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17th November 2001 - Wild Bunch Prize Presentation

Well, what a great year!! I was lucky enough to win four different Series, and come second in the Wild Bunch Series, my highest ever finish in WB! This means “Backdraft” will be wearing the number WB 2 for the 2002 season! Here is how the Top 4 standings looked for all the Series I took part in in 2001:-

Wild Bunch Series
1stWB 56Team Dog's B******sRam Raider35
2ndWB 4Chris HartnellBackdraft35
3rdWB 109Croston & BohannonB-Sting29
4thWB 63Joe StevensRed Topolino25

Custom Chrome Series
1stWB 4Chris HartnellBackdraft37
2ndWB 20Mark CoulsellLimited Funz30
3rdWB 56Team Dog's B******sRam Raider23
4thWB 133Tom & Alec CoeCobalt22

Super Series
1stWB 4Chris HartnellBackdraft2990
2ndWB 133Tom & Alec CoeCobalt1810
3rdWB 20Mark CoulsellLimited Funz1780
4thWB 46Colin AldredClassy Chassy1490

Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars Series
1stWB 4Chris HartnellBackdraft19
2ndWB 56Team Dog's B******sRam Raider17
3rdWB 110Nick ConnorBarking Mad16
4thWB 1Team Dog's B******sNutcracker15

Real Steel Series
1stWB 4Chris HartnellBackdraft22
2ndWB 56Team Dog's B******sRam Raider20
3rdWB 109Croston & BohannonB-Sting19
4thWB 1Team Dog's B******sNutcracker18

The season was rounded off perfectly with the 4th Annual Wild Bunch Dinner and Prize Presentation at Drayton Manor in November. The dinner was great and the trophies and prizes were amazing as usual. I was also lucky enough to win the “Best Slingshot” trophy for 2001. This was both a big surprise and a great honour, and I was really chuffed to receive it. Claire received a lovely bouquet of flowers and a beautiful silver salver for all her “time and dedication” to the Wild Bunch.

The evening was once again well organised and enjoyable due to Roy and Angi’s hard work, along with the great spirit of camaraderie that is the Wild Bunch! We all had a great time and are now looking forward to the 2002 season!! Can’t wait!!
27th -28th October 2001 - End of Season Bash

This was the last event of the season and was Wild Bunch Series Round 5 (Final), Rear Engine Series Round 3 (Final) and Real Steel Series Round 4 (Final). I was one of 10 Slingshots in a field of 23 Wild Bunch cars this weekend.

Friday night saw the airing of the HTV West documentary called "Drag Star". This featured me, Sarah Howells and 3 other drag racers from the HTV region, following some of our runs at Shakespeare County Raceway, and talking to the drivers. They interviewed me in my garage, and sitting by the dragster at the racetrack, and showed quite a lot of the footage they took from the top of my rollcage, which came out pretty good. They also interviewed Claire in our living room and on the computer typing up the Super Series 5 ladder, and they also showed some of our trophies. It all came across pretty well, but we missed the actual airing as we were up at the track for the last event of the season!!

This was just a practice day where we were hoping to test and tune, but it wasn't til about 2:30 in the afternoon that we had a chance because, although the sun had been shining all morning, there was still a lot of damp in the track, due to loads of recent rain, and it took a while to dry up! I only made one pass of 9.912 at 133.53 mph, a slightly out-of-shape run which was the slowest to date this year, as the track was still a little cold.

Similarly there was a long wait on Sunday, Series points day, and it was not til after 2:00 that the track was dry enough for slick tyres. Once again there was no rain but with the coolness of the weather, everyone's times were a bit slower and there was only enough time to run two rounds. I had Dialled in at 9.60, and in the first round. I ran a good 9.579, against Ray Ford, in Team D.B. "Ram Raider". We had been joint leaders in Wild Bunch to this point, so wanted to pair up with each other for the final rounds. Ray Dialled in a conservative 11.00 and he ran a close 11.041, so it was still very close after round one. On the second run the sun had dipped behind the wall and, at about 4:30, the temperatures had really begun to drop! I experienced wheel spin on launch and on changing gear, resulting in an even slower 10.013 pass (unfortunately my only 10 of the year!), but with a top speed of the year of 135.54 mph! This run was also against Ray, who ran a 10.795 in round two, finishing 6th on the day, and ahead of me in 10th place. This meant we were both out of the Top 4 for the weekend and, although still equal on points in Wild Bunch Series, I finished in 2nd place in the Series for 2001, and Team Dog's B******s "Ram Raider" secured 1st place, by virtue of having more first place wins in the year than me. Many congratulations to the team, who will be moving the WB 1 number from "Nutcracker" to "Ram Raider" for next season - great achievement!

It was good to run the last round of the year with some racing action to conclude the Wild Bunch Series. And although I was disappointed to not win WB 1, the Real Steel Series was also wrapped up this weekend, resulting in another series win for me, so I was chuffed with that!!

Final Series standings:
It's just a few weeks to go until the Prize Presentation at Drayton Manor and we're really looking forward to it! Some results such as series winners are known, but the Merit awards may bring a few surprises. I am lucky enough to be collecting 4 trophies on the night: Wild Bunch Series 2nd place, Custom Chrome Series 1st place, Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars Series 1st place and Real Steel Series 1st place, so I'm really pleased with that!! It'll be another brilliant evening all round! And then we can look forward to another great year of Drag Racing in 2002!!
22nd -23rd September 2001 - Super Series 5

Super Series 5 was a great event to finish the Series with. We were one of 8 Slingshots in a field of 16 Wild Bunch cars entered. I had been leading Super Series by 630 points over Tom and Alec Coe, with a possible 900 points still available (including bonus!), and was hoping to add to my list of two 1st s, a 2nd and a 4th place in the previous four events in the Series.

This was a qualifying day and there were 2 rounds.
It was a really busy event again - over 200 cars and bikes! I had a few temporary new crew members this weekend, Paul Stubbings and Wendy Baker, Wendy being my chief tow driver for the weekend! (I had crewed for them last weekend at the European Finals at Santa Pod with their Top Methanol Dragster “Krypton”! Even got involved in doing a bit of clutch work!). Also Rick, who had pitched in with the “Krypton” team at the Pod, had come to spectate, but also got involved in towing and helping out. Many thanks to them, and to Lee as always!

I was one of the first out and put in a really good 9.370 on a 9.35 Dial, .020 off, which I was really pleased with, especially as it later turned out to be the #1 qualifying spot!

Mark Coulsell had taken the #2 qualifying spot with a 10.822 on a 10.80, just .022 off! Really close, even before any racing had started!!

Qualifying first meant I got 200 points (because of a 16-car field) and with the 100 bonus points for attending all rounds, it had gained me enough points to win the Super Series championship in Wild Bunch, for the 3rd season in a row!! As you can guess, I am really chuffed with this!! And I was really happy to go into the last day knowing that I had won! I also put in another pass on the second round of qualifying, a 9.426 on a 9.30. This was a heads up race against Johnny Hall, who had repaired the gearbox and set a very good 9.561 in the first round. It was a great race and Johnny beat me with his Personal Best E.T. of 9.246 @ 143 mph!! He was really pleased with the run and I’m looking forward to more match races with him in the future! Fair play, Johnny! Sunday
The day started with a 2-minute silence in tribute to those who died in the recent tragedies in America. The track and several race teams also held flags at half mast as a mark of respect and in remembrance of the fallen. Our thoughts and hearts are with them, their families and the brave rescuers at this time, and our hopes are for a better future of peace, love, understanding and compassion for all mankind.

Round 1
First up were me and Colin Aldred. I posted a 9.512 on a 9.35 Dial-in taking the win against Colin’s 10.311 on a 10.05 Dial in the “Classy Chassy” silver slingshot. Our reaction times had been pretty close with my .601 to Colin’s .626.

Quarter Finals
In the first of the quarter-finals I was matched up with Paul Croston in his “B-Sting”. He had a very close run, but the wrong side of his Dial-in, with a 12.496 on a 12.50, which lost out to my 9.404 on a 9.35 Dial. I had put in a .549 Reaction time on this run.

Semi Finals
The first Semi saw me running “Closest to Dial-in” with a 9.355 on a 9.35, just .005 off (on the right side of the Dial-in!), with an improving .538 Reaction. This took the win over Sarah Howells, who was nevertheless absolutely ecstatic as she had only Dialled in an 11.20 and ran her first 10-second run ever in the “Ram Raider”, a brilliant 10.483!! Well done, Sarah!!

This seemed like another quick turnaround, but in the end was nearly an hour after the semis, and took place before 3:30 pm. It saw me and Mark in our third Final round matchup of the year, and the score was one all at this point!! I ran a 9.457 on a 9.30 Dial-in with a good .515 against Mark’s 11.069 on a 10.80 with a better .451 reaction. I took the win with Mark only trailing by .048 at the top end!

This made it 3 event wins for me in Super Series 2001 and my third Super Series Title in Wild Bunch in a row! Once again a great event and a great way to end the Super Series!! Here are the Top 4 placings:-
Super Series (5 of 5)
1st WB 4 Chris Hartnell "Backdraft" 2990
2nd WB 133 Tom & Alec Coe “Cobalt” 1810
3rd WB 20 Mark Coulsell “Limited Funz"1780
4th WB 46 Colin Aldred “Classy Chassy”1490

And what a brilliant season’s racing! Still one more event to go with the End of Season Bash, where the Wild Bunch and Real Steel Series reach their conclusion. At the moment I am lying equal first in Wild Bunch Series, with Team Dog's B******s “Ram Raider”, and first outright in the Real Steel Series. I’m really looking forward to that event!
8th - 9th September 2001 - Hot Rod Drags

This weekend was Wild Bunch Series Round 4, Custom Chrome Series Round 5 (Final) and Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars Series Round 3 (Final). I was one of 10 Slingshots in a field of 21 Wild Bunch cars.

I made one run in "Backdraft" on the Saturday, a 9.514 @ 133.53 mph, against the orange altered of Andy Solley, who was doing a checkout pass at 11.525. The queues were quite long, as usual at this popular event, so I just stuck to one pass and checked out the loads of great hot rods that were around!

This was Series points day and we ran over 3 rounds, with 19 cars taking part. The weather threatened but stayed pretty good overall. The queues were horrendous most of the morning, with a mile long tailback in the return road to the pits, after the first round! This did get easier as the day went on! I Dialled in 9.45 for the Sunday. I ran a 9.363 in the first round, again at 133.53 mph, then a great 9.314 in the second round, only 6 thousandths off my personal best E.T. ever, and again at 133.53 mph! This was against Nick Grayston running the blue, yellow and white altered. We had a great race with him running his then best E.T. of 9.196! Then I followed this with a 9.340 in Round 3. This run was my best ever launch with a 60ft time of 1.306; best ever 330ft time of 3.732; best ever eighth mile time of 5.815; and best ever 990ft time of 7.615!!! The competition was not so close at this event as it has been recently, and only 2 drivers finished within 1% of their index, and only 9 drivers posting totals due to breakages, red lights and non-completion of 3 rounds. My 3-round percentage was 98.825% and I took 3rd place for the event, which I was very pleased with! This means I have now WON the Custom Chrome Series and the Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars Series for 2001!! Plus there is the last round of Super Series to look forward to on September 22nd/23rd and I am leading that Series at the moment by 630 points! Here are the final Top 4 points standings in Custom Chrome and Roy Wilding NRC Series:-

Custom Chrome Series (5 of 5)
1st WB 4 Chris Hartnell "Backdraft" 37
2nd WB 20 Mark Coulsell "Limited Funz" 30
3rd WB 56 Team Dog's B******s "Ram Raider" 23
4th WB 133 Tom and Alec Coe "Cobalt"22

Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars Series (5 of 5)
1st WB 4 Chris Hartnell "Backdraft" 19
2nd WB 56 Team Dog's B******s "Ram Raider" 17
3rd WB 110 Nick Connor "Barking Mad" 16
4th WB 1 Team Dog's B******s "Nutcracker" 15

And with only one round of the Wild Bunch Series to go, here are the Top 4, with me and Team "Dog's B******s"' slingshot "Ram Raider" currently tying for first place!:-

Wild Bunch Series (4 of 5)
=1st WB 4 Chris Hartnell "Backdraft" 27
=1st WB 56 Team Dog's B******s "Ram Raider" 27
=3rd WB 3 Tony Smith/Dave Williams "The Cunning Plan" 17
=3rd WB 63 Joe Stevens Red Topolino 17

At the moment, "Ram Raider" has two wins to my one, so they would get WB 1 if things stayed as they were. I need to beat them in the Top 4 placings of the last event to win the Series!! It's gonna be a real exciting close finish to the year at the 'End of Season Bash' on October 27/28th! Can't wait for that one!
25th - 27th August 2001 - Super Series 4

Super Series 4 was a great event with three qualifying rounds on the Saturday and Sunday. I was one of 9 Slingshots in a great field of 18 Wild Bunch cars! I was leading Super Series after 3 rounds, with two wins and a fourth place so far. This was also the fourth round of the Custom Chrome Series.

There were two qualifying rounds on Saturday. My first pass was a 9.399 @ 135.14 mph on a 9.30, my fastest speed for 2 years!! I was paired with Dennis Hawkins in the "Wicked Lady" Rear-engine dragster and we ran "heads up" on the same Dial-in. It was great to leave the line together, and it gets you real fired up to run a car with similar times. Dennis posted a 9.992 in this round. In the second round I ran a 9.418 on a 9.35, trying to fine tune the Dial-in process with .068 off the mark. In this round I paired up with Chris Bennett. He had only bought the ex-"Harry the Spider" slingshot as a rolling chassis 3 weeks before the event, and with some hard teamwork had managed to get the new "Cheeky Monkey" to the track. There hadn't been much time for tuning the alky-injected motor, so he made a checkout pass of 13.167. It was great to race against another Junior Fueller and I'm looking forward to more matchups with Chris when he gets the car tuned!! Saturday was my 41st birthday and I was sure enjoying it in style!! There was also a film crew at the track at the weekend, making a documentary about drag racers from the HTV region. They were filming Dougie and Joe Bond (Top Methanol Dragster and Junior Dragster), Tim Blakemore (Funny Bike), Sarah Howells ("Team Dog's B******s" "Nutcracker" and "Ram Raider"), other racers from the area and me. One real exciting part of the filming was them strapping a camera to the top of my roll cage getting a great "driver's eye view" of the quarter mile!! They also interviewed me by "Backdraft" describing what it feels like to race a slingshot. The program should be on at the end of October, I'll keep you posted!

There was only one qualifying round on Sunday. I Dialled in another 9.35 and ran an amazing 9.351, just .001 off, to take the #1 Qualifier spot (and "Spot Prize"!). Never been that close before!! The rest of the day was very long, as we were due to have the first round of eliminations, being one of the larger classes (originally 18). We were finally called down around 4:30, in the hope that there would be time to run the round, but time did run out and the curfew stopped play, which was a shame.

Round 1

This was eliminations day and there were 15 of us qualified. I was first up, running 9.320 on a 9.35 Dial-in, on a Bye run. The track was very good and "Backdraft" was running real well, as usual!

I faced Andy Gosling in "Nutcracker" in this round and my 9.502 on the 9.35 Dial-in defeated Andy's 13.719 on a 12.85 Dial-in.

These were actually run through very quick, starting at quarter past 5 (!!), with the Finals being called as we were still in the pairings lanes waiting to run!! I ran a close 9.393 on a 9.35 to take the win over Dave McKenzie's 12.432 on a 12.35 Dial-in in the "Thing 3" Rear-engine dragster. Meanwhile, Mark Coulsell beat Alec Coe in their Semi. Both of our crews had to go flat out to recover the slingshots from the top end and be ready for the next round. Lee and Gareth ran to the tow car and raced to get me and tow me back to the pits and we refuelled and got back round in the pairings lanes ready to run, all within 15 minutes!! Clare, likewise, had rushed to get Mark back there too so we both made it as one of the last pairings! Many thanks to Lee and Gareth for getting me back round so quick in order to make it!!

This saw me and Mark doing rather shorter burnouts than usual with hot engines and gear boxes! Mark posted a 10.984 on his 10.80 Dial-in, winning the race against my breaking out 9.319 on a 9.35!! (There was a lot of heat in that engine, and "Backdraft" flew down the quarter - just over a hundredth off my best ever E.T.!) Very exciting close racing once again this weekend and a great event! Congratulations to Mark for taking his first win of Super Series this season!

I am still leading the Super Series after 4 events, now by 630 points over Tom and Alec, going into the final round, with Mark Coulsell and Colin Aldred not far behind them!! Super Series 5 will be another exciting one!! I am also still leading the Custom Chrome Series after 4 of 5 events, on 31 points, with Mark Coulsell in second place on 26 points, with just the Hot Rod Drags to go in that one!!
30th June & 1st July - Nostalgia Nationals

This weekend was Wild Bunch Series Round 2, Custom Chrome Series Round 2 and Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars Series Round 1 and I was one of a field of 21 Wild Bunch cars taking part.

This was a practice day and I made two runs. I had got out in the queue early and was one of a handful of cars that ran before rain stopped play for about an hour in the morning, putting in a 9.454 pass. Mostly the rest of the weather was okay, despite the clouds looking really dark at times! I went back out after lunch, hoping to run Johnny Hall (thanks to Johnny's crew for the tow!) in a good heads-up match, but he had problems, so I ran a solo pass, with a 9.369. This was actually the third time this year that I had run exactly the 9.369 E.T., and both runs were at 134 mph, so a pretty strong start to the weekend!

This was Series Points Day and all 21 Wild Bunch cars took part in three rounds.

My first run was a 9.358 on the 9.40 Dial-in, and the first time I'd run against Nick Pettitt for a while, so that was fun! (And many thanks to Kev, Nick's crew, for towing me all weekend!) In the second round, I posted a 9.338 at 133 mph, also against Nick. And in the third round I recorded a 9.421, giving me a 99.706% of the total perfect index.

Now this figure would have been good enough for the 1st place slot at the June Test and Tune, and it was one of my most consistent performances in Wild Bunch competition; but as it happened, it was only good enough for 5th place, so I just missed out! (In fact by a mere .011%!).

The competition had never been so strong, as overall ten drivers were all within 1% of their perfect total index, so you can see how close it's gonna be this season!

Roll on the Mini weekend in two weeks time!! Anyway, here are the Top 4 in Series points standings and how I'm doing so far!:-

WILD BUNCH SERIES (30 cars) (2 of 5 events)
WB 56Team D.B.Ram Raider14
WB 4Chris HartnellBackdraft12)
WB 637 Gerald CooksonSuper Joker12)
WB 58Tony FroomeSundance III11)

CUSTOM CHROME SERIES (25 cars) (2 of 5 events)
WB 4Chris HartnellBackdraft14
WB 637Gerald CooksonSuper Joker13
WB 20Mark Coulsell Limited Funz12
WB 88R Walters/Lee JThriller9

WB 88R Walters/Lee JThriller9
WB 637Gerald CooksonSuper Joker7
WB 63Joe StevensRed Topolino Altered6
WB 110Nick ConnorBarking Mad5
I'm one of 13 cars in equal 5th place

SUPER SERIES (14 cars) (3 of 5 events)
WB 4Chris HartnellBackdraft1500
WB 133Tom & Alec CoeCobalt1110
WB 46Colin AldredClassy Chassy870
WB 67Darryl HowellsJolly Boys Outing800

16th & 17th June 2001 - Super Series 3

Super Series 3 was another great event, even though Saturday was completely rained off. Sunday was brighter and all the eliminations were completed, thanks to hard work and organisation by marshals, officials and racers. I was one of a field of 11 Wild Bunch cars this weekend, and I started off in 2nd place overall, on 900 points, right behind the team of Tom & Alec Coe on 910 points.

The weather was rainy, and despite the best efforts of the marshals to dry the track, the rain came down again and the day was a washout. Like many other classes, qualifying was done by random draw where all the qualifying positions were 'drawn out of a hat' in the interest of fair play. I ended up in "#3" spot on this ladder. No points were given for qualifying, so we all started off even, and Dialled in blind.

This was race day, and although there were some real grey clouds around, the rain held off, and eliminations were actually completed early. Some rounds in quick succession to others!!

Round 1
I faced Colin Aldred in the first round. Colin had been lying 3rd overall in Super Series and always runs consistently, sometimes within a few thousandths of his Dial-in, so this was due to be another close race. I ran a 9.493 on a 9.44 Dial-in, beating his 10.863 on a 10.80 Dial-in (.053 off vs .063 off!). I had also had a slightly better reaction time, by about a tenth, so that always helps!

I was now matched up with Tom Coe, the Series leader. Tom had had a puncture on a front tyre in his last run, but had fixed this in time for the round. I ran a 9.512 on my 9.44 Dial-in to Tom's 12.404 on an 11.93, to advance to the Semi-finals, and take the lead in the Series. (Alec is back in the car for Super Series 4, so he will also be close competition again!)

This round was only about 35 minutes later, and Darryl Howells had just had a bye run to advance to the Final and I was paired up against Tony Smith in the other half of the draw. We had staged and my lights came down so I set off for a real close 9.461 on a 9.44 Dial-in, just .021 off; but Tony had just sat there. The officials immediately diagnosed a fault on the tree and a re-run was called for!! Cue Lee and Gareth racing to the tow car and rushing to pick me up at the top end. Fortunately, the marshals took a late lunch break at this point, giving us some extra time to get back to the pits, drop the oil, refuel and get back round to race Tony again. Unfortunately, there was then an oildown, just as we were about to burnout, so we then had to sit with the tension mounting even further, pushed back behind the burnout box! After I had calmed down a bit, it sunk in that I'd actually now got an extra run!! (To pass the time, we both got in each other's cars for a bit of fun, and the pictures can be seen on Zane Llewellyn's "BootSoop" website!). When the re-match came, we were both a little off the pace with Tony running a 13.008 on his 12.20 Dial-in and me taking the win with a 9.731 on my 9.44 Dial-in. This only left a short time til the Final, as all the other classes were already lined up for their finals, including Darryl who was waiting patiently at the end of the queue.

Within 24 minutes, I had refuelled again and made it in time to join Darryl as the last 2 finalists of the day! He Dialled in a 12.85 and ran a PB, half a second under! I also broke out with a 9.415 on a 9.44 Dial-in, but broke out least to take the win. I also had a good reaction time of .532 on this run (a bit fired up!!) and collected the "Best Reaction" Spot Prize for the weekend. I was also very chuffed to take the "Driver's Choice" Spot Prize, the award voted for by all Wild Bunch drivers there.

Once again, another great weekend! I'm now looking forward to the Nostalgia Nationals, when it's "silver suit" time again!
2nd & 3rd June 2001 - Peugeot Test & Tune

This event was Wild Bunch Series Round 1 and there was a field of 23 Wild Bunch cars taking part at this Run-What-You-Brung weekend. We were one of 9 Slingshots at the event.

Saturday started off rainy, and nobody got any runs until about 2:30 in the afternoon, but we eventually got a couple of practice runs in, a steady 9.483, a bye run, and later a better 9.409, against Joe in the brown van, who was running 14.5's. My mph's were unknown, as there was a glitch on the mph timing equipment in the left lane, but they both ended in xx4 mph, so I'm guessing they were 134 mph. I'm still pulling wheelies on every single run now!

Sunday was 'Series Points day' and there were 4 rounds of Wild Bunch time-trial racing. There was some tough competition with very close, consistent performances being put down by many of the other cars. I had Dialled-in a 'conservative' 9.44 for the day, and started off with a 9.354 @ 133 mph in the first round, paired up against Clive Bush. The second round saw me run a weekend best of 9.339 against a yellow Peugeot, who was somewhat surprised to see me paired up in the next lane with him! (Well, it was a Run-What-You-Brung!!) In the third round I was matched up with Mark Turton and I ran a 9.414, which was the closest to my Dial-in for the day. And I had a wheelie-delayed 9.506 @ 134.33 mph in the fourth round, running against Ed Yates, who crossed the finish line only 8 tenths of a second behind me. This overall consistency resulted in a 2nd place for "Backdraft", with 99.611% off a perfect total Dial-in. I finished just behind Ray Ford who was in 1st place.

Many thanks to Lee again for being my crew and to Scottie of the Dog Squad, who used his RED car to tow "Backdraft" all weekend! Cheers mate!

Another good weekend and a great start to the Wild Bunch Series!
19th & 20th May 2001 : Super Series 2

Super Series 2 was another great event, with good weather yet again! We were one of a field of 8 Wild Bunch cars this weekend.

The bus keeps getting better and I've only made a few additions to the inside in between races. We had a new tow car driver this weekend as Lee's friend Bobby had volunteered to do the driving duties on her first time drag racing, so thanks for her help! Thanks also to Lisa of "Team Dog's B******s" who towed me on Sunday!

Saturday was a qualifying day with 3 rounds available.

All 8 cars ran in the 1st round and I was second closest to the Dial-in, with a 9.482 on a 9.35 Dial-in, just .132 off (which was my best of the day, putting me eventually at #6 qualifier). This run had started off with a wheelie but the car had turned slightly left after launch, so I had to correct, losing time!

In the 2nd round of qualifying, I had Dialled-in a 9.31 and ran a 9.506 @ 133.93 mph (taking "Fastest MPH" Spot Prize for the weekend again with the exact same speed as at Super Series 1, can you believe it?!). Another wheelie on this run!

The 3rd round of qualifying saw me running a 9.567 on the same 9.31 Dial-in. On this run I set the Wild Bunch "Best Reaction" of the weekend with a .533 reaction time. Yet another wheelie, slowing me down a bit, but it sure makes for an exciting launch!

The first round was the Quarter-Finals. The race between me and Ed Yates was once again very close (as it had been in Super Series 1). I ran a 9.338 on a 9.45 Dial-in, breaking out by .112 and Ed ran a Personal Best E.T. of 10.254 on a 10.37, breaking out by the slightly greater margin of .116 and being the "Closest Runner-up", sending me into the Semi-Finals!

Another tough race in the Semi-Finals, as Colin Aldred had been running really well, and was the #1 qualifier (only 3 thousandths off his Dial-in). I knew I had to get a good reaction against him, but it was too quick as I ended up red-lighting in the effort. (This was only the second red light in my 6+ years of racing! And, yes, I have been trying! And, yes it is my favourite colour, but it's the only case of me not liking the colour red!) I had Dialled-in a 9.30, aiming to go flat out and if I had broken out, it would have been a Personal Best, so I would've been happy. As it was, no time was recorded because of the red light and I ended up finishing in 4th place overall, taking home another nice trophy!

Another good weekend of racing at a very busy event. Once again thanks to all the hard-working marshals and officials who enabled the event to run smoothly and be completed ahead of time. There had been some good close exciting bracket racing again among the Wild Bunch and I'm looking forward to doing it all again at Super Series 3, as well as running at the June Test and Tune with the Wild Bunch RWYB format!! I'll see if I can be consistent over the 4 rounds and get my Dial-in right, because the dragster is really running well this year!!
5th 6th & 7th May 2001 : Super Series 1

The first Super Series of the season was a 3-day Bank Holiday event and the weather stayed pretty good all weekend (no rain!). We were one of a field of 12 Wild Bunch cars at the event, which was Custom Chrome Series Round 1 for Wild Bunch.

The bus went well again, despite a blowout on one of the left rear tyres on the motorway on the way up (oh well, we had 5 more wheels and it didn't delay us for too long!). "Backdraft" virtually looked after itself again, as you will see from the stats below!! Lee was once again the main crew, and tow-car driver Gareth pitched in, so thanks again for all his help!

The weather was pretty warm on Saturday and we had 3 passes altogether. The first run of the day was disappointing in that there was some error with the staging and I didn't register a time at the top end, so didn't get an early qualifying mark in the bank. For the second round about lunchtime I had dialled in a 9.40 to get a safe qualifier in. It started real well with a great wheelie and ended up with a 9.369 @ 133 mph - THE BEST E.T. EVER!! A "breakout", but hey, what a way to breakout - Claire was heard from the stands half way round the pits, or at least that's what the Bristol Doorslammers thought!! For the 3rd qualifying round I dialled in a safer 9.30 and ran a 9.486 @ 132 mph, as the track was by then a bit cooler. A great day, and I had qualified 5th overall as well!

On Sunday we didn't make a run, because I had decided to sit out the 4th qualifying round in anticipation of the first round of eliminations being in the afternoon, but that never materialised! At one point, I had planned a "grudge match" with Ed but track time did not allow, so the car had a "rest day" after the success of the Saturday. And I did get to do a bit of rare spectating with the Fuel Funny Cars!

In the first round I was matched up against Johnny "newcomer" Hall in the ex-Wendy Baker Rover- powered slingshot. He had just had his license signed and was having a ball getting into Drag Racing. We had decided to go for a "heads-up" race as he hadn't yet got to the peak performance of the car and was still learning. He ran a very respectable 10.5 for his first real full pass with the car, and, amazingly "Backdraft" ran an identical equal Personal Best E.T. of 9.369 again (on a 9.30 Dial-in) to move into the Quarter-Finals!!

The next round was a tough one against Ed Yates in the "Ram Raider", who was really on form and running well. He ran his Personal Best of 10.38 but I just crossed the finish line .019 ahead of him - real close!! I had Dialled in 9.32 and run 9.379 @ 132 mph - real consistent already (now if only I could crack it in Wild Bunch format rounds!!).

The Semi-Final was against another "newcomer", Alec Coe, who had raced slingshots 25 years ago and has just got back into the sport and joined the Wild Bunch. He had also been running really consistently and close to his Dial-ins, so it was another tough race! He also ended up running his Personal Best of 11.94. I had Dialled-in a 9.32 again and ran another NEW Personal Best of 9.328! Just .008 off my Dial-in, earning me the Wild Bunch "Closest to Dial-in" Spot Prize! And moving me into the Finals!

In the Final, I met up with Mark Coulsell. My reactions had been pretty good mostly with a best of a .548 in the Semis. This was good but couldn't beat Mark Coulsell's spot-on .404 in the Final! I knew it would be another close one and had Dialled-in a 9.32 again. Mark ran his Personal Best E.T. of 10.42, and brokeout on a 10.50 Dial-in. I also broke out, and ran yet another Personal Best of 9.308 @ 133 mph (!!!) [Maybe Claire was actually heard back in Bristol on this one!] But, I hadn't broken out as much as Mark, so I won the race!! I also won Wild Bunch "Fastest MPH" Spot Prize for the 133 mph (again another close one, followed by Johnny Hall's 132 mph!).

The track was just brilliant, so thanks a bunch to Bruno and all the very hard working marshals and officials for a really well-prepped track and a well-run event! Thanks also to the Promoter for making the event possible. Plus "Backdraft" appeared in 3 pictures in the Super Series programme - another bonus!!

What a day and what a great weekend again!
21st & 22nd April 2001 : Season Opener

The first Run-What-You-Brung of the season started off really well and we were one of the field of 16 Wild Bunch cars at the event. It was our first time out as WB 4, having been 4th in the Wild Bunch Series in 2000! This was a Test n' Tune weekend and not a Wild Bunch Series round, so we were just checking the car out after the winter break, and debuting our new "camper", a Talbot Express Tri-axle, which we had worked hard on converting over the last 2 months into a rather cosy "mobile home"! It's mostly yellow in colour with red panelling in some windows with team stickers, 8 seats, 4 bunks, a sink with running water, 3-way fridge and lots of nice varnished woodwork and interior carpeting, with a removable table (our old dining room table had come in real handy)! Brilliant fuel economy on diesel, tows nice and it's an L-Reg with only 30,000 miles on the clock! So, this event was more of a checkout for the bus as "Backdraft" virtually looked after itself (even though I hadn't made any modifications during the winter)! Lee was once again the main crew man, getting quickly back into the swing of things and being overheard several times commenting on how good it was to be back at the track!! We also acquired a new stand in crew and tow-car driver, Gareth, so many thanks to him for all his help!!

The weather was really good on Saturday and we had 3 passes altogether. My reactions were pretty good all day, all of them in the .500's, and they included a .555 which won the "BEST REACTION" Spot Prize with the Wild Bunch - the first time I've ever won that!! The first run of the day was a very decent 9.785 @ 133 mph, straight off the trailer, clearing away both driver and dragster's cobwebs after 6 months away! It sure felt good to be back out on the track racing again!! The second pass was a very encouraging 9.480, also @ 133 mph, followed by a third trip down the quarter of 9.471 @ 133 mph again!! (Not far off the all-time Best E.T. of 9.416!!) And it's only the start of the season on a cool track - there must be more still to come from the present set-up, so we're really looking forward to the rest of the season!!

Despite queueing on Sunday, we didn't make a run, as rain stopped play after 2:00 pm. We didn't mind too much, as it was just great to be back out racing, testing out the bus and hanging out with friends after the long off-season!

Anyway, "Backdraft" performed well and our bus was absolutely brilliant! It makes such a difference to have a better set-up at the track and to be able to sit somewhere comfortable with a good view of everything that's going on around the pits, instead of being cramped up not being able to see out of the trailer. And, did I mention, it's actually warm and dry in there?! What luxury! We even overslept on the Sunday til 9:30 in the morning, not being used to such comfort! We have also had plenty of jokes about doing scenic tours into Stratford, "How much is it for Pensioners?", and "Can I have a table for 2 at 7:30 tonight, please?"!

All good fun, which is what Drag Racing is all about!!
13th January 2001 : Event Dates

At Shakespeare County Raceway unless stated
21 - 22
Season Opener
5 - 7
Super Series 2001 Round 1
19 - 20
Super Series 2001 Round 2
16 - 17
Super Series 2001 Round 3
June 30 -
July 1
NSRA Nostalgia Nationals
14 - 15
British Mini Showdown
25 - 27
Super Series 2001 Round 4
8 - 9
NSRA Hot Rod Drags
22 - 23
Super Series 2001 Round 5
27 - 28
End of Season Bash

That was the News