Lee picks up record

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

Fred­die Lee broke a host of Pickup Cham­pi­onship records on his way to his first ti­tle last week­end. Lee be­came the series’ youngest cham­pion at Brands Hatch, while also be­com­ing the first per­son to take the Pro1 (2016) and Pro2 (2014) ti­tles. “I think we had the pace last year but lacked the ma­tu­rity,” said the 19-year-old. “This year I’ve con­cen­trated on mak­ing the top six and that has paid off.”

I’ve never been to this meet­ing be­fore. I last came to watch the For­mula 1, and paid a for­tune to sit in the grand­stands. It was good, but this has been something else! And it only cost a ten­ner…” That’s a typ­i­cal con­ver­sa­tion with a race-goer at the Wal­ter Hayes Tro­phy. This one took place by pure chance in the BRDC Grand­stand shortly be­fore the Grand Fi­nal of the For­mula Ford 1600 knock­out event.

Every­one is lumped to­gether in the same stand, shiv­er­ing in the frankly Baltic tem­per­a­tures. But did any­body com­plain or whinge? Not a word.

That’s the glory of the Wal­ter Hayes Tro­phy. It brings to­gether all that is good about cir­cuit rac­ing. This year’s event fea­tured some of the best sin­gle­seater rac­ing I’ve seen for years, while the six-car fight for the Heat Four vic­tory – taken in the end by Joey Foster – ranks as one of the great­est races I’ve ever seen in gen­eral. And it was only a heat.

The crowd gasped and tensed to­gether with ev­ery lunge, ev­ery side-by-side brak­ing duel and – in the case of Heat Four – ev­ery four-abreast fight around Brook­lands.

The skill on show was sub­lime, with no in­ten­tional con­tact and each com­peti­tor show­ing re­spect to their ri­vals, even in the fi­nal when con­di­tions were pretty dire.

It’s the at­mos­phere that re­ally wins me over at the Hayes. A brisk walk down the pit lane is met with smiles and ban­ter with old friends, and there’s not the ten­sion you’d as­so­ci­ate with other high-rank­ing race events.

And that’s the key. The Hayes is as pres­ti­gious and hard-fought a tro­phy as any around, but the meet­ing it­self isn’t high-rank­ing. It’s an end-of­sea­son blowout where the best driv­ers and teams in one of Bri­tain’s best-loved club for­mu­las con­gre­gate for a win­ner-takes-all fight.

But in terms of pub­lic per­cep­tion? Sit­ting in 0.5 de­gree tem­per­a­tures un­der sev­eral fleecy lay­ers at an ex-air­field in Northamp­ton­shire doesn’t ex­actly scream glam­our does it?

You can see why peo­ple pay hun­dreds for an F1 ticket, with the pageantry and pomp that comes with the ‘show’. But you can also see why their eyes are opened when they try the Hayes. There’s more over­takes in a sin­gle lap than an en­tire GP. It de­liv­ers real, hard-fought rac­ing with­out fail.

More peo­ple need to try it. I was amused to watch vis­i­tors flood­ing in to the track on Satur­day evening for the bon­fire and fire­works dis­play. It’s a shame. Had they ar­rived a few hours ear­lier they’d have seen bril­liant on-track ac­tion be­fore­hand for a £10 ticket. Frankly it’s the bar­gain of the sea­son.

If you haven’t at­tended the Wal­ter Hayes be­fore, get it on your bucket list. If you have, you’ll know the warm feel­ing be­ing in that chilled grand­stand gives you each Novem­ber.

Hayes grids were a real treat for spec­ta­tors

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.