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In The Lap Of The Gods: Titanic Trucks Set Sail at Brands Hatch

All good things must come to an end. It’s time to go out with a bang. There is truly an ocean of clichés that could be used to describe the final race weekend of a motorsport series. We cannot forget however, that clichés are named thusly for a very important reason; repetition of events across time. The closing race weekend of the year represents one final chance for the competitors to prove their worth, to settle the rivalries that have raged all year and to prove once and for all who deserves to walk away as the ultimate victor.

The action in the British Truck Racing Championship had raged with a blazing intensity throughout the year; one final battlefield lay before them. The BTRC has one of the most exciting race formats throughout the known motor-verse; the field is split into two divisions with the slower division two trucks starting at a set time ahead of the brutal division one beasts. Race order is decided purely on track position so the division one trucks must catch and overtake those in division two to achieve victory. This format is similar to that of banger racing and BTCC 2001, and in many ways is the perfect combination of the two, what with the hard racing and ‘no panel left straight’ approach.

It has been emblazoned into the annals of motorsport that any series ending at Brands Hatch must face the brutal majesty of the Kentish weather. It had all come down to this. It was time. To paraphrase King Theoden from Lord Of The Rings…

 “The horns of the Helm Hammer-Trucks, shall sound at Brands Hatch…one last time!”

Smoke on the Water...

Smoke on the Water…

For the spectators, including the author of these words you see before you, conditions on race day made for a harrowing yet unforgettable experience. The weather was both a curse and a gift, providing some of the most jaw-droppingly entertaining racing that has ever laid tyre to tarmac.  The omnipotent Kentish spirits made true their promises that day; the skies let forth their legions of rain, wind and bitter chills in an all-out assault on Brands Hatch.

Going into the weekend, the British Trucks had championship honours up for grabs in both divisions. There has never been anything more spectacular than watching an onslaught (that is the collective term for racing trucks now) of trucks slip, slide and slam their way around a track as exciting as Brands. With Formula E spearheading the new ‘green’ motorsport initiative, it is clear that the memo had not reached the truck drivers; smoking and spitting flames as they strained the very limits of their planet-killing 1,000BHP engines.

The two Truck races were nothing short of an adrenaline-fuelled thrill ride dominated by incident, red flags and shortened races. The conditions were so treacherous trucks were even seen to be losing control during safety car periods. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like for the drivers. Incidents during car races may be shocking, but when you see a multiple tonne truck barrelling into a wall or into the path of a truck moving at around 100mph, it really is time to buy yourself some new underwear. Nevertheless, what happened that day was something that those spectators lucky enough to be there will never forget. It was truly some of the purest racing anyone could see. No driver aids. No talk of tyres. No politics. It was refreshing, and not just because of all the rain.

Despite a spectacular late championship charge by Chris Levett in his Renault, division one honours went to the legend that is Mat Summerfield who claimed the crown, adding a third successive championship to his impressive tally. In division two, an almighty clash of titans raged between Simon Reid and Ryan Smith. Smith became almighty lord of the lunge and rain master supreme in an epic drive that saw him nearly take the crown from Reid. Despite his gargantuan efforts the best he could manage was 2nd, as Reid did enough to secure championship superiority.

As the British Truck racers roared and refreshed the true meaning of motorsport, the support series made sure the meeting would go down as one of the greatest of the year. The Tin Top Saloons Championship is one of the cheapest entries into the dazzling world of motorsport, with seasons available from only £5,000. The series consists of multiple classes, which depend on the level of modification and engine size, yet all cars are not that far removed from their road going originals. Everything from Hondas, Rovers, Toyotas and Citroens were taking part; you could even say this was the ‘first car’ championship.

Simple. Cheap. Amazing.

Simple. Cheap. Amazing.

There was everything from back-of-the-grid charges from a distinctive blue Rover, Metros mistaking the meeting for a rally cross event and the plucky #69 Toyota Starlett who fought his way to an impressive victory. He lost places. He gained places. You could say he was going both ways. It may be out the view of the great media machine, but it truly is an amazing series that in terms of spectacle can rival the names up in the big leagues.

The seductive saloon sweetness was not yet complete; The Quaife Motorsport Saloons take basic touring car tasters to another level. Operating in a similar fashion to the Tin Tops, these ‘Touring Cars for the everyday man’ produced an immense grid including a Holden Commodore of the variety you would usually find in the Australian V8 Supercar Championship. As ever, the rounds were dominated by the unstoppable force of Quaife nature that is Rod Birley. Close racing, high drama. You can’t go wrong really.

If there was an award for craziest series of the weekend, the only winner could be that of the Legends. The Legends are mad enough in the dry, let alone when you add wind, rain and a slippery track into the mix. Drivers decided Graham Hill bend was to be ignored, because clearly a rally cross route across the grass is the more exciting way around. Across the 6 races, there were 5 different winners. To put that into perspective, over one weekend there were more race winners than there can possibly be across the entire 2014 Formula One season. How anyone can keep up with the consistent action from first to last place without blowing a valve in excitement is hard to tell. What can definitely be said is the Legends are simply insanity personified in motorsport. Simple as.

If that was not enough, there was one more succulent treat in the form of the Pickup Truck Racing Championship. Entering the weekend, the season long battle between Pete Stevens and Michael Smith raged on until the very end. As the closing race began, either driver could grab the title. Smith and Stevens spent nearly the whole race side by side, interrupted only when they collided and Stevens was demoted down the field. What followed was one of the most spectacular drives ever performed by one driver, smashing in lap record after lap record and tearing through the field.

The Pickups provided thrilling racing throughout the day

The Pickups provided thrilling racing throughout the day

As the race drew to a close Smith and Stevens were once again door handle to door handle, trading paint and swapping places. The great spirits exacted their final wish and the unlucky Stevens ran into yet another collision, this time with a non-championship rival. The usually calm and collected Stevens showed his rage in the post race interviews; it takes a lot of courage as an interviewer to ask a driver about how he was just knocked out of a championship he was set to win. However, incidents aside the Pickup Trucks were outstanding to watch; the driving skill required to captain these brutal vessels is off the chart, yet they made it look easy. That is real racing.

An added bonus to the events that went down on that day was the absolute pleasure of following the racing with the unrivalled commentary of Downforce Radio, who were there in association with Stopwatch Hospitality. Through the vocal talents of Jake Sanson and Adam Johnson, there was a genuine feeling that you could see every slice of the action, whether you were in attendance or not. The raw emotion and passion is truly unrivalled; there is no better race day commentary. If Downforce is the commentary, then it can only be Stopwatch Hospitality who are to be the location for race day; best circuit views, behind the scenes access and a warm friendly atmosphere make it the undisputed best place to spend your day.

The day was rounded off with somewhat of a bang; an immense truck parade that covered every section of tarmac on track and a firework display that filled the sky in a fanfare of explosive sensory pleasure. Even the famous Coca-Cola Christmas Truck was thrown in to top it all off; the holidays are coming and it is time to get excited. In many ways, the closing round of the British Truck Racing Championship proved that even throughout a time of turmoil in the F1 universe and loss of faith in world series such as the World Touring Car Championship, there still exists pure motorsport at its very best.

No mass media influence. No tyrannical sport director. No politics. Just racing. Raw, amazing racing.

Refreshing isn’t it?

Follow me on Twitter @lewisglynn69

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love!

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3 comments

  1. Rick says:

    Amazing how may clichés you cant actually fit into a paragraph – We would rather not have our race series dubbed as planet killing and its the BTRA – not BTRC 🙂

    November 17th, 2014 at 11:42 pm

  2. Lewis says:

    Apologies, I have been confusing the BTRA and BTRC constantly! The planet killing was meant to more be a reference to how much power they packed in their engines, but once again I apologise. It was meant in a totally good way I promise you 🙂 Apart from my few errors of word judgement there, I hope you enjoyed it none the less!

    November 22nd, 2014 at 10:32 pm

  3. Impresss ed says:

    Rick is right 😉 Im really impressed.

    I like your report on BTRA or as Rick likes to call it BTRC. 😛

    November 19th, 2014 at 3:09 pm