After a wet and windy winter the 2014 Grasstrack season’s first meeting was its first casualty, the Bristol meeting cancelled due to the awful weather conditions. The following weekend though, the 30th March, saw two meetings. In the North you had the new LOGA club at an old venue of Much Hoole and in the South the Somerton club. At LOGA the adult successes went the way of Rob Finlow, Andy Mellish and Micky Allen. In the youth Sam Stead, Jolyon West, Sam McGurk and Luke Harrison all won the various classes. At Wincanton, Somerton, the first round of the South West Centre Championship and in what turned out to be incredible an season for two youngsters, James Shanes won the Open Solos and Zach Wajtknecht won the 250cc. Other winners were Mark Taylor, Luke Tuck, Chris Mackett. Kent’s Rob Wilson & Terry Saunters took the early honours in the Right-hand Sidecars.
The first two weeks of April were again wiped out through the incredibly bad weather but on the weekend of 20th LOGA managed to run a second meeting at Much Hoole and Maidstone Aces ran at their new venue of Grafty Green. At Much Hoole winners in the adult classes were Michael Yeadon, David Knowles and once again Andy Mellish. Sam Stead, Kyle Bickley, Max Perry and Sam McGurk took the honours in the youth racing. At Maidstone James Shanes, Matt Etherington and Wayne Barrett took the honours in the Solos, and Masters Champions Mark Cossar & Carl Blyth won the big Chairs. The Lefties went the way of Charlie Ridley & Harry McQuirke. Also on the same weekend, the first European Championship semi-final took place in Balkbrug, Holland. In another rain-affected meeting defending champion Jannick de Jong went through the card before the meeting was called at the end of the heats. Of the English contingent Paul Cooper, Harland Cook and Rob Finlow all made it through to the final.
The last Sunday in April gave us the Sidecar Spectacular at Swingfield under the guidance of the Astra club. Early form was on show again as Mark Cossar & Carl Blyth took the Right-handers ahead of Gareth Winterburn & Liam Brown, and Charlie Ridley & Harry McQuirke beat Will Penfold & Ricky Pay into second. The 500cc Sidecars gave an early insight on how the season would pan out as Josh Goodwin & Liam Brown took on and beat the three-time European Champions from Holland William Matthijssen & Nathalie Stellingwerf. In the big Solos, Swedish Speedway Ace Peter Karlsson made his debut on a Grasstrack bike. He took the win in style undefeated from the fast chasing James Shanes.
The first weekend of May gave us two meetings with Wainfleet running the Robert Chatterton Trophy and the Bristol club restaging the Calvin Palmer Benefit at Lower Stanton. At Irby in the Marsh, in fantastic conditions for racing, Andrew Whitaker, Bob Dolman, David Knowles, John Hartley took the honours in the Solos and Gareth & Billy Winterburn won the Sidecars. At the Calvin Palmer Benefit meeting the winners were Josh Dingle, Mark Taylor, Mark Collins, Wayne Barrett, Tim Curnock, John Underwood and Simon Heal & Terry Madley. Over in Europe Josh Goodwin & Liam Brown took another win and Richard Moore & Rob Winspear won the Right-handers at Roden in Holland. The following weekend saw the Master of Midshires lose out to the weather. In Europe Andrew Appleton won at Parchim.
Fenland ran a two day meeting on 17th and 18th May, and at Peterborough Rounds One and Two of the Track Racing Championship ran over the same weekend. At Peterborough Mark Cossar & Carl Blyth the defending Champions, won both meetings at the BMF show. Richard Moore, who had won in Holland just the week before, broke his leg during practice on day two. The Fenland club running the Jon Underwood Trophy Meeting ran the Left-hand chairs as well as the Vintage and youth classes. Amongst the winners were Charlie Ridley & Harry McQuirke in the Sidecars, Luke Tuck in the Vintage and Jack Nelson amongst the youth on show. On Sunday the meeting got underway with a minutes silence for Ian Barclay, the promoter of the famous ‘Ace of Aces’. The winners in each class, in front of Fenlands biggest ever attendance, were James Shanes, Harland Cook, Scott Campos, Giles Dismore, Chris Mackett, Colin Blackbourn & Paul Cooper and Billy Penfold & Sam Black. In the Uprights Andy Gomm won the Jon Underwood Trophy.
Frittenden ran their annual Battle of Britain at Sandhurst Farm on the last Sunday of the month and the winners for 2014 were Harland Cook, Georgie Wood, Zack Wajknecht, Wayne Barrett, Myles Simmons & Kevin Woodley and Martin Cuff & Colin Clarke. All other domestic meetings on the 25th were cancelled. In Europe, Josh Goodwin & Liam Brown got another win, this time in Siddeburen Holland.
Three days later the First Round of the World Longtrack took place in Herxheim, Germany and was won by Dutchman Jannick de Jong. The highest place Brit was Andrew Appleton who went out in the Semi’s.
Domestic Grasstrack was decimated during the first two weekends in June through bad weather but on the continent the First World Longtrack qualifier took placed at Bielefeld, Germany and was won by German’s Martin Smolinski who just hours before was competing in Speedway’s Czech Grand-Prix in Prague.
All roads and ferry’s, led to Guernsey on the 14th for the third SandAce British Championship at Vazon Bay. In the Solos Danny Warwick defended his title and completed a hat-trick of success ahead of Australian Rodney McDonald for a second Championship running. In the big chairs, Robbie Wilson & Bradley Steer took their first major Championship ahead of 2012 Champions Rob Wilson & Terry Saunters. On the continent the Second Round of the Solos European Championship took place at Mulmshorn, Germany and was won by Germany’s Enrico Janoschka. Britain’s own Andrew Appleton finished runner-up. Four days later Glen Phillips won the Golden Roman at Altrip in Germany.
A week later two meetings took place. Cheshire ran the Jim Rowlinson Memorial and Maidstone Aces ran the Bandit. Gawsworth saw the return of Rod Winterburn back on a Grasstrack bike after his crash at Frittenden in 2013. In quite an amazing display he and passenger Liam Brown not only won the meeting but also the dash for cash and were undefeated all day. Jason Handley and Tony Atkin renewed old and friendly rivalry with the former taking the win. Other winners at the Cheshire meeting were David Knowles and Mike Dowling. At Grafty Green the Bandit winners were Mark Baseby defending his title, Georgie Wood, Robin Pilcher and Trevor Clarricoates in the Solos. Paul Whitelam (his first Bandit win since 2010) & Kieron Ivy, Martin Cuff & Colin Clarke, Nick Radley & Abi Radley in the Sidecars.
The last weekend of the month saw meetings at Wimborne and Pickering, and the European Grasstrack final took place at St. Macaire in France. At Wimborne, the now annual ‘Rob King Party Grasstrack’ ran over two days at Corfe Mullen. On Saturday the Vintage and youth classes took centre stage and the winners were Gerald Short, Dave Wright, Chris Mackett, Joe Nicholls, Danny Curl, Cameron Taylor and Max Perry. The big names were out on Sunday and Mark Baseby won the 500cc Solo class ahead of ‘Ozzie’ Hunter Anderson and SandAce Champion Danny Warwick, and in the big chairs Mark Cossar & Carl Blyth defended their title ahead of Robbie Wilson & Bradley Steer. The 500cc Sidecars was won by Shaun Harvey & Danny Hogg, and in the other classes there were successes for Georgie Wood in the 350s, Jack Nelson the 250cc class, Tim Curnock the over forties, and Eirwyn & Alex Balman won the Left-hand Sidecars. Over in France, Holland’s Jannick de Jong won his second consecutive European title and Britain’s David Howe took an impressive second. Third went to Germany’s Enrico Janoschka.
The second half of the year saw two domestic meetings in Lancashire and a meeting in Cornwall for the Upright British Championship, and in France we saw the Second Qualifying Round for the World Longtrack. At LOGA the adult victors were David Speight, undefeated Andy Mellish, Antony Worrall, and in the Sidecars Tris Winterburn & Henry Purcell. At Cornwall Premier’s Boarded Circuit at Roche the British Upright Championship saw wins for Steve Newsham, Gerald Short his second title and Richard Warry. In the major support class, the Right-hand Sidecars Mark Cossar & Carl Blyth had to battle hard to pass the SandAce Champions Robbie Wilson & Bradley Steer on the last bend. The World Longtrack Qualifier in France was won by Frenchman Stephane Tresarrieu and the highest finishing Brits were Glen Phillips and David Howe.
On a domestic front, the second weekend in July sees Grasstrack take a break as the British Speedway Grand-Prix takes place at Cardiff. The World Longtrack Second Round though takes place on the 14th in Marmande, France and is won by Jannick de Jong. Richard Hall makes the final.
The third weekend of July sees the British Masters Challenge at Ledbury and a two day meeting at Woodbridge. At the Challenge youngster James Shanes takes his biggest win to date beating Mitch Godden into second and Georgie Wood third. In the Right-hand Sidecars Gareth Winterburn takes his second Challenge win with Liam Brown in the chair, and Robbie Wilson & Bradley Steer take the runners-up spot for a consecutive year. Paul Johnson & Carl Pugh, on borrowed machinery, takes third. In the support class of the 500cc Sidecars Simon Beard & Ant Goodwin take the win ahead of Shaun Harvey & Danny Hogg. At Woodbridge, Saturday sees wins for Daryl Keeble, Adam Shipp and John Yeldham in the Solos and Gary Shearer & Sam Bond take their first win in the Right-hand Sidecars. On Sunday Clint Ward, Trevor Clarricoats and Fred Crissell all win in the Solos and Shearer & Bond take a second success of the weekend. Andy Pack & Michael Chittenden win the Left-handers.
Two meetings, at Frittenden and Pickering end July. At the Mid-Summer Spectacular at Frittenden there are wins for James Shanes, Georgie Wood, Trevor Clarricoats and Chris Mackett in the Solos, and Martin Cuff & Colin Clarke in the Left-hand chairs. In the Right-hand Sidecars Robbie Wilson & Bradley Steer, who are having a brilliant season, beat Mark Cossar & Carl Blyth. At the Pickering meeting Scouser Dave Radley takes a double including the Paul Cross Memorial Trophy. Other winners are Rob Bradley and Andrew Mellish.
August started off with meetings at Bewdley and Southend on the domestic front and the European Sidecar Championship Semi-final takes place Melsungen in Germany. The Bewdley Bonanza at Alveley will be remembered for an unfortunate accident involving the young Aussie Hunter Anderson which led to the abandonment of the meeting. The Sidecar semi-final was won by Dutch crew Dennis Noordman & Patrick Kremer. Nick & Abi Radley came third in the ‘B’ final which was good enough to see them reach the High Easter final.
A week later Burton & Leicester run the Donington Demon on Saturday and are due to run the Pre 75 British Championships on Sunday. The World Longtrack Challenge takes place in Marianske Lazne. The Donington Demon sees a brilliant battle between Georgie Wood and Andy Mellish in the 350cc Solos which the former goes on to win. The 250cc winner is David Knowles. Of the various Vintage racing Luke Tuck has a great day winning in three different classes. The Championships on Sunday were cancelled due to a massive amount of rain. In the World Longtrack Jannick de Jong takes yet another win, and Germans Jorg Tebbe and Martin Smolinski complete the podium. Glen Phillips and David Howe are Britain’s highest finishers, both going out in the semi’s.
The following weekend Ledbury run the An Early Evening of Grasstrack on Saturday and Wimborne run the famous Whoppa at Uddens on Sunday. At Ledbury success goes to Rob Finlow, Barry Powell, Zach Wajtknecht, Gerald Short and Dave Wright in the Solos. In the Sidecars Mark Cossar & Carl Blyth take the Right-handers and Dave Carvill & Richard Phillimore win the 500s. At Uddens James Shanes beats Danny Warwick in the Solos and Mark Cossar & Carl Blyth take a second win in twenty-four hours. Rob Wilson & Terry Saunters take second. In the 500cc Sidecars Nick Radley & Abi Radley beat Wayne Read & Curtis McAlinney. This is Nick’s first win at the Whoppa in twenty-eight years. The World Longtrack Grand-Prix in Eenrum, Holland is abandoned after just six heats through bad weather.
August Bank Holiday is a massive weekend on the Grasstrack front with the International Lincolnshire Poacher taking place at Thorpe St. Peter on Sunday, and on Monday you had the GTSA Revival and Peterchurch running at their usual venue of Vowchurch. On Saturday night alongside these meetings the World Longtrack Team Cup ran in Finland and a Sidecar Speedway Spectacular ran at Peterborough. At the Poacher Germany’s Bernd Diener takes his second win in three years and is followed home by Paul Cooper and Georgie Wood. The Uprights get a first outing at the famous meeting which Bob Dolman wins at a canter, Richard Andrews comes in second and Dave Mears third. In the Right-hand Sidecars Rob Wilson & Terry Saunters take a second win in four years and Gareth Winterburn & Billy Winterburn take a brilliant second, Colin Blackbourn & Martyn Smith follow them home to complete the podium. The GTSA meeting goes ahead despite torrential rain which is down to the tremendous amount of work the club have put in on the track. Winners on thday are Mitch Godden, Matt Etherington, Jamie Pantrey, Robin Pilcher in the Solos, and Will Penfold & Ricky Pay and John Hiscock (a last win of an illustrious carrier) & passenger Carl Bell in the Sidecars. The Peterchurch meeting is abandoned. Germany win the World Team Cup for an eighth time and the Sidecar Speedway sees a win for Gareth Winterburn & Liam Brown with Paul Whitelam & Kieron Ivy coming in second. At Bad Hersfeld in Germany Kyle Bickley wins the World 125 Youth Gold Trophy for a second season running.
A week later all roads led to Wood Walton for the National Youth Championship, and the British Championships hosted by the Fenland Club with a weekend Zach Wajtknecht will never forget. On Saturday he won the Seniors, and on Sunday he became the youngest ever British Champion winning the 250cc and staying undefeated all weekend. Other youth winners were Henry Atkins, Harry McGurk, Kenzie Cossey, Max Perry, Sam Stead and George Hopper two classes. In the support Steve Daw and Chris Mackett took wins. Other British Champions were Harland Cook with his fifth Championship but his first on a 350, Shaun Harvey & Danny Hogg took their eighth crown, and in the Left-handers Martin Cuff took his fourth title with Colin Clark in the chair, just a nose ahead of defending Champs Will Penfold & Ricky Pay. In the support classes Adam Filmer won the 500cc Solos and Rob Wilson & stand in passenger Bradley Steer won the Right-handers.
September starts off with four meetings. Pickering run at Scaling, Bridgwater run the Martin Heal & Kim Blackmore Trophy Grasstrack, Burton & Leicester run the re-arranged Pre 75 British Championship, and the 500cc Sidecar Association run their Second European Sidecar Final at High Easter. At Pickering David Speight, Tim Anthill and David Knowles are the big winners and at Bridgwater running at Spaxton, Joe Mogg & Jake Cutler win the main event Martin Heal & Kim Blackmore Trophies. Other winners are Josh Dingle, Barry Powell, Callum Walker, Colin Harris and Richard Andrews. At Donington the big winners in the Pre 75 Championships are Peter Carr with his first Pre 75 title, Chris Mackett takes his second title in four years and Richard Warry takes a fourth consecutive 250cc Championship. In the support classes, Richard Reed wins the Unlimited class, Peter Carr takes a second win of the day in the Uprights, and Colin Blackbourn with stand-in passenger Terry Madley win the Sidecars. At High Easter, the brilliant European Final is won by Josh Goodwin & Liam Brown and in doing so become the first ever British crew to win. To round off this great weekend Nick & Abi Radley also made it to the podium giving Britain a one-two finish. Germans Markus Venus & Markus Heiss complete the podium in third place. In the support classes Simon Beard & Ant Goodwin take the 500cc Sidecars, Rob Wilson & Terry Saunters win the Right-handers and Holland’s Henry van der Steen wins the big Solos just ahead of James Shanes and Mark Baseby.
One week later Dunmow run the British Under-21 Championship at Ugley and the World Longtrack Round Four takes place in Morizes, France. James Shanes takes his first Under-21 title following his runner-up spot twelve months earlier. Georgie Wood takes second and Matt Saul completes the podium. Young Scunthorpe Speedway rider, Dane Thomas Jorgensen makes his debut and takes the win in the 500cc Solos. Other Solo winners are Luke Harris, David Knowles and Stephen Green. In the two Sidecar classes, Mark Cossar & Carl Blyth take another win and Dave Bryers & Kyle Fish take their first ever victory. In France Richard Hall takes a second world Longtrack win, ahead of Frenchman Mathieu Tresarrieu and Theo Pijper of Holland. Also at Morizes young ster Zach Wajtknecht wins the 250cc World Youth Trophy.
On 21st September Astra host the thirty-third British Masters Championship at their Swingfield venue. In the Solo’s, Andrew Appleton runs away with his fourth title going through the card unbeaten. David Howe takes his highest ever finish in second and Paul Cooper is third for a second consecutive Championship. A much closer Sidecar event sees Rod Winterburn & Liam Brown take their second title in four years ahead of four times winner Mark Cossar & Carl Blyth. In a superb day for the Winterburn family, son’s Gareth Winterburn & Billy Winterburn complete the podium.
The last weekend of September sees the Bristol club running the Ken Melksham Memorial at Lower Stanton, and Pickering run another meeting in Yorkshire. The Maidstone Aces’s ‘Kent Kracker’ at Grafty Green is cancelled. Also the final round in the World Longtrack takes place in Muhldorf, Germany. At Bristol James Shanes wins the Ken Melksham Trophy and other classes are taken by Luke Harris, Zach Wajtknecht, Mike Dowling and Chris Mackett. Matt Fumarola & Gareth Williams take a first win of the season in the big chairs. At Muhldorf, Finish and four-time Champion Joonas Kylmakorpi takes the win from German pair Erik Riss and Martin Smolinski. Richard Hall comes fourth, and leader of the Championship going into the meeting Jannick de Jong comes last in the final. The overall results see Erik Riss take his first World title.
Frittenden run the Flyer & South Eastern Centre Championship’s on October 5th. Before the meeting gets underway a minutes silence is held for Ernie Penfold, Mick Potter and Paul Hebden. Young Dane Thomas Jorgensen takes a double, winning the Unlimited and the 500cc Solos. Other Solo success comes the way of Mark Giles, Zach Wajtknecht and Bob Dolman. In the Right-hand Sidecars Myles Simmons & Kevin Woodley take their first Centre Championship and Will Penfold takes his second title with Ricky Pay in the chair.
Seven days later Danebury ran the last meeting of the season, The Danebury Championship. In the Solos classes winners were Rob Mear making a great return to the sport, Zach Wajtknecht with another success in a brilliant season, Toby Golder and Chris Mackett. In the three Sidecar Classes, James & Dave Goudge won the Vic Hiscock Shield in the Right-handers, Mitch Godden making his debut on a 500cc sidecar won the Basil March Shield with Natasha Bartlett in the chair, and Charley Ridley & Harry McQuirke took a third win of the season in the Left-handers.
On the whole the 2014 season saw some fantastic racing and land-mark podiums – despite the good old English weather doing what it does best! Only five months to go and we can do it all over again.
Report by Scott Pritchard