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Added: 31 Dec 2018 Category: 2018 Oval Racing
Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2018 - Revisited
As the year draws to a close and every takes time to reflect on their successes, failures, life events, good and bad, here is a look back on the things I was most looking forward to from the 2018 racing season.

1 - The Superstox World Final
Whether I was standing watching it or taking part, it was always going to be the highlight of my season, as it happened I ended up doing a bit of both, I still haven’t decided if getting the pics of an NI winner crossing the line make up for not finishing, but a few more laps and I’d likely have been cannon fodder for one of the top men looking for a stoppage. A great experience to be a part of and great to have a local winner. I enjoyed watching it probably as much as taking part.

2 - The F1 World
As things panned out a trip to the F1 World didn’t happen. Not much I can add to that.

3 - The Lightning Rod World Weekend
I’m not a huge fan of Speedweekend’s at Aghadowey, with Tullyroan there it seems like having a nice house but choosing to sleep in a tent in the garden. But the Lightning Rod World Weekend was a decent weekend of racing, probably the best weekend there has been up there yet. Lots of action packed racing, big grids and a local winner in Gordy McKee, and because it was the Lightning Rods there was even the obligatory big wreck.

4 - The F2 Weekend
The F2 weekend was only number 4 on my initial list of things I was looking forward to, if I was to re-rank how things turned out I’d likely have it at number 2.
A late masterstroke was that I wanted NIOvalTV to do some filming at the “50th Anniversary weekends”, that would give us coverage of Ballymena, Nutts Corner and Tullyroan in September and we could do something with the footage to celebrate the sport. As the dates approached it became clear Ballymena wasn’t going to be available and we assumed the Nutts Corner 50th Anniversary would continue to be on the Sunday, by the time I’d found out it was the Saturday I already had commitments to go out for sister-in-laws 30th birthday and since family stuff comes second to the racing far too often in my life I wasn’t for changing it.
On the Sunday there wasn’t a fraction of the people about we’d like to have interviewed and it was start time before they were arriving. The upshot was everything we’d planned went out the window and instead we filmed the meeting and I took photos on the infield, in a much more relaxed, no pressure environment than I’m used to, just a guy with a camera taking photos. It just turned out to be a really nice day.

5 - The All Ireland Series at Down Autograss
A weekend to forget, trying to race at Down on Saturday, take photos at Tullyroan on Saturday night and race again at Down on Sunday. A bit of work went into getting the buggy ready to race, then it spluttered, banged and flooded everytime you put your foot down, coupled with being moved along from taking photos and by the middle of Sunday afternoon I just stopped, reflected and decided I was trying to push water uphill by staying, I’d rather spend some time with my son.

6 - Shamwreck
Shamwreck turned out to be another one of “those days”, it was Shamwreck, so I wanted to photo it, but the Superstox were out and I wanted to race, it turns out trying to do the two is madness. I didn’t see much of the banger racing for working on the car and I missed things on the car having spent too long trying to watch bangers. From what I seen I didn’t miss much. For Aghadowey’s history to be famed for it’s bangers, most of the big banger meetings to have been staged there recently have fallen below the expectation you’d have if they were at Tullyroan….. for me anyway.

7 - The NIOvalTV Series
The NIOvalTV series is our “give back” bit of the year. This year the shootout final came down to the last bend, with Sean Mark pushing Stephen Stewart wide to take the win. It was everything you hope it would be, a tight race decided in the last bend and without the need to firing someone around the wall, so not too much damage either. The tyres we put up aren’t cheap but it makes it worthwhile when the turnouts are good and the racing is good.

8 - Shale at Northampton
While I didn’t make it to Northampton myself and it had a mixed bag of a start, I still commend Deane Wood for making the change to shale. The first few meetings were a mix of too bumpy, too dry, too wet, but I think with every problem Deane did his utmost to make it better and I think by the end of the season it was getting there. It make it like a new track to me, I’d like to get to a meeting and I’d love to see how Hot Rods go on it.

9 - Upturn in Saloon Numbers
The Saloons were on the up and up at the start of the season and it was good to see the numbers increasing. They’d a great turnout for the Irish Open weekend. I’d like to have seen more of them if anything, but only seen them once I think at the F2 Irish weekend and watched a few streams of other races.

10 - The 50th Anniversary Celebrations
I’d underestimated how this was going to turn out, a great programme pull out by Colin Adair at Nutts Corner, the cars on display, the cars and displays at Tullyroan as well brought back a lot of memories and a lot of old stories. It was great to see it all come together.

Other highlights of the season now I can look back on it included a trip to Sheffield which ticks another track of the list, which was the same weekend as the Banger World final, something I can now say I’ve been to, but it’s too roddy for my liking. The Reach Motorsport show at the start of Feb was another highlight to see several Group B cars on display and I loved Raceretro which I went to for the first time.

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