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Added: 17 Jan 2018 Category: Older Oval Racing
And the Year Was ...... 2013
2013 was one of my busiest seasons, taking in 54 meetings throughout the year, mostly at Tullyroan and Ballymena.
Ahead of the season there was news that Tullyroan Oval would now be partnered by Spedeworth, a shift from Nutts Corner Raceway being Spedeworth’s partner in Northern Ireland. With the switch Tullyroan could now licence their own Stock Rods and it was to become the start of a split in the class, at the time you could licence with Ballymena or Tullyroan and race at either promotion (from memory) but you were only eligible to score points and compete in Championships with your home promotion, a Ballymena car could compete in the Irish Championship at Ballymena and a Tullyroan car could compete in the Ulster Championship at Tullyroan. The class split quite evenly and was equally sh*t at both promotions. Joining the Stock Rods at Tullyroan would be the Superstox, making their return to the province for the first time since 1997 and the Ninja Karts which were the first pre Junior class to arrive in NI. Along with the mess the Stock Rods had become the Lightning Rods had followed a similar pattern, there was now Ballymena/ Nutts Corner Lightning Rods and Tullyroan Lightning Rods, the split in the classes wasn’t just as even as the Stock Rods with Tullyroan continuing to get into the 20’s in car numbers and Ballymena/ Nutts Corner only having a few cars.
Speed Stocks were another new class to arrive at Ballymena, which was something similar to a ProStock prior to their 2012 rule over haul and seen a few older ProStocks go to the class.
Out of season Steven Reynold’s Superteam A won a cracking team banger meeting at Tullyroan in February.
In March Tullyroan staged a two day banger meeting in aid of FORDS over the St Patrick’s day weekend.
The season proper got under way at Easter, which was at the end of March. 58 cars took to the track at Ballymena on Good Friday including 1 Lightning Rod, 4 Speed Stocks, 21 Stock Rods and 14 National Hot Rods as their numbers continued to creep up. Stephen McNiece led home the Yokohama Tyres Championship for the Stock Rods.
On Easter Monday Tullyroan got their season underway just falling 2 cars shy of breaking the 100 car mark, something we can only dream about at meetings now, 34 ProStocks and 23 2.0 Hot Rods being the two biggest classes on display.
The first Saturday night meeting in April seen the introduction of the new look Tullyroan line up with 6 Superstox taking to the track, Kyle Beattie won the opening race for the class with Gary Grattan winning the final. 16 Ninja Karts included some very recognisable names, Fegan, Heatrick, Woolsey, Nicholl, McFall to name a few, indeed it was Jake Woolsey who took the opening race win for the class, Matthew Nicholl won heat two and was only passed on the last bend of the final by Adam McFall who took the win and start possibly the sports youngest rivalry.
In the middle of April Callum Hall won Shamwreck at Tullyroan which featured 37 cars but no Bears who I think were concentrating their efforts on the BWS at the time.
At the end of April Ballymena ran a charity event with Ladies out in the Gp 2 Lightning Rods, Rachel McMillan and Caroline McNeilly the winners on the night. The following day all roads were for Scotland where Lochgelly staged the National Hot Rods European Championship for the first time since the early 90’s with many more local 2.0 Hot Rods and Ninja Karts making the trip too as were the National Saloon Stock Car men who were also on the bill. In the Nationals Chris Haird won the European Championship on the Saturday night and the Scottish Open on the Sunday. Adam Hylands took the Scottish Open for the 2 Litres.
On the 25th of May Stuart Gilchrist was one of eleven Superstox to take part in the first round of the first NIOvalTV Series, something we were very proud of as he was the reigning World Champion at the time, David Frame was also over from Scotland but it was Gily who took the final win and came away with the tyre.
At the end of May Glenn Bell sealed the National Hot Rods Points title at the last round at Ballymena, which was still all to play for on the night.
In June reigning World Champion Micky Brennan won the F2 Irish Open at Nutts Corner Raceway and Graham Fegan won the F2 Nationals title, having also taken the final at Ballymena on the Friday night, the first of a three meeting weekend for the tooz.
Local cars dominated at Ipswich in July, where John Christie won the National Hot Rod World Championship, Shane Murray took the spoils in the 2 Litres, Gary Butler won the Stock Rods British Championship and we’d out own Ninja Karts and Superstox there for the first time.
Shane Murray won the 2 Litre Hot Rods British Championship at the Tullyroan Oval Speedweekend at the end of July, the increase in classes meant 2013 would be the first time there’d be more than one Tullyroan Speedweekend, so the Lightning Rods and ProStocks would have their big day later in the year. The ProStocks did what the ProStocks do though and their Irish Open was the race of the weekend with Ryan Abernethy taking the win.
At a wet Bristol F2 Semi final my first Digital SLR got ruined when I got soaked to the skin at the start of August. Somewhere over the summer Aghadowey closed under it’s Aghadowey Stadium promotion and the classes moved to Ballymena.
In the middle of August a Ballymena meeting was disrupted only a few meetings in when a pipe bomb was found in the car park, everyone was ushered off onto the grass pitches at the other end of the facility where we all got to leave several hours later having seen very little racing.
At the start of September Glenn Bell won the British Championship for the National Hot Rods at Tullyroan, at the time of writing it was the last time the NHR weekend took in Ballymena where John Christie had taken the final win the night before.
By the 7th of September the Superstox were up a bit in numbers and fifteen cars, including Frame and Gilchrist again, took part in the first NIOvalTV series final with Denver Grattan coming out the winner.
In the middle of September Jame Rygor took the F2 World Final at Taunton in one of the best World final’s I’ve seen. Early and mid race it was all about Speak and Moodie, but with both out of the running the last fews laps looked like a straight race between Burgoyne and Hooper, but as they squabbled in the last bend Rygor got the drive up the inside and led for only a few yards to cross the line first. Worth looking up on Youtube if you haven’t seen it.
A week on from the F2 World and it was the turn of the first Tullyroan September Speedweekend and what a cracker it was. Nigel Jackson won the Lightning Rods World Championship, Ryan Abernethy took the honours in the ProStocks World Cup and the Superstox made their first trip over in numbers with Chris Roots winning the Irish Open.
Domestically there was Irish Championship wins for Bradley McKinstry (Junior Productions), Lucinda Smyth (Gp 2 Lightning Rods), Chris Kincaid (F2), Aaron Moody (Junior Rods), Kyle Beattie (Superstox), Gordy McKee (Lightning Rods), Victor McAfee (Ballymena Stock Rods), Adam Hylands (2 Litre Hot Rods), Niall Cregan (Ninja Karts), Thomas Agnew (ProStocks), Raymond Harper (Tullyroan Stock Rods NI Supreme title), Steven Reynolds (National Bangers), Ian Bolton (Reliant Robins)
An end of season trip to Tipperary for the Stock Rod European Championship with the track now in the hands of SORA, seen Alan McCormack take the honours.

4 World Champions at Tullyroan, mid October

NHR numbers on the up from the start of the season

Bangers await Shamwreck

The Pipe Bomb night at Ballymena

Nigel Jackson wins the Lightning Rod World at Tullyroan

Gilky leads the Superstox NIOvalTV Series Round 1

Gordon Alexander was one of the first Scottish 2 Litres to visit

The NHR Weekend took in BMR for the last time (at the time of writing)

Gp 2 Action

Ninja Karts arrived on the scene

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