Seaford’s young Historic Stock Car driver, Tom Chapman, came of age at Spedeworth’s final event of the season at the Arlington Raceway, winning his first major final.
In front of a typically large crowd for the popular Gala Night on Saturday, Chapman capped off a night of fireworks both on and off the track, by showing his peers, that despite their greater experience he was now on an even keel with them.
Chapman, or ‘Top Cat’ as he is affectionately known, the son of legendary racer Phil Chapman, only started driving stock cars a few years ago.
Taken under the wing of seasoned campaigner Gordon Coull, the 23-year-old in his Parker Building Supplies sponsored car, has been diligently learning the ropes, with the occasional race win or top three finish.
Ever since he started in the Historic class, he has understandably been in the shadow of his father’s reputation.
But on the night some mature driving beyond his young years, mixed with an element of good fortune, saw him cross the line to a cheering grandstand.
Twenty four drivers with a variety of vintage Fords, Volvos and Triumphs were booked in to race at the event, with seven coming from across Sussex including Eastbourne’s Dan Abbott, and Chapman’s mentor Gordon Coull from Newhaven.
The first two races on the card set the tone for the evening, with some exciting action from the drop of the green flag.
Despite starting from his customary position at the back of the grid, reflecting his status as one of the formulas top drivers, Coull was soon charging through the field of top drivers to take both heat wins almost at a canter.
With all of his years of experience, especially around the Arlington oval, Coull was a red hot favourite to secure a hat trick of wins across the evening. Just a shame that nobody told Chapman of the plan!
The final began to reflect the pattern of the night so far, with Coull scything through the cars in front of him. Slowly but surely, Chapman was also making moves on the leaders ahead.
During the second race, he had lost his rear mirror after contact with the safety wall.
Now without the ability to see what was behind him, Chapman just drove hard for the line.
It was a plan that would ultimately be successful, as he headed the pack to take the win, with Coull unable to catch his protege.