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340 Wes Freestone

Interview with 1300 Stock Car Driver 340 Wes Freestone by Mark Paulson

340 mb


Hoping to make his mark in two formulas this afternoon is King’s Lynn local, 340 Wes Freestone. While 1300cc Stock Cars remain the focus for the 21-year-old National Points Champion, Big Van Bangers should allow him to take a step back from the intensity of competition and have some fun heaving a two-tonne Transit around the track.

“I haven’t ever had a van so that’s something that I want to try,” said Freestone. “I’ve just got a long-wheelbase Ford Transit, nothing special. [The aim is to] have a bit of a crash in the vans and then in the stock car try and have a win. They’re the main thing that I want to do well in. Bangers – just sort of let my hair down and enjoy myself.”

It’s been hard going in the 1300s for Freestone in recent weeks. Last time out, engine problems relegated the silver roof to the role of a bit-part and saw him drop to fourth in this year’s points standings. It’s left him with plenty of work to do ahead of this afternoon’s racing.

“I had a rubbish meeting,” Freestone rued. “I blew it up in the final. I’ve just had my new engine come back so we’ve got to get that put in and get it all set up.”

Two weeks earlier, a trip to Sussex for the English Championship saw the Freestones break down en route, and while they made it to the track in the nick of time, Wes was unable to start the big race when his throttle cable snapped. At least things did improve a bit thereafter.

“Getting there was a nightmare,” he reported, “and then the English race – I didn’t even start that which was gutting. But I had a good result in the next race. I had a sixth position, but [I’m] just a little bit too far off the pace at the moment. But I knew that anyway from Lynn, because my engine’s tired.”

But there have still been plenty of positives from the season to date, with victory in the World of Shale Championship at Sheffield, held over from last year, the highlight.

 “I enjoyed that,” Freestone admitted. “That was probably the one I wanted to get this year really. It went on last year’s points because it was supposed to be run last year. That put me on pole position so that was quite good. There was a few good drivers around me – Carlos [Pears] was beside me and Gemma [Rainer] was behind me so it was still quite hard but it wasn’t too bad. I led it going into the first bend and never looked back really [although] John Moat started to catch me for a little while.

“It’s not been too bad,” he reflected on the season in general. “I’d like to have had a few better results but from the back of the grid you can’t complain really. When they’re getting 30+ grids, it’s a lot of people to go past. There’s a lot of the lower graders getting a lot faster now and it is a lot harder – my brother [341 Austen Freestone] being one of them!”

It was only at the start of last year when Wes was a lower graded driver himself, deciding to focus on the little stock cars after also having experience in Bangers and Two-Litre Saloon Stock Cars following his graduation from junior formulae.

“I sort of went into the formula thinking ‘Oh, if I can get a few wins, I’ll be happy,’ but to win the points was not what I expected,” he admitted. “For the first half of the year I was sort of racking up as many points, doing as many meetings as I could, and thought ‘See how we get on.’ Then towards the end of the season I thought ‘We’ll try and win it, do as much as I can.’ Then Ross [Fisher] started to catch me. Then you pressure yourself to try and get the results and then you don’t get the results so that makes it quite hard. So the last few meetings were quite hard.

“The [Two-Litre] Saloons are what I’d always love to do but they just aren’t affordable with kids and family, so I thought I’d try 1300s,” he reasoned. “I’d had a go in one before but I didn’t really like them – there weren’t enough out there. And Bangers are just getting too expensive. You’ve got to have race engines and race tyres so you might as well do a formula where you can do that and that’s what it means.”

A lack of numbers may have put him off in the first place, but that certainly isn’t the case now, with the formula burgeoning.

“I think there were 30 booked in last [week],” he said, “which was really good considering Ipswich was on as well. Numbers are always on the rise – I think there’s been two or three new drivers already this year which is good.”

Freestone grew up watching his father Lester and uncle Kevin race in Bangers so was always destined for a career on the short oval raceways alongside younger brothers Austen and Ryley.

“I started when I was 11,” he recalled. “As soon as you could really, in the Junior Hot Rods at Skeg and then just progressed from there – so then went Minis. I’ve always been brought up with it, always wanted to do it.

“[Lester] has lost interest now – he’s had his time, he’s done enough years of it. I think he’s done thirty-something years. That’s plenty. And he sees Bangers as not how they used to be and doesn’t enjoy it as much as he used to. He had a go in a Saloon and that didn’t really work out for him.

“[Austen] is starting to rack up a few good results and my other brother [Ryley], he’ll be starting later on in the year. So we’ll have three of us out there, hopefully.”

The team have a new car in build for Ryley. While Wes is a fan of the old Vauxhall Nova, he recognises that time moves on and the Vauxhall Corsa C is the new benchmark in 1300cc Stock Cars – but he’s not committed to making the move himself yet.

“I think [Novas] go better on shale than they do on tarmac. The new Corsa Cs, I think they look the car to have on tarmac really, because they seem like they handle a little bit better. Everyone’s moving for these Corsa Cs – I think they seem like the way forward.

“We’ve got one half-built already in the workshop for my brother. They’re not too bad but I still like the look of the Nova, that’s the trouble! They just look cool. I’d love to have a booted Nova, the Nova saloon, they look really nice but they’re a bit harder to get hold of. The ones you do find – there’s not much left of them.

“I’ll see how I get on for the rest of the year – I might try and do the car towards the end of the year and see if I can get a place in the NEC [at January’s Autosport International], that’s what I’d like to do. I’d like to go to these Corsa Cs but they look a bit of a nightmare to build – anything does, but they’ve got funny bulkheads and stuff like that.”

We’re getting ahead of ourselves – there’s still plenty of mileage left in this season yet. Freestone thinks he won’t make the trek to Scotland for the British Championship next month, but hopes to make his mark on the formula’s other major titles – the Supreme, to be staged at Ipswich at the end of June, the European which will be held here in August, and the World, set for Hednesford in September. He would also love to keep hold of his silver roof as National Points Champion for another year.

“I’d obviously love to try and reclaim the points again, that’s my main target,” he confirmed. “I’d like to add a good championship to the roof – something like the European. And obviously I’d like to have a good placing in the World – but we shall see because tarmac’s a different ball game.

“I’m now in the process of re-building my truck. I’d love to go [to Lochgelly for the British] – I like the track but it’s a long way. We’d probably both go up and we’d have to take the lorry and you’re going to be looking at about 400 quid in diesel. Then you add your cost of racing, your food and hotel and you’re sort of six/seven hundred quid for the weekend and that’s just too much really.

“I’ll probably go to the Ipswich Spedeweekend. I did it last year. It is a long weekend but it’s good. The racing’s good. I think we had forty-something on the grid in the last race. That was good – that was manic.”

Interspersed among all that will be some Banger Racing, just for fun – like this afternoon.

“I’ve got a few Bangers in stock – I’ll use the ones I’ve got built up and try and get time to build the other ones, but it won’t be massive. Then we’ll see what my plans are for next year really,” he commented.

The drivers you’ll see this afternoon all put in a massive effort to get out there. For every moment of fun on track, there is even more hard work – and sacrifices – off it, and not just by the drivers themselves.

Freestone finished: “I’d like to thank my girlfriend for putting up with me, for not being here very much and being in the workshop every day of the week. And thanks to Mum and Dad for taking me everywhere, and my brothers for all their help. Obviously Wayne [of Wayne Tech] for doing my engines – he’s doing a good job with them.”

The drivers and their crews do it for the love of it, and appreciate all the support they get. So give them a wave and a cheer. The little blue #340 in the stock cars will be one to watch, and so will the much bigger machine Wes will be piloting in the Big Van Bangers.


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