National Street Car Challenge (UK)

2016 Finals

Even though the 2016 NSCC championship was in the bag for Derek Beck, by the time the final round rolled up on September 18th, there was still plenty to play for among the rest of the field – the fame, the glory, the lucrative cash prizes and sponsorship deals and, of course, the adoring groupies. The day didn't start well when an early-morning drivers' meeting (well, earlier than I got there, anyway) let everyone know that York Raceway has caught a dose of the pox that is plaguing every motor sport venue in the country – noise complaints. Come next year, the raceway will have been operating on the same Melbourne site for 40 years, yet a couple (literally, a couple) of complaints to the local environmental health could spell disaster. I can't think of many other motorsport disciplines where competitors are allowed to run completely unsilenced motors, but this might be something to bear in mind at the next AGM when it comes to discussing the rule book – perhaps it's time to look at running silencers again?


Anyway, after an uneventful run up to York, it seemed that we'd be in for a pleasant late-summer day. There were nine NSCC cars qualifying, just enough to bugger up a nice eight-car ladder, and way out in front was Russ Pursley, his 9.67 at 142mph giving him a commanding lead. Next in line was Ian Walley, still struggling for form on a 10.9 at 128mph, then Derek Beck in the TVR, still playing it safe with the gas on 11.9 at 114mph. James Murray was back up to speed, his 12.1 at 116mph netting fourth, followed by Pete Smith's late model Shelby in the centre of the field with a 12.6. The lesser-spotted Lee Opey in the little Punto ran 14.1, Steve Gilmour in the repaired Cortina clocked 14.8, Dave Smith in the Lexus barge managed 15.7, then Rick's 16.0 closed out the field.


Round one opened with Pete racing an empty lane, Opey having trailered the Fiat for various reasons, all of which helped Pete cement a certain second place overall. Next, Derek trounced Dave with a 12.1 to the barge's 15.7, before Russ took advantage of his bye to run a mighty 9.600 at 143mph. Gilly was trying hard to holeshot James, but tried a little too hard, leaving 0.009 of a second before the green light and cherrying his chance away, before Ian put the smackdown on Rick, a 10.0 showing exactly what Ian was after this afternoon, including third place overall in the championships, leaving Rick to claim fourth.


The semis opened in entertaining fashion with Russ throwing the flyweight Dutton down the track in 9.5 seconds against Pete's 12.8. Ian had a bye and used it to the full with a 10.2, that nine-second run just eluding him again. Then it was Derek versus James, which should have been a close-run thing. It wasn't, as Derek tore off an 11.1 at 123mph to seal the deal. In the other lane, James' timing ticket showed that he was on for a NPB but at half-track, a jet of smoke or steam from under the bonnet caused him to back off. It turned out that the second stage of nitrous had had a spot of windy-pops and blown its high-tech copper pipe out of the air scoop via the ever-extending bend in the bonnet – what James saw wasn't smoke or steam; rather it was a lot of nitrous venting into atmosphere...


That set up the three-car final. By this time, the weather was beautiful, the sun was warm and I was sweating like Cliff Richard's lawyer. Derek, the already-champion, wasn't taking any chances, and just broke the stage beams on his bye to go through to the final. Meanwhile, the winner for closest race of the day had to go to Ian versus Russ, the two yellow terrors. Neither was particularly sprightly off the line, but Russ got a slight jump and both were on a mission. At the stripe, after having run a string of mid-nines all afternoon, Russ could only (“only”!) manage a 10.1 at 138mph as Ian claimed the win with a 9.99 at 136! I figure that to be a margin of victory totalling three hundredths of a second...


And so it came down to the final, the last pairing of the whole day's racing, and it was Ian's turbo Cortina versus Derek's gassed TVR. Derek had the advantage off the line as the Cortina spooled up, but then Ian was away, catching Derek and sprinting past him to a 10.1 at 135mph, with Derek crossing the stripe a moment later on 11.4. A good, clean final to see out another day's racing and another year's NSCC championship.



Derek may have lost the final but he won York's Hot Rod Challenge, and is overall champion of that, too, so he still got a pot for his mantelpiece. He'll have another round of trophies come the AGM. He's going to need a mantelpiece the size of Blackpool prom if he carries on like this. After prize-giving, everyone headed home – well, everyone except James who was helping Des Taylor with a fuel pressure fluctuation on his Fox Mustang – with the grim realisation that another season is over and now we have the slippery slope down into winter, Christmas, and all the joy that brings. It's jolly depressing to be saying goodbye to people you know you're unlikely to see until next year, wishing them a merry Christmas in mid-September. Still, that's six months to be preparing for next season, or saving up to pay off on the last one. Will we be ready? Or, more likely, will we find ourselves with three days to go before Easter thinking “Shite, I'd best get cracking on the car!”?



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