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Added: 20 Mar 2017 Category: 2017 Oval Racing
10 Things I'm Looking Forward to in 2017
It's approaching that time of the year, practice days have commenced, the rest of the world has started their race season and the local scene is on the count down to Easter.

With all that in mind here is a look at some of the things I personally am looking forward to in 2017.

(Note, it was written a few weeks ago)

1.F1’s & Saloons at Wimbledon - 5/3
I’ve been putting going to Wimbledon down on my to-do list for years and it hasn’t quite come off. With time called on racing in the capital I felt I couldn’t not get to a meeting before it closes it’s doors, so when the F1 & Saloon meeting was announced the flights were booked and I was on the ball to get tickets. The unfortunate thing is my most anticipated event of 2017 takes place before the season even begins.

2. Increase in car numbers in my class in Autograss.
When I started racing Autograss in 2015 the class I started in was a new class, we didn’t know how that would pan out. There was 5 or 6 cars raced in 2015 but only two of us regularly. In 2016 it picked up a bit and I think there was a few more cars in total raced and three of us raced regularly. This season looks like there could be as many a 6 or 7 regulars plus anyone who does the odd meeting which could see full grids in the class. It doesn’t sound like a lot when you put it in tar racing terms for a car turnout but when a full grid is 8 and everyone comes off the line side by side it’ll certainly make it more exciting. While the class isn’t the most spectacular it offers some of the closest racing.

3. Superstox European/ National Hot Rod British Weekend - Tullyroan Oval 2-3/9
While numbers have fallen away a wee bit in the Superstox the big championship weekends have got good turn out’s of visitors and unlike their winged counterparts in F2 it would appear that we’ll see a decent share of major championships in Northern Ireland for the class, this year it’s the European and I’m sure will be action packed, I just hope it’s not grid by public draw like the British was.
The Nationals compete for their British Championship the same weekend, numbers have been on the up and up domestically but visiting car numbers have fallen in recent years, the Nationals have become one of the best classes to watch in Northern Ireland.

4. Shamwreck 2017 - Tullyroan Oval 23/4
The local banger scene has been hit and miss in recent years, 2 Litre meetings get good numbers and Shamwreck gets good numbers the rest can be anyone’s guess. With over 40 cars booked in at the time of writing this which include the notorious Bears who have made Shamwreck their own it should live up to expectation.

5. F2 Irish Open - Ballymena Raceway 10/6
The F2 British weekend last year was probably the highlight of local oval racing. This year it’s reduced to a two day weekend, which will hopefully help keep numbers up and also suit drivers who work better that they don’t need to be travelling on the Friday. This year the Heritage F1’s replace the Heritage F2’s on the bill, I haven’t seen the F1’s before so I’m looking forward to that. Unfortunately it clashes with an Autograss weekend and I’ll only get to Ballymena at a push unless the Autograss ends up off I’ll be at it during the Nutts Corner meeting.

6. 2.0 Hot Rod World - Aghadowey & Tullyroan Oval 22-23/7
I’ve mixed views on the 2.0 Hot Rod World, split Speedweekend’s don’t work for me, it’s too much running back and forward and the Sunday ends up a dead duck, but on the other hand this is the first of the DMC weekend’s to be split that the heats are at one venue and final at another and that itself will mix the pack a bit and add a bit of spice. The ProStock Irish Open has a way of turning out to be a cracker too.

7. Ballymena’s 40th Anniversary - 19-20/5
A lot of the meetings I’m looking forward to have a bit of pedigree and are mostly an annual sort of thing that you could write down any year. With the Anniversary meeting having been held for the 30th and the 35th the extra gap over an annual meeting makes it a bit more special. The 30th and 35th are amongst my stand out meetings I’ve attended at home, this should be no different. The big downside for me is that I’m racing Autograss on the Saturday and with a 3 o’clock start time it’s hardly going to be worth my while making the trip up.

8. Carfest 3/6
Carfest is one of my favourite car shows of the year, although now I think about it, it’s one of the few car shows that I go to. It wasn’t on in 2016 but returns in 2017. Unfortunately it returns on the same day as the Spedeworth Stock Rod World and the second round of the All Ireland Autograss series which takes place at Causeway, so there are plenty of other things on that weekend.

9. BAS - Mallow Autograss - 29-30/4
Mallow Autograss host the opening round of the British Autograss series this season, it’s the first time a BAS round has been staged in Ireland and from what I’ve heard the BAS rounds get good car numbers and are quite a spectacle.

10. NIOvalTV Series - Tullyroan Oval - 27/5, 15/7 & 28/10
The NIOvalTV series has become a bit of a let down at times, we put a £75 tyre up and it attracts less drivers than turn out the following week to win a trophy, that tells us the carrot we’re dangling doesn’t work, for that reason we’ve tweaked the format for 2017. Instead of each final winner getting a tyre, the rounds will all be about scoring points towards a shoot out style final, a closed grid of maybe half a dozen cars over a short race distance and all the tyres will be allocated for that race, which should give us a real showdown final.

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