Banger racing. It’s the past, and the future, and the most entertaining form of motorsport I’ve watched in a very long time. I had intended to watch the Russian Grand Prix highlights but after some selfish oaf spoiled the result for me I drove over to Kings Lynn on a whim and caught a couple of hours of riotous racing. It was my first time and I had a blast. There were three main events; Microstocks, The battle of the sexes and a Reliant Robin event. Here’s what happened, and here’s why you should join the crowd;

prosecco

Councils hate this sort of place. They’re noisy, mucky and dangerous. As venues go, though, I’m told that the Adrian Flux Arena of King’s Lynn is a good one. It costs £18 for an adult ticket (I paid, no press ticket blaggery here), a couple of quid for a beer, and an extra pound if you’d like to sit in the grandstand. This, it turned out, was spectacular value for money. I prefer my beer with lumps of mud and the occasional fragment of hatchback in it, and so sat down the front.

ministocks banger racing at adrian flux arena Kings Lynn (26)

The first race was for ministocks. These appear to be small-engined modern cars and after two heats there was a free-for-all for those who hadn’t made the final. Many of these pictures are of the cars before they reached the grid. Not one looked even remotely straight but with a mandatory rollcage, secured battery and fuel tank, glass removed, and common sense tucked safely away in the glovebox, the race began.

It seems that unless the Marshalls are hosing bits of body out of a fiery Micra then there’s no need for any flags. I knew it was going to be entertaining when a Ford Ka got utterly wrecked and the St John’s Ambulance man didn’t even look up from his hotdog. That’s not to say it’s lethally dangerous, drivers clearly all know each other and their shouts seemed to indicate they all knew most of the crowd, too. Cars that had what looked like crippled suspension in the paddock were made to scoot round here surprisingly sideways, check the oversteering Micra above, for example. Great skill, and great entertainment. Especially when it finished on it’s lid.

Who won? I think the blue car painted ‘Bruno’ did, but I couldn’t be sure. Shortly before the end some of the remaining racers decided to drive anti-clockwise for the hell of it. Carnage. Following the race tractors simultaneously shoved and pulled a number of wrecks off to the paddock. I took a morbid fascination in seeing how these cars had crumpled. Check the Ka below. The driver, next to it, seems unperturbed but banger racers are a wild bunch. I would have been crying for my Mum after such an impact.

ministocks banger racing at adrian flux arena Kings Lynn (44)

Following this chaos there was a junior event which was, as car 728 below says; Reem! Juniors must wear a HANS device and the flags come out a bit quicker, but otherwise there’s little to distinguish their racing from the adults.

ministocks banger racing at adrian flux arena Kings Lynn (48)

I imagine a man in the future, on a psychiatrists couch, being encouraged to explain where and when he first had psychotic tendencies. At junior banger racing in Norfolk, Doc. The kids went at it hell for leather, some ignoring the flags and getting bollocked by marshalls, before repeating the offence not two turns later to encouragement from the friendly crowd. Then, came the ‘Battle of the sexes’, with the grid looking like this;

battle of the sexes banger rancing at adrian flux arena kings lynn (4) title pic

Blue cars and pink cars lined up. Rovers, Escorts and god-know-what-it-once-was models. Men versus women. The commentator indulged himself with some mild sexism, the flag dropped and all hell let loose. The women’s team won by a narrow margin.

 

Then things got really silly. This is not the finish, it’s the starting grid;

reliant robin banger racing (13)

A Reliant Robin race. The ‘fools and horses’ theme played. The cars all looked utterly shagged before they even lined up. Some (see car 406) were fashioned into a coupe shape by chopping the C pillar out and folding the roof panel down against the boot. It looks like a less-repulsive BMW X6 to my eyes which, admittedly, were now full of shale, mud and tears of laughter. The organiser helpfully watered the track to keep the dust (and traction levels) down and off they went. Click the pics below to enlarge.

Everyone piled into the first corner like a thousand Maldonados. Crashes were not avoided, but seemingly desired, drivers seemed drawn like moths to a flame, steaming into wrecks. Drivers of immobilised cars sat there with dead eyes, like condemned men, waiting for the inevitable impact. BOOM!

reliant robin crash

Whole panels of fibreglass were shattered, parts shed, fluids pissed out and yet not one driver backed off for a second. One car drove two laps without one of it’s three wheels and still managed to keep to the racing line! On many Reliants you’ll see that the front wheel was canted over, allowing a greater contact patch when steering round the slightly banked ends. It also seemed to make them crash nose-over-end quite easily, like a sprinter falling over his own shoelaces. I could have watched this until nightfall but after a while seemly few cars were left. I went for a nosey in the paddock.

Cars are bent, hammered, stretched and riveted back into roughly car-like shapes to be raced another day. This is the ultimate in recycling, some components such as cages and fuel tanks being transplanted onto their third or fourth car, others cars cannibalised for spares. There were some ingenious little touches like the extra rubber mounted on the exposed front wheel rim of a Reliant to protect it, and bonnet panels to deflect the lumps off the cack off the track from flying into the driver’s face. Happy lads and Dads in mucky overalls repaired and rebuilt with improvisation, great skills and teamwork. This should be encouraged, Mr Council NoiseAbatementMan.

These cars are the past. They’re scrap. Yet to eke out a few more laps in this environment seems such a good idea. Junior Duisberg was hooked and there were plenty of racers, male and female, to encourage kids into this sport either behind the wheel or in the paddock. As F1 slowly vanishes up it’s own very expensive arse it’s a good time to seek out new motorsport thrills.  This was the most entertaining racing I’ve watched in a long time and I thank everyone who made me and Junior so welcome. We will be back.

For a day’s entertainment banger racing is not only the future, it’s the most entertaining motorsport ever.

Pics; Rich Duisberg

PS – Find a banger event near you by clicking this.

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