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Roy Rawlins Testimonial Weekend – 09-10/06/2018 – Arena Essex

Just under 40 cars turned up to the Arena Essex raceway for day one of the Roy Rawlins Testimonial, celebrating Roy’s fantastic career spanning over thirty years across a varied array of formula’s, and of course raising money for the incredible Meningitis Research Foundation – a charity very close to meeting organiser, Paul Whiteman’s heart.

Paul Whiteman commented saying, “The meeting was my idea. I wanted to do another fund raiser but something a bit different to the others. Roy has been a massive supporter of the charity with all the different things he has done for Maya. This, with Roy’s reputation as ‘Mr PRI’ and being such a character over the years – it all made sense. I knew Roy would never retire from racing so a Testimonial made sense. I asked Tony Woodroffe (the Arena promoter) and he agreed no one deserved a meeting more than Roy. Roy never agreed as he felt there was other drivers who deserved the meeting more than him but I think he was being a bit modest!”

Roy started racing in 1986 after finally caving into some peer pressure from Suicide Squad driver Chris Whiteman racing a Black VW Golf. Roy commented on that first meeting saying, “That first race Pitcher picked me up in a Granada and put me backwards into a post and bent the back axle, pretty much ripping it out. I still tried to drive it out, but it wasn’t having any of it, I loved it though. I didn’t look back from there – I loved it!”
Arena Essex has always been well renowned for it’s team wars, which to some extent have come out of hand in more recent years. Roy admitted, “I didn’t really want to get into any wars like all the rest. The wars were good for the track – they are what bring the crowds in and the wars were entirely down to team racing – which there were loads of at the time – The Dirty Half Dozen, Suicide Squad, Cream Team, Rabbits, loads…. It got edgy sometimes because a lot of them really hated each other. I always tried to keep out of it – I don’t like physical violence of any sort. I’ve seen some terrible thing sin the pits over the years – I don’t like all that.”

Of course, Roy is not only known for his Banger Racing – he also spent many years in the Hot Rods. “I did Group A Hot Rods” Roy said. (Now known as Stock Rods). “I was quite successful in them – I had a Toyota Starlet.” Roy also raced in the National Hot Rods and admitted, “I wasn’t a particularly good driver, so that was scary in the Nationals but I absolutely loved it.” Roy remembers a “couple of good Wimbledon’s” and remembers one where George Polley was tyre testing. “He started at the back with some new tyres – he lapped me twice I think! That was the late 80’s, early 90’s. But then Arena lost the Nationals – due to political reasons and they turned into Outlaw Hot Rods at Arena and I did them instead.”
Roy also raced in the Lightning Rods – “I used to race at Birmingham, Hednesford and Northampton as well as at Arena when they started them here. It was an Incarace formula originally and when I used to race up there they’d have BMW’s and Cortinas and all sorts of things – before it was all Sierras. Then Spedeworth started doing it as well so I did some meetings at Ipswich – but then it got all political and complicated again. One of Roy’s most spectacular moments in the Lightning Rods came at Hednesford when his car barrel rolled after he clipped the ramp on the back straight. “That was unreal – the Hednesford rollover” commented Roy. “I actually tried to jump it first. I didn’t actually know what it was, I just got put sideways and saw it and thought I’ll get over that, but I hit it at the wrong angle really. That’s the thing with racing, once you’ve made a decision that’s it – boom!”

Roy took some time out of racing for a few years and took up amateur Boxing, doing a few fights for the Meningitis Research Foundation and Help for Heroes. But being a racer at heart, Roy later returned to the Oval’s. “I was missing the racing so I came back and did the PRI Bangers for a couple of years” Roy said. “The atmosphere was better at Arena at that point, there didn’t seem to be the same trouble about. I qualified for the Ipswich World Final in them, so of course I had to have Arena Essex Raceway in big writing down the side of the car!”
Speaking on the first all Granada meeting in 2013, Roy stated “That was probably the biggest meeting I’ve been at. It was original. It was the first one for Meningitis, it was all about Maya, so a lot of people had tears in their eyes that day. Everybody came together for that one. It was as big a day as you could get.”
Of course, that meeting was part of episode two of the TV documentary Fast and Fearless on BBC Two. “That documentary was really good for the sport” Roy said. “A lot of people saw it and they realised it was normal people doing it, not just a bunch of pikey’s. The first episode perhaps wasn’t so good, but after the second part, that followed us before and during the Granada meeting, even Woody (Deane Wood) phoned up Woodroffe and said it was great, and that will put people through the gates – and that is what we all want.”

Roy raced a fresh MK2 saloon on the Saturday night and used the same car for the Sunday – racing in his traditional Blue and Yellow with a Red roof and pillars.

The Saturday format saw an all MK1 and MK2 Ford Granada affair with the majority of drivers also racing their cars for Sunday’s Pre-1990 meeting. Some of the sport’s biggest names were in attendance including current Unlimited National Banger World Champion 59 ‘Leadfoot’ Steven Bolton from Ireland racing in his dad’s old colours, along with fellow Irishman 170 Ryan Patton racing in Team Buckle colours. It would also be the first time Steven raced a MK2. There were also representatives from the Gas Hoal’n team in Holland in the shape of 102 Bouke Sciphorst and 898 Koen Roessink. Another Dutch representative was 997 Meilof Troost. As well as some of the more long-distance travellers, 209 Tom Waller had a beautifully turned out Ford Granada MK1 whilst The Money Team and the Midnight Runners brought a load of drivers with some very nicely turned out motors on each team. 590 Michael Galloway and 122 Mark Cooper Jnr also turned out some very nice paint jobs as did 372 Lee Evans. 632 Callum Reed raced a MK1 that was initially meant to be going to the Northampton (Shale) World Qualifier a couple of weeks before. DWO stars 190 Steve Bailey ‘Pikey’ turned out a lovely MK2 saloon while team mate Andrew Jones had a raw one – which must be said looked equally as cool! 552 Karl Douglas was another with a lovely paint job. Some former PRI legends also came out to play including 98 Dale Atkins, 418 John Harris, 57 Harry Rawlins as well as the ‘main man’, 555 Roy Rawlins. 878 Joe Prior dared to be different racing a smart MK2 limousine. There were loads of other great drivers in attendance too with some great looking race cars too! Fair pay to everyone who raced as MK1 and MK2 Granada’s as the cars are no longer that easy to get hold of or easy to find the parts and spares to race – it was great to see!

Heat 1:
Around half of the field took to the track for heat one of the evening and began with a big push going into turn’s one and two resulting in 102 Bouke Sciphorst of the Gas Hoal’n team getting run up the armco on the exit of turn two by former PRI World Champion 415 Scott Cornish. 170 Ryan Patton was pushed into turn’s three and four getting spun before being jacked by 878 Joe Prior in his MK2 Limousine on the opening lap by 418 John Harris with 334 Stephen Court and 577 Alfie Lee also joining the party. 98 Dale Atkins was followed in on the pit bend at turn’s three and four by 386 Luke Ashton-Jones who was subsequently given a gentle hit to the rear by 418 John Harris and spun around. 555 Roy Rawlins failed to finish after he was involved in that first bend scuffle on the opening lap.
Race Winner: 331 ‘Boxer Jack’ Jason Jackson

Heat 2:
The second heat saw the other half come out and began in similar style – with a big push on turn’s one and two which saw 103 Jack Deacon get spun out, receiving a hit on the passenger side of his MK2 saloon. 372 Lee Evans and 52 Charlie Neale were sent spinning simultaneously by the pit gate on the entrance to turn three with 52 Charlie Neale getting clipped on the nose by 190 Steve Bailey ‘Pikey’. As 372 Lee Evans tried to re-join the race he was hit in the rear by 114 Liam ‘Lakey’ Lake and turned around again. 141 Garry Lee of The Money Team then turned it around on turn’s three and four and clipped the left rear of 710 ‘Nipper’ Ross Gould damaging his suspension. The collision also demobilised Garry Lee’s car as a result of some front right suspension damage. 623 ‘Tricky’ Ricky Hutton then came around to hit the Ross ‘Nipper’ Gould estate over the right rear.
Race Winner: 590 Michael Galloway

Heat Three/Consolation:
The consolation raised just under twenty cars and again saw a ‘scuffle’ occur on the exit of turn two involving 555 Roy Rawlins, 122 Mark Cooper Jnr and 102 Bouke Sciphorst. 577 Alfie Lee then spun 997 Meilof Troost on the entrance to turn three. 878 Joe Prior then delivered a wicked jacking to 102 Bouke Sciphorst ruining his Ford Granada MK1. 122 Mark Cooper Jnr then gave 997 Meilof Troost a head on at turn’s one and two who received a massive jacking from 577 Alfie Lee. 555 Roy Rawlins was enjoying his time getting in the way of quicker cars getting nudged and spun everywhere. Roy eventually decided to call it a day and parked up on turn’s three and four – deciding to catch up on the day’s news headlines in the newspaper!
Race Winner: 190 Steve Bailey ‘Pikey’

Grand Final (In memory of Maya Ford):
The Grand Final raised another field of around twenty cars. The first real bit of action came when 514 Marty Eighteen spun 418 John Harris on the entry to turn three. The next lap John Harris side swiped the passenger side of Marty Eighteen’s MK2. John Harris was then spun again on the home straight and jacked by 196 Joey Palmer. With John Harris’s MK2 looking vulnerable, 514 Eighteen finished it off delivering a hard hit on the left rear – subsequently getting black flagged.
Race Winner: 190 Steve Bailey ‘Pikey’

Rawlins 2000 into DD:
As it was the Roy Rawlins Testimonial, the dash into DD reverted back to its old name – the Rawlins 2000, bring back a little bit of nostalgia. It raised around fifteen cars and began with the World Champion 59 Steven Bolton following in 386 Luke Ashton-Jones who then received a monster jacking from Dutch visitor 898 Koen Roessink. Roessink then took a hit by 122 Mark Cooper Jnr leaving both the 386 car of Ashton-Jones and the Koen Roessink car in a ‘sorry-looking state’. 331 ‘Boxer Jack’ Jason Jackson roared to victory and with everyone pulling off to save their cars for another meeting, ‘Boxer’ circulated for two more laps until he was declared the DD winner too!
Race Winner: 331 ‘Boxer Jack’ Jason Jackson
DD Winner: 331 ‘Boxer Jack’ Jason Jackson

​All in all, the Saturday meeting may not have lived up to expectations but for a forty-car meeting, I thought it was very good. To be honest, I don’t think the format helped the meeting, but it still had its moments. Some drivers chose to use their Granada for the Sunday meeting as well, so it was never going to be a complete ‘wreckfest’. It was a steady night with some cool sideways racing and some decent crashing too.

Sunday 10th June 2018
Day two of the Roy Rawlins Testimonial saw a similar field of just over forty cars with the likes of ‘Boxer Jack’, 415 Scott Cornish, 305 Alfie Cornish, 141 Garry Lee and 555 Roy Rawlins all returning their cars from the night before. 741 Charlie Daniels raced 623 ‘Tricky’ Ricky Hutton’s estate from the night before and 10 Paul Whiteman also raced 57 Harry Rawlins MK2 from the Saturday evening. Paul Whiteman commented, “Unfortunately Harry (Rawlins) broke his hand in heat one so I decided to race the car on the Sunday and keep my MK1 for another day.”
Paul also admitted that, “Harry Rawlins wasn’t going to race but I bought the car he raced on the Thursday as it had an engine problem. I gave it to Harry as I really wanted him to race at his Dad’s meeting. Roy, Harry and especially Roy’s eldest son Ricki always help me out with so much, so it was nice to give something back.”
On the car front, The Money Team fielded some very nice motors. 123 Tony Hutton had a nicely turned out Cadillac whilst son 623 ‘Tricky’ Ricky Hutton had a gorgeous Yank Tank. 592 Mark Marchant had some sort of modern ‘Jap’ that was also nicely presented. 599 Matt Butcher had a DS240 Limousine which you don’t often see many of now-a-days. 267 James Steele had a lush Jaguar as did 787 Marc Key of the Midnight Runners. Scrapyard Screamer driver 181 Grant Doe turned out a later model Jaguar which also had a nice paint job. We must also thank Grant for having Caged on the back of his car too. 384 John Golden also had Caged on the back of his very smart Rover P5 – so a thanks also goes to him. 444 Steve Brookman raced a used version as did 112 Sean Gallagher. Like the night before, there was some Dutch visitors including 44 Willem Jalink of the Gas Hoal’n team who had a fresh Volvo 240 saloon. The Boogiemen were also in attendance with three Jaguars for 601 Richard Groothold, 884 Robert Emaus and 15 Colin Toussauint. 926 Tim Kruders raced a Volvo 240 estate. The Gladiators returned to Arena Essex with a few Jaguars and Volvo’s as did Sean Harvey and Charlie Taylor who raced a Jaguar each. 55 (46) Paul Aylward raced a used Jaguar as did 50 Ian Cadman – racing in the famous Suicide Squad colours which was great to see once again. 383 Jeff Smith made a rare appearance with a fresh Granada MK2 saloon that had an old school paint job.

Heat 1:
Two half car heats kicked off the afternoon’s action with around twenty cars taking to the track for heat one. 383 Jeff Smith was spun right at the start of the race by 741 Charlie Daniels. 44 Willem Jalink hit the turn one armco hard. 741 Charlie Daniels followed in 601 Richard Groothold into the turn one armco collecting the wrecked Jalink Volvo as a result. 513 Sean Harvey then came around to jack the 601 Richard Groothold Jaguar as Gladiator 612 Daniel Loades jacked Sean Harvey – clipping the right rear of the Jalink car on his way. 174 Dave Osborn slowed up on the entrance to turn one and was hit in the rear by 926 Tim Kruders who was jacked heavily by Gladiator 532 Craig Oliver backing up his Gladiator teammate. 513 Sean Harvey came in for a revenge shot on Daniel Loades after he’s earlier hit as 10 Paul Whiteman pushed both 383 Jeff Smith and 112 Sean Gallagher into the turn four armco.
Race Winner: 415 Scott Cornish

Heat 2:
The second heat raised another field of around twenty cars and began with a big push going into the first bend leaving 555 Roy Rawlins in the armco. With 514 Charlie Taylor sitting in the prime position to be jacked, 362 Johnny James obliged wrecking Taylor’s Jag and giving up the lead of the race. Johnny James was then jacked by Gladiator 201 Phil Milner who got a hit by 623 Ricky Hutton in his Yank Tank. 384 John Golden was spun on the exit of turn four and met on the nose by 367 Tom Keep in his Volvo estate. Meanwhile, former PRI star Ian Cadman was enjoying getting in the way of the faster cars getting spun and flicked everywhere – even when the Jaguar was past its prime.
Race Winner: 331 ‘Boxer Jack’ Jason Jackson

Grand Final:
Learning from the previous night’s mistake, the Grand Final was open to all available cars and raised just under thirty cars. The first action came when 174 Dave Osborn was spun on turn’s three and four and t-boned through the passenger doors by 267 James Steele. 306 Nicky Bell then met 112 Sean Gallagher with a head on in the middle of turn four as 623 ‘Tricky’ went through both Nicky Bell and Sean Gallagher’s car. 123 Tony Hutton then gave Nicky Bell a head on as did 384 John Golden to 112 Sean Gallagher. 449 Billy Crittenden got hit over the right rear by 383 Jeff Smith on turn four who then got jacked by 362 Johnny James in his Supra. The red flags then came out.
The restart saw 201 Phil Milner half spin in the middle of turn’s three and four by himself and was met on the nose by 787 Marc Key who was hit by 542 Craig Oliver with 415 Scott Cornish joining in on the action too. As Phil Milner tried to re-join the race, he was jacked by 123 Tony Hutton in his Cadillac. 349 Lewis ‘Noddy’ Price then turned it round on turn four and met 141 Garry Lee with a head on. 112 Sean Gallagher then came off the centre and t-boned ‘Noddy’ in his Jaguar creating a little bit of air time. 10 Paul Whiteman then hit ‘Noddy’ over the rear right losing his wheel. 623 ‘Tricky’ Ricky Hutton then turned his big Yank around and met 55 (46) Paul Aylward on the nose snapping the Jaguar. ‘Tricky’ then reversed out and hit him again. The red flags were then brought out to recover the lose wheel that came off of the ‘Noddy’ Jaguar.
The second restart saw 123 Tony Hutton follow in 10 Paul Whiteman on turn four. Meanwhile, ‘Tricky’ was trying to take out his team mate 741 Charlie Daniels who was racing ‘Tricky’s’ car from the night before – having first raced it at the Kings Lynn all Granada meeting last August. After missing at the first attempt, ‘Tricky’ got him on the following lap, but done more damage to his own car than Charlie Daniel’s. 10 Paul Whiteman then came on opposite and delivered a hit to the rear of Ricky ‘Tricky’ Hutton’s Yank. ‘Tricky’ continued causing havoc reversing across the track taking out 196 Joey Palmer who was jacked by 599 Matt Butcher in his DS240 Limo. 415 Scott Cornish then jacked the Matt Butcher Limo and was subsequently jacked by 141 Garry Lee. 741 Charlie Daniel’s then came on opposite and jacked Paul Whiteman. With the pit bend crowd begging for blood, 331 ‘Boxer Jack’ Jason Jackson granted their wishes jacking up 141 Garry Lee’s MK2 allowing 267 James Steele to take the race win via last car running – also taking the chequered flag. The drivers involved in all that action on turn’s three and four jumped out to a fantastic round of applause from the crowd, shaking hands with their fellow drivers.
Race Winner: 267 James Steele

The allcomers raised a field of somewhere in the mid-twenties and began with the two Dutch Jag’s of 15 Colin Toussauint and 884 Robert Emaus going for a synchronised spin on turn’s one and two. 306 Nicky Bell was then met with a head on by the armco at the exit of turn four by 384 John Golden who then received a hard hit by 555 Roy Rawlins. Tom Keep in 367 then jacked the Rawlins MK2 hard leaving it in a big wreck! But Roy Rawlins being himself just decided to read the newspaper – even sharing it with Nicky Bell who was parked up alongside him. 362 Johnny James delivered a high-speed jacking to 542 Craig Oliver on the entrance to turn one leaving the Gladiator Volvo estate of Craig Oliver completely caved in at the back. John Golden in 384 gave a head on to 884 Robert Emaus on the exit of turn two who was also hit in the rear by 787 Marc Key. John Golden was moving very slowly down the back straight leaving him vulnerable to a jacking by 15 Colin Toussauint who then decided to spin out Golden on turn’s three and four. Colin Toussauint was then attacked by 415 Scott Cornish on home straight by the start finish line getting a head on from John Golden just after too. The onslaught carried on for the Dutch visitor who was hit over the right rear hard by 331 ‘Boxer Jack’ Jason Jackson as he crossed the line to take the chequered flag. 415 Scott Cornish then delivered another gentle hit to the rear of the Dutch Jag.
Race Winner: 331 ‘Boxer Jack’ Jason Jackson

Rawlins 2000 into DD:
Around twelve cars returned to the track for the dash into DD with about another five waiting on the entre for the DD. The race was a fairly quiet affair with people wanting to get one more race out of their cars before the DD. 555 Roy Rawlins was moving slowly down the back straight having done a brilliant job by him and his pit crew to get his car back out – and was jacked by 331 ‘Boxer Jack’ Jason Jackson on the entrance to turn three. Roy was delighted fist pumping after the hit – his MK2 was finally dead. The next lap, ‘Boxer’ slowed right up and high fived Roy Rawlins as he passed his car. 367 Tom Keep decided that 331 ‘Boxer’ shouldn’t win any more races and tried to take him out on opposite on turn’s three and four. However, ‘Boxer’ managed to scrape through to take the race win.
306 Nicky Bell was the first to put a hit in during the DD – hitting the DS240 Limo of 599 Matt Butcher on turn’s three and four. Meanwhile, 10 Paul Whiteman was picked up and pushed into turn three by 141 Garry Lee. Whiteman was then jacked by 367 Tom Keep who was then jacked by 362 Johnny James creating a bit of air time. 884 Robert Emaus then jacked 362 Johnny James – finally finishing off the Team Extreme man’s Toyota Supra. 331 ‘Boxer Jack’ Jason Jackson then jacked the Dutch Jaguar, while 444 Steve Brookman hit 123 Tony Hutton over the right rear wheel. Brookman then gave ‘Boxer’ a hit to the rear killing his Granada estate. As Brookman tried to back up he was jacked by 306 Nicky Bell.
Race Winner: 331 ‘Boxer Jack’ Jason Jackson
DD Winner: 306 Nicky Bell

Best Wrecker: 123 Tony Hutton
Best Entertainer: 362 Johnny James

​The Sunday was a great meeting with plenty of good crashing and handshakes all round – it was almost like Arena of twelve years ago when me and my Dad used to go almost every week! It was a great weekend that got better and better as it went on. Well done to all drivers and their pit crews.
A massive well done must also go to Paul Whiteman who commented, “I enjoyed the weekend but the Sunday more than the Saturday. My MK1 on the Saturday never went as well as I was hoping but it was good to drive a Granada around Arena again.”
He continued, “Although it (the MK2 on the Sunday) was slow I really enjoyed getting smashed up and pulling it out. It reminded me of how things used to be when we had team wars at Arena with the Cream Team years ago. Also, it was good to see everyone shaking hands and smiling after the races.”
Let’s hope Paul raised another fantastic amount for the Meningitis Research Foundation – hopefully there will be more charity meetings to come at Arena Essex to commemorate Maya Ford for years to come. A young girl taken far too soon who is still sorely missed by those who knew her best.
RIP Maya.   

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