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Added: 30 Oct 2011 Category: 2011 Oval Racing
2011 - #44 - Tipperary Motor Speedway - 29/10/11
Going into the weekend, the plan was that my next meeting would be the ProStocks and Gp 2's at Aghadowey, but having taken a blow to the head during indoor football prior to leaving I felt a bit dizzy and thought better of the long drive. So from there, Tipperary became my 44th meeting of the season and 50th event when you include car shows and things like that.

It's a long way to Tipperary, and so rather than embark on a long and loansome trip, I was picked up by fellow Carrickfergus man Gary Beggs (Lightning Rod #974) and went down the road with him. I've certainly heard more bad things about Tipperary than good in the last 12 months, but I kind of hoped it would all be swept under the carpet for such a big event, but most of all I was looking forward to the Burgers, after all, the one thing the guy running Tipp is synonymous with is Burgers, right? Well it appears one of my worst decisions of the day was the one not to have a McDonalds on the way to the track, the price of the food at Tipperary is outrageous, over priced and under sized in portion is about the best way I can describe it, or for just twice the price of a Happy Meal, you get about the same amount of food, but no toy, no drink and certainly no happy. I strongly feel that while we are in an era of pushing what is good for the sport and what will drive the sport forward as a whole it is time there was a cap put on the prices of food at the racing in the interest of making it an affordable day out. If a chippy charged me £7.50 for a chip, a burger and a bottle of coke, I wouldn't be back near it, but that is what I got charged the last time I ate at Ballymena (subsequently I got a Subway for the remaining meetings this season), at Tipp I got a burger half the size of the ones at Ballymena and a chip a quarter the size and no drink, that came €7, let's scale that up and assume then to eat the same amount at Tipp as you get at BMR for £5, it would cost over €20 to feed one person. That is an absolute outrage, and the guy deserves to have no one at his stadium. People, not just me, want value these days, we are in a recession, the price of getting to a meeting has gone up, if you want to go to all of them in NI, chances are it'll cost you £1,000 a season on diesel and one person in the gate, that is expensive enough without a burger van getting the arm into as well, it's no wonder the fan numbers have dropped away, earlier start times make it harder to get fed and back out the door, while the burger men are taking the piss with their prices. How can a family afford it? Simple, they stay at home and watch something on their tele, punters don't come in the gate, means less exposure for sponsors, less money coming into the sport, less people spreading the word and less people fancying a go at stockcar racing. I use NI as an example here, but I'm sure the same can be applied anywhere the food is over priced.
In summary, I've taken it quite thick that it cost me €7 to stand at the racing starving last night.

Now, enough about my eating habits at the racing, there was racing as well. The five o'clock start meant the first race was on track around ten to six, the first of many occasions that I felt they could really have pulled the finger out and got on with it. From memory, Raymond Harper took the opening Stock rod race, with Winston Weir heading home Gary Beggs in Lightning Rod heat one before John Christie took the heat one win in the nationals. The second Lightning Rod heat went the way of (I think) Ben McKee (but it may have been Gordy, I should really have taken some notes) with the other McKee second. Kym Weaver took the second heat for the nationals after Shane Murphy looked to be the man to catch all night as he drove around half the field and took the lead before pulling out with mechanical problems. The third and final National Race went to Willie Hardie with Jason Kew runner up.
When it came to final time, I missed the stockrods while wondering around the pits, but it was won by Carl Sloan. For the Lightning Rods Gary Beggs had qualified on pole and after an action packed start to the race had dropped to second behind Ben McKee before McKee pulled out and Beggs was run wide losing a lot of places. Beggs fought back to second place behind Brendan McConnell, but McConnell's transponder wasn't working and the win was initially awarded to Beggs. For those who haven't been, Tipperary is a bit old club feeling, the trophies are presented at the end of the meeting when everyone is invited onto the infield, so when a final is over the winners just does a lap with the chequered flag and the trophy is presented later on. Somewhere between Beggs being awarded the win and Beggs being presented a trophy, an appeal was put in and McConnell was re-instated the winner, I can't say I disagree with that to be honest, but to me it was fairly black and white at the time, so why they made the initial decision to award it to Beggs is a mystery.
For the Nationals, Darren Black had got me a spot up on top of race control to attempt to take photos from. I wasn't quite quick enough to get the grid shot as I only got into position as they left the line, I was also trying to look through people so I missed most of the controversy. It was a great race though Dave Casey led the race for most of the duration except for about half a straight when John Christie had gone around the outside of him and went into turn one in the lead, at which point I couldn't see passed people and Casey appeared but Christie was back amongst what had been the battle for third. The next controversy was on the final bend as Christie is judged to have pushed passed Simpson to take second across the line, at which point I was looking down and trying to photo Casey crossing the line. As the race finished it was Casey, Christie, Simpson and Bell. After a lot of people talking to other people with far too many people wandering around the infield, and about forty five minutes of dispute, debate and trophy presentations for the other classes, there was eventually a top 3 declared and publicly announced for the National Hot Rod European, Matt Simpson was declared the winner, Glenn Bell second, Dave Casey third (docked 2 places for pushing Christie), John Christie fourth (docked 2 places for pushing Simpson).
When that was eventually over, it was back into the team Beggs van for a long and tiring journey back to Carrick, where we arrived at around 3am (BST)

A case of what may have been for Murphy

Ex 2 Litre Star Kym Weaver

My fav Blogger at the minute

Willie Hardie

World Champion - Malcolm Blackman

Stewart Doak

Glenn Bell

Eamon Donovan

Gary Woolsey on track

Nationals await heat 3 call

Christie takes the lead in the final

Simpson leads Christie and Bell

The fate of the red/yellow cheq awaits

Simpson is declared champion

Final winner or Second place??

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