Cadwell Park scooter race season finale | SPORT
What do you want from a sporting finale? Drama and excitement, crashes and glory? Cadwell Park’s BSSO meeting had it all, in full detail. So much that it made us re-evaluate what we really want, because it ain’t all pretty.
Let’s start on Friday, with a slide-show in honour of former Group 4 champion James Campen who recently died at home. Racers, on the whole are happy-go-lucky people, but David’s presentation cut a sombre start to proceedings with a quiet moment of contemplation.
Saturday morning’s first practice session didn’t improve matters much. Steve ‘Hammy’ Hamilton, who was leading our man Barrie Braithwaite for the Production Class championship suffered what looked like a relatively harmless spill. Two broken collar bones and several broken ribs later, Hammy was carted off to hospital in pain, not only at his injuries, but also at missing out on the final dog-fight for the title. The good news is that he is now out of hospital and recovering.
I have to say that the Production Class championship, originally proposed by Andy Francis, has been a breath of fresh air. Not only for the closeness of the racing, but even more so for the close-knit spirit of the competitors. All of the main contenders were camped together in the paddock and gutted that Hammy got injured.
This meeting added even more riders to the Proddy grid, with newcomer Taylor Sturgess joining in, along with former Group 6 champion Mike Davis. With Hammy there were five former champions in Production Class this season. Certainly plenty of talent for the newcomers to learn from.
Even the warm-up for the first geared race (Race 6) didn’t go smoothly as front-row Group 6 racer Tom Russell flipped his Lambretta on the grid and broke a headset.
Eventually the race got underway and the Casa Lambretta riders romped off to victory, with Zani first, ahead of Fuschini and followed by Mikey Bonett. Zani was doing what he needed to do in order to secure the title, as did Barrie in Production Class. Conversely, in the big capacity automatics, Justin Price tried to make his championship harder with a DNF.
All hell broke loose – literally – on the second geared race. This time Tom Russell – on the middle of the front row – was unable to select first gear as all the other riders set off around him. This is one of the most dangerous situations because the stranded rider can do nothing but hope that the riders behind can avoid you.
Sadly for Tom, that wasn’t the case. As Chris Geyton swerved around him, Dave Bristow was unsighted and hit Tom’s leg sending them both flying. The carnage didn’t stop there. Carl Fox’s Lambretta then hit Tom’s stricken GP, writing-off both frames while Tom was struck again leaving four scooters and riders sprawled across the track. Tom suffered two broken legs as a result, but after operations he is now recovering in Bristol.
As you might imagine, all this destruction very much took the shine off proceedings, but at least there was Sunday to look forward to, starting with a re-run of Saturday’s cancelled second geared race. Overnight, the traditional end-of-season DKS party progressed in a slightly muted fashion, albeit with alcohol and a strange wig to help things along.
Come Sunday, the tension remained very high. In the close-fought Production Class, James Lancaster took a win leaving Barrie with work to do. At the front Damon Tunnicliffe came over the line ahead of Mikey Bonett and Luca Zani on the Casa SS200.
The next auto race also gave a maiden victory to Gary Peacock on his fully-faired Aprilia SR125.
By this stage newcomer Steven Graves had pretty much sewn-up the Group 10 (80cc autos) class. Meanwhile Zani had done enough to secure Group 6 while Steve Conneely was coasting home with many group 4 (Lambretta full-frame ‘standards’) victories to secure his title.
The stress then rested squarely on the shoulders of SLUK rider Barrie, who needed a good result in the last two geared races to take the Production Class championship.
At lunchtime a mass scooter parade lap was held in honour of James Campen with Charlie Edmonds riding his Lambretta, Joe Ravenscroft riding his R1 and Damon Tunnicliffe and Mikey Bonett riding 2-up on the Scomadi followed by a host of other riders, including friends from the Kettering Massive. We made a video of the parade lap below.
The third geared race was won by Mikey Bonett (GRP 6), hotly followed by Steve Conneely (GRP 4). Meanwhile, Luca Fuschini, who’d suffered problems with his Casa 225, borrowed his team-mate’s scooter and managed to hole the piston in Zani’s previously ultra-reliable SS200.
In the Production Class, Barry pipped James Lancaster to the line, which still left it close at the top for the championship. The last race would sort it out for sure.
There was no last race.
Following a crash in one of the motorcycle events, all racing was halted while the air-ambulance came to the track. From that point on, after an obviously very serious incident, the rest of the event was cancelled. We found out some days later that John Schoenemann, one of the classic bike racers, sadly succumbed to his injuries.
The weekend’s events hammered home the point that we are all mortal, and any racing is a dangerous business. For some though, life is about doing what you enjoy, and an existence without the thrill of racing would be a harder struggle.
Lee Hollick Gallery
Full championship results here.
The SLUKED TROPHY
This is the SLUKED TROPHY.
It’s not the first holed piston trophy in the world, but this one has a story to tell. This is the piston that won the 2016 BSSO Group 6 Championship.
It was fitted to Luca Zani’s Casa SS200 engine up until the last race, by which time he’s already won the championship, so he loaned his scooter to luckless team-mate Luca Fuschini who promptly holed the piston.
To our knowledge it is the first time a fan-cooled small-block (125/150/175 Lambretta stud pattern) engine has ever won the premier class in British scooter racing.
As such, this is a bit of a special piston.
We’ve mounted it on a custom-made aluminium plinth together with one of our unobtainable (unless your scooter is featured first by us) SLUKED badges.
We’ve talked to the BSSO regarding this and consulted our readers. We’d like to present this trophy to the Best Placed Novice in the LCGB Production Class at the BSSO AGM.