Huge crowd of 5,000-plus squeeze into Arlington for National Bangers big bash

Bears Damian Savage Oval Racing Photos
Bears Damian Savage Oval Racing Photos
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A huge crowd of over 5,000 spectators squeezed into the Arlington Stadium on Monday to enjoy an exciting afternoon’s racing from the ‘Big Vans’ of the National Bangers.

It was literally standing room only as 32 vans of various shapes and sizes entertained the crowd basking in the unbridled sunshine.

As well as the usual Ford Transits, many drivers raised the bar with a full range of different minibuses, and even a show-stealing 1962 Comma ambulance!

Based in Newhaven, local team ‘The Bears’ included three drivers from the same family in their six man team.

The Rileys, Nigel and sons Ashley and Justin, are well known across the country for their popular ‘destructive’ style of racing. The opening races soon descended into the promised carnage, with The Bears playing their part in the hard-hitting action that saw various vans upended, rolled over or simply smashed to pieces. Asked how he thought the team was doing, Nigel answered in typically: “The sun is shining, and we are here to cause some pandemonium!”

His confidence was short lived though as in the ‘all-comers’ race, Nigel had his meeting brought to a premature end after slamming into a former plumber’s van.

The Bangers final saw 22 vans make it out for the 15-lap race, which included (751) Laurence Wells with his ‘vintage’ 1974 minibus. Unfortunately for Laurence, his ride disintegrated after a heavy hit on the pit bend. The popular Tim James (522) from Ditchling won the race, with (521) Ashley Riley taking second.

The ‘Big Van Destruction Derby’, where the last ‘running’ van would be deemed the winner, concluded the meeting. Like gladiators in a coliseum, 18 ‘dishevelled’ vans set about reducing each other to a pile of debris. After 20 minutes of thunderous blows, great ‘knockabout’ action and decimating the opposition, No 728 ‘Spike’ was declared the winner.

“I think it is safe to say the crowd was royally entertained this afternoon”, said Deane Wood, Spedeworth promoter. “There could well be a few less minibuses on the school run tomorrow morning as well!”

The supporting formulas of 2-litre Stock cars and Superstox excelled in the sunshine on the fast Arlington raceway, providing plenty of ‘full contact’ action throughout.

Local drivers Phil Hampton and 18-year-old rising star Brandon Osbourne, both from Brighton, had productive afternoons in the stock cars, while the Superstox class was dominated by star driver Jason Cooper from East Anglia.