Autospeedway

Continental Stock Rods in the Netherlands: British regulations form foundation

Stan Libuda

In 2020, a very special Autospeedway class is set for its debut: The Continental Stock Rods will be part of the Midland Circuit Lelystad programme under British Spedeworth regulations

Suddenly, the cars will be driven clockwise: This is how the Continental Stock Rods could connect the European mainland with Great Britain as there will be a class in the Netherlands that will held races entirely under British regulations. The permanent home of the championship will be the Midland Circuit in Lelystad, Netherlands.

The LHD Stock Rods have been around in Posterholt for many years and the class was also part of the programme at Raceway Venray on the old track for a long time. But the cars driven so far are left-hand drive. The races were held counter-clockwise and that’s why there was never an exchange between the Netherlands and UK.

Credits: Stan Libuda

A new series set for its debut

This will change with the implementation of the Continental Stock Rods, because in England, Ireland and Scotland the class enjoys great popularity, which is now to spread to the European mainland. On the island, the races of this class are held clockwise. The steering wheel is located on the right hand side and the cars are based on the available vehicles for the local public roads.

The Stock Rods are based on production cars, mostly from Vauxhall or Opel. After the older types, the Corsa C has now established itself as the standard. But, like in the blockbuster “Days of Thunder”, these (Stock) Rods have little to do with a weak-breasted road car.

The car is built on a bodyshell. First the chassis is reinforced and fitted with a roll cage. After that, it is a matter of making the car lighter to get below the minimum weight of only 720 kilograms. This offers the chance to place ballast in a desired position.

Credits: Stan Libuda

For the chassis, tailor made shock absorbers and springs have to be installed to give the driver the handling that will allow him or her to win. For the engines, either the fully tuned C14SE Opel OHC with 1400 cubic centimetres from the Corsa B or a standard X16XE engine from the Tigra A is used.

The standard engine with 1600cc delivers just as much power with an engine kit specified by the regulations as the tuned 1.4 litre engine that delivers around 120 horsepower. The 1400cc engine is a true racing engine and still manages do work with only one carburettor.

Tight competition expected

Due to the tight regulations, the Stock Rods, that are fitted with standard Yokohama tyres, are in a small window in terms of performance. As a result, often half the field is fighting for the world championship title, for example when the green flag falls for 36 cars in Ipswich, UK.

Credits: Stan Libuda

As is usual in oval racing, overtaking takes place also on the outside lane. In the big races the wheat is separated from the chaff when the top drivers fight for a single position for several laps around the track.

Sandy Vogels plays important role

Sandy Vogels from Montfort in the Netherlands, who is a full-time air conditioning specialist, is certainly considered to be the man of the first hour. The Posterholt race track is only a stone’s throw away from his home.

He earned his skills in motorsports by accompanying Max Verstappen as a race mechanic during his karting days. He also participated in the team of Laurens van der Velde (#78) in the National Hotrods. Vogels also built up Ministox and Stock Rods cars. Laurens van der Velde’s daughter, Beau, achieved great success in Posterholt with a left-handed Stock Rod.

Unfortunately the drivers with the left-hand drive Stock Rods were limited to participating in races in Posterholt. Already in 2014 Vogels had built a right-hand drive car with which Beau van der Velde should have driven in England. However, due to her job with a lot of work at the weekend, the plan never became reality.

A contact to a Scottish driver

Last year Vogels got in contact with the family of Shuv-On Martin (#25) from Scotland, who is certainly one of the fastest women on the oval. Through this cooperation the Continental Stock Rod class took off, to which of course the organizer NOV in Lelystad contributed significantly.

Credits: Stan Libuda

As right-hand drive vehicles, the cars are built strictly in accordance with the regulations of Spedeworth Motorsports in England and can be driven both in the Netherlands and on the island.

Cooperation makes sense

This cooperation enables large grids and also gives drivers from the European mainland the chance to participate in major races in the UK. These include the World Championship in Ipswich in July and the National Championship, which is held in the Hednesford Hills near Birmingham in August.

In 2019 there were already several demo races of the Continental Stock Rods at the Midland Circuit Lelystad, as the class wanted to take off in 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic motorsport in the Netherlands has been suspended until September 1.

A story of success: the 2.0 Hotrods

The 2.0 Hotrods show how fruitful the exchange with the island can be. This class has also been added to the race calendar in 2014 in accordance with Spedeworth’s regulations to allow an exchange between the Netherlands and Great Britain.

The result: in 2020, around 25 cars from Germany and the Netherlands were entered. By 2019 the class was already providing great races. For the Speedweekend in Ter Apel in September, an additional 15 drivers from the UK showed up, providing a very large grid. Similarly, the teams from the mainland also like to go to England.

Everyone involved hopes that normality will soon return, so that the Continental Stock Rods class can also be seen on the European mainland. The success of the 2.0 Hotrods could also become a reality in this class in the same way, because the Stock Rods are very popular in the Netherlands and Germany. Many current Autospeedway drivers have started their career in this class.

Stan Libuda