Festival of Speed Weekend – with no fewer than 7 Championship Titles up for grabs!
British Stock Rod Championship at Raceway
This weekend sees the biggest event on the 2011 Ballymena Raceway calendar when the Stock Rods contest the British Championship at the town track on Friday and Saturday evenings. A number of visiting drivers will travel to the Showground’s intent on taking the coveted title home, whilst the Festival of Speed weekend will also see top quality racing on show from a number of supporting classes.
Stock Rod 2011 British Championship Qualifying Heats & Final
The Stock Rods will contest qualifying heats on both Friday and Saturday ahead before the 2011 British Championship Final is staged on Saturday evening. The locals will be hoping to put their home track knowledge to good use, and will be headed by recently crowned National Champion and current Irish Champion Micky McFall from Craigywarren. Micky has been hampered by having to start from the rear of the field all season as Irish Champ, but his National Championship success and a recent fifth place in the World Final shows that he is definitely still on top form. At the Yokohama Tyre Championship back at Easter Micky rolled spectacularly into retirement and he’ll be hoping for much better luck this time.
Local Ballymena stalwart Victor McAfee will be hoping to land the British crown too, and he certainly has all the experience to cope with the big grids and tight racing. He will certainly go close in his Citroen Saxo, whilst Nutts Corner lad Raymond Harper will be looking to get his season on track after what has been a very slow start for him, after the heights he reached last year with Yokohama and Irish Open victories.
Stevie McNeice took the win in the Irish Open Championship earlier in the year and could well get amongst the high places yet again given his speed, whilst Chris Gordon quietly gets on with the job and as current local points leader could well do well given the right breaks. Portadown’s Lee Johnston won the final last week to mark him down as one to watch, whilst Stephen McCready, Alastair Bolton, Carl Sloan, Jonny Cardwell, William Laffin and Bobbie Johnston will all harbour hopes of getting in amongst the places.
Of the visitors, Scotland’s Chris Lattka has been a regular visitor to the Showgrounds over the years, and after concentrating on the Saloon Stock Cars lately has been back behind the wheel of a Stock Rod this year too. As a former multi-World Champion and indeed a three times British Champion in the class, in 2001, 2002 and 2007, Chris will be ‘gunning’ to land the title once again in 2011.
His brother Jonathan also makes the trip from Scotland, and with third place in the recent National Championship as well as third in last years British he certainly has what it takes too to run at the head of the field. Also travelling across the Irish Sea will be fellow Scottish superstar Andy Grant.
From south of the border, the Dublin based Butler brothers Gary and Keith will chase the British crown too. Gary especially has been a frontrunner in many championship races over the past couple of years and could well be a contender this weekend. Graham Nelson and Owen McGrath are also two very capable drivers who will be looking forward to the weekend’s competition.
BriSCA F2 Stock Cars 2011 Yokohama Masters Championship
On Saturday night the BriSCA F2’s will compete for the Yokohama Masters title, and Antrim driver Gary Blair will be keen to continue his winning ways after a fine hat trick last time out. Blair has been impressive over recent weeks, and his treble was well deserved although the star men were closing in towards the end of each race. Expect former European Champion Craig McConnell, Irish Champion Conor Hughes and Teen Sensations Champ Chris Kincaid to challenge, along with the Banbridge brothers Denver and Gary Grattan.
Group 2 Lightning Rods 2011 Grand National & Champion of Champions
The Group 2 Lightning Rods enjoy racing on both night’s this weekend, with the Grand National Championship being staged on Friday and then the Champion of Champions on Saturday evening. Uel McMillan was the star turn last week taking the William McMaster Perpetual Shield, but he was pushed hard by Steven McKane and both will be eager to get amongst the premier positions this week again. Lyle Murray was also on top form in the final last week, and along with Nigel Doherty and James Goldie will be keen to land some silverware. As always a huge field is expected in this budget class, and others like Freddie Fleck, Jonny Gillespie, Kenny Carson and Danny Norris to name a few can’t be discounted.
ProStocks 2011 Irish Grand Prix Championship
Following their successful debut at Raceway earlier in the month, the ProStocks make another visit from Nuttscorner Oval for their Irish Grand Prix. Winner that night was Stuart Agnew and he could well go close yet again, whilst star drivers like Irish Open Champion Alan Haugh, Ryan Abernethy and Ryan Stewart will be keen to land the crown. The light contact permitted between the cars leads to some superb on track action, and they really took to the big Ballymena oval on their last visit. Others like Billy Finnegan jnr, Ryan Fleming and Adrian McKinstry will also aim to be in contention when the chequered flag falls.
Junior Rods 2011 Supreme Championship
The stars of tomorrow continue to impress everyone with every outing, and the 11-16 year olds really do put on displays that are way beyond their tender years. Last time at Raceway Dean McCrory from Antrim stole through late on to grab the final victory, and alongside fellow star graders Jaimie McCurdy, Sean McFerran, Marc Morrell and Dan Shannon will be gunning for victory in the 2011 Supreme Championship. Niall McFerran took a heat win and has improved greatly lately, as has Peter Greer who ran so well in the final last time out. Aaron Moody is another who could spring a surprise, as could Aidan McFerran or Calvin Blake.
Stock Saloons Slemish SuperCup
The Saloons return to Raceway action for the first time since June, and just one week after their World Final in Skegness. Irish Champion Andy Stewart ran third in the World for quite a while before being eliminated, and he will be keen to return to winning ways on home turf in the Slemish SuperCup. Fellow World Finalist Stuart McCammon was the final winner last time out, and watch out too for Ryan Wright and Matthew Stirling, whilst Dave Haugh and the McIvor brothers Kieran and Anthony will also be in the thick of the heavy action without doubt.
Slick Cars Golden Helmet Trophy
The Slick Cars will see a range of machinery on the track as always, and winner last time out Frankie Lynn could well see his advantage under threat. David Gurney has been improving all year in his Peugeot 205, and the probability of some National Hot Rod interlopers could well add to the action in the Golden Helmet Trophy.
The meeting, jointly sponsored by Curtis Cars and William Moody and Son Car Sales, kicks off on Friday night at 7.15pm, with the action on Saturday evening commencing at the earlier than usual time of 6.15pm.