A race that spluttered and kicked into life at an empty dockside warehouse in November 2005 in Antwerp, Belgium – 10 months in planning the event itself wasn’t so hot – rather a difficult one with many flaws but when looking back, it was the ‘original spark’. Work started the week before; involving trucking in 25 loads of temporary dirt, building a drivers stand, cafeteria, pits, VIP area, and only one fan to get the smoke out… The race was one of the first to offer a prize money for the top 3, to attract the top names to this brand new race. Despite the steep learning curve thankfully racers gave us another chance in 2006 🙂
In Easter 2006 the DXR team with Lewis Millman at the helm together with Cameron and Wes had put the Pro-Line Challenge on behalf of CML at a facility called Harper Adams, the rest is history… Despite bitterly cold conditions the 2006 Neo Invitational in December ran very well – the well-oiled team of Kevin & Sue from the BRCA and Rob Nelson of BBK running things with me (Phil Mortstedt) as the newcomer and promoter! Interest for the event was pretty high – Adam Drake made the first of his many visits and immediately bonded with the magical Harper Adams dirt – schooling his peers on ‘how its done’ in 2006.
The next Neo wouldn’t be until 15 months later as it was re-branded from being the ‘invitational‘ to simply Neo08, and moved from the end of the year to its current Easter fixture. The timetable received its own makeover – extending the race by an extra day to a unique 4-day schedule – with finals day on the Bank Holiday Monday. Adam Drake returned but brought with him team mate Mike Truhe who went close to challenging him but could not unseat Drake from a 2nd successive win at Harper Adams. Neo08 was a stepping stone as its status and importance increased – one of the few events where racers from multiple continents mix and race at a high level.
Neo09 saw the continued international interest as the original winner in 2005 – Jared Tebo came ‘home’ to see if he could win this race again – back driving for Kyosho after his O’Donnell years – the Neo09 win continued the trend of American dominance which was mirrored in the one off 1/8 electric buggy class – easily won by Ryan Maifield.
Neo2010 marked the race’s 5th anniversary and 4th running at its established home; Harper Adams. Entry limited were raised for this event as year on year over subscription would occur after 24 hours of opening entry. Heats were switched to 7 mins in length and a 6th round of qualifying was added to increase the times on track. We adopted the Dash 4 Cash – seen at a few US races and immediately a runaway success and crowd pleasing event. In years past the finals have tended to be one-man displays in driving (Drake, Tebo) but the race finally got the final it deserved; an epic four-way battle between Yannick Aigoin, Ryan Maifield, Adam Drake and Mike Truhe. The Americans were heavily favoured, but with Yannick’s odds looking good after taking the Dash4Cash the night before. It was fitting that Yannick should win – one of the few (if only) drivers that have managed to maintain a ‘pro’ level for the last decade and beyond – as well as consistently fighting for wins – the first non-American winner to win this now prestigious event.