Jaimie McCurdy was the name on everyone’s lips as the Ballymena Raceway season drew to a conclusion on Friday evening.
The sixteen year old from Broughshane wrote his name into the annals of oval racing history by becoming the youngest ever driver to win a National Hot Rod race in the province after a faultless hat-trick at the Showgrounds oval in Round 6 of the PC Paints & Components World Series.
McCurdy led home British Champion Glenn Bell and Crumlin’s Adam Maxwell in the feature race and his impressive performance earned McCurdy the Driver of the Day award.
It proved to be a great night all round for drivers from the Garden Village of Broughshane as another Braid man, Freddie Fleck, was crowned Group Two Lightning Rod Irish Champion! Fleck coolly edged his Vauxhall Astra home ahead of Kilrea’s Stewart Nicholl and Ballymena charger Johny Gillespie after an evenly contested affair.
In the other championship events at the Curtis Toyota sponsored season finale Antrim’s Christopher Kincaid continued his dominance of the F2 Stock Car division by successfully defending the Stadium Championship. Garvagh’s Stephen Doherty motored to an emphatic hat-trick in the Euro Stocks Champion of Champions event and Daniel Rodgers from Ballymena captured the Group Two Golden Helmet Trophy.
NATIONAL HOT RODS
Seventeen cars arrived for Round 6 of World Series NI, with former Lightning Rod racer Ben McKee from Templepatrick making his debut in the series. Jaimie McCurdy led the field away in heat one and the sixteen year old maintained a decent advantage out front until a caution periods closed the entire pack onto the back bumper of the leader’s Wilson McCurdy Haulage Vauxhall Tigra. The teenager demonstrated race craft beyond his tender years at the resumption to successfully defend his lead to the chequered flag and become the youngest ever race winner in the history of National Hot Rod racing in Northern Ireland. McCurdy proved that was no fluke result either by coolly repeating his earlier success in heat two, leading home Simon Kennedy and Andrew Stewart on this occasion. The 30 lap distance of the final would be another test of McCurdy’s credentials, but once again the Broughshane lad never put a wheel out of place to complete his hat-trick with a striking flag to flag victory. British Champion Glenn Bell motored through the pack to secure second place in his Vauxhall Tigra after an eye catching drive, with Crumlin’s Adam Maxwell in third. McCurdy’s results earned him the Driver of the Day award of a new Hoosier tyre from series sponsor PC Paints and Components.
F2 STOCK CARS
First up for the single seaters was their Track Championship where defending Champion Christopher Kincaid had qualified on pole position, with Conor Hughes alongside on the front row. Kincaid made a lightning getaway at the green flag and quickly established a comfortable gap out front that the Antrim ace would easily maintain until he chequered flag to successfully retain the title. Hughes dropped out of contention in the opening stages which promoted Craig McConnell into second, with Ryan McCrory coming through to complete the podium party in third. Nutts Corner lad Mark Rainey also received an award of a new tyre from race sponsor Ross Hyndman Motors as the top white or yellow grade finisher in the championship race. Rainey completed a very successful evening with polished victories in both support races.
2014 Stadium Championship: 1st. Christopher Kincaid, 2nd. Craig McConnell, 3rd. Ryan McCrory, 4th. Sam McKay, 5th. Gavin Fegan, 6th. Mark Rainey
GROUP TWO LIGHTNING RODS
The cars lined up for their Irish Championship on the basis of points scored during the season with Freddie Fleck at the head of the seventeen car grid. Fleck led away at the green flag while fellow front row starter David Gillespie slipped down to fifth in the early stages. Jason Clyde was the first to challenge the leader, but his bid soon faded on the greasy outline line which was offering little grip. Stewart Nicholl worked his way into second and the lead pair eased out a slight gap over the rest as the race progressed. There was little to separate Fleck and Nicholl throughout as Fleck expertly picked his way through the traffic in the closing stages to capture the coveted Irish title for the first time. Nicholl was a valiant runner-up with Johny Gillespie in third. The cars lined up in reverse order for the Golden Helmet Trophy race which quickly developed into quite a scrap between Mark Turtle and Daniel Rodgers. Turtle could not hold off the advances of Rodgers as the Ballymena lad motored through to capture the superb trophy, with Kenny Carson and Nicholl following the winner home.
2014 Irish Championship: 1st. Freddie Fleck, 2nd. Stewart Nicholl, 3rd.Johny Gillespie, 4th. David Gillespie, 5th. Jason Clyde, 6th. Mark Turtle
2014 Golden Helmet Trophy: 1st. Daniel Rodgers, 2nd. Kenny Carson, 3rd.Nicholl, 4th. Clyde, 5th. D. Gillespie, 6th. Dunn
Two reverse grid qualifying heats determined the line-up for the Champion of Champions race and both proved to be a walkover for Stephen Doherty. The Garvagh man was in sparkling form in his recently unveiled new mount and easily locked down pole position for the feature race with a dominant double in the qualifiers. Doherty made no mistake in the final either to complete an impressive hat-trick of wins which earned him the Champion of Champions title. A keenly contested battle for second eventually went the way of Nigel Doherty with Trevor McFaul in third.
Champion of Champions: 1st. Stephen Doherty, 2nd. Nigel Doherty, 3rd. Trevor McFaul, 4th. David Doherty, 5th. Richard Nicholl. 6th. Warren Martin