AUTUMN CUTTINGS 2017
So ends another racing season. Apologies for an absence of Cuttings this half of the year, but all the race reports, including the very successful US trip, can be found in chronological order at the end of this cuttings or as much of them as I can remember. I have also added my personal report on the NW 6hr at the end.
This has been another successful year with a full calendar and all events being well supported including the 2 new venues, Selwood and Stevenage. Racing has been a mix of serious and fun. The social side is always good especially when the venue includes a beer tent.
We have been very lucky with the weather as most events were dry and warm especially the earlier ones. However, both the 12 Hour and the World Championship weekend were beset by rain, causing unexpected and certainly unwanted conditions.
Congratulations to Dean Goodman for being awarded the Drivers’ Driver 2017.
The 12 hour fielded an impressive 49 teams this year. Alongside the BLMRA teams there were teams from the West Midlands, Mower Madness, the NWLMRA as well as Luxembourg, Germany and France joining the fray. The stage was set for an exciting showdown with the NORTHERNERS KICK grASS team (Mark Rostron, Daz Whitehead and James Pawley) intent on retaining their grip on our event by winning it for an unprecedented 5th time. This they managed to do on a very challenging track, completing a total of 363 laps. Well done guys for winning our most prestigious event yet again.
Congratulations to Mike Cresswell and Dan Godden on retaining their gp2 and gp4 British Championship respective crowns and to Stuart Johnson for winning the gp 3 Championship for his first time.
The first time is always very special, or so I’ve been told. These awards are not easy to win as it requires a reliable mower, driving consistently and having a commitment to compete throughout the season.
Congratulations also to Bob Koedinger on retaining his gp 4 World Champion crown and to Ian Ratcliff and Max Fandrejewski on becoming gp2 and gp3 world champions respectively, both for the first time.
This year it was good to see competitors from the NWLMRA as well as from abroad, Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium. Unfortunately the weather played a major disruptive influence on the racing, ultimately causing the early ending of the event and the subsequent
slow evacuation from the paddock field as all vehicles had to be pulled out in an effort to lessen the damage to Mark’s fields.
Exhausts: In the next few weeks the committee will be going through the handbook and altering where necessary. In particular we will be looking at reducing the noise levels from mowers. Expect this to be in line with 12 hour rules i.e. 90 dbs. This is partly in response to occasional complaints, but excessive exhaust noise has been more evident since the introduction of the fully silenced Loncin engines. R&M Racing will have a stock of exhausts available for those noisier mowers.
Roger Hunt, the landlord of the famous Bat and Ball pub in Wisborough Green has died. He ran the pub for many years and always welcomed the BLMRA, allowing us to race in the 2 small fields outside the pub and hold our annual end of year party either in his pub or in a marquee on the field.
Codicote Village Day Fete: C of C - Les Pantry, Organiser – Karl Selby. Lap Scoring – Matt Thomas, Riley Williams, Conner David, Jenson Cresswell.
This is another popular venue, partly because the field is so large but also there is a beer tent with music in the evening. The fete is on the Saturday, and although there is little interaction with the fete itself, the day is geared to a crowd with racing on a relatively small track for more visual impact.
Sunday we have the field to ourselves and the track is increased to include the hill in the field making it a popular test track for the 12 hour.
We had a small but enthusiastic crowd which consisted of one family who had travelled from Richmond, Surrey. They arrived with picnic, settled down and enjoyed the racing. One of the little boys was wheelchair bound, so we tried to incorporate them into our day, letting them sit on the mowers and supplied them with BLMRA goodies. Their highlight was being given a handbook signed by the current champions. They went home happy waving from the windows until out of sight.
A special thanks to the 4 boys on lap scoring for us over the 2 days.
1st Mike Cresswell 2nd Graham Tibbenham 3rd Pugs Reeves
1st Dean Fuller 2nd Ross Challinor 3rd Stuart Johnson
1st Dean Goodman 2nd Dan Godden 3rd Gary Botting
US TRIP: (Thanks to Pugs for this report)
The club was invited to share in the USLMRA 25th anniversary celebrations at Bowls farm this year.
Pete Hammerton and Charlie Gould set about organising the mammoth task.
We spent our first day looking around Washington then headed over towards the farm to meet our American hosts.
Each British driver was assigned to an American team. We were all overwhelmed by the genuine hospitality shown to us.
To say the Americans had slightly different mowers from ours was an understatement. It proved to be a very steep learning curve with engine governors still in place, gearboxes to use and pedals in the wrong place.
The British weather followed us over, and torrential rain stopped play on the first day. On the second day they were able to reconstruct the track, which they managed to achieve in under an hour, (that would have been useful at our 12 hour).The final race of our trip was won by Stuart Johnson with Rocket Man racing team.
Presentations were held at the farm on the Sunday then goodbyes said.
Before we left, we invited the USLMRA to join us for our 50th anniversary and then threw down the gauntlet to them to try and beat us on home turf. This was readily taken up.
Where to begin? Expectations were high and despite the boxful of spanners thrown at the setup team, the show went ahead as planned and was a success.
There were a total of 49 teams including entries from Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany and France as well as teams from the other clubs in this country. With so many teams it was feared that the pit frontage allocation would have to be reduced.
The weekend before the race, a small team mark out the track using tape measures, cones and hand pushed mowers. By using some magic, those marking out the pit areas on the Sunday, managed to spirit a full 4 metres for each pit. Well done team.
Wednesday is the start of the build-up on the field itself with equipment arriving throughout the day.
Spanner 1: the lorry load of bales is arriving at 6am on Wednesday instead of 9am Thursday. A hasty email asking for volunteers resulted in several willing people waiting in the field at the allotted time. The lorry arrived, and as the ground was a little soft, the somewhat heavy straw bales were stacked in two piles.
Spanner 2: on exiting the field the lorry clipped the entrance gate and post destroying the smaller gate - an unscheduled repair job.
The race control tower arrived and was put in its designated position allowing the other tents to be erected around it.
Spanner 3: It was then that the expected rain arrived. It dropped 65mm of rain, turning the field very muddy wherever vehicles went. The decision to limit vehicular movements was made in an attempt to preserve the field. Although the rain persisted all night, Thursday morning was dry and pleasant.
Spanner 4: The Heras fencing which had been ordered and confirmed failed to materialise. After frantic phone calls, local Link Hire came to our rescue and supplied us with the necessary security fencing.
By Friday, teams were entering the field and everyone was requested to wait to be towed into the paddock/pit areas to reduce pit road damage.
Unfortunately, the rain wrecked the track, which from the start was like a sponge and as the race progressed the ground moved creating waves in the track. The corner before the pit entrance became very deeply rutted beaching a couple of gp2s in the ever deepening holes, causing an extra hazard for following mowers.
The overall winner was NORTHERNERS KICK grASS.
Mendip Somerset: C of C – Simon Campbell, Organiser – Sue Avent.
This is the most popular venue on our calendar. The first race after the 12 hour, set in stunning countryside with a beer/cider tent and music throughout the 3 days. A lot of members either start or end their summer holidays here. The down side is that paddock space is tight but more than made up by the camaraderie that exists within the paddock. It was great to see Tiff, Anna-Lise and their family come down and join us. Tiff does so much behind the scenes for the 12 hour that it is rare that we can reciprocate any favours.
On Saturday a lot of the ladies, children and dogs walked up the nearby hills to survey the race field from a high vantage point.
In the evening, the youngsters took to the track under parental supervision, as is common practice nowadays, and both Riley Williams and Daniel “mate” Thomas showed their ability to race at speed. They will soon be racing for real, I think. The others all enjoyed themselves and somehow Abigail Clegg managed to upend Karl Selby’s Wheelhorse, much to the amusement of those of us watching. She blamed dad for shouting instructions to her which distracted her!!
On Sunday we were joined in race control by Thomas, a local, young disabled lad and his grandad, who helped us to start and finish the practice sessions by waving the appropriate flags. He left a very happy young man with arms full of BLMRA stuff; not so sure about grandad!!
Prize giving was in the marquee, and the day ended with a gp1 demonstration. This continues to be popular with both the crowd and the competing youngsters.
Usually the Monday is wet, but this year the whole 3 days were sunny and warm. A perfect weekend except for Alan Davies who came a cropper in the Eliminator race after arguing with a bale and losing. He ending up visiting and staying in hospital to have both collar bones realigned. As previously reported, Alan is now fine.
1st Mike Cresswell 2nd Roger Knowlson 3rd Paul Johnson
1st Stuart Johnson 2nd Peter Sque 3rd Dean Fuller
1st Karl Selby 2nd Alan Davies 3rd Dean Goodman
Great Maze Essex: C of C – Les Pantry, organiser – Sue Avent.
Another dry weekend. Special thanks to Mark Ackroyd who joined us and took control of the commentary from me on Sunday.
This was an event tinged with sadness as we had earlier learnt the death of John Harvey, the farmer. This event is unique for both its horn race and the roundabout within the race track. Although the direction in the roundabout was meant to be clockwise, several mowers found this difficult so went the opposite way round, creating both confusion and crowd hilarity. The horn race is a variation on the animal race. When the horn sounds, which can be at any point during the day even in the middle of a race already under way, all mowers join in the track, hence there is a reluctance for racers to remove their helmets throughout the day just in case. Sue managed to buy an old car horn from one of the local shops which Pete Hammerton will turn into a perpetual horn race trophy in memory of John.
Horn Race Result: Overall winner: Ross Challinor.
Great Maze Results:
1st Mike Cresswell 2nd Ian Ratcliff 3rd Roger Knowlson
1st Ross Challinor 2nd Stuart Johnson 3rd Kevin Edden
1st Karl Selby 2nd Dan Godden 3rd Dean Goodman
Beddington Lordship: C of C – Mark Thurston. Organiser – Pugs Reeves.
This was the second of our new venues for this year courtesy of Lord Beddington near Stevenage. This was a damp weekend making the track quite slippery at certain times of both days. On Sunday, in the adjoining field, veteran motorbike grass track racing was going on, which was interesting entertainment during our lunch break.
This was also the last round of the British Championships. Although the gp2 and gp4 championship had already been decided, group 3 was still open with Stuart Johnson leading into the weekend, closely followed by Ross Challinor and Peter Sque, with Dean Fuller, having missed Essex, in 4th place.
Dean won 3 of the 4 rounds pushing his score up to 404, overtaking Ross, who had a disastrous weekend picking up only 20 points, finishing with 382 points. Stuart, with a final tally of 429 points, maintained his lead over Pete who came 2nd with 408 points. After the last round Stuart was very emotional having achieved his goal of winning the coveted gp3 British Championship for 2017.
1st Ian Ratcliff 2nd Mike Cresswell 3rd Graham Tibbenham
1st Dean Fuller 2nd Peter Sque 3rd Stuart Johnson
1st Karl Selby 2nd Gary Botting 3rd Dean Goodman
World Championships: venue - Bucks Green. C of C - Les Pantry. Organisers - committee.
Our final race event of the year was the World Championships held in Bucks Green. This is always a busy weekend but was made even more so by deciding to include the awards and end of year party as well as a BBQ on Saturday evening. Again the weather threw a spanner in the works by raining profusely during the week beforehand.
Even so, it attracted competitors from the NWLMRA, Luxembourg and Germany as well as from our own club. The tents were erected and the track laid out prior to the weekend. By Friday evening the paddock was filling up and the entrance became muddy making it tricky to get into the field. Rubber mats were hastily brought from the stores to try to protect the field entrance.
Saturday morning was dry. The day started with drivers briefing, then scrutineering and practice. It was soon apparent that the track conditions were going to be challenging. The track which had an off camber corner had to be altered as no one could get round it due to the conditions. It was at this point that it became obvious that the gp2s would struggle. Where the start line joined the main track quickly became a quagmire of 3 inch mud gradually increasing as the day wore on.
Flying mud created the impression that everyone was made from the stuff as everyone and everything was covered in it. Made for some extraordinary photos though.
With 10 rounds completed in very extreme conditions, it was time for a clean-up/scrub down and the BBQ. Thanks to Pete for sourcing and preparing the food and to Pugs for cooking it all; burgers, sausages and some spectacularly flavoured chicken, first experienced at the Capel event. Great evening with the year’s awards handed out to the successful candidates by our lovely host, Sally Robinson. The evening concluded with a disco put on by our own Carl Williams.
The dry evening turned into a wet night with drizzle continuing throughout until Sunday morning. The track was moved in the worst areas in an effort to save the ground, but the persistent rain took its toll on the ground and even after practice of only 15 mins it was impossible to see where the track had been altered as the mud was everywhere.
Although the show restarted it was very difficult; the gp2s decided to create their own starting line and track just to get round. The gp 3s and 4s fared better, completing another 5 rounds before lunch. After another shower of rain during lunch the track conditions were now intolerable, and the whole of the paddock would need pulling out of the field. So it was decided to call it a day, pack up, have prize giving and organise the controlled exodus of the paddock vehicles from the field.
Sally graciously agreed to present the prizes out again while Mark R got to grips with pulling people out of the paddock using his old but trusty Ford 4000 tractor. He was helped by Charlie, Tiff and Ian Tanswell with their 4x4 vehicles to extricate everyone from the field in an orderly fashion.
My thanks to everyone for being so patient while this was going on. The last vehicle to be pulled out –apart from me – was Darren Tebbitt in his very large motor home. The front had sunk nearly to its axles and needed the train of tractor and Charlie and Ian’s 4x4s to pull him out. Quite a sight. It was incredibly lucky that the towing eye on Darren’s vehicle snapped off after he had been pulled out onto firm ground.
There is a long list of people to thank for this event:
Mark and Sally Robinson: for putting up with us all and being left the mess we left behind.
Mark Thurston: for picking up the rubber matting from the stores on the Friday.
Charlie: bringing trailer, generator, party tent, BBQs etc from stores and then returning them.
Pete and Pugs: supplying and cooking the food.
Vicky, Laura and Nicola: decorating the marquee.
Carl Williams: supplying and running disco.
Pugs, Colin and Laura: lap scoring on Saturday
Gary and Carol Morrad: lap scoring on Sunday.
Simon Campbell and Dan Godden: supplying wood for bonfire.
Simon Campbell: lining up duties throughout the weekend.
Les Pantry: Clerking.
Tiff, Charlie, Ian Tanswell and Mark R: pulling everyone out.
Thurston family for helping Mark R take down the marquee and moving the blocks back to Res Dip.
NWLRA 6 hour: by Ian Ratcliff
Thanks to the NW for again putting on a great dry 6 hour race and their hospitality and entertainment is legendary. As in previous years, there were several BLMRA teams entered. Being in a new field this year and Tony Dwight’s promise of bowling green like surfaces, expectations were high only to be dashed by reality. I should have known better. I’m not sure why I ever believed him in the first place.
It was a track of two halves. The long main straight ran along the furrows and was relatively smooth. This led to a chicane and a series of downhill corners and sweeping bends before going onto the very rough cross-furrow section of straight and corners before going back uphill and returning to the smoother part of the track.
I arrived just before 10.30am, well in time for drivers’ briefing, as did my son and team mate Sam.
It made quite a change to race in the dry, not just because the last of our own races had been in wet or very wet conditions, but the 6 hour is more often than not wet.
There were 2 practice sections on the Saturday of an hour each with an hour’s break between them, which is very useful for any running repairs / gear changing etc. (for Sam and I that meant completing 2 laps each, then complaining over a mug off tea and rock cake that the track was like going over a washboard), before settling down to the serious business of socialising while eating the very appetising food from Jimmy Chews and drinking while enjoying the evening’s entertainment of a live band, and the distributing of the impressive number of raffle prizes. All proceeds went to Bassetlaw Hospice, which provides palliative care for those diagnosed with cancer or a progressive long term condition. The large tray of superb homemade tarts and pies which I believe Billy Kavanagh won, was definitely the best as I had more than my fair share when they were graciously handed out.
Then for us it was off to the Travel Lodge for a long hot shower and a good night’s kip – although I inadvertently booked a double bed instead of 2 singles (sorry Sam).
Back nice and early for breakfast and the qualifying session. While other groups vie for top grid positions, qualifying for gp 2 means going round the track to check your transponder still works.
Race started at 11am and straight away Briggs and Fratton (no 50) on a V twin roared into the lead. We were doing fine until just after 1 o’clock when the mower broke and was immoveable. At this point I have to commend the recovery system they use at the 6 hour. We had to use it last year and I was very glad of it this year as well. It is very efficient. In fact, without it I don’t think we could have continued as the rear roller had snapped in half.
So, having been dragged back to the pits, we were able to replace the roller and go back out, only to be towed back in again soon after. This time because a chain had come off.
We completed the rest of the race, but only by slowing right down towards the end because of a rather ominous noise and vibration emanating for the roller area and we wanted to achieve our goal of finishing the race. After the race we found that the tread on the right roller had started to come adrift and was hitting the frame.
After clearing up we wandered over to the marquee for prize giving.
Congratulations to overall winners team Westmoreland Sausages for completing 173 laps, and all the group winners, (No 50 came in 7th in the end).
I have to congratulate Martin and John, of team 23rs of Marcher’s, for winning in gp2 for the second time in succession.
Thanks to Marko and his team for putting on a very professionally run event and making us all so welcome, and a special thanks to lovely Dalna Harvey for covering booth our marshalling slots. It was a great help, especially as we broke down just after our first marshalling slot started.
Oh, I almost forgot, I entered both Sam and myself in the “Win a gp2 Wheels Mower” competition. I’m not sure why, as these are banned by our club and you need to be big and strong to drive them, (which I am neither). I inadvertently forgot to tell him, so when Sam was announced as the winner, his face, and probably mine, was a picture. I thought that it had been rigged, but not so, as the winner was decided by the lottery bonus ball number. Now we have to decide what to do with it once I have picked it up from Cheshire of all places. With the Rules and Regs meeting coming up soon, I am thinking of persuading the committee to allow gp2 wheels into our club. Watch this space.