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21st - 22nd September 2013 NATIONAL FINALS at SANTA POD

We were really looking forward to National Finals, and the final rounds of our Wild Bunch, Real Steel and Springbridge MSA Series. It was our eighth Wild Bunch bannered event of the season, and we had a small chance of moving up into the Top 4 of the Wild Bunch Series. The weather forecast was pretty good, so we were hopeful of another great event!

We left home around 10am on Friday, towing Backdraft up with the Winne. We made really good time, around 3 hours and 10 minutes, which is about our quickest yet! We got to the pits around 1:20pm and were chuffed to find we were pitted by the fence again. There were 9 WB teams entered at the event so we would have a 4-rounder. Not long after we arrived, so did Terry and Ruth. We signed on and they kindly towed us up to scrutineering. We were quite early, so it did not take that long, and we were soon scrutineered and back in our pits, to enjoy the sunny and mild afternoon. We chatted with friends and had a nice evening.

We were scheduled to have 3 qualifiers on the Saturday, and were 16th on the running order. The morning was cloudy and mild and we towed down to the staging lanes for the first time at around 11:30am. While we were there, it started to drizzle, and though we waited for a while, this became persistent, and we had to eventually turn back. The clouds lifted and the track crew got the track ready at around 2pm, but the running order was changed to move into Pro qualifying. We started to watch this, but sadly Graham Ellis had a really bad crash in his Pro Mod Superbird, and we watched this unfold in front of us. The safety crew did a great job, and Graham was taken to hospital by helicopter some time later. The early reports were that he was conscious, and though injured, would make a full recovery. Our thoughts are with him and his family and team. Very best wishes to him for a quick recovery. And huge thanks to the ever professional safety, medical and track teams for all they do.

The track crew then worked very hard to get the track open again, around 5:15pm. We were called back out around 5:30pm and towed down to the staging lanes. On this run, I was paired with Adam Price in Go Hard or Go Home!!!. We dialled in at 8.78 for this run and Adam at 9.35. He broke out with a 9.347 at 142mph. And we were quite pleased to run an 8.879 at 149.06mph. Pretty good for starters. We went back to the pits, and got fuelled up ready, in case there was another round, but due to the time, we did not think this was likely.

The sun had come out nicely by now and the temperature was real good for this time of year. We were all pleasantly surprised when a second cycle of qualifying was called. Thanks very much to the hard work of all the track crew and marshals and officials! And we were called down to the lanes around 7:15pm! So this would be a night run! Haven’t had one of those for a few years! The temperature and track were holding sufficiently, even for this time of year, so it could be a good one! We were paired up with Keith Crampton in Soultown Shaker, who dialled in at 11.25 and broke out with an 11.208 at 115mph. We raised our Dial-in slightly, to an 8.82. I had another good launch, and we were all chuffed when I ran an 8.803 at 150.14mph! My quickest and fastest run in the dark! Well cool! We then towed back to the pits and started to pack up for the evening. But in the meantime, I had been promising Pike from the NSRA a fire-up in Backdraft all year, so had told him it would be after this run. He had sat in the car earlier in the day and enjoyed that! He arrived in our pits not long after we got back. I then set the dizzy to ‘flame mode’ and he got in, wearing my mask. We fired the car up and soon had some really good flames going! After we shut down, he just wanted to ‘sit there for a while’! He really enjoyed it and now wants a slingshot more than ever!!

We packed up and had another nice evening, chatting to friends. And had a pretty early night.

In the morning, there was only a short delay whilst the early mist was drying off, and the track opened around 9:30am. It became sunnier and warmer during the day, so real nice conditions. We watched some of the racing while we were waiting. We were due to face Alan Loten in Paranoia in the first round, but were not out early on the running order. We were called down at around 12noon, and towed to the pairings lanes. We had dialled in at 8.78 again, and Alan went for a 9.75. He had been having problems but the team hoped they had cured them. They had, and Alan ran an improved 9.657 at 134mph, breaking out. Our reactions were quite similar and I stayed the right side of the Dial, with an 8.853 at 149.12mph, to go on to the next round. We towed back to the pits and got ready.

There was only an hour and half to wait before we went down for the next round, as things were running smoothly. This time, I was matched with Bob Hawkins in the Time Traveller slingshot. He dialled in at a quick 8.08. This time, we raised the dial again, to 8.82. Bob ran real close to his Dial-in, with an 8.114 at 149.56mph. And we were all surprised when I broke out by nearly a tenth! And recorded an 8.726 at 150.10mph! What a run! Quickest ever 60ft, with a 1.210, and quickest 330ft, 1/8th mile and at 1000ft! Even though we didn’t win, we were very pleased with that pass, and a great run to finish the season with!

We went back to the pits and slowly started packing up, watching some racing in between. The Wild Bunch final was between Bob and Adam, and Adam won. This meant that Adam and Team Gridlock had not only won the Wild Bunch Series again this year, but every one of the 5 Series that we run! So many congratulations to him and the whole team on this achievement!

We had our prize presentation by the Winne, and as usual, young Beau helped me with handing out the trophies! I was pleasantly surprised when Claire announced I had finished 4th for the event! Another bonus to finish the season on! This meant that I have finished in 6th place in the Wild Bunch Series this year. Much better than last year and very fitting, considering our race number!

Thanks very much to Mark and Claire and Joey for crewing. Also, huge thanks to all the Santa Pod marshals and officials and track and safety crews for their hard work all weekend!

We’re now looking forward to our Annual Dinner Dance Prize Presentation at Drayton Manor on 23rd November! It will be another great night! But first we have a fantastic holiday in California, which we are really excited about, where we will be going to three nostalgia drag races in a row! Just brilliant!

14th - 15th September 2013 HOT ROD DRAGS at SHAKEY

After the excitement of the Euros, we were really looking forward to another fun weekend at the 25th Anniversary Hot Rod Drags, and our sixth ‘Cacklefest’!! We were again going to use our ‘64 Suburban as a push car all weekend. We were only planning on doing a run or two on Saturday, depending on weather and track time, and were focusing on the ‘cackle’ Saturday night. The weather forecast was looking pretty average for Saturday and pretty rainy for Sunday, so we hoped to make the best of it all!

I left home Friday morning, towing Backdraft up with the Winne, as Claire and Mark were going to drive up later, after they finished work. I got to the track late morning and looked for a spot to pit. It was pretty wet at first and really packed, considering the forecast. Scottie and Gina had pitted with Tiki Munki over the far side of the pits, next to the in-road to the field, and there was enough space to squeeze in by them, so I parked the Winne on the grass and the trailer in an ‘L’ formation, and got the car out next to the trailer. It was dry for a while and I got scrutineered okay. Young Beau came round for a while for some snacks and a play on our ‘on dash’ mini dragstrip!

Around mid-afternoon, I found that Ian Coulsell had left a surprise outside our pits, his cool 70’s chopper, which he hadn’t brought to the track for several years, but had recently built up again, and brought in on his 40’s pickup. I had a quick go round the pits on it, so many thanks to Ian for letting me have a ride! I then spent the afternoon chatting to friends. Claire and I had been invited to join Roy Wilding and loads of his friends, for his birthday celebration at a carvery meal at The New Inn, just a couple miles down the road, later that night, so we were looking forward to that.

Claire and Mark left home not long after 5pm, and had a very wet drive up the motorway, having a few delays along the way. They finally arrived around 7:20pm, and we hurried to get ready to go for the meal. They unloaded a mysterious 6-foot black-bagged item from the ‘Burb and put it in the trailer! (More on that later!). When we got in the ‘Burb to go, the windscreen wipers stopped working! As it was still raining heavily, I had to try and get them working and donned my waterproofs, but could not get them to work, so sent Claire to ask to borrow a car. Luckily, Emma and Gos from Team Dog’s Bollocks kindly said we could borrow their Volvo, and Ray went and unhitched it from their trailer for us! Many thanks to them for the loan and making it possible for us to go for the meal. We were then late getting there, but as we arrived, all 18 people there cheered loudly! It only took a minute to figure out that it might be because that now meant they could all eat!! But sure did make us feel welcome! As did Roy, as always! We had a lovely evening, so thanks very much to Roy for inviting us, and happy birthday to him! It was still raining, so we went to bed not long after we got back, and hoped for some better weather the next day.

Saturday dawned cloudy, and around 9am turned to misty rain! Not the best start to the day for everyone eager to get out and make some runs! We had a wander round the trading fields and all the shops, and a few teas and coffees. Lynne and Mark Coulsell were hosting a ‘Macmillan Coffee Morning’ to raise money for the charity, in memory of Sue. Many people had donated cakes, and there were a host of others helping including Linda Williams, Anna and Steve, Hayley and Kim and more. They in fact carried on all day long, not just the morning, and eventually raised around £450, so a big well done to all of them!

A couple of other highlights of the weekend was to see some newly finished cars on their debut. One was the long-awaited Little Big Horn of Dan Sharp and Scott from the Dorset Horn team. The car had a body from the mould taken from ‘Stagecoach’, and was painted in orange with blue flames, and running an injection on a Big Block Chevy. It looked fantastic and was a real credit to the whole team! Congratulations to them on getting the car finished and running to make it out for the end of the 40th Anniversary year of ‘The Horn’. Nice to seem them together!

Another great car to debut was the brilliant Junior Slingshot of Ben and James Gosling, built by Dad Andy and others. The car is called Ramraider Junior and proudly runs number WB JR 9, and is a scale model of the earlier RamRaider of Team Dog’s Bollocks. It runs a 2-stroke engine, and looks brilliant! 13-year old Ben was the first driver, with James planning to have his turn in a couple of weeks. Ben had numerous runs over the weekend, and eventually ran a PB of 13.6 at 49mph. He was loving it! Congratulations to him and the whole team on this great debut!

On Saturday morning, the misty rain persisted, but the crew were out at work on the track. And eventually the track was open between noon and 1pm. There were really big queues, of course, all down the pits past the entry road. We went to watch some racing for a while. In the morning, our Lee and a friend had come up for some spectating. And so had Nick and Sue Osgathorp, so it was good to see all of them. Over the weekend, it was also great to see Kirsten and Henk and team from Holland again, and they were running Kirsten’s cool Suzy Q Charger.

About mid-afternoon we decided not to try and make a run that day, and started getting ready for the Cackle. I changed the dizzy setting and we fired the car up and it all looked promising for some flames later on if the weather held out!

In the meantime, Claire showed me what she and Mark had put in the trailer Friday night, a 6-foot tall wooden model of a Hurst Golden Shifter! Claire had made this herself out of plywood, painted gold, with black writing, and a white Styrofoam ball on top for the knob. It was free-standing and looked cool! We displayed it in the pits by the ‘Burb, along with some posters Claire had made with picture of the one and only Linda Vaughn, Miss Hurst Golden Shifter.

We were due to be down at the fireup road at 6:30pm to get ready for the Cacklefest. We all got dressed, and Claire had another couple of surprises. She had a new outfit with a sparkly gold top, with a Hurst patch sewn on it, her white shorts, new gold knee-high boots and a black sash that read ‘Miss HURST Golden Shifter’. And Mark had some new overalls in a khaki colour, also with a Hurst patch sewn on. I got dressed in my silver suit and got in Backdraft and Mark drove the Suburban to push me down to the fireup road. Claire put the replica Hurst shifter in the back of the ‘Burb and got in with it, whilst Joey held on to it to stop it falling out!

We all got all ready in the fireup road. There were quite a few Wild Bunch taking part again, with Scottie pushing Gina in Tiki with their Chevy, and Andrew pushing Terry in Ratcatcher Resurrection with their Falcon, and several other classes, and around 40 cars in total. We waited for 7pm, and while some cars were doing fire burnouts and others starting off the Cackle, and we were eventually given the signal to fire up. Mark pushed me round the corner in the Suburban and I fired up down the pairings lanes. There was a huge crowd in the grandstands! Meanwhile Claire was standing up in the back of the ‘Burb and waving to the crowd. I drove on to the track to join the other cars, and Mark and Claire came on to the track. We had some pretty good flames going, but were a fair way down the track, so not that many people could see us or the cars that were after us, though the far grandstand could. We had a great time and were really chuffed to have been able to participate in our 6th Hot Rod Drags Cacklefest in a row!

After the Cacklefest and fireworks, we pushed back down the track and fireup road, back to the pits and packed up for the night. We got the dragster all loaded in the trailer, and battened down the hatches in case of the predicted wind and rain. Nick and Sue had tea with us in the Winne and we spent the evening chatting, and went to bed fairly early.

Sunday dawned cloudy, and there was some drizzle in the air. We had a walk round the stalls again, and down to the tower to see a few people. On the way back, we saw Stu & Bev Bradbury in the VIP suite, so had a chat to them, and Stu gave us some new British Drag Racing Hall of Fame patches, which was nice. We went back to the pits and carried on packing up. Some racing did take place that day, so fair play to the track crew for all their hard work to make that happen. We had some lunch, and then left by around 2pm.

Thanks very much to Mark and Claire and Joey for crewing, and push car driving and shifter balancing! And huge thanks to all the hardworking Shakey marshals and officials and track crew, who did their best as always. And thanks to the NSRA organisers for their hard work all weekend! Congratulations on the 25th Anniversary too!

We’re now really looking forward to the UK National Finals next weekend at Santa Pod, where our Series will be decided. There is still a slim chance of us getting into the Wild Bunch Top 4 this year, so much better than last season! We have 9 teams entered so hope the weather’s good for our final race of the season! We will enjoy the weekend and it will be another exciting, close race!

5th - 8th September 2013 EUROPEAN FINALS at SANTA POD

We were really looking forward to competing at the Euro Finals at Santa Pod for the fourth time, in Super Pro, in the biggest field ever, with an amazing 54 entries!!! This weekend we were hoping to run more 8’s and qualify in the Top 32! And there was another special feature this weekend, as we were asked to do a push start, and race with Ian Turburville, before the first round of Top Fuel on the Sunday morning! Well cool! So Claire was going to drive the Suburban up to do this.

Claire and I left home around 11am on the Wednesday, me towing Backdraft up with the Winne and Claire following in the ‘Burb. We made good time and got to the track around 2:30pm. We were shown to our pits and found that we were right on the end of a row, facing the thoroughfare, so were well chuffed with that, as it meant it was very easy to tow out and get back. We got unloaded and started to set up our pit, and later cycled down to sign on. We towed up to scrutineering and all went well. We then had a chilled out afternoon and evening, and a fairly early night as we were going to be second class out on Thursday and there were 4 qualifiers scheduled so we wanted to do as many as possible!!

Thursday dawned dry and warm, and the track opened on time. We were called to the pairings lanes around 9am, and started to make our way down in the queue. For the first run, we were paired with Mike Bruckmueller in a doorslammer. He had dialled in at 8.20, and we had opted for an 8.84 for starters. Mike ran an 8.315 at 163mph. I pulled a cherry of just -.004, and then had a bit of a wild launch and had to back out, so recorded a 9.168 at 148.61mph. I was then in 30th place after this!

So back to the pits for more lead it was! I had some lead shot, and we added as much as we could into the front weight box. Then fuelled up ready for the next round. We were called about 11am and got to run about 11:30am. I was paired with Simon Gough in another doorslammer. He ran an 8.542 at 157mph on an 8.53 Dial-in. We had dialled in at 8.84 again, and this time, I broke out! We were all surprised when I ran an 8.741 at 150.53mph! Wow! And always great to get that 150! Claire was jumping up and down on the start line for that one! But we had then dropped to #40! Hey ho!

We went back to the pits and fuelled up, and waited for the next qualifier. There was not long to wait and we were called before 1pm. This time I was paired with Brian Pateman, in another doorslammer. He ran a 9.014 at 153mph on his 8.80 Dial-in. We had lowered the Dial-in to 8.70, thinking we could not break out on that one! We were all really chuffed when I ran an 8.736 at 149.09mph! Much closer to Dial! This meant that we moved up from 40th to 16th in the qualifying order! Much better!

The weather had become really hot! And with the speed qualifying was going, the officials decided to have an hour break after the third cycle! This helped a lot of people with cooling down! We were then called out about 4pm for our fourth qualifier. This time I was matched with veteran racer Barry Giles in the Giles & Hartley rear-engined dragster. Always nice to race with him! He dialled in at 7.49 and ran a 7.556 at 176mph. We had refined our Dial-in to 8.73, and were pleased to run consistently, with an 8.754 at 149.58mph! We were closer to Dial, just .024 off, and though moved up temporarily from 16th, with the improvement of other people, we remained in 16th. That was it for the day then, and we packed away for the night. And had a nice night chatting to friends in the warm late summer’s evening!

Friday morning dawned wet and cooler, but the track crew went to work as quickly as they could. The track was later opened around 12:30pm, and they started proceedings with Pro ET and then moved into the Pro classes. We went and watched in the grandstands for a while, as we knew we would not be out for a few hours. This was brilliant, as we had tickets at about the 100foot mark, and we really enjoyed the spectating. After the start of the bike qualifying, we began making our way back to the pits as we thought we would be called out soon. We were! We were only half way back, so cycled a bit quicker! But still got out near the front of the class. Our 5th qualifying round took place at about 3:45pm, and we were paired with Ian Powell in his rear-engined dragster. He dialled in at 8.01 and ran a strong 7.998 at 166mph. We went for the same 8.73 Dial again, but lit the tyres off the line and ran a 9.516 at 147.11mph. Oh well! That was it for the day for us for qualifying, so we packed up. Our friends Nick and Cherry from Bristol Pegasus club were planning on spectating on Saturday, but we had rung them and said Friday’s weather was better than expected, so advised them to come along in the afternoon if they could. They arrived and we all went back to the stands to watch some more racing. We knew we would drop a bit down the order, and later found out that we had finished in 21st place, which was pretty good out of a tough field of 50 qualifiers! We had another nice night chatting to friends, and went to bed pretty early, as we knew we would be out early on Saturday morning for our first round of eliminations!

On Saturday morning, we had a great surprise, as our friends the Radcliffes came to spectate. Pete, Fay and Sadie turned up, with Fay’s daughter Elinor. We had not seen them for a few years and had never met Elle, but Fay had said she was running round the night before shouting ‘Crazy Chris’! It was great to see them all!

We found out overnight that we would be paired with Mark Flavell in his funny car for the first round, but sadly he had broken! It was not too serious, so he is hoping to have a relatively easy winter rebuild this year! Best of luck to him and the team! This meant that we would have a Bye in Round 1! A lucky break!

We were called for the round at about 9am and towed down to the pairings lanes. We dialled in at 8.71 for this round, and were glad to have a run to see what the car would run in the conditions, which were different to Thursday’s hot sunny weather! I ran an 8.986 at 147.15mph to go through to the next round. We went back to the pits and later did a bit more spectating in the grandstands, as we were not going to have our next round until after the long Pro session. Mark and Nicole joined us there, and we were about at the 330ft mark.

We went back to the pits after a while and had lunch. For our next round, we were matched with Barry Giles! We mentioned to them that we must both be some of the oldest cars running in Super Pro, as his dragster is around 26 years old. It was great to run him in competition. He dialled in at 7.48 and we chose an 8.73, as I was going to run flat out, as he would be chasing me. I had a pretty good reaction on that run, an .099 to Barry’s .067. I had a good launch and just backed off at the top end, to an 8.844 at 142.91mph. But Barry came past me in the lights, with a 7.552 at 158mph, to take the win! Congrats, Barry! We enjoyed the race!

We went back to the pits, and later went back for some more spectating which was good. Later on by our camper, we met up with Darryl Bradford and Barry Sheavills. I had found some old mags with pictures of Darryl from when he drove John and Lesley Wright’s Top Fuel Dragster around 10 years ago, so gave them to him. We were discussing with Darryl the details of our planned push start for Sunday, and had asked about whether we could also incorporate a flag start, with Claire doing the starting! The officials had agreed that it would be a good idea, and I took our Union Jack off our flag pole and looked for a ‘stick’ to attach it to. It turns out that our cockpit prop was exactly the right size, so I attached it to that! Also on that evening, we went for a walk and met up with Stu Bradbury and Brian Taylor who were preparing for the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame banquet that night. Claire got some flag starting tips from Stu. We then had another good evening, chatting to friends.

We were again up early Sunday, to plan for the demo. Claire went to chat to Ian Marshall about the planned flag start, and Darren Prentice stopped by and gave us details. We all got ready, and then pushed up to the scrutineering bay, just before the Pro Mods, the first class of the day, were about to run. We got all ready in position and waited at the top end. We finally got the signal from Nikki to push down the ‘old fireup road’, Claire primed the injector stacks and switched the ignition on, and we started off. Meanwhile, Darryl was explaining to the crowd what was happening. We got nearly to the grandstand and I pressed the ignition button, fired up and pulled away from the ‘Burb. I drove round to the spectator side lane, and Mark and Claire jumped out of the Burb. Me and Ian both performed our burnouts and backed up and Claire got in position, just in front of the Christmas tree. She waited until we were in full stage, and Ian ran the tree. Claire pointed to me first and I nodded, then to Ian, and then lowered the flag. She waited for a moment and then leaped into the air, waving the flag! We both launched and I had a nice wheelie. I was chuffed to run an 8.864 at 148.15mph, to Ian’s Personal Best of 8.242 at 165mph. It was a great race! And we both really enjoyed it! Well, that is an understatement, as it was fantastic to do what we had just done. And such an honour and a thrill to be able to do it! We pushed back to the pits and were really buzzing for the longest time afterwards! Throughout the day we had loads of nice comments including a guy who told us it was the ‘best thing he had seen all weekend’! Wow! That was saying something! It was a real thrill for me to be able to add to the demo, by doing the push start down the old fireup road, just as our car had done as ‘Malibu Express’ in ’69, and so many other cars had done, over 40 years ago! We had done that before, for the first Dragstalgia Cacklefest, and push started on the track two years ago, with Mark’s Amazon, again before the first round of Top Fuel, but it was all even more special this time!! And such an honour to be asked again to do it! And Claire had really enjoyed doing the flag start! And especially a big bear hug from chief starter, Ian Marshall after it! And it was particularly nice that Stu Bradbury later came up to the Winne to compliment her on the flag start! And Darryl Bradford had enjoyed the whole demo, so many thanks to him, for helping to make it all happen! Later that week we had some really fantastic pictures and videos of it all, so that was great.

We slowly packed up that morning, and eventually left the track around 2pm, after some lunch. We had a great trip home, still buzzing from the whole weekend!

Big thanks to Mark and Claire for crewing and pushing, and Joey for towing and crewing! Also, huge thanks to all the Santa Pod marshals and officials and track crew for their hard work all weekend! And thanks to all the other Super Pro racers for making us feel very welcome! It was fantastic to be a part of it all, the biggest ever field in the UK for any class! And to do the demo push and flag start aw well was really amazing!

We’re now looking forward to the Hot Rod Drags at Shakey next weekend!! This is the 25th Anniversary of the event, and the nearest race to the 40th Anniversary of Long Marston! And another Cacklefest!

24th - 26th August 2013 OPEN SPORTS NATIONALS at SHAKEY

Since ‘Dragstalgia’ I had rebuilt the gearbox. I had also bought a brand new torque converter from Rich Walters, which was owned by Bob Glassup. The spec was unsure, and it was originally for a Big Block Chevy, but was the right diameter and had the Powerglide spline fitting I needed. I fitted it and fired up in the garage. The gears changed nicely and I was able to get the revs up sufficiently, so all looked good to go! And we looked forward to more 8’s!!

I had Friday off and left home around noon, towing Backdraft up with the Winne, and arrived at the track around 1:45pm. I went straight in and found that we were pitted at the track end of the pits, near the start of the fireup road entrance, on the grass side. I parked up and unloaded and set our pit up in an ‘L’ shape with the dragster facing out and the Winne lengthways on the grass. There were 8 Wild Bunch teams entered at the event and others started arriving. We were going to be 16th on the running order, so we did not end up getting scrutineered on Friday. Claire and Mark had to work in the afternoon, so arrived around 7pm Friday night. We then had a nice evening chatting to friends.

We were scheduled to have 3 qualifiers on Saturday. But there was a heavy downpour about 5am, and this left the track very wet. The crew go to work, and got the track open at about noon. We fired up and refuelled and got ready. There were a few incidents and gremlins during the day, and we were later called around 2:30pm. We towed down to the fireup road and were paired up with Dick Sharp in Dorset Horn. We dialled in at 8.85 and he went for a 9.60. And it was around 3:30pm by the time we ran. Well, there was not really much punch in the launch, and I ended up recording a 9.370 at 146.00mph. Dick broke out with a 9.490 at 139mph. We went back to the pits, and checked a few things over. Mark checked the resistance of the plug leads, and recorded the figures which seemed okay. We found that we had a couple of different spec spark plugs, so changed these and fired up, and got ready for another round. But with all the delays during the day, there was not time for a second qualifier for us. So we packed up for the day. We had another nice night, wandering round the pits talking to friends.

There was a bit of dampness early Sunday, but things started to brighten up. We were due to be 7th on the running order, as they were starting where they left off in Qualifier 2. It was my birthday, and Claire had started giving me presents and others had brought cards. I hoped to run an ‘8’ sometime that day to celebrate! That morning our Lee had come up with our friend Nick Wood from the Bristol Pegasus Motor Club, for some spectating, so it was good to see them. We were called out at about 11:30am. And once again, we were paired with Dick Sharp. We raised our Dial-in to 8.96 and Dick had lowered his to 9.50. I drove round, and then put it in neutral while waiting for the car ahead. When I went to pull forward into the burnout box there was a bit of hesitation in the box, but finally it went in. (Aha, low gearbox oil!). Again, there was not much grunt on the launch, though the car did pick the wheels up. I ran a 9.358 at 145.62mph. Dick ran a 9.928 at 138mph. We headed back to the pits. By then we had started to wonder if the torque converter was not quite the right spec for our car. I decided I would launch a bit harder on the next run to see if I could get it up to an adequate stall.

Back in the pits, I fuelled up, and put another quart of oil in the gearbox. When we had fired up Mark and Claire had said that things did not sound quite right, so we started to do some checks. Mark and I took the dizzy cap off and looked at the rotor arm. He then decided to take this off to check things, and low and behold, there was a bob weight snapped! This might explain a few things! We weren’t getting an advance after launch! I knew a couple people in Super Pro had welders with them, but they had just gone out for a round. When they came back, I went over to Rich Walters with the weight and asked him if he could weld it up for me, after he had done his in-between-round maintenance. He said ‘of course’, so we left it with him. After a while, we saw that they were having more than the usual maintenance, as the blower was off! Then we realised Rick Cooke was not busy working on his dragster, so I went and asked him if he would mind doing it for us. He said ‘of course’ and I went and got the weight back from Rich and gave it to Rick. He then got his welder out and started the job. In the meantime, the rest of the Wild Bunch had been called for the third qualifier! Fair play, Mark Coulsell and Linda Williams, who were pit runners for the weekend, came back a few times to see if we would make it and said we could tow down past another class if the Wild Bunch were still in the queue. (Thanks folks!). We noticed Rick was welding and grinding and welding some more! He then brought the weight back and had done a great job, even though he had a hard time doing it as it was such a small part, and he had to turn the amps right down! Many thanks, Rick!! Much appreciated! Mark then took it into the trailer to file it down. I got in the car, as there was nothing I could do at that point. Claire watched where the Wild Bunch were in the queue, and said we still might have time to make it. Mark came out and trial-fitted the weight. He then did some more filing and came back out and tried again. He then needed a smaller file to widen the hole, so he went over to Rick. He ran back and forward about 4 times before he was happy with the fit, and put it on, and fitted the dizzy back together. We then towed down to the fireup road to meet the rest of the Bunch who had already gone round the corner! We made it! And then it was a case of ‘hurry up and wait’, as the queue was moving fairly slowly. Though in the end we did not have that long to wait. I was at the back of the Wild Bunch queue and this time paired up with Bob Hawkins in Time Traveller. It was then around 2:30pm. We kept the 8.96 Dial, and Bob had dialled in at 8.15. He ran an 8.540 at 156mph. On this launch, I brought the revs up to about 2,400, to hopefully get the converter to lock up. Well, the power was well and truly back, as the car launched really hard! It went straight up, and I had to back out of it and get straight, so landed a bit heavy!! Thanks to Jon Spoard of, who got a great slow-mo of this! I had a quick look at the front end during the run, and all seemed okay and felt smooth. I then recorded a 9.353 at 148.22mph! But it was a very promising run, as the power was well and truly back!

We towed back to the pits and re-fuelled. And had a check through the front end, and all was fine. We got ready for the next run, and I decided to launch at my usual revs. We got called out for the next run around 4:30pm. And really needed this run to see what the car was going to run, for a Dial-in for the following day. We were confident of the power, so tweaked the Dial slightly down to 8.95. This time we were matched up with Darryl Howells in Chemical Reaction and he dialled in at 9.52, and ran a good 9.570 at 137mph. This time I had a bit of a one wheel burnout, and smoked one rear slick on the launch, so again had to get out of it to go straight. This lost a bit of time, and surprisingly, I ran a 9.360 at 147.03mph!! We just couldn’t believe that in four completely different circumstances we had run within 2 hundredths on all four runs! And of course now we did not have much idea of Dial-in, but hoped that I might run an ‘8’ on Monday! I had qualified in 8th place overall! Hey ho! Claire later worked out the ladder and saw that I would have Darryl in the first round so that would be exciting, and close! We had a good night, with some birthday cake and a bit of a wander round the pits, chatting to lots of friends. The temperature was nice and mild, so good to be out at night and be warm.

Monday dawned cloudy, but soon brightened up. We were again around 16th on the running order, so not too early! I decided I was going to put more weight in the front end, and launch a bit softer, to calm down the launch! So I went looking for some lead. Rich directed me to ask the Junior Dragsters, as they often used it to get their balance right. I found Chris Swinchatt, and he came up trumps with a bucket of loose lead chippings. We bagged this up and I added it to the weight box under the nosecone, and got ready for the first round. We were called to the pairings lanes at about 11am as things were running smoothly. Claire and Mark deliberated the Dial-in, and changed it several times, and eventually we went for an 8.98, hoping all was going to run smoothly. Darryl chose the 9.52 again. He ran a great 9.587 at 137mph. Well, this time I launched at lower than usual revs, and Backdraft hooked up smooth and straight and pulled a nice controlled wheelie! And the power was there! Back on the start line Claire was jumping up and down! Although we had just lost to Darryl, we were all chuffed, as I had just broke out with a great 8.874 at 149.04mph!! Yeehah!! Great to be back in the ‘8’s again, and we really did not mind the breakout, as we were just happy to run that quick!! Congrats to Darryl on a good race, and for moving on to the Semis! Fair shout!

We went back to the pits happy, and started tidying and packing away. The weather was great, as the sun had now come out and it was a lovely afternoon. We later went down and watched the rest of the Bunch run in the Semi-finals. It was great racing! It then turned out to be Adam Price and Darryl in the Final, so went back to watch them. Unfortunately Darryl could not fire! So real gutted for him! Adam put in a great run close to Dial to take the win. Congrats to him, and to Darryl for 2nd place and Scottie Durrant for 3rd in Tiki Munki and Bob 4th.

We then had our Wild Bunch prize presentation by our Winne. Congratulations to Adam and Team Gridlock who have won the 2013 Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars Series, and the APIRA Series. And to Scottie and Gina for a great 2nd place in the Roy Wilding Series, and Keith 3rd and Darryl 4th. I am still in 5th place in the Real Steel Series, so still in with a shout of a Top 4 there, and firmly in the Top 10 in Wild Bunch this year!

Thanks very much to Mark, Claire and Joey for crewing! Also, huge thanks to all the marshals and officials and track crew for their hard work all weekend and getting four qualifiers in and all the eliminations. Turned out fine in the end! Well done to all!!

We’re now looking forward to 3 events in a row! The first is the Euro Finals from 5th to 8th September, where we are entered in a huge field of 54 Super Pro cars! A record! We will be on a 64-car ladder for that one, so really exciting! Hope to run well in the 8’s for that one! And we have been asked to do a push start on the Sunday morning, before the first round of Top Fuel! A great honour! And we will be driving up the track alongside Turbo in his blown slingshot. Another great event!! The following weekend to that is the 25th Anniversary Hot Rod drags where we will do push starts and run in the Cacklefest again! Loads of fun! Then it will be the National Finals at Santa Pod on September 21st & 22nd for the Final rounds of the 2013 Wild Bunch Series, Real Steel Series and Springbridge MSA Challenge. Hope the weather’s good for all of September!!! What a cracking month it will be!!

13th - 14th July 2013 DRAGSTALGIA at SANTA POD

We were really chuffed we were going to be taking part in the 3rd Annual Dragstalgia event at Santa Pod, especially as we had to miss on racing at last year’s event due to our engine breakage! We were really excited about the event which really focuses on all things Nostalgia which of course we love. And we were particularly happy because the weather forecast was dry and hot! We both had the day off work on Friday, so left home around 9:30am, with me towing Backdraft with the Winne and Claire following me in our 1964 Suburban, which we were going to use as our push car all weekend. We arrived at the track around 1pm and drove to our pit area. We were pleased to see that this was by the fence again! So we parked up around the 1100ft mark. We got our pit all sorted and had a steady afternoon. It was already pretty hot! We watched some of the racing going on for the test day, and were chuffed when we saw Darryl Howells run a new PB of 9.478 at 140mph in Chemical Reaction. So good after the team’s recent performance problems, and glad to see they have it all sorted now! We then had quite a quiet evening chatting to friends, and quite an early night. Mark and Nicole and Joey and Kim and Mark arrived later that night. Also, Paul and Wendy were there with the Time Warp Nostalgia funny car, and Wendy gave us a ring to go and watch a fireup in their pits. It sounded awesome, but they had a problem when shutting down, so we really hoped they hadn’t done any damage! Also there this weekend was Ramon and the gang with the Wild’r at Heart flopper, joined by Doc Stinger with the brand new Stinger II Nostalgia funny car. (More joined in later!).

There were 20 Wild Bunch teams entered, so a really good big field! And we also had a guest racer, a slingshot driver from Germany, who joined in just for fun. Saturday dawned sunny, and it was already really warm by about 8am! We were due to race in group sessions and there were 4 scheduled that day. We fired the car up and all sounded good, so we were ready to go! Mark and Joey came over around 10am, and we all got dressed. Me in my silver suit, and Claire had a special new backup girl outfit, a silvery gold mini dress and silver knee high boots! Wow! Mark had his white jeans and a white short-sleeved shirt. We got called out around 10:30am and pushed down to the pairings lanes. I had an umbrella, and had dowsed my shirt in water, to keep cool. We did not have long to wait, and I fired up and drove round. For this run, I was paired with Mike Couch in the Flathead Frenzy 2 slingshot. He ran a 10.052 at 134mph. The track must have been really sticky as I came to quite a halt after the burnout! I had a really good launch on this one, 1.26 at the 60ft, and a nice wheelie. We were all chuffed when I ran an 8.846 at 148.68mph, in the hot conditions. It seemed to catch the commentators by surprise too! We were up first on that round, and overall, the whole Wild Bunch put on a great display! Really chuffed to be racing with them all! And big congratulations to Bob Hawkins, who ran his first ever 7-second pass in his Time Traveller slingshot! And to Scottie, who ran his first ever 12-second pass in the Tiki Munki slingshot coupe. His first 12 in any of the ‘Tikis’. Fair play!

We pushed back from the top end, and back into the pits, and got ready for the next round. There was a bit of a gap, so we had some lunch and chatted to friends. Jeff and Sharon Morris were up for the weekend again (Jeff was one of the original builders of Malibu Express and he is building a new car) so it was good to see them. Also, our young friend Mackenzie visited our pits, and he must have been enjoying himself as he stayed around most of the day! We were called out for our next round around 1:30pm, and Mackenzie tagged along. We pushed down to the fireup road and assembled, and again I was one of the first of the Bunch. Claire had her red parasol which the Coulsells had given her, to try and stay in the shade. I was still okay, with another dowsing of water! This time, I was paired with Darryl. And Sarah was dressed in 60’s mini dress and hat and knee high boots to perform backup girl duties. So her and Claire had some photos together and looked great! This time, Darryl ran a 9.601 at 141.26mph, a best ever speed for him! The weather was really hot by this point, and I ran an 8.999 at 145.76mph. Just got in there with that 8! Still pretty chuffed with this one. Another great round for the Wild Bunch which saw Terry Clifford run his first ever 8-second pass in the Ratcatcher Resurrection slingshot! Big congratulations to Terry and the whole team on this achievement!

We pushed back to the pits and got ready for another round. It was so hot by then! We spent some time chatting to more people including Rich Walters who had come up spectating for the day. And we were enjoying the weather! While we were waiting, Paul Wright from Shakey Sound and new DJ at Nitro FM came round and did a short recorded interview with us, about the Wild Bunch and its origins and how we run. So that was pretty cool! Thanks to Paul for doing that!

For the next round, Claire had a change of outfit. She had some new red short shorts and white vest top, with her white knee high boots. Wow again! Mark had his white jeans and an old speed shop T-shirt on. We were only going to do this one more run, and then get ready for the evening’s Cacklefest, as it would be a quick turn around after the fourth session. We got called out for the third session around 4pm and pushed down to the pairings lanes. This time I was paired up with Scottie in Tiki Munki. Gina and Nicole were wearing some very 50’s looking outfits with dungarees and gingham shirts, and looked really cool! Scottie ran a good 13.061 at 96mph. On this run, our burnout was good, and in fact Mark says it was the best of the day. But when I launched, the car did not pick the wheels up AT ALL! Just stayed flat on the track! And when I went to change into second gear, nothing happened! The revs went up and I then saw a wisp of smoke from around the gearbox area, so I shut off and pulled over as soon as I could. I coasted through the finish line and had to be towed off by the quad at the first turn off. I had recorded 13 seconds at 35mph. We were all pretty disappointed about this. But hey, that’s racing! And there’s nothing we could do about it at the time. I suspected that the gearbox had let go, and there was a lot of clunking from that area. So this also meant that we would not be able to take part in the push start for the Cacklefest, so again, disappointed about that. We got back to the pits and parked up. And watched some of the racing. Congratulations to Mark Mills who ran his first ever 8-second pass in his Xenomorph altered! Well done to the whole team! More friends dropped by, and photographer Mike Collins and friend turned up for a chat. He was very interested looking through our History book.

But before long, Claire started to feel really unwell, and was eventually quite sick, and it seems she had sun or heatstroke. She was pretty rough, so I stayed around while she was in the Winne. She wasn’t well enough to go down and watch the Cacklefest and Fire burnouts, and I stayed in the Winne with her. She eventually went to sleep around 9pm, feeling a bit better.

Sunday dawned surprisingly misty and cool, which was probably good for a lot of people as it had been a real scorcher on Saturday. Claire was feeling a bit fragile, but just took it easy going to get the dial-ins from the Wild Bunch. We stayed by the Winne and watched the rest of the Bunch racing. Nick and Sue Osgathorp arrived to spectate, so it was really nice to see them.

We later got the car loaded around 2pm, and watched some more racing. Big congratulations to Sag Southworth and the team who ran their first ever 8-second pass in the Daddy Cool dragster. So good to see their success after their long 35+year career racing!

We planned to stay over Sunday night anyway, which was just as well, as Claire was not feeling great. She perked up a bit later on and cycled to the tower to get the results. And got to have a look at The Commuter which was on display with Anthony’s car set up as push car behind, and opposite the Allard which was also there, and cackling. Great to see the debut of the fantastic-looking Apache Nostalgia funny car, driven by Tim Garlick. Period-perfect paint and a great job by Rob Loaring and Nick Davies of I.C.E. Just stunning! And great to see Wendy out in Time Warp for the cackle and some runs. Glad their car is okay!

We had the Wild Bunch presentation after racing. Big congratulations to Scottie, who won the event, and to Tom, Adam and Keith who were 2nd, 3rd and 4th. The Wild Bunch Series is so close now! I am now in 5th place in both Wild Bunch and Real Steel so still in with a shout of the Top 4.

We had a quiet night Sunday, and drove back Monday morning, getting home around 12noon. I got Backdraft in the garage that day and have been stripping everything down. It now looks like it might be the torque converter that let go, so will be trying to get that sorted quickly. But at least we have a 6-week gap to the Open Sports Nationals at Shakey on August Bank Holiday!

22nd - 23rd June 2013 NOSTALGIA NATIONALS at SHAKEY

We were really looking forward to the Nostalgia Nationals at Shakey as it’s always a great event! The weekend was Wild Bunch Series Round 3, Real Steel Series Round 5 and the first round of the Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars Series. We hoped that the weather would turn out better than the forecast, which was pretty rainy!

Claire had to work all Friday, so I left home early morning Friday, towing "Backdraft" up with the Winne. I got to the track around 11am, and parked up again in the middle of the pits, opposite the entrance to the pit, and set up with the Winne and trailer lengthways and the race car next to the Winne. Later on Linda and Dave Williams arrived and set up next to me, with Bob and Tom Hawkins next to them. The afternoon turned out quite sunny, so I had a chilled out afternoon chatting to people. Claire drove my 1964 GMC Suburban up to the track with Mark, and arrived about 8pm. We were again going to use it as a push car all weekend. Claire parked the Suburban next to the trailer. We had a good night chatting to lots of people. We also chatted to Colin Millar with the ‘Flyin’ Fyffer’ 7-second Anglia. He had also brought a real sweet-looking original standard black Pop, and he took us all around the pits in it, even into the Marquee!

Saturday started pretty cloudy and cool and with a tailwind. This was also varying to three quarters from behind, and a bit gusty. It had rained early morning, but this was starting to dry up and the track was open before too long. We got the car ready, and had a fire up, and everything was fine. We then went over to see the guys from the ACAG (Allard Chrysler Action Group) who had brought Sydney Allard’s 1961 Allard Chrysler dragster (the first ever dragster in Europe) to ‘Long Marston’ for the first time in around 40 years! They had the car on display and were planning to join in the ‘Ring of Fire’ demos on the evening. The Wild Bunch had just installed the car as the second ever "Honorary Lifetime Wild Bunch Member" (Nobby Hills being the first one!). I had decided to donate a pair of my old silver Simpson race boots to the team, for fireup purposes, as they had acquired a suit and gloves already and still needed boots. And we went down to the marquee to give them to Stu Bradbury and Brian Taylor. They were really chuffed to receive them! And we had a chat with them and Gareth Kent and Kev Roberts who are also on the team of people working on and running the car. They were shorthanded this weekend, so Mark Coulsell also joined in to help them out, which they were all very appreciative of.

We went back to the pits and got ready for our run, and called Mark and Joey over, and started to push down to the pairings lanes. We got to about the corner, and the German Pro Mod Willys had a crash. A real shame, as he nearly managed to save it after weaving around. It also turned out the car in the other lane had left a lot of heavy synthetic oil, so we were in for a wait. But the weather was holding so we chatted to people in the pairings lanes. We walked back to the pits and bumped into none other than Derek Annable! He had driven from Anglesey in his Honda Integra, with his helper. We had a good chat to him, and it was great to see him! We had some lunch and went back to the fireup road. The down time turned into about 3 ½ hours. But Derek waited around in order to see us and the other Wild Bunch cars run. Around about 3:30pm we got our run and I was paired with a Sportsman ET car who ran a 12.51 at 113mph. I was chuffed to run an 8.887 at 150.52mph, always nice to run that 150! Derek was up on the disabled viewing platform cheering everyone on, so we were glad he got to see loads of Wild Bunch run! There were 14 Wild Bunchers altogether this time. And a guy called Matt Fuller and team had bought and refurbished the old "Oblivion" funny car (built by the same guys who had built both "Malibu Express" cars), and they were at the track testing, so it was good to see the car out, and we did get a picture side-by-side in of "Backdraft" and "Oblivion" in the fireup road.

After this, we went back to the pits and fuelled up. We didn’t plan on another run as we thought the track would be closing at 5pm, but hadn’t realised it was going to stay open until 6! Oh well. We then had a look round the trade stands, and also went to the marquee and presented Stu and Brian and team with a laminated certificate to induct the Allard into the Wild Bunch. Claire and Kev took a few photos, and the team were chuffed to be joining the Wild Bunch family! We then went back to our pit and started to get ready for the evening’s activities, the ‘Ring of Fire’ fireup on track, where the Wild Bunch were due to be the featured class for the year.

I got all suited up and Mark pushed me out with the Suburban to the fireup road around 6:30pm and waited for all the cars to assemble. The guys from the ACAG pushed the Allard down (by hand!). The Supercharged Outlaws were all waiting by the back wall as they were going to do a special tribute to Vic Hammond, who recently passed away. The evening’s proceedings then started with Fuzzy McKenzie giving a short speech about Vic, and then, instead of a minute’s silence, we all held a minute’s applause and cheering in honour of Vic. Which we think he would very much have approved of! There were some spots of rain, and we hoped this wouldn’t get worse and halt the fireup! Luckily it stopped and Barry Bohannon then gave the call for everyone to fireup. This was started by the Allard, and it soon got cackling nicely! Then the 11 Wild Bunch cars all joined in together. The Supercharged Outlaws also fired up their cars during the fireup in honour of Vic. We all kept going for as long as we could, and made a lot of noise! It was still pretty light, so not the right conditions for flames, but the sound was all pretty good! Mark then got the Suburban and we pushed back to the pits, and packed up for the night. We then spent the evening chatting to friends, and had a pretty early night. The weather forecast was not good for Sunday, so we had to wait and see!

In the morning it was pretty cloudy and windy and showers were predicted, though if it stayed dry, we planned to get down to the track as soon as it opened for our first round. We pushed out just after 10am. There was no queue, which was surprising! There were a few tot rods running and a couple of street cars, and then they sprayed the track. We dialled in at 8.88, basing it on the previous day’s run. In the first round, we were paired up with Keith Crampton in "Soultown Shaker". He ran an 11.071 at 117mph. I had a bit of a hairy moment when, after I had gone into full stage, I rolled forward, and put the top light of the tree out! Oh boy! I hoped I didn’t red light, and I just got away with it, but my reaction time ended up slower than normal, and I ran a 9.017 at 150.29mph! But was still in the running! Phew! We went back to the pits and fuelled up and got ready for another run. I was then in 6th place overall. It was getting cloudier!

We all went down for the next round about 12 noon. We were near the front of the Wild Bunch queue. This time we paired up with Adam Price in "Go Hard or Go Home!!!". He ran a 9.473 at 142mph. And this time I ran a better 8.952 at 149.21mph. Another pair of Bunchers ran - Dick in "Dorset Horn" and Keith in "Soultown Shaker" and it then started to rain! It got heavier and luckily we made it back from the top end before it was too heavy. Eventually, all the other cars turned back for the pits. At that point we weren’t sure if that would be it for the day.

We had some lunch and chatted to friends and waited around. It was nice to see Mark Fryer up visiting for the day, and chilling out. We waited around an hour, and the rain had stopped and the officials announced they were going to start drying the track. There was still a bit of a wind, and if the showers held off, we might have a chance. Eventually, around quarter to 3, the officials called the Wild Bunch back to the lanes! We went down to watch the remaining 8 cars run, and hoped the spots of rain did not amount to much! Finally, they all got their second round runs in by 3:30pm, so we planned a third round about 4:30pm. We went back to the pits and got ready. I was then running in 5th place overall.

It was good to see Neil Townson of "Northern Spirit" as well as daughter Jess who had come to watch the event. Sorry we didn’t get to bump into Tracy, and we send best wishes to Rachael too! It was also good to see Roger and Helen from the Firestorm jet car team! Unfortunately we didn’t have long to chat to them as we were about to go out for the round, but it was good to hear they are still making progress with the rebuild, and we hope to see them out before too long!

This time, I was paired up with Adam again. And we were both fired up, as usual. He ran one of his quickest passes of the weekend, a 9.398 at 143mph. Mark and Claire were chuffed back on the start line when they saw I had run an 8.867 at 150.08mph, my closest of the day! We went back to the pits and started to pack up. Just when I was nearly ready to load the car, I saw a wall of solid rain coming across the field! It was too late, it started to rain torrentially!! But at least we had got three rounds in that day, one the day before and the ‘Ring of Fire’ a total bonus compared to what had been forecast!

Luckily Mark Mills still had his marquee up for the "Xenomorph" altered and he kindly agreed to let us hold the Wild Bunch trophy giving there. I was well chuffed to find out that I had made it into the Top 4, and finished in 4th place! Against some really tough competition! In fact Mike Couch in the "Flat Frenzy 2" was exactly tied with Keith Crampton! So close! Congratulations to them, and also to Adam, who took his first win of the year! I am now running in 4th place in the Wild Bunch Series and 3rd place in Real Steel, as well as 4th in Roy Wilding’s Series. Pretty pleased with all that!

Thanks very much to Mark & Claire for crewing and pushing! And to Joey for crewing and Kim for taking pics of the ‘Ring of Fire’ fireup. Also, thanks again to all the marshals and officials and fire and track crew and NSRA for all their hard work, in the changeable conditions. It was another great event, and we really enjoyed it all, especially the pushing, and the ‘Ring of Fire’ lineup!

We’re now looking forward to the third annual "Dragstalgia" event at Santa Pod on 13th & 14th July, especially as we had to miss last year’s event with our engine breakage! Can’t wait for that one, so hope the weather’s real good!! It will be the 4th Wild Bunch Series round and the 6th Real Steel round, as well as Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars Series round 2, and things are very close for the Top 4 in each! And there will be another Cacklefest and possibly flag starts! And we are sure to see our biggest Wild Bunch field of the year for that event!

8th - 9th June 2013 JUNE SHOOTOUT at SHAKEY

We were looking forward to the second Wild Bunch Series event, at Shakespeare County Raceway, which was the ‘Shakey Super Pull’ event, as well as our annual fancy dress. The weather forecast was good, so we hoped for a bigger field of Wild Bunch cars at the event.

Claire had to work, so was driving up with Mark later on, so I left home around late morning Friday, towing Backdraft up with the Winne. I got to the track around 12:30pm, and parked up again in the middle of the pits, opposite the food court. Team Gridlock with the Go Hard or Go Home!!! altered set up next to me, and others soon started arriving. There were 13 Wild Bunchers altogether this time. Claire and Mark arrived about 8:00pm, in Mark’s car. We had a good night chatting to lots of friends.

Saturday started out pretty nice, though not very warm. It stayed dry all day, with some sunny periods. And there was a pretty strong headwind. We got the car ready, and had a fire up, and everything sounded fine. So we towed down for our first run at about quarter to 12. There was hardly any queue in the fireup road! We paired up with Gina in Tiki Munki and she ran a 13.122 at 97mph. We were pleased to run in the 8’s again, with an 8.932 at 147.88mph.

We got back to the pits and fuelled up, ready for the next run. We had some lunch and towed back down around 2:15pm. Again there was not much of a queue. We paired up with a Volkswagen, who ran a 20.46-scond pass at 54mph. I ran just a little bit quicker than my last run, with an 8.920 at 147.93mph. We went back to the pits and fuelled up again, and had a break for around an hour.

We went back down to the pairings lanes and this time there was no one to match up with. So I soloed to an 8.945 at 146.94mph. Real chuffed, as all 3 runs were within 2 hundredths! We fuelled up and packed up for the evening, and had tea.

We then got ready for our fancy dress party, and people started to gather around 7:30pm. The main part of our costumes hadn’t arrived in time, so Claire had improvised, though we had received the wigs! We went as Sonny and Cher, in the early days, of course! And Claire had a long black wig, and I spent most of the night getting used to having long hair again! There were quite a few people who had dressed up, including the guys from The Ferret team, who went as The Beach Boys with bright Hawaiian shirts and shorts, and wigs. Terry and Ruth emerged dressed in head to foot in red, which we obviously approved of! It took us a while to guess that they were Simply Red! Grandson James had a guitar and striped jumper and was Ed Sheeran, while son Andrew had a blonde flick wig and was Jason Donovan! Miss B turned up after a meal out, and she was ‘later’ Cher, with a long curly black wig, corset and thigh boots! And then one of the most spectacular groups of the night was The Spice Girls! Our Mark was Ginger, Nicole was baby, Joey was Scary and Kim was Posh! You had to be there! We had a good night and went and watched a bit of tractor pulling for a while. It had really chilled off, so we didn’t stay out too long, but went in the clubhouse for a bit. And had a fairly early night.

In the morning, the weather was dry and cloudy, and there was still a bit of a headwind, and not as warm as predicted. Mark and Claire deliberated the Dial-in and were planning to go for the middle number of the Saturday runs, with an 8.93, but on the way to the fireup road, they decided to change this to an 8.92. We towed down about 10:15am, and there were only a couple of cars in the queue, so not long to wait.

I was paired up with John Dalrymple in his slingshot. He had dialled in at 11.85, and ran a 12.711 at 96.78mph, so not on his usual pace. When Claire and Mark got to the top end, they told me not to be too disappointed, but I had run a 9! (The first one for a few weekends now!). It was a 9.006 at 147.18mph, so not really too far off Dial-in, especially considering some of the Bunch were also slower than anticipated.

We went back to the pits and got ready for the next round, which was around an hour later. We all towed down around 12noon, and this time there was a bit of a queue, though it still didn’t take that long. I was paired up with Terry in the Ratcatcher Resurrection slingshot. He ran a good 9.238 at 148.88mph, and was really running strong now. I was chuffed to improve to an 8.911 at 147.40mph, so only 9 thousandths off the Dial-in this time, so a big help there. We all towed back and had some lunch, and refuelled.

For our next round, we towed down around 2:15pm. There was another queue, but again, it all moved through quite quickly. On this run I was paired with Adam in the Go Hard or Go Home!!! Topolino. He ran a 9.446 at 141.60mph. I was chuffed when I ran my quickest and fastest of the weekend, with an 8.856 at 148.25mph. But a bit further away from my Dial-in! After the tow back, Mark started to change the oil, and we refuelled ready for the following round. We had now run 10 runs on this oil, longer than ever before, and it was still not too bad, due to the oil heater we were using, which is working really well!

The cars were starting to thin out again, and though we were going to tow down for around 4pm, we found out that the Wild Bunch would probably be the last cars down the track. A bit more of a crowd had stayed than at the previous event, so that was good. For this run, I was paired with Keith Crampton in the Soultown Shaker slingshot, and he had been running really close, and was leading at that point. I was somewhere around 5th or 6th at that point, so not sure if I could get into the Top 4 this time. Keith ran an 11.265 at 114.42mph, real close to his 11.29 Dial, as he had been all day. Claire and Mark were really excited back on the start line when they saw me run an 8.917 at 147.58mph! Just 3 thousandths off my Dial-in! But would it be enough? It all depended on what everyone else had run!

At our prize presentation, Claire announced all the results, and I was really chuffed when I found out I had made it into 4th place! (This had only been by .006 over the 4 rounds, ahead of Adam! Who had beaten me into 3rd place last time by just .001 over the 4 rounds). Such close racing! And another Top 4 for us this year! This means that I am now in 4th place in the Wild Bunch Series and 3rd place in the Real Steel Series, so pretty pleased with that!

Congratulations to Keith Crampton who won the event, his first win ever! And congrats also to Tom Larman who was 2nd and Bob Hawkins who was 3rd. Thanks very much to Mark and Claire for crewing and Joey for driving the tow car and pushing. Also thanks to our young friend Mackenzie, who came along for the ride on 1 run! (Glad to see him doing so well with his school work and even fitting in a photo of him with Backdraft along the way!) Also, big thanks again to all the marshals and officials and fire and track crew for all their hard work at the weekend. It was another really good event, with more close competition.

We’re now looking forward to the Nostalgia Nationals at Shakey, on 22nd & 23rd June! One of our favourite events! And Claire will be driving up the ‘Burb to use as the push car again! Plus there will be a special new feature at the end of racing Saturday, the ‘Ring of Fire’, which we are taking part in! Hope we get more good weather for that, and a really big field of Wild Bunch! Can’t wait!!

25th - 27th May 2013 SPRING NATIONALS at SHAKEY

We were really looking forward to the first Wild Bunch Series event of the season, at Shakespeare County Raceway, which was our Wild Bunch ‘Spring Nationals’ at the Bank Holiday 3-day ‘35th Gary’s Picnic’ Yanks Weekend. We hoped for more dry weather at this event, and the forecast predicted it might be! I left home around 11am on the Friday towing 'Backdraft' up with the Winne. Claire and Mark had to work so were going up later with Mark and friends. I got to a very damp and nearly empty pits about 12:45pm, and parked up in the middle, opposite the food court, and alongside the entrance road. Not long after, Team Ferret arrived, and they set up both team campers next to me, followed by Scottie and Gina and their caravan, Chevy and 'Tiki Munki'. I set up our pit area and chatted to a few friends. Claire and Mark arrived about 8pm, with Kim and Joey and Stevie. We then spent the evening chatting to friends, and were outside for a while as it was warmer.

Saturday morning dawned sunny and mild! Excellent! We fired up the car in the morning, and Mark and Joey came over around 10:30am. I was not planning to do many runs that day, so we just took it easy. We then went down to join the queue to the pairings lanes, about noon. There was a while to wait as there was some down time, but it was sunny so we didn’t mind too much! And Claire went back to the Winne to get a quick lunch for us! On the re-start, I paired up with Gina in 'Tiki Munki'. She ran a 13.192 at 96mph. Claire and Mark couldn’t see the timing board bulbs that well, and thought I’d run an 8.92, which wasn’t bad, so we were even more chuffed when we found out I had run an 8.822 at 148.63mph, so a good start to the weekend!

There had been a very small fraction of oil out of one rocker, so I changed the rocker cover gasket, and this was all fine. We fuelled up and towed down around 4:15pm. This time we were matched with Adam Price in 'Go Hard or Go Home!!!' and he ran a 9.369 at 143mph. We were all pleased when I ran a consistent 8.819 at 148.98mph, just three thousandths different than the first run. We towed back to the pits and packed up, ready for the next day. We had a nice night wandering round the pits and chatting to friends.

Sadly, during the night, Kim was involved in a car accident off site, and had to be taken to hospital in Gloucester, and Joey of course went with her. So we were all naturally very concerned about her. On Sunday morning, we went over to check if there was any news, and she was ok, but they were going to keep her in for the day. So really glad to hear she was alright!

We had planned a late start and told Mark to come over later when he was ready. The weather was good again, and a bit warmer. We later towed down to the pairings lanes around 12:45pm. This time we matched up with Simon Williams in his 'Pure Nostalgia' slingshot. He ran a 9.278 at 146mph. On this run, I ran another hundredth quicker, with an 8.801 at 149.89mph, so the car was really running well! We went back to the pits and had lunch and got the car fuelled up and ready for another run.

We towed back to the pairings lanes around 3pm, and this time were matched with Gina again. She ended up running a new PB of 12.935 at 100mph, so well done to her and Scottie! This time, I landed a bit left after the launch so had to feather the throttle as I was drifting toward the guardrail a bit. But I was glad to hear that I had still run an ‘8’, with an 8.996 at 147.54mph! We went back to the pits and I changed the oil. We decided to call it a day and packed up for the night. And had another evening chatting to friends in the pits. Mark and Nicole had gone to pick up Kim and Joey and we went over to the caravan when they got back to see how Kim was, and it was good to see her back, though she had a very swollen foot and was on crutches. We had a fairly early night, in bed by about 10:30pm again.

Monday dawned dry, and the forecast had improved and showed that it should stay that way all day! We planned our first Wild Bunch round for 10:30am. Mark and Claire deliberated the Dial-in, and there was only a hundredth in it in their choice, and they eventually went for an 8.80! The weather was a bit cooler and there was a bit of a breeze so they thought I would go quicker!

We all towed down to the fireup road around 10:15am and were surprised that there was hardly any queue at all! It seemed a lot of classes had their rounds the previous day, and many people were packing up and going! Even though it was nice and dry! Oh, well, more track time for us all!

On the first round, I was paired with Adam. He had dialled in at 9.28 and ran a strong 9.272 at 147mph, and led after that round. I was fairly pleased to run an 8.882 at 150.48mph! Real nice to run that 150 any time! And I was 4th at this point, so not a bad start! We towed back to the pits and got ready for the next round. I went over to see Terry Clifford, who had just run another PB, of 9.077 at 150mph in his 'Ratcatcher Resurrection' slingshot! But in doing so, had launched his nosecone in the air at the finish line! Thankfully he and the car were a-ok and the nosecone ‘buffed out’ with hardly a scratch! I lent him some cable ties to further secure it for now!

We all towed down for the next round at noon. Again, there was hardly any queue! I was supposed to be paired with Dave ‘Sag’ Southworth in the 'Daddy Cool' rear-engined dragster, who was in his first event with the Bunch this year. But there was some misunderstanding about lanes, and I ended up with a solo. I ran a better 8.840 at 150.41mph on this pass, so pleased with that. As the sump heater is now working so well, we don’t have to change the oil so often, so only had to fuel up to get ready for the next round.

For the third round, we towed down about quarter to 2. We were paired up with Gina, and she ran a 13.024 at 101mph. This run was similar to the last, and I recorded an 8.845 at 151.00mph. By now, I was running third out of all the Wild Bunch cars competing. We fuelled up back in the pits. It was getting more cloudy, but no sign of rain, so that was good.

Due to the lower number of racers at the track, they announced that the Wild Bunch would be closing the show at around 4pm. We all towed down and got ready by about 10 to 4. There was no queue at all, and probably only 20 spectators left in the grandstand! On this run, I paired up with Sag, who had run 2 PB’s that day already. He ran a 9.206 at 143mph. And we were all chuffed when I ran an 8.810 at a new Personal Best Speed of 152.25mph! The speed was unexpected, as that turned out to be my first improvement on speed since 2005!! And it was the fastest speed of the Bunch for the weekend (my earlier 8.801 was the quickest!). Real chuffed to run close to Dial-in, but then we had to wait to see how everyone else had done!

We held our prize presentation by the Winne, and I was really pleased to find out I had finished in 3rd place! Congratulations to Tom Larman who won his first ever Wild Bunch event in 'The Ferret'. And congrats to Adam who was second in 'Go Hard or Go Home!!!'. It turned out that over the 4 rounds of competition, there had only been one thousandth in it between me and Adam for 2nd and 3rd! So close!! Well done also to Keith Crampton who was fourth in 'Soultown Shaker'. Well done to all the winners of the Spot Prizes and especially to all those who ran PB’s over the weekend – of the 14 cars participating, 10 of us had run PB’s! A fantastic weekend for the Bunch!! I also found out that I am now in 3rd place in the Real Steel Series, so that’s pretty good.

What a great weekend! We were thrilled that all 8 runs over the weekend had been in the 8’s and all 4 runs Monday had been over the 150mph mark! That was a first, so really pleased with the car’s performance. Thanks very much to Mark and Claire and Joey for crewing and Stevie for helping drive the tow car. Also, big thanks to all the marshals and officials and fire and track crews for their hard work as always. They gave us another good track, and worked hard as ever, so as always their efforts are very much appreciated!

We’re now looking forward to our next event the 'June Shootout' at the Shakey Super Pull (a tractor pull event too) on June 8th & 9th, for the second Wild Bunch Series round of 2013. Hope the weather keeps on being as good for that one! Can’t wait!


We were looking forward to the first event of our season at Shakespeare County Raceway, and hoping that the weather turned out a lot warmer than the Easter ‘Festival of Power’. And we were also hoping to run some more 8’s, after the one at Santa Pod!

Claire had been over looking after her Mum the week before, so was unsure if she would make it back for the event, but hoped to come back on the Saturday. She got everything ready a week early, and I prepared the race car and hitched up and set off for the track on the Friday morning. I arrived around lunchtime and was the first Wild Bunch car there, and found that we were pitted up near the clubhouse not far from the pit entrance, so was pleased with that. I set up our pits in the designated marked area, and later on The Wicked Lady team arrived and set up on one side of me and Dick Sharp and the Dorset Horn team on the other. Mark and friends arrived later that evening. I had a wander round the pits, chatting to friends and lost track of time so did not have an early night!

On Saturday morning, Claire texted me to say that she was on her way. But she was not due to arrive at Gloucester Airport til about 10:30am. And as we were first on the running order, I planned to skip the first round, and join in later after she arrived. There were several rain showers first thing, but the track crew worked to dry and prep the track, so the Wild Bunch were called down and began racing at about 10:30am. I went down to watch, but half way through the round, it started raining! I legged it to shelter, but still got quite wet, as did most of the teams! It then rained a bit more heavily, so the rest were sent back to the pits. Later, Claire arrived at about 11:45am, and we went in the Winne for tea and coffee and a chat. And were joined by various racers throughout the morning. At around 1:30pm, Julie Willcox came to say that the track would be ready in about half an hour, and that I could join in with the rest of the Bunch in the other half of the first qualifying round. Well, as I had missed it the first time, and had not gotten the car ready as thought I would be waiting for the second round several hours away, so nothing was ready to go. We started to get everything ready in a rush, and Claire was just strapping me in the car when we heard Adam Price start his burnout! We stopped rushing, and stood down, and it was probably just as well, as we hadn’t planned on that run anyway. We then had lunch and got the car ready to join in with the second round of qualifying.

We got called out around 4pm and went down to the pairings lanes for the round. There had been problems with the Christmas Tree and electrics, so the officials said that after the first cycle of qualifying, they were going to stop and try to rectify all of this, so we had a bit of a wait. We then paired up with Darryl Howells in Chemical Reaction. We had chosen a Dial-in of 8.92 and Darryl was dialling in 9.99. Well, I was in the far lane and had a bit of launch towards the left, so as I was drifting towards the guard rail, had to back off, and recorded a 9.395 at 145.16mph. Darryl had a stellar run, and posted a 9.991 at 133mph, to become #1 Qualifier! Fair play to him! We then went back to the pits and started to get the car ready for the next qualifier, but as it was already about 5:15pm, we did not think we would get that far. And in fact, they only got as far as half way through the second cycle. We packed up for the evening, which turned out really nice and sunny! We had a nice night, walking round the pits and chatting to friends, and ended up in our friends’ (the Walters) camper, so had a good night, but went to bed fairly early.

Sunday dawned really nice and sunny, though clouded over for most of the day. We saw that the officials had only scheduled to complete the second cycle and then run rounds three and four, so we were only going to have 2 more runs that day. We got ready and were called out at about 12:30pm. This weekend Mark Coulsell and Linda Williams had volunteered to be pit runners, and they were doing a great job of giving us 10-minute warnings and calling us out, so many thanks to them for their hard work!

We towed down to the staging lanes. I was paired up with Darryl again, and he had lowered his Dial-in to 9.95 and we kept our 8.92. He had a bit of a wayward run, and ran 10.353 at 129mph. I had a good launch on this run and ran straight with an 8.951, and was also really chuffed to find out I had run 150.08mph! Really nice to hit the magic number again, as it does not happen all that often! We towed back to the pits and fuelled up and put the sump heater on. We had some lunch and waited for the next round.

We were called out just before 3pm and did not have long to wait for this round. This time I was matched up with Dick Sharp, and as we had not run together for a while, we both looked forward to this. He had dialled in at 9.60, and we kept the 8.92. The track was warmer and was coming around nicely. Dick ran a 10.298 at 135mph. This time I had a great run, and we were really surprised when I broke out with an 8.783 at 150.39mph! Wow! Real chuffed with that one! We went back to the pits and changed the oil and got ready, in case there were to be an extra qualifier. There were a couple of delays, so in the end they just completed the fourth cycle by about 5:30pm. So that was it for the day, and we packed up ready for Monday. We later found out that I had qualified 2nd, so was real pleased with that. We also found out that I would be paired with Adam in Go Hard or Go Home!!! again! A rematch of our first round from the Festival of Power! So a fair bit of banter ensued!! We had another nice night chatting to friends, and went to bed fairly early.

Monday dawned cloudy but dry, and as the forecast was good, we were hoping for a full day of racing. We were 12th on the running order so not out that early. The officials held another drivers’ meeting, as they still had some problems with the Tree electrics. They told us it could not display any greens or reds! And their plan was to run the tree, and any red lights would show up as 3 ambers for those on a Pro Tree (single for those on a Sportsman Tree). I wasn’t too worried about this, as I don’t wait for the green anyway, so didn’t think it would cause any problems. Dex was feeling in confident mood that morning and said he thought it was their turn for the round win! We hoped the opposite! We were called down around 11:15am and towed down to the pairings lanes.

We now dialled in at 8.85, being somewhere in the middle of our last 2 runs, and Adam dialled in at 9.25. It turned out Adam had about 6 hundredths advantage off the start line. I chased him down the track and neither of us knew who had won until the crew arrived at the top end. I had broken out with an 8.810 at 149.60mph! Adam had recorded a good 9.287 at 145.41mph, so was tough to beat this time. Congratulations to him and the team on their well-deserved win! Fair play! (Adz went on to make the Final where he broke out by a thousandth! So congrats on the 2nd place!).

During our Prize Presentation, we were real surprised to be awarded the Best Appearing Team by the commentators! Well chuffed with that one!

Thanks very much to Mark and Claire and Joey for crewing! Also, huge thanks to all the marshals and officials and track crew for their hard work all weekend! And for completing the event! Big thanks to Mark and Linda too, who worked their socks off - much appreciated!

Congratulations to Terry Clifford, who ran his first ever 9’s in the Ratcatcher Resurrection (at very nearly 150mph so that should happen soon too)! Great to have the team back with the Bunch this year! Congrats also to Bob Hawkins who won the event and also ran a PB 8.067, so he’s getting real close to those 7’s! It was great to have some good close racing with the Bunch this weekend.

And whilst we were packing up, we had some fantastic news, as our Lee rang to say Sarah had given birth to our beautiful baby granddaughter, Bella Rose! And Mum and baby were doing fine! So we were really thrilled about that! Many congratulations to them and big brothers Liam and Tj!!

We’re now looking forward to our Spring Nationals RWYB event at Gary’s Picnic Yanks weekend at Shakey on May 25th - 27th for the first Wild Bunch Series round of 2013, and the third Real Steel round of the season. Hope the weather’s good for that weekend! We’re expecting a big field of Wild Bunch for that one, so can’t wait!

30th March - 1st April 2013 FESTIVAL OF POWER at SANTA POD

We were really looking forward to the new season after the long cold winter off! I had not had much to do to the dragster, as I had rebuilt the engine late last year, and had to do more repairs after the timing chain broke, so everything was pretty much a-ok. I replaced the rockers that Rich Walters kindly let me borrow, for a different ratio, and just did some basic checks of the engine. I also did some minor repairs here and there due to wear and tear and checked the car over. We had a fire-up in mid February, and as usual, the engine sounded real strong, especially hearing it for the first time in months! So we were really hoping that we would regularly be in the 8’s again this year for our 19th season of racing!

We are dedicating all of our runs this weekend to Malcolm Olley, who sadly passed away the week before. We had commissioned Ed to make some stickers, in pink, which are now on the the car, on both panels below the engine, saying Race in Peace, Malcolm.

The weather had been forecasted to be extremely cold over the Easter, and a new track had just been laid at Santa Pod, and the crew had hardly any time to get it rubbered in due to recent snow, rain and cold. So we really did not know what to expect. But we were prepared for the cold weather! On the Friday Claire and I left home around 9am towing Backdraft up with the Winne. We had a good journey and started seeing snow banks by the side of the road from about Bicester area, and when we arrived about 12:45pm, there was still snow on the back of the spectator bank! We were really chuffed when we found out we were again to be pitted against the fence, around the 1100-foot mark! There were just a few Wild Bunchers already there, and we started to set up next to the Howells with Chemical Reaction. Once set up, we went to sign on. And not long after we went to scrutineering. Sarah Howells kindly loaned us her car to tow the dragster up there, and we were amazed when we found out that there was only one car ahead of us in the queue! Everything went fine, and we got back to the pits and finished setting up our pit area. And got the heating on inside the Winne!! Mark, girlfriend Nicole, and Kim arrived late in the afternoon. Joey had to work all weekend so couldn’t make it. We later had tea and went over to chat to the Walters in their camper, and then had a fairly early night.

This was the 8th time that the Wild Bunch had raced at Easter as a class, though the event was renamed and shortened by a day this season. We had a field of 9 cars, and they all made it to the track, despite the cold weather. We were scheduled for 3 qualifiers for the first 2 days and were 24th on the running order, so not out that early to start with, which was good, as we were hoping it would give the track time to warm up! The weather forecast was dry all weekend, even though very cold! Friday morning began cloudy and the track crew got the track up and running around 9:25am, an amazing achievement given the cold. We fired the car up in the morning to check it all out, and she fired quite easily, and everything was fine.

There were some delays during the morning, including early stoppages for snow flurries! We were eventually called to the pairings lanes after about 1pm. We towed down and waited, and were stopped twice for snow flurries! We had decided on an 8.95 Dial-in, as we wanted to start with an 8 and didn’t really have any idea how it would be on the cold track. Claire was using the temperature gun this weekend, and took a reading of 5 °C just before the run, which eventually took place about 3pm! I was going to be paired with Keith Crampton in the Soultown Shaker slingshot but he had problems firing up, so I had a solo. On my run, I spun a bit off the line, but was still very pleased to run a 9.082 at 147.73 mph! Not bad for starters! We went back to the pits and fuelled up and waited to see if there was going to be another round. And although they did start the second cycle, it became too cold and damp to continue past about 6:30pm, so that was it for the day. We thought they would start where we left off in qualifying, and possibly be 9th on the running order, so an earlier start. We had tea, and had a pretty early night, as it was too cold for wandering round in the pits!

Sunday morning dawned a bit brighter and the sun came out around 8am. Racing started pretty much on time, but we were surprised when they started the day by calling Pro ET, and Claire went to the signing on office to check. They were going with the original Sunday running order, so we would be out a bit later. We were called out around 11:15am and made our way to the pairings lanes. We dialled in at 8.96 for this one, and I ended up with a solo again. I lit the tyres on the launch in this one, and ran a 9.383 at 147.66mph. Claire’s reading on the temperature gauge this time was just 1°C on the track surface! We went back to the pits and fuelled up, and got ready for the next qualifier.

We got called around 2pm, and this time we were paired with Bob Hawkins in the Time Traveller slingshot and he dialled in at 8.09, so this would be a good one! We raised the dial to 8.98. Just before our run, Eric Teboul ran on his rocket bike, in the right hand lane. The track crew had to do the usual clearup and prep in this lane, and this included doing a few passes with the jet dryer, particularly near the start line. Track temperature on this one was a positively tropical 15°C!! Bob ran a strong 8.179 at 163mph in the left lane and I ran my first 8 of the year, an 8.915 at 148.64mph! Well chuffed! The car had wheelied and hooked up well so also pleased with that! We returned to the pits and got ready for another qualifier, and watched some racing in the meantime, and had some lunch. During the weekend Dawn (Miss B) had been stopping by regularly for a warm up and a chat, and this day had her granddaughter Chloe with her, who also came in from the cold. She was just adorable and had everyone entertained with her songs and her happy nature. Such a well behaved sweet little girl, and she soon took a shine to us, as we did to her! (She likes funny cars mostly, but was cheering for the red car too!).

We were later called for the last qualifier of the day around 5:30pm, and towed down to the pairings lanes. This time I was matched up with Adam Price, who dialled in at 9.19. We kept our Dial at 8.98. The weather was still really cold! And the track had dipped back to 3°C! Adam ran a good 9.202 at 145mph, but he had pulled a cherry. And because of how cold the track was, when I launched, I lit the left tyre, drifted towards the Christmas tree, corrected, and powered straight, without lifting. It must have smoked ‘em for about 330ft! What a ride! A load of fun, even though the ET was only 9.868 at 146.26mph! I had a smile on my face all the way down the track! We were the last class to run that day, and the track crew had done really well to complete all the planned qualifiers and eliminations in the cold conditions. We had an early tea, and had a nice time with various visitors popping by, including Paula Blackett, Tony Smith, and the Walters. Everyone was pretty much hibernating in campers this weekend, trying to keep warm, and it was nice to have people stopping by. We had found out that I was due to have Adam Price in the first round on Monday, so that would be a good race!

Monday dawned colder than ever, and in fact Claire thinks it’s the coldest day we’ve raced on, judging by all the layers she was wearing! Fair play to all the track crew and pairings marshalls who were out working all day every day in the freezing cold! It was still cloudy, so we didn’t even have the sun to warm things up. But we were so impressed when the track opened right on time at 9am, despite the cold conditions. Well done to all the crew, and thank you!! We didn’t have too long to wait for eliminations, as we had 4 rounds and were fairly early on the running order. We got called at about 10:15am and towed down. Unfortunately Mark Coulsell had done some cam and lifter damage in the Ballbreaker slingshot, and Dick Sharp had broken teeth off the ring gear, so neither made it to the round. Adam had lane choice in our race and he dialled in at 9.18, and would be leaving the line first, as we opted for a 9.20, as the track was so cold and we didn’t know if we could get a good launch. As it turned out, I did light the tyres and had a bit of a snaky start. I chased after Adam but did not quite catch him. It turns out he broke out, with a 9.161 at 146mph, new PB’s for him, whilst I had run a 9.268 at 147.61mph flat out, and won the race! Well chuffed! Congrats to Adam on the PB’s and thanks for a great race!

After this run, we changed the oil. We had been using an oil heater, so didn’t need to change it so often, and this also helped in the cold weather. We had a while to wait, but were really chuffed as I had a Bye in the next round! We were called out at about 12:30pm and ran about 1pm. This time, we raised the Dial to 9.25, though it did not matter too much. I recorded a stronger 9.097 at 146.55mph, so was quite pleased with that. We fuelled up back in the pits and got ready for the next round, and had some lunch.

Around 2:15pm there was a minute’s silence in honour of Paula Marshall and Big John from Pro ET, who both sadly passed away this last year. Both are very much missed. Mark Coulsell had asked Ed to make up some stickers for Paula, with a rose on them, and they gave them to the Wild Bunch teams, so we put 2 on the car, and one on the trailer by all the SPRC stickers.

The next round took place at around 3:15pm. I was matched with Keith Crampton for this Semi-final. He had had some teething problems with his new combination, but was starting to get the car sorted. He dialled in at 11.50. We went for a 9.20 again, as it was still so cold. I had a small reaction time advantage on Keith, and also had a good launch, so knew it would be a good run, so backed off before the finish line. We both broke out! But Keith broke out by only one thousandth of a second, while I ran a 9.094 at 134.42mph, so Keith won that one! Fair play to him, for making his first Final ever. Another good race!

We went back to the pits and started to pack up, whilst watching some of the eliminations. Claire went down to the tower to get the commentators results for the Wild Bunch. And we had our trophy presentations shortly after the Final, where Sean Law in The Wicked Lady took the win over Keith. Well done to young Sean, who had also run some PBs at the weekend!

We were pretty pleased to finish in 3rd place for the weekend, our first trophy of the year! I was also awarded the Wildest Ride trophy for my smoky snaky run late Sunday! It was great to start the year with a completed event, and a total of 7 runs, including an ‘8’ and some fun ones!

Thanks very much to Mark and Claire for crewing, and Nicole for driving the tow car, and Kim for her support! Also huge thanks to all the marshals and officials and track crew for their hard work all weekend in the extreme cold! Absolutely amazing! Well done to them! Thanks also to Santa Pod and Keith Bartlett for the new track surface, which will be fantastic when it gets some warmer weather on it!

Congratulations to all those who ran PB’s at the weekend, and to Sean Law for his first ever win! And to Dick Sharp and all the team on the start of the 40th Anniversary year for the Dorset Horn! Great achievement! Commiserations to Mark and team on the damage, and Bob Hawkins who holed a piston. Hope they can all be back out racing with us soon!

Congratulations also to friends the Walters family from the Reloaded team as Pete was #1 Qualifier and went on to win in Super Pro! Well chuffed for them all!

We’re all now looking forward to the MSA SpringSpeed Nationals at Shakey on May 4th - 6th for the second Real Steel round of the season. And hoping for an even bigger field of Wild Bunch cars to run with! And hopefully more 8’s! Hope the weather’s a lot warmer!

That was the News