17th March 2013: F1 & Ministox at Belle Vue

The refurbished shale car makes its first public appearance.

The refurbished shale car makes its first public appearance.

We left home approx an hour later than expected, with my shale car almost finished. As soon as we arrive at the track we need to tighten a few nuts and bolts and sort out the tracking.

Belle Vue was sunny when we arrived, that’s a novelty. It’s not long before young Frank is out for his first race, there seems to be a lot of cars on track. Frankie’s start was faultless, he manages to avoid various tricky situations before the yellows come out to his advantage, Frankie is in 10th place on the restart. He battles a little with Sam Roper, and Courtney Finnikin, meanwhile Courtney Witts has pulled a great lead. With a few laps to go she seems untouchable, Frankie is in second place and has pulled a comfortable lead away from 3rd and 4th. Two laps remaining and a spectacular roll from Sam Roper 333 causes the race to get red-flagged. The top 3 are 180, 1 & 323.

Me and Danny are out next, and everything runs smoothly for the first few laps. Craig Finn sees his opportunity to give me a slap and I spin out. The yellows are out and I restart the race from the very back, Danny however is in third position. A few laps into the restart, James Morris 463 gives Danny a smack which causes his back panhard rod to break, and his race is over. I’m struggling a little with my car, last year I struggled to get any grip but for this race I seem to have too much? Still, I’m still feeling chuffed to get myself back up to fourth place. Back in the pits and Thornie and Raz get to work changing my gears whilst Danny’s car gets fixed.

Young Frankie’s second mini heat didn’t go quite as well as his first. He didn’t go out or come across any particular incidents but he didn’t seem to be able to get much ground. Just as he started to pick up speed and pass a couple of drivers, the race was stopped then red-flagged, disappointingly there were still four laps to go and a lot can happen in four laps! Even so, he picks up a 7th place.

F1 Heat 2 was out next, and again I was spun. Around about the same time Danny retired with a flat inside front tyre. Again I had all the work to do, crossing the line in fourth.


Young Frank is back out for his final. Our friend and BriSCA photographer Martin has attached his onboard camera to the number 1 car to capture the race. Young Frank looks good in this race and seems to have a bit more pace. There were no stoppages in this one and a few lower graders manage to get away. A good race and the young ‘un crosses the line in fourth place, so a reasonably consistent night for JJ.

F1 final time, not much to write about. I got a flat tyre after just a few laps and Danny just missed getting in after not changing his diff in time.

The last race of course was the Grand National. I had a mint race with Lee Fairhurst and took my first win of the season. Danny’s night continued to be unlucky when he crashed and retired from race on the last lap.

Thank you to my brilliant team for all their hard work this week, there’s no way I would have raced this evening without them – cheers lads!


Big thanks to Martin Fitzgerald for these superb photos from his shiny new camera.