The Jackie Harris Motorsport backed meeting proved to be a demonstration of Mac-power, with Uel McMillan, Michael McKendry, Davy McKay, Simon McLaughlin, Stevie McNiece and Jaimie McCurdy winning nine of the twelve races on the card!
The opening round of the National Hot Rod World Qualifying Series was the main event of the evening and it was Thomas Dilly who took the final honours, while Stevie McNiece warmed up for the Stock Rod World Championship in a fortnight’s time by claiming the Stock Rod silverware.
In the other classes Simon McLaughlin secured his first ever final win at Raceway in the Group Two Lightning Rod section and Aughafatten ace Jaimie McCurdy claimed the Junior Rod trophy.
NATIONAL HOT RODS
The opening round of the World Qualifying Series attracted a very encouraging entry of 14 cars to Raceway which included F2 Stock Car racer Andrew Stewart making his debut in former World Champion Carl Boardley’s title winning Vauxhall Tigra. Current Northern Ireland Champion John Christie had a torrid start to the defence of his crown when
engine problems forced his early retirement from the meeting. Local man Davy McKay was in sparkling form however, the Cullybackey racer looking very sharp on his way to an excellent brace of heat wins in the Darren Alexander Transport backed Vauxhall Tigra. McKay was denied a perfect hat-trick of wins by Thomas Dilly in the final. Dilly powered past early leader Stephen McGonigle in the opening stages and held on for a good win despite McKay’s best efforts to track him down. Second place was still good enough to establish McKay as the top points scorer at the opening round however and puts him at the top of the points chart after round 1.
Heat One: 1. Davy McKay (Cullybackey), 2. Gary Woolsey (Portadown), 3. Glenn Bell (Portadown)
Heat Two: 1. McKay, 2. Mark Heatrick (Portadown), 3. Bell
Final: 1. Thomas Dilly (Dungannon), 2. McKay, 3. Adam Maxwell (Crumlin).
Friday evening’s outing was the final run out for the Stock Rod drivers before their World Championship race at the town track on August 24/25.
Local lad Michael McKendry has really started to find his feet in the class in recent weeks and the newcomer demonstrated his growing prowess with a stunning brace of heats wins in his immaculate Gardiner Transmissions Vauxhall Corsa. McKendry was the early pace setter in the 20 lap final as well, but this time Steven McNiece was hot on the leader’s tail from the early laps.
His pressure finally told when McKendry ran wide at Fisherwick bend and that was the opportunity McNiece required to slot into the front running position. Once ahead McNiece steadily pulled clear to take a confidence boasting win before that big World Final challenge in two weeks time. McKendry completed a strong showing with a comfortable second place in the final, with Mick Rodgers third across the finish line and Micky McFall the first of the star names home in fourth.
Heat One: 1. Michael McKendry (Ballymena), 2. Stevie McNiece (Newtownhamilton), 3. Frankie Lynn (Cullybackey)
Heat Two: 1. McKendry, 2. Lynn, 3. Stephen McCready (Antrim)
Final: 1. McNiece, 2. McKendry, 3. Michael Rodgers (Randalstown).
GROUP TWO LIGHTNING RODS
Twenty-five cars took part in the well subscribed Group 2 category.
Local man Uel McMillan showed no ill effects from his recent spell on the sidelines to claim a dominate win in the opening heat before novice Simon McLaughlin grabbed his first ever win at Raceway in heat two.
Buoyed up by that maiden success McLaughlin’s Vauxhall Astra set of at a great pace in the final and quickly established a handy advantage over Gareth McCrory. Back in the main field David Megaw, Steven McKane and Samuel Montgomery kept the crowd entertained with a fine tussle for third which eventually went the way of Megaw. Up front however McLaughlin was untroubled and went on to secure his second win of the evening, with McCrory his runner-up once again.
Heat One: 1. Uel McMillan (Ballymena), 2. Liscinda Smyth (Portglenone), 3. Samuel Montgomery (Castlerock)
Heat Two: 1. Simon McLaughlin (Londonderry), 2. Gareth McCrory (Limavady), 3. David Megaw (Ballymena)
Final: 1. McLaughlin, 2nd. McCrory, 3rd. Megaw.
Eleven cars lined up for the opening heat of the juniors which turned into a demonstration run for Patrick O’Boyle.
His Vauxhall Corsa powered away from the rest to win by the length of the straight from Aidan McFerran and Jaimie McCurdy. McFerran and McCurdy were embroiled in a great 4-way scrap with Peter Stewart and Adam Brogan for the lead of heat two and although it was McFerran who would cross the line in first place the win was subsequently handed to Brogan after the steward imposed penalties on McFerran and McCurdy.
Calvin Blake’s unusual Ford Ka set the pace in the final, but all eyes were on star men McCurdy and McFerran again as they battled their way through from the back of the field. The pair caught the leader in the closing laps and McCurdy squeezed ahead with one lap to run to snatch a popular win in his Vauxhall Corsa. McFerran followed the winner home with Blake relegated to third in the final standings.
Heat One: 1. Patrick O’Boyle (Glenarm), 2. Aidan McFerran (Portglenone), 3. Jaimie McCurdy (Aughafatten)
Heat Two: 1. Adam Brogan (Ballymoney), 2. Calvin Blake (Newtownabbey), 3. McFerran
Final: 1. McCurdy, 2. McFerran, 3. Blake.
Racing continues at the Ballymena Showgrounds on Friday evening (August 17) when the F2 Stock Cars race for the coveted Norman Cromie Memorial Trophy.
Saloon Stock Cars, Open Hot Rods, Group Two Lightning Rods and the 1600cc Lightning Rods from Aghadowey Stadium are also competing at the Ross Hyndman Motors sponsored meeting, with the first race getting underway in The Showgrounds at 7:15pm.