy Finnegan (ProStocks), Andrew Murray (2.0 Hot Rods), Raymond Harper (Stock Rods), Derek McMillan (Junior Productions) and Conor Hughes won the Ballymena Stadium Championship in F2 and possibly the F2 Irish, but I’ve no note of it.
Also October Shane Murray won the 2.0 Hot Rod British at Northampton, which was the first and last time I’d been on the infield there. In the Nationals Matt Simpson won the National Hot Rod European at Tipperary at the end of October where I was disturbed by the price of the food and the size of the portions, I’m pleased to say those had changed on my visit since that.

At the end of the local season, I think Mid November I made my first trip to the re-opened Aghadowey which was then an independant track running the odd visiting class from other promotions, on the day it was Reliant Robins, Gp 2’s and Stock Rods, the Robins had one of the biggest grids of cars that had for years or had since and put on a great show.

The year ended as it has started with a Reliant Robins Irish Championship, won by Billy McClean.

Mike Faherty won Shamwreck 2011

Action from Shamwreck

Robert McDonald won the Stock Rods Yokohama Tyres Championship

Gordon Moodie won the Challenge Trophy at Ballymena

National Bangers England V Ireland was a wash out in June

2.0 Hot Rod World Final Qualifying Heats

Will Reed won the 2.0 World Final

Line up for the Lightning Rod British at Nuttscorner

Some of the summer weather experienced at Nuttscorner in August

Raymond Harper won the Stock Rods British at Ballymena in August

Nationals line up for the Irish Championship at Ballymena

Jason Kew raced the 2.0 Hot Rod of Vince Campbell at the Irish Open

Slick Cars in action at Ballymena

2.0 Hot Rods in action at Ballymena

Davy Morrison won the ProStocks British at Nuttscorner
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