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my 2001 Slotstox World Championship story

The 2001 Slotstox World Championship was hosted by the Foxhall Foxes Slotstox Club at the Bucklesham and Foxhall Village Hall on 14th October 2001.  The racing took place on the five lane track using the straight chicane centre section.  43 drivers were racing; representing the following Slotstox Clubs.
 
Foxhall Foxes (11)
6 Ben Freeman
18 Carl Brett
19 Sharon Brett
152 Mark West
153 Paul Glading (defending Champion)
253 Jim Glading
350 Kevin Whinney
358 Lorraine Hunting
546 Mark Banham
617 Gareth Parker
777 Noel Whinney
 
Aldershot Knights (12)
7 Andrew Evans
16 Colin Gaskin
26 Michael Turner
A42 Derek Sked
A66 Steve Lambert
68 Steve Andrews
70 Stuart Andrews
102 Craig Hawkins
140 Clint Brazier
367 Sheldon Grimes
559 Wayne Hemmings
746 Andy Audas
 
Great Blakenham (12)
2 Bradley Mitchell
3 Lewis Mitchell
42 Justin Osborn
GB51 Andrew Davison
52 James Scales
57 Dean Harvey
69 Alex Harvey
77 Steve Rixon
155 David Southgate
448 Roger Adams
500 Graeme Canty
555 Luke Hodgkinson
 
Wisbech Fen Tigers (8)
007 Richard Hampshire
008 David Hampshire
5 Dave Howard
11 Jonathan Norman
W51 Archie King
W66 Joanne Howard
293 Rachael Howard
313 Julian Moat
 
 
Winning the 2001 Slotstox World Championship came as a bit of a surprise:
I was in the midst of not the best of seasons and although I won the Slotstox final on the Friday before, I was starting from Blue grade status.  (I did jokingly line my Slotstox up at the Gold line and say "just working out where I need to start after Sunday"...little did I or those who laughed know!)
Winning one final for me had become rare and so winning two in a row...well it couldn't happen could it?
I was also racing with a new-ish Slotstox that I was still getting used to (it was still painted all blue as opposed to my, now usual, John Gray replica livery).
 
In addition, I had been up to Belper the previous day to follow Stowmarket Town Football Club (my other hobby at the time) in the FA Cup.  Having stayed down the Football Club after the coach had returned, I got to bed about 1am and was a bit tired!
 
Being Chairman of the Foxhall Foxes Slotstox Club is never an easy task at the best of times but running the World final meeting for the first time did mean that I was involved in most of the things that were going on during the meeting.  Whilst this created distractions (and kept me awake!) between my races, my races also created a distraction from running the meeting!  This combination probably helped as events unfolded throughout the afternoon...
 
 
Each driver raced in three drawn heats of five races (one in each lane) from grades over six laps.  The highest 20 points scorers from the heats qualified for the quarter-finals.
Points for all races throughout the Championship were: 
5 for 1st, 4 for 2nd, 3 for 3rd, and 2 for 4th and 1 for 5th.
 
 
In my first heat I won in lanes 1, 2 and 4; finished 2nd in lane 5 but had a non-finish in lane 3.  I scored 19 points.
In my second heat I won in lanes 1, 2, 4 and 5 and with a 2nd in lane 4, I scored 24 points out of a possible 25.
In my third heat, I won in lanes 1, 3 and 4 and with 2nd in lanes 2 and 5, I scored 23 points.
 
I scored a total of 66 points, including only 1 non-finish and was the highest points scorer in the heats.
In my 3 heats, I had scored maximum points in each of lanes 1 and 4.

HEATS - POSITION: 1ST
Heat 1
Heat 2
Heat 3
TOTAL
LANE 1
5
5
5
15
LANE 2
5
5
4
14
LANE 3
-
4
5
9
LANE 4
5
5
5
15
LANE 5
4
5
4
13
TOTAL
19
24
23
66

Each of the drawn quarter-finals, with five drivers in each, followed the same format as the heats i.e. five races (one race in each lane) over six laps except that for the remainder of the Championship all drivers started from the Yellow grade position.
The two highest points scorers in each quarter-final plus the two highest points scoring third place drivers from all of the four quarter-finals qualified for the semi-finals.
 
 
In my quarter-final, I was 2nd in lane 2 and 3 followed by 3rd in lanes 4 and 5 before 2nd again in lane 1.  Although I did not win a race my total of 18 points was enough to win my quarter-final by 1 point.  I had done enough to qualify for the semi-finals from a difficult quarter-final in which Alex Harvey finished every race only to finish 4th!
 
 
[All drivers representing Foxhall Foxes Slotstox Club unless stated]

Race /
Line up
1
2
3
4
5
TOTAL
Pos.
617 Gareth Parker
5
5
4
-
-
14
3rd
546 Mark Banham
4
4
3
3
4
18
1st
6 Ben Freeman
3
2
2
5
5
17
2nd
102 Craig Hawkins (Aldershot)
-
-
5
-
-
5
5th
69 Alex Harvey (Great Blakenham)
2
3
1
4
3
13
4th

Each of the drawn semi-finals, with five drivers in each, followed the same format as the quarter-finals i.e. five races (one race in each lane) and all drivers starting from the Yellow grade position except that the races would now be over eight laps.
The two highest points scorers in each semi-final plus the highest points scoring third place driver from the two semi-finals qualified for the 2001 Slotstox World Championship final. 
The two lowest points scorers in each semi-final plus the lowest points scoring third place driver from the two semi-finals qualified for the 2001 Slotstox World Championship B-final. 
 
 
On to my semi-final and the first real testing moment of the meeting.  I started with a non-finish in lane 3 and damage to my Slotstox with the bodyshell coming loose.  A quick repair job (by a fellow driver it should be added...as my hand was shaking too much!) was followed by a 3rd in lane 4.  With all drivers failing to finish the next race I was still in it but I knew that, with only 3 points, I had to score well from my two races in lanes 1 and 2.  I managed to win in lane 1 and I knew that I probably needed to do the same in lane 2 but I had a good driver, 155 David Southgate, on my inside.  Although David was representing the Great Blakenham Slotstox Club, he was a regular at the Foxhall Foxes Slotstox Club and so was used to the track.  I either had to go for the win off the start and hope that we did not crash; or let David go off the start and hope that I could get a good result behind him.  I decided that I would go for the win off the start and felt confident that I could keep ahead.  This I managed to do and finished as joint highest points scorer.  I qualified for the Slotstox World Championship final for the third time following 1996 and 2000 when I had finished 4th on each occasion.
 
[The scores are kept secret from the drivers during the racing but on subsequent review if I had finished 2nd to David in the last race then there would have been a tie for 2nd between three drivers and we would have gone into a run-off with only the winner qualifying for the Slotstox World Championship final!  If I had crashed out then, as I suspected, I would have been eliminated from the main event and qualified for the B-final!]

Race /
Line up
1
2
3
4
5
TOTAL
Pos.
152 Mark West
4
5
-
2
1
12
3rd
155 David Southgate
(Great Blakenham)
5
2
-
-
4
11
4th
546 Mark Banham
-
3
-
5
5
13
1st =
6 Ben Freeman
-
-
-
4
2
6
5th
153 Paul Glading
3
4
-
3
3
13
1st =

The starting lanes for each of the five drivers in the final were drawn.  The final was run over ten races (two consecutive races in each lane) of ten laps with all drivers starting from the Yellow grade position.
 
 
 
The drivers I was up against in the 2001 Slotstox World Championship final:
 
153 Paul Glading: 1997 and Defending Slotstox World Champion as well as runner-up in 1998 and 1999 (fifth Slotstox World Championship final in a row).  A multi-Slotstox championship winner.
 
313 Julian Moat: Wisbech Fen Tigers Slotstox Club multi-Slotstox championship winner.  3rd in 2000.
 
617 Gareth Parker: 3rd in 1998.
 
777 Noel Whinney: Great Blakenham Slotstox Club chairman and another multi-Slotstox championship winner.  
3rd in 1997 and 5th in 1996 and 2000.
 
 
I started the final in lane 3 and made a good start bumpering out Paul and Gareth at the same time.  I finished second to Julian as the only finishers.
This was followed by 3rd place in my second race in lane 3 and each of my two races in lane 4.  I knew that I had made a good start in my first four races.
[Subsequent review of the scores revealed that I was joint 1st with Julian on 13 points each.]
I failed to finish my first race in lane 5 getting stuck behind Julian's Slotstox which had crashed into a post and across my lane.
The second race in lane 5 was possibly the deciding race of the final.  Only Noel and I were still on track by the time that Noel bumpered me out but significantly Noel also crashed out at the same time.
Although I failed to finish, neither did any of the other drivers which gave me an advantage as I was in lane 5 - a lane where I would expect to score less points than the other drivers but in this race we had all scored nil.
I realised at this point that the Championship may be mine for the taking provided I could secure good results on the inside lanes: 1 and 2. 
[Subsequent review of the scores revealed that I was correct as although Noel was leading the final on 14 points: Julian, Paul and I were all just 1 point behind - Noel also had lanes 4 and 5 remaining.]
All my experience helped as I won each of my two races in lane 1 and now had an inkling that I was in with a really good chance.
[Subsequent review of the scores revealed that I was now 2 points ahead of Noel.]
In the penultimate race, I finished 2nd behind Julian with Noel in 3rd.  Julian also won the final race and this time I finished 3rd as I just could not quite get ahead of Noel...I was left wondering whether I had done enough...
 
As the scores are kept secret from the drivers, I had to wait until the results were announced and the trophies awarded to find out how well I had done...  I did at least feel that I had done better than my 4th place in each of 1996 and 2000!
 
5th...Gareth, 4th...Paul...and so I had done better than my 4th place in each of 1996 and 2000 (not that I was necessarily thinking about that at the time!)...3rd Julian...this just left me and Noel...
 
For some reason, at this point, I turned around and then when they mentioned 2nd place as being...Noel...I raised my arms aloft (both in joy as well as relief...that the thoughts I was having that I may have won were proved correct!) in the knowledge that I had the honour of racing with the coveted Gold roof having become the 2001 Slotstox Champion of the World...

2001 SLOTSTOX WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL

Race /
Line up
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
TOTAL
Pos.
777 Noel Whinney
-
5
-
5
4
-
4
3
3
4
28
2nd
313 Julian Moat (Wisbech Fen Tigers)
5
4
4
-
-
-
-
-
5
5
23
3rd
546 Mark Banham
4
3
3
3
-
-
5
5
4
3
30
1st
617 Gareth Parker
-
2
2
-
5
-
-
4
-
-
13
5th
153 Paul Glading
-
1
5
4
3
-
3
2
2
2
22
4th

This was my first major Slotstox Championship win and they do not come bigger than the World!
 
The only down side being that on the previous days coach trip to Belper, I had joked with a mate that I would buy the drinks down the pub on the Sunday evening if I won the World!
 
Some people suggested that I was lucky to win.  Maybe, I agree that luck certainly played a part, but you also have to make the most of the opportunity when your chance comes.  Also, three Slotstox World Championship finals in five Slotstox World Championship appearances showed consistency and I could do little more on the day than be highest points scorer in the heats, win my quarter-final, be joint winner of my semi-final and win the final... 

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