Not content with driving for a living Alan Woodward or ‘Woodie’ as he’s known (one of our bulk powder cement drivers in Rugby) got up to a slightly different type of driving a few weekends ago!!
We’ll let Darrell Collins tell you all about it: “It’s a dark wet Saturday night in October and we are in an industrial area of inner city Birmingham, what on earth could be of any interest here? Well, Alan Woodward is set to compete in a Brisca F1 stock car race meeting at Birmingham Wheels raceway.
For those of you who have never heard of stock car racing, Brisca F1 is the pinnacle of short oval motor sport in the UK. The cars are purpose-built from scratch and are powered by big American V8 engines producing anywhere from 600-800Bhp. To put that into perspective the cars weigh a maximum of 1,500 kg and the truck Alan drives in his daily role has 460bhp and weighs 44,000kg!! This is a ‘full contact’ sport where using your car’s bumpers to move the opposition is not only within the rules but positively encouraged!
So, how has all this come about? Well, Woodie has been a spectator at meetings for many years and he did compete in a more budget formula some years ago but always fancied a go at ‘the big league’ as it’s known. Woodie enquired with a chap called Mat Newson, who has a couple of cars he hires out, and after a few conversations they settled on a date and agreed a fee.
On the day of the race meeting it was chucking it down with rain. Woodie was kitted out with flame proof race wear etc, strapped into the car and sent out for what should have been 5 laps as the only car on track for the meeting steward to assess his capabilities. However, due to a mix up at the pit gate, Woodie found himself on the track (a tarmac surface about the size of a speedway track) with about 10 fully experienced regular drivers in a general practice session this was a baptism of fire as he had not even sat in the car prior to this. Despite the persistent rain Woodie acquitted himself well and ran for 10-12 laps.
Neither the conditions nor his enthusiasm got the better of him and he spun the car at full speed and hit the Armco barrier and as he bounced off the Armco he was clipped by another car which was going flat out. He restarted the car and drove back to the pits where the damage was assessed and repaired in fairly short order by a team of mechanics.
With the car suitably repaired it was soon time for his first race, and although the rain had finally stopped, the track was very slippery. There were 22 other cars on track. As a novice driver Woodie was required to start at the back of the field (stock cars and some of the other short oval formulas are unique in the fact that the fastest drivers start at the back, so they have to pass all the others to get to the front). Woodie drove well considering this was his first time in the car and although not in a points scoring position he finished this and another race that had 28 cars competing, and came off the track with a big smile on his face!”
For more information there is an excellent guide on www.f1stockcars.com or search YouTube for ‘Gears and Tears’ (a BBC series from 2010).