The Latest News from the "Backdraft" Team

Keep up to date with all the news from the Backdraft Team HQ on the planet Bristol

Click a date to look at news from a different year
2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001

30th - 31st October 2004 - HALOWEEN SHOWDOWN

Well, having said that we weren’t going to go to the Halloween Showdown due to the cold weather at the end of October, we changed our minds when it was advertised that there was going to be a track drier; and seeing as how we were still chasing those big numbers [I was still looking for that elusive 8-second pass, and trying to crack the 150 mph barrier during our 10th season of racing!] we thought we’d give it one more shot before the long off-season! So, off we went to the track on the Friday night me, Claire, Mark and Jade, and arrived about 8:00pm, and set up our pit area.

As it had rained the few days before the event, the track was still damp first thing Saturday, and there was a lot of moisture in the air. The track did open early afternoon, but never did come around enough for slick-tyred cars to run, so unfortunately we didn’t go out on the strip that day. It didn’t rain all day, so we hoped the track would be better the next day. That night, a lot of the racers dressed up for Halloween, and the highlight of the fun was trying to guess who was in the white boiler suit and hairy mask, as the “B-Sting” team and others were wandering round the pits, swapping over who was inside the costume. The best one was little Zak Durrant, who fooled Dad Scott when he had a turn!

On Sunday morning, the weather was still cloudy and cool, but a bit drier, so it looked more hopeful. We fired “Backdraft” up in the pits, and she started on the first attempt, the first time since the run at the Pod, so we were really pleased to have cured the hesitant starting problems, which had followed us since mid-season! Mark did the timing, and we got the car ready for a run. Scottie had again brought his ’55 and towed us to join the queue shortly after noon, and we waited our turn, moving slowly down the pairings lanes.

We got to the end of the fire-up road and Claire then put the petrol down the stacks and I fired up and drove round to the burnout box. The car performed a really strong burnout, with smoke off both tyres. I then launched, but span the tyres off the start, and had to back out, before getting back on the throttle, so I recorded a 10.053 pass. But the good news was that this proved to be my fastest run ever, with a speed of 146.37 mph, just quarter of a mile-per-hour faster than I’ve ever gone before! So the power was there, and I was real chuffed with the speed, despite the cold conditions! However, there had been an oil surge at the top end, and there had been some smoke out the headers, and although the oil pressure came right back up, I decided not to run the car again before checking this out; and also seeing as how the conditions were still pretty cold, and the traction was not at its best.

At the trophy presentation, because of the absence of any Rear-engine dragsters or Radicals, I was awarded the “Best Dragster/Radical” Spot Prize by the commentary team!! (Chuffed with that!).

Thanks to Mark and Claire for crewing, and to Scottie for crewing and towing. And thanks to all the marshals and officials for their work all weekend. We are grateful to all the people who work so hard at York, Santa Pod and Shakey, and would like to say thanks again to all of them for all their efforts this year!! Cheers guys & gals!

So now we can’t wait til the Wild Bunch Prize Presentation at the end of November! It’ll be a really great night, so really looking forward to that! And, over the winter, we’ll just have a strip down of the engine and check everything over, and maybe make some adjustments to the fuel system. And guess we’re still going to have to wait til next year for that 8-second run at the magic 150 mph!! Already looking forward to trying!

2nd - 3rd October 2004 - FALL NATIONALS at Santa Pod

We managed to get away quite early Friday afternoon, around quarter to 3, me, Claire, Mark, Jade, Lee & Sarah, and travelled up to Santa Pod for the Sportsman Finals, which were the final rounds of both the Wild Bunch Series and the Real Steel Series. About half way there, we noticed a funny vibration, and when I got out to check, I saw that a wheel had come off the trailer, leaving just the centre behind! Luckily we have a 4-wheel trailer, and I had 3 spare wheels, so we soon had that fixed and got underway again! We arrived at the track just after 6:30 and parked up and unloaded the car. We were pitted on the fence side, at just past the 1000ft mark. We pushed up to the scrutineering queue and took turns pushing forward while we each went to sign on. It started raining while we were in the queue, but once we got there, everything went smoothly and we passed with no problems. We then pushed back and sorted out the bus, and settled in for a nice evening, full of anticipation for how “Backdraft” was going to run on Saturday! [Forgot to mention in the last race report that when we fired the car up in the garage, something wasn’t quite right. I checked the ignition, as the engine seemed hesitant, or like it wasn’t firing on all cylinders. After some investigation, it turned out that the coil had virtually stopped working!! We couldn’t believe it!! I installed a spare coil that we’d had for ages, and fired the car back up again – whoomph!! Instantly easier to start and sounding right on song! We have since realised that it may have been on the way out since the car started to drop in performance at the end of May! So, now it was ‘Look out, here we come, this baby’s really gonna fly now!’ And, at the very least, start easier!]

As it had rained Friday night, the track was still damp first thing, and the crew were out there early trying to dry the strip. This delayed the start of qualifying, but the track opened about 10:30 and things got underway. We fired the car up, and she started on just the second attempt, and sounded great. We were due to be about half way through the running order, and were called up not long after midday. We all towed down, and I was paired with Mark Coulsell in the “Limited Funz” slingshot. Lee fired me up, Mark backed me up and Claire held the chalkboard up, but the Dial-in time did not appear on the scoreboard. It turned out that the setup for our class had not been re-installed on the computer program, and we were given a Sportsman tree. This threw some of the Wild Bunch who had all been expecting a Pro Tree, but luckily I had noticed in time and didn’t pull a red. I actually recorded a .055, which ended up being the “Best Reaction” of the day for the Bunch! I had dialled in at 8.80 again, hoping for something special on this run, now that we had ironed out some of our teething problems with the new engine. On the launch, I pulled a great wheelie again (always a good sign!), and I recorded a 9.228 @ 142.40 mph! Hooray, the ‘beast’ is back! This was my best run since those low 9.1’s back in May, and the first over 140 mph since then! This was a great start, and we were all really chuffed! Couldn’t wait to get back out there for the second round and do it again. The car was still running really rich, and I couldn’t take any more fuel out of the system, so I put in a bit more advance when I fired her up later in the pits, and we were then ready for the next qualifier. There was a rain delay mid afternoon, and the crew got to work on the track again. It was later announced that they were going to finish the first cycle of qualifying, and then run those classes with big fields for a second qualifier. In the end this didn’t happen, as the track was still damp when the sun was setting, and no real chance of it drying enough for racing. So that was it for the day, and we stood down. We had another good evening just chatting to friends and socialising (mostly in the bus as it’s getting real cool at night!).

On Sunday morning, the weather was cool and cloudy and the track was damp again. Although the track crew were out early, it took a long time to dry and come around in the cool conditions, and racing was again delayed. In the meantime, we got ready to fire up the car again, just to warm her up and check everything was fine. This time, I asked Claire to sit in it and fire her up. She jumped at the chance, as she hasn’t fired it up for a couple of years now, and had been wanting to all year, but we’d been having various problems, and I had never been that sure she would start easily. She has been in the cockpit all season, towing back in the car after every single run and was really excited to fire it up again. Anyway, Claire hopped in and, with the roles reversed, I poured petrol down the injector stacks. Claire fired the ignition, and the car started straight away. (Can’t say what a relief this now is to have it start first time, without hesitation!). It then only took a few seconds before a big grin spread right across her face. She was in her element and really enjoying the buzz! I operated the throttle a couple times, then got her to blip it a few times, and we ran the car for a couple minutes. After we shut her down, Claire just stayed in the cockpit for a few minutes, soaking up the experience, which she thoroughly enjoyed! Having not sat in it for a while, she really noticed the difference in power that has developed in the last couple years, and she now has more of an idea of the extra buzz I’ve been having!

After we’d fired the car up, we just sat about, watching some racing from our good vantage point, with a great view of cars running at speed, and the timing boards just to the left of us. Unfortunately, there was a big oildown from about half track well into the shutdown area, and this took about an hour and a half to clean up, despite a lot of hard work from the track crew. We then heard, that because of the delays, there would only be a set amount of classes who would get a second qualifier, and we were the last of these scheduled to run. Not long after lunchtime, we were called down to the fireup road and all 12 of the Wild Bunch towed down. Just as we got to the queue, it started to drizzle, and shortly afterwards, we were told to turn back to the pits, and that as soon as it was dry enough, all of the classes would be going straight into eliminations.

We towed back to the pits and waited, and Claire set about confirming the ladder in the meantime. I had qualified 8th overall, out of 11 who had taken part in the first qualifier, and found out that I was due to face Tony Smith in the first round! We both relished the prospect of this, as we always have some good matchups and enjoy racing each other! However, it just kept raining, and before long the race director and officials were forced to call a rainoff, as there was no letup, and the weather did not look promising, so no real prospect of the track drying. We set about packing up, and the rain kept on pretty much all afternoon, so the forecast proved correct (in fact, it rained all the way home, too!). The Wild Bunch were still able to go ahead with our trophy presentation, as the results of just the Spot Prizes were based on the qualifying run. We were all really chuffed when we were awarded the “Best Appearing Team” Spot Prize, and received some kind comments from the commentary team about our appearance.

All in all a good event, despite being cut short by the weather. We’re really pleased to have had a good run with the new engine, and to have sorted out a lot of our previous problems. Thanks to Lee, Mark and Claire for crewing, and Jade and Sarah for their support and tidying the trailer. And thanks to Scottie for crewing and towing and waiting around with us, and providing some emergency spares just in case we needed them! And once again thanks to all the marshals and officials for their hard work all weekend, and to all at Santa Pod for some really nice comments, and making us feel very welcome! Congratulations to Tony Smith for winning the Wild Bunch Series and the Real Steel Series, and to Joe for finishing runner-up in both. I was lucky enough to have finished in 3rd Place in the Real Steel Series, so really glad to have a Top 4 finish in that one, despite all the gremlins, and blowing the engine! I was also chuffed to finish in 6th place in the Wild Bunch Series for the year (same position as last year). This was quite fitting really, seeing as “Backdraft”’s number is WB 6!

This was our last event for the 2004 season, as we will most probably not take the car to the Halloween Showdown at the end of October, due to the cold weather at that time of year. So now, we’re really looking forward to the Wild Bunch Prize Presentation on 27th November!! It’ll be a really great evening, so can’t wait!! As for our 8-second run at the magic 150 mph, we’re gonna have to stay tuned for another 6 months for that!!!!

18th - 19th September 2004 - HOT ROD DRAGS

We arrived at Shakespeare County mid-evening on Friday, me, Claire, Mark, Lee & Sarah, and it was raining, so we rushed about to get set up. Sarah & Darryl had kindly towed Lee’s car up for him for his second event of the year, and we were both able to pit together. Scottie & Zak turned up later with the ’55, which he was going to tow us with during the weekend. I had installed that new oil pump and was pretty happy with the fire up in the garage at home, so we were once again hoping for some good performance with the new engine and looking forward to seeing what she could do!

It was raining first thing on Saturday and when it was dry we fired up the car. She sounded pretty good, so we just waited it out in the pits to see what the weather would do, and when the track would come around. Lee did the same after doing some tinkering with his carb. Slick-tyred cars were not running for most of the day, and just as they had started to run, the rain came back mid-afternoon, and that was it for all racing for the day.

Saturday night Sarah (Howells) and Claire had organised a “Grease”-themed fancy dress party, and me, Darryl, Lee, Mark Coulsell, Josh & Zak dressed up as T-birds, complete with logo on our leather jackets, and I had a rubberised quiff to finish it off! Dean Smythe of Team Twisted joined in, but being a new recruit to the gang did not have a logo yet!! Claire, Sarah, Lee’s Sarah, Lynne Coulsell, Helen Smythe and Helen’s mum Christine were all dressed 50’s-style (and a couple of the little girls from the “Destiny” team joined in!!), with some wearing Pink Ladies badges, and going through the whole routine like the character Sandy at the beginning of the film, right through the whole pyjama party (in our bus - which us guys were banned from!!), then through to their transformation at the end into ‘bad’ girls! We walked around the pits in various stages of costume, posed by Scottie’s ’55 for pictures, and had “Grease” music playing by the buses. It was a really good night. Loads of fun!

On Sunday morning, we had a brilliant surprise, when former crewman Ron Fisher turned up at the track, complete with more facial hair than before! It was really great to see him and we were chuffed that he was able to come and see the metalflake paintjob in the real, rather than in pictures. The weather was a lot better, and we decided to fire the car up to warm it up, promising Ron an engine sounding like a real beast! We tried a few times, but it was very reluctant to start, and finally there was a grating metal sound (never good!) and I got out of the cockpit to see what the problem was. I thought it might be another starter motor gone, but it was in fact a tooth missing off the flexiplate, with more wear on some of the other teeth! So, unfortunately that was the end of our weekend before we’d even had a run! What a shame! And yet another setback in our quest for those magic numbers! Oh well, we’d take the car home again and try and get it all sorted for the next event, the ‘Fall Nationals’ at the Sportsman Finals at Santa Pod.

Meanwhile, Lee carried on with firing his altered up and tried to get a tune in the carburettor. Midday Scottie towed him down for a run, and it was the first time Sarah was going to be crewing for him. We all went down the fireup road and watched. He ran a 17.685 @ 96.18mph, bogging off the line. He went back to the pits and did some more tuning. Mark Fryer, formed co-owner, had also turned up and lent his ear to the tuning process. On Lee’s second run, Ron towed him down, and he ran a 15.161 @ 99.82mph. He was hoping to get smaller jets for the carb, tune it up and go down again, but time ran out. But it was good to see him back out racing again!

Thanks to Mark and Claire and Ron for crewing, and to Scottie for towing Lee, and a very big thanks to Sarah & Darryl for getting Lee’s car up there and towing it back home again. And once again thanks to all the marshals and officials for their hard work all weekend! Congratulations to Joe for winning the event and the Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars Series for the third year in a row and Paul Croston for his first 11-second pass in the “B-Sting” and to all those drivers who ran PB’s!

PS. Since we got back home, I borrowed a flexiplate from the Dog’s B******s Team and installed it, but when I got the gearbox and engine out, I saw this huge crack! I have now welded that up and re-installed the engine & box. We fired “Backdraft” up and she sounds awesome again! We’re now really looking forward to the Fall Nationals. And with any luck, those elusive great E.T.s, with some high speeds!! Fingers crossed!! Stay tuned!!

28th - 30th August 2004 - ALLSTAR NATIONALS

We all got to the track nice and early about noon on the Friday, me, Claire, Lee & Sarah, Mark and Jade. We got unloaded and set up down in ‘Wild Bunch Village’ at the far end of the pits, all ready for scrutineering. Scottie turned up later with his Wow ’55 Chevy, which he was going to tow us with during the weekend. We settled in for a chilled out afternoon and a good night. I felt really lucky to have got to this event with “Backdraft” after the good old 355 Chevy engine had dropped a valve at the Mini Nationals, destroying the whole engine. Although I had located and bought a new 377 Small Block Chevy engine almost ready to assemble and brought it home by the Thursday after the event we hit some delays, and I wasn’t able to get it built and fired up until about 10 days before this event, so we did miss joining in the fun up at York for the ‘Summer Showdown’. Still, we were really chuffed to have got back to the track so quickly, and we were really looking forward to seeing what the new engine could do. We were still hoping for that elusive 8-second run at the magic 150 mph mark!

On Saturday there were scheduled to be three rounds of qualifying, and racing started early at 9:30am and the weather was good all day! The Wild Bunch weren’t out early in the running order, so I had time to fire up and make some tuning adjustments. We fired the car up, and the starter motor seemed to be labouring, so I decided to put the new spare one on. This entailed quite a bit of angle grinding and filing to make it fit properly within the chassis, but we got there in the end. We fired the car up again, and it was still pretty hard to start. I realised that I would need to get a new distributor, as I had locked the old one off, and there was no room for advance after initial fire-up. Low and behold, crewman extraordinaire Scottie ‘just happened’ to have exactly the right dizzy that we needed in the boot of his Chev!! So he was the hero of the day, and we fitted the dizzy, changed the plugs and oil, took a bit of fuel out of the injection system and fired up again. The engine sounded amazing, although it was still pretty rich! By now we had missed the first qualifier, but just did some tidying up in the pits, and cleaned the car and waited for the second round. I decided to Dial in at 8.80 to get a qualifier in, and not have to worry about breaking out, as I knew I was going to nail it like always, and didn’t know what the new engine might do first time out, as we’d been hearing some pretty good things about it! Scottie towed us down to the track, getting a lot of great comments about the tow car along the way! I was paired up against good mate Darryl Howells in the “Chemical Reaction” slingshot. Darryl won the race as I ran a 9.929 @ 132.67 mph - 1.1 seconds off my Dial-in and only running on 7 cylinders! We then went back to the pits, I changed the plug on the eighth cylinder and we were all sorted for the 3rd qualifier Sunday. That night Mark & Lynne Coulsell had a great wedding party in their pit! Congratulations to them on their marriage – we wish them all the best!

On Sunday morning, I took more fuel out the engine and fired it up. It sounded really awesome, but then I looked at the oil pressure gauge and the needle started to fall!! I shut the engine off pretty quickly and started to wonder what the problem was. We drained the oil and luckily didn’t find any metal bits in it, but we decided not to strip anything apart at the track, as we didn’t have the facility for a clean strip down. The signs all pointed at something relatively simple (we hoped) and I planned to take the sump off back home in the garage, and check the bearings, and the oil pump, and hope to get it all sorted for the Hot Rod Drags.

Thanks to Lee & Sarah, Mark and Claire for crewing, and to Scottie for towing, and once again to all the marshals and officials for their hard work all weekend! Congratulations to Joe for winning the event and to Tony Smith for his Perfect E.T. and being runner-up and winning the Ultimate Power Series! Fair play!

PS. Since we got back home, I checked the bearings which were fine, and installed a new oil pump (modified so as to not touch the bottom of the sump). We fired “Backdraft” up and she sounds awesome again! We’re now really looking forward to the Hot Rod Drags. And with any luck, some great E.T.s, with some high speeds!! Stay tuned!!

17th - 18th July 2004 - MINI NATIONALS

This weekend was a RWYB event. I was one of 5 Slingshots in a field of 13 Wild Bunch cars taking part. We were hoping to tune the new injection system, after I had installed the old cam to replace the newer one that was damaged at the last event. Claire, Mark, Lee & Sarah and I arrived at the track Friday evening about 8:00pm, and set up our pit. It was great to see “Chemical Reaction” already there and Darryl and Sarah putting some finishing touches to the slingshot, surrounded by the whole Dog’s B******s team giving their support! The car looked great!! Claire put up some purple and green balloons and signs to celebrate their debut at the track and we were all pretty excited as we couldn’t wait to see the car run!! The weather forecast for the weekend was not too good (but thankfully they got this wrong and it turned out better than expected!).

Saturday morning we got scrutineered and signed on. We fired the car up, setting the ignition timing at 45 degrees, and it sounded pretty good again. We went down for our first run, against Tony Smith, and I pulled a good wheelie, and ran a 9.463 @ 136.46 mph, which was not bad for starters, and almost 6/10ths quicker than the last run at the Nostalgia Nats! But there had been a misfire at 7/8ths track and the engine didn’t sound that good. Back in the pits, Lee took the rocker cover off, and discovered one of the roller rockers hanging off. I re-adjusted the valve lash, and Mark changed the oil, and we fired it back up. The engine sounded better, with the oil pressure right back up where it should be. Les & Gareth towed us down for the next run (thanks guys!) and we paired up with “Hot Dog”. This run produced another wheelie and a better 9.333 @ 139.76 mph, so I was pretty happy with that one! We went down for a third run, and I smoked the tyres off the launch, and ran a 9.805 @ 138.77 mph (so the terminal speed was still up there). Mark changed the oil again, and I backed the timing off a bit. For the fourth run of the day, I was chuffed to pair up with Darryl and I carded a 9.407 @ 138.64 mph. I wanted to try the bigger nozzles on the injection system again and went down for a fifth run, this time against Steve Field in “The Black Pig” altered. This one was a 9.743 @ 133.16 mph, so I decided to put the smaller nozzles back in and re-adjust the timing to 45 degrees again. I also changed the plugs, Mark changed the oil and I put the spare battery on. I went down for a sixth run (my record number of runs in a day!) just after 5pm and recorded a 9.394 @ 138.50 mph, with another nice wheelie, so was pretty happy with that in the cool of the day.

On Sunday morning, I dialled in at 9.40, and the weather was still pretty good. In the first round, it was good to pair up with Sid Slattery in the “Destiny” slingshot. I ran a 9.326 @ 138.21 mph, my best E.T. of the weekend, which also won me the Spot Prize for “Quickest E.T.” for the Bunch that day! And fairly close to my Dial-in, so I was chuffed with that one. On the next run, I was paired with a Mini. I pulled a big wheelie on the launch and veered to the right, so I had to lift slightly and get straight again, then got back on the throttle; so I ran a 9.808 @ 137.16 mph. For the third run, I was paired with Andy Murphy in the “B-Sting”. I recorded a 9.630 @ 134.33 mph, and something didn’t seem right just before the line. Just past the line there was then a nasty noise and lots of smoke on #3 cylinder, so I shut it down real quick, and coasted to the top end. On getting out and looking down the injector trumpet, I could see lots of bits of metal, and realised something had let go in a major way! We towed back to the pits, and it started to rain, so Claire got wet in the cockpit! We then had a look underneath the left rocker cover and saw that we had dropped a valve, so didn’t investigate any further at that point!! The rain meant the close of racing for the day, and we then had our Wild Bunch trophy presentation, which was good.

All in all, we had a great weekend, loads of track time, the beast had been back, and “Backdraft” had run well with the wheels up, low 9’s and plenty of grunt again (until that last run!). Thanks to Claire, Mark, Lee & Sarah for crewing, Sarah H for the tow car loan, and all the marshals and officials for their hard work. It was really great to see Darryl get his first runs in “Chemical Reaction” after he and Sarah went through so much to get the car to the track, and he was already down in the low 11’s and high 120 mph’s by the end of Sunday, so fair play to them! Congratulations! Also congratulations to Darren Law and the whole “Wicked Lady” team, as Darren got his license signed and had 3 9-second passes on his debut in the car! Well done!! Looking forward to York now!

PS. After getting “Backdraft” in the garage back home and stripping the engine, we found the remains of the valve head, #3 cylinder was smashed (cracked and bulged), the cylinder head was smashed, #3 piston was bashed and holed, the conrod bent, and the crankshaft useless. The block is beyond repair, and all the internals are unusable, so that’s the end of our trusty engine, which has lasted well and run quick for 5˝ great fun years! So, basically we are now looking for a 4-bolt Small Block Chevy block, Steel crank…. well, etc

10th July 2004 - AIRBUS FAMILIES DAY

Last weekend there was a Families Open Day at Airbus where I work in Filton. I had arranged to take “Backdraft” to display there, and was able to organise it so a few friends could bring their drag cars and bikes to the show as a static display. The weather didn’t look too promising, so I arranged it that we could have all the vehicles on display in a hangar. We got to the site by about 8:30am and started to unload and set up. We decided to put all the cars and bikes roughly in rows in the centre of the hangar, so we had Darryl & Sarah’s newly-painted “Chemical Reaction” slingshot at the back left, then “Backdraft”, then Ian Caseley’s Jet Dragster “Roadzombie 2”, then Paul & Wendy’s brand new Fuel Altered. In front of them was Lee’s altered, “Dazed & Confused”, then Bob Lees’ Mustang Grandee. To the left of him was Steve & Wendy Clutterbuck’s Supertwin Fuel Harley Drag Bike, Wendy’s son Tyler’s mocked up Junior Drag Bike, and then Tim Blakemore’s Kawasaki Funny Bike. I had got some info signs done through work, and we all placed these by the vehicles and everyone started tidying up and polishing their cars and bikes til they were real shiny.

During the day there must have been a few thousand people wandering round the hangar, and it was great to talk to them and explain what drag racing was all about! We handed out loads of flyers and answered lots of questions (including the most often asked ‘How much are the tyres and how often do they wear out?’!!) and there was a great deal of interest, especially from those who had never seen drag racing before. We always love talking about racing and promoting the sport, and received a lot of positive comments on our cars and bikes.

There was also an air display on the day, and Sarah & Darryl, me and Claire sat on Paul and Wendy’s tail lift to watch the planes fly by! Pretty impressive! We also got to walk underneath Concorde, where she was on display in a special section of the site, so that was pretty cool!

We think everyone had a good time! It was great to see Darryl and Sarah’s car on its debut, and the paintwork looks really shiny and smart. Can’t wait to see it race at the track!! Fair play! And Paul and Wendy were still doing work on their car, with Paul installing the second mag, and adding the roll cage padding, along with a few other bits and pieces. The car really looks great and we’re sure it’ll run great when they get the blower snout put back together. Ian’s jet dragster went down really well, too, especially with it being an air day and loads of plane buffs around. Loads of kids looked up the jet tube – if only they knew!!! Bob was the only one who got to fire his car up, which was at the end of the day while he was loading it on the trailer – the echo in the hangar was great. (We’d have really loved to fire “Backdraft” up to see what she sounded like with those acoustics! And Ian was itching to go down the runway and wind his turbine up!). It was nice that Lee was also able to bring his altered and it was the first time he’d had the car at a show, so that was real good. And it was great to have some bikes along too, with Wendy setting up the Fuel Harley on a stand, complete with hydrometer set, and pictures of it and the old gas bike. She had also brought Tyler’s partly-built bike, which she has done virtually all the work on herself. They set up a mock-up of it and placed the wheels in the bare frame, along with the engine - it’s really starting to take shape now! Tim’s bike was on the other side of that, also on a stand, and people were pretty amazed to hear the kind of performances he gets from the bike. For our display, we had brought along our photo albums and a few of our trophies and I had dressed up a mannequin in my silver suit, gloves, mask and silver helmet and sat her in the seat, so that looked pretty cool (Sarah & Darryl had ‘guest driver’ Scooby in theirs, which all the kids really enjoyed!). All of the vehicles went down really well, and loads of people were having their pictures taken by them, and picking up flyers, so we did attract a lot of interest. It was nice to have a good variety of different types of drag vehicles to represent the whole sport!

Everyone at work on Monday said what a fantastic display of drag racing machinery it was, that all the vehicles looked great, and that we did ourselves proud! So we were really pleased to hear that!

I would like to say a huge thanks to all of those who took the time and effort to bring their vehicles to the show. Cheers everyone!! We really enjoyed it!

3rd - 4th July 2004 - NOSTALGIA NATIONALS

This weekend was a RWYB event. I was one of 8 Slingshots in a field of 15 Wild Bunch cars taking part, and we were looking forward to tuning the new injection system. Mark was on holiday with mates in Newquay so he was gonna miss out on that! Claire, Lee & Sarah and I arrived at Shakey Friday evening, and set up our pit. The weather forecast for the weekend wasn’t too good but we were hopeful of a few runs.

Saturday morning I was up early as usual, and got scrutineered and all signed on so we were ready to race! We met up with quite a few people who hadn’t been to the track for a while, including Neil & Tracy Townsend, Jed and the whole “Northern Spirit” team. My favourite comment of the weekend was when young Jess saw the new paint job on “Backdraft” and said to me “Crazy Chris, you’ve decorated your car!”! She’s a real star!!

After the track opened, we were raring to go and Sarah and Darryl towed me down to the pairings lanes. On the start of the first run, there was just no ‘oomph’ to the launch, and the wheels barely picked up. I recorded a disappointing 10.396 @ 134.86 mph. I didn’t quite know why the car ran off pace, but the track had been a bit cold in the morning, so put some of it down to lack of heat and traction. I got back to the pits and put some more advance in the ignition, and went back out for another run. This one was half a second better, with a 9.827 @ 134.20 mph, but still not much grunt off the launch. Later in the day, we queued up and it was getting near the curfew with a full fireup road. Lee thought that we were starting to tow back to the pits, so walked back, leaving Darryl towing and Claire crewing. We were lucky enough in the end to keep on moving down the pairings lanes, and as we got closer, Claire realised she would have to pull out the chute pin and back me up after the burnout for the first time ever! I asked her to pull the pin out just before I fired up, so there would be no pressure on the start line, and she was quite glad when I backed up real straight! Everything worked out fine, and she really enjoyed the experience! On this run I put in another 10-second pass with a 10.032 @ only 128.79 mph, and was really starting to puzzle why the car had lost about a second in performance. I had noticed that the front damper was starting to slide along the crank towards the timing cover, and wondered if the keyway was broken, causing a false reading on the timing. It was obvious something wasn’t right and I didn’t want to risk causing any damage to the engine, so decided to park the car for the weekend, take it home and try and diagnose the problem.

We still dialled in at 9.50 on Sunday, and I went through a few basic checks that morning, including a compression test, still hoping that I might find something simple which could be fixed easily, but I was still not able to find the problem, although we did find that one of the rockers was loose. We fixed this and fired up again, but still decided that it didn’t sound quite right, so stuck to our earlier decision.

One highlight of the weekend was that I won the “Quickest E.T. of the Wild Bunch for the weekend” awarded by the NSRA, a nice trophy in the shape of a large brass spark plug, which I was really chuffed to receive. This was with the 9.827, which was just marginally quicker than Andy Solley’s 9.850 on Sunday, so we were really lucky to win that one! Thanks to Claire, and Lee & Sarah for crewing and to Sarah & Darryl for towing and helping out; and thanks once again to all the marshals and officials for their hard work! Congratulations to Mickey and Ollie and the whole The Mob team for some strong runs in the mid 7’s around 190 mph!! That car’s really sounding great now! And Congratulations to Paul and Wendy for getting their new fuel altered to the track, working all weekend on it, and nearly getting as far as a full fire-up! Car looks great, guys!! Also great to see Neil and Rad running their big alky altereds, always a great show!!

We’re now really looking forward to the Mini Nationals on July 17th & 18th, and hope that the car will be back on form so we can tune the injection system!! That should be really fun!!

PS. Once back in the garage at home on Monday, I did a couple more checks and roughly measured the valve movement, to find that one was hardly moving at all! This pointed to a problem with the cam, and sure enough, on taking out the lifters, one was worn down by half an inch, and one of the lobes of the cam was severely worn down, meaning that the engine had virtually only been running on 7 cylinders! That explains it! It was a relief to find out what the problem was, and even more of a relief to be able to install the cam that I had in the engine last year! Everything was back together by Tuesday night and we fired the car up early Wednesday evening, and she sounds good and strong again, so fingers crossed, the beast will be back at the next event!! Can’t wait for that!!

26th - 27th June 2004 - SUMMER NATIONALS

This weekend was our first event of the season at Santa Pod Raceway and we were hoping for some good close racing and to put on a good show with the Wild Bunch. We were again hoping for some good runs with the new injection system! Me, Claire and Mark drove up to the track Friday and got there about quarter to 7, and set up in the Wild Bunch pits, right by the trackside, at about the 800ft mark. We got unloaded, signed on and queued up for scrutineering for about 2 hours, and sailed through fine, so everything was sorted for the following day, and we hoped for good weather! “Backdraft” was one of 2 Slingshots in a field of 5 Wild Bunch cars taking part. (This was supposed to have been 6 but commiserations to Steve & Lesley and the whole “The Black Pig” team who had a breakdown on the way to the track and could not make it to the race. We missed them, and it was a shame not to be able to race with them, so hope they can soon fix the van and be back at the next event!

On Saturday there were scheduled to be three rounds of qualifying and racing started at 9:00am. There were quite a few intermittent showers, and this delayed everyone, but we all got a qualifier in after 3:00pm. I Dialled in at 9.10 to get a solid banker in. I was on a solo this time and I ran off the pace with a 9.868 @ 136.83 mph, which actually stayed my fastest speed of the weekend, and luckily enough my slowest E.T.! That ended up being it for the day, as the showers returned, and despite the best efforts of all the track crew, the weather curtailed the day’s qualifying. (The crew had even been driving up and down with the tractor dispersing water during the heaviest downpours and still kept trying til 7:00pm when there was another shower!).

We had a good evening after this, wandering around chatting to people, and one of the highlights of the weekend was that me and Claire both got to sit on 3 amazing bikes! First of all we were round Steve Clutterbuck’s pit, looking at the progress made by Wendy on son Tyler’s Junior drag bike, and Steve offered us a seat (or should that be a ‘lie’!) on his Harley Supertwin fuel bike. This was quite an amazing experience, even with the bike stood perfectly still! Then we both had a ‘go’ on Tim Blakemore’s Kawasaki, which he hopes to soon run into the 6’s! And then we went on round to Ian Turberville’s pit, and got to sit on his Supertwin fuel bike. Wow! These guys sure are brave men to propel themselves down the track on these awesome machines at even quicker speeds than I run in “Backdraft”!! Fair play to them! Thanks a lot to them all for letting us have a seat! We then had a great crack, as usual, sat in our bus, chatting and laughing with friends, including good mates Sarah and Darryl, who were once again giving us a lot of help and support.

Sunday dawned much better, and we ‘chilled out’ in the warmer weather on our chairs outside the bus, just listening to the sounds of The Beach Boys in the sunshine, and dreaming of how things used to be at the drags in the 60’s!! Qualifying then resumed at 9:15 am, and the first cycle got finished, and everyone was due to get another qualifier. We ran our round at 11:30, and I paired up with Andy Murphy in the “B-Sting” altered. I again dialled in at 9.10, and ran better with a 9.591 @ 134.70mph, which ended up being my quickest run of the weekend, and put me in 3rd qualifying spot. We then had quite a long wait for the first round, our quarter-finals, as some classes had 5 rounds to get through during the day, and eliminations didn’t start til 1:15pm. I had now changed the battery on the car, to try and cure the apparent drop in electrical power that we had experienced a few times this year. We were called down for our first round at about 4:00pm, and I had been due to face Andrew Gibb in his “Witchcraft” slingshot, but he had unfortunately broken his oil pump. I Dialled in at a more conservative 9.30, and I started the run with the “Best Reaction” of the Bunch, with a .205. I had quite a nice wheelie on this run, although not as high as usual, and I recorded a 9.706 @ 133.48 mph, and advanced safely to the Semi-final. This meant that I was now going to face Joe Stevens in the next round. We had a bit of a wait, but were called down after 6:00 pm. Not sure how long we waited, but after a while there was a really big oil down, and the marshals worked their socks off to try and clear this up, despite there being huge black clouds around, and spots of rain. We were sat in the cars for over an hour and a half, then because of the tireless work of the marshals, racing resumed. We pulled round for the Semi at about 10 to 8 in the evening!! The race against Joe was a cracker, and he ran well with a 10.223 on a 10.11 Dial-in, whilst I ran a 9.659 @ 133 mph on my new Dial of 9.60, and won the race by just over a tenth of a second! I was also chuffed to win the “Closest to Dial-in” Spot Prize for this, as well as the “Quickest E.T.” for this run, another bonus! Unfortunately in the other Semi, Andy Murphy had a breakage in the diff of the “B-Sting” at the launch of his Bye-run and he was not able to make it for the final, which would have been another great race! Sarah, Claire and Mark came to collect me at the top end, and we towed straight back to the pits, refuelled but didn’t change the oil, and went almost straight back round again for the Final, which was now a Bye-run. I kept the same Dial-in, and ran a 9.751 at only 129 mph, but this meant that I won the event!! Wow!! What a buzz after such a long wait in between rounds, and really chuffed as this was my first win since the Sportsman Finals at Santa Pod in September 2002!! A great feeling, which was topped off with us winning the “Best Appearing Team” Spot Prize and a fair bit of prize money too! Many thanks to the SPRC for the trophy and prize money, and for organising the Wild Bunch’s entry to the event. We all had a great time, and were made to feel welcome by everyone.

We went to the trophy presentation at the stage after close of racing, and it was really great to be up there. We’d like to congratulate Doug Ripley, who won the Top Methanol class in his awesome-looking Funny Car. Well done to him, Jane, Kieran and the team! It was also nice to meet Andy Frost, who won the Custom Car Street Eliminator class, and was equally chuffed to win, after a lot of effort.

Thanks as always to Mark and Claire for crewing and to Sarah and Darryl for towing. And we are really grateful to all the marshals and officials for their hard work all weekend that enabled us to race! You are all stars!

During the weekend, lots of people took our flyers and made nice comments about the paint job, and it was really nice to hear that they liked our car.

We’re now looking forward to the “Nostalgia Nationals” on 3rd & 4th July, and I will be tuning the injection system more, and with any luck, will be able to improve “Backdraft”’s E.T.’s! Stay tuned!!

12th - 13th June 2004 - POWER NATIONALS

This weekend was our second MSA event of the season and we were hoping for some good close racing with the Wild Bunch, after the rain-affected first round of the Ultimate Power Series. I was one of 4 Slingshots in a field of 10 Wild Bunch cars taking part, and we were looking forward to seeing what the new bigger injection system could do! Me, Claire, Lee, Mark and Sarah (Lee’s girlfriend) drove up to the track Friday night, and set up in the Wild Bunch pits, right behind the two Top Fuellers. We were packed in quite tightly as space was limited, and had to bunch up a bit, but we all managed to get in. We were scrutineered and signed on that night, so all sorted for the following day, just hoping for some good weather.

On Saturday there were scheduled to be three rounds of qualifying and racing started early at 9:30am and the weather was good all day! Tog and Shark had come round on their pit walk and gave me some eurodragster stickers to put on the car, which I was really happy to do as the guys do such a great job with the site! (Thought they might bring a bit of luck too!). I decided to Dial in at 8.50 to get a banker in, and not have to worry about breaking out, as I knew I was going to nail it as usual, and didn’t know what the new injection system might do first time out! I had tried to get a reading on the timing, but two timing lights I tried didn’t work, so went out ‘blind’. I ran a 9.685 @ 134.89 mph, against Mike Cresswell in the “Living the Dream” slingshot. After this, I was able to try another timing light and adjusted the timing, and again dialled in at 8.50, and paired up with Alec Coe in the “Shy Torque” slingshot. This produced a much better run, a 9.230 @ 138.22 mph, with a nice wheelie. I changed the Dial-in to 9.00 even for the third qualifier, as I had now qualified safely, and ran another 9.2 second pass, a 9.292 @ 140.30 mph, this time against Andy Murphy in the “B-Sting” altered. I had still been a fair bit off my Dial-in, so qualified in 9th place overall!

Sunday dawned also sunny and warm, and I was due to face Andy Murphy in the first round, and he had been running really well, so I was getting all fired up for that! He Dialled in at 12.35, and I opted for a more conservative 9.20. In the end he broke out, with a 12.270, and I was able to take the win with a 9.330, not too far off my Dial-in. I was really chuffed to make it through the first round, as I wasn’t expecting to be really consistent yet with the new injection system (not that we’ve been real consistent lately anyway! Ha ha!). This meant that I now faced Tony Smith in the quarter-finals! To this date, Tony had never beaten me in competition, but he was also running well, so I knew anything could happen! I chose to Dial in a bit slower, as I knew I had to be spot on with the Dial, so I went for a 9.30, while Tony Dialled in at 11.56, just quicker than his new Personal best. Didn’t know why at the time, but “Backdraft” just didn’t pick up on the launch and there was no wheelie as usual, and I recorded a 9.818 at only 128.65 mph, although I was going flat out. In the other lane, Tony pulled out all the stops and ran bang on his Dial-in, with an 11.560, winning the eurodragster Perfect E.T. award (he also had some new eurodragster stickers which worked a treat for his E.T.s!). Fair play to him for running right on his Dial, and for beating me fair and square!!

Although I didn’t get any further in the eliminations, it was a bonus to come 4th and earn an extra point for that! We had our Wild Bunch trophy presentation after close of racing, and I was lucky enough to win the “Best Engineered” Spot Prize, which I was really chuffed with, and we also won the “Best Appearing Team” award, so really pleased with that! Congratulations to Mark for winning the event and to Tony for his Perfect E.T. and being runner-up in his first final for quite some time.

Thanks to Mark and Claire for crewing, and to Sarah and Darryl for towing and once again to all the marshals and officials for their hard work all weekend!

Since we got back home, we worked out that we might be losing some power from the battery over a weekend. So we have now bought an extra battery to change to on Sundays, to give a bit extra boost when starting and running, and hope this does the trick. We’re now looking forward to the Wild Bunch’s first Santa Pod event this season, the Summer Nationals on June 26th/27th, so hope for some more close racing! And with any luck, some improved E.T.s, with a bit more tuning still to come in the new system!! Stay tuned!!

30th - 31st May 2004 - SPRING SHOOTOUT

This weekend was a Test n’ Tune and it was Round 3 of the Wild Bunch Series, Round 4 of the Real Steel Series, and Round 1 of Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars. I was one of 5 Slingshots in a field of 14 Wild Bunch cars taking part, and we’d really been looking forward to racing at York Dragway again. Me, Claire, and Mark left home about 10:00 am on the Saturday and headed up to Tamworth Services where we met Sarah and Darryl, who were going to help with the towing and crewing, and had to put up with our silver trailer for accommodation, instead of their ‘funbus’ Saucy! We arrived at the track about 10 to 4, where we were met by Chris Round who had kindly volunteered to open up the gates early for all of us who had travelled quite a way, which included Alec Coe and the Mad R’s who arrived about 1 minute behind us (although travelling 90 miles further)!! We went in and got all set up by about 5 o’clock, behind the welcoming Wild Bunch banner in the middle of the pits. Sid Slattery had already got there and set up camp, after having replaced his blown-up engine with another Jag lump in the 12 days since the last event! Fair play to him!!

On Saturday night the scrutineer came round and we passed, so we settled in for an enjoyable evening. In the morning we signed on and were raring to go when the track opened at 10:00am! My first run was against Steve Field in The Black Pig altered. I ran a 9.989 @ 132.87 mph, which was somewhat surprising, as it was quite a few tenths down on my last run at Shakey. On the next run, I was paired against Paul Croston in the B-Sting and I recorded a 9.821 @ 132.32, a bit quicker, but there was still not that much ‘oomph’ to the launch. After this, I changed the plugs and on this run faced Sid Slattery in the Destiny slingshot. I ran a 9.768 @ 134.70 mph, which turned out to be my best speed of the weekend. The fourth run of the day was also against Sid and I recorded a 9.841 @ 129.57 mph, but he unfortunately had a big problem with something on the car, got covered in oil and had a hairy run. Hope he can get the problem sorted out soon as it was really fun to race him!

Monday morning dawned with more good weather, and as I thought it would be bit warmer, dialled in at 9.75. This proved to be a good choice, as on my first pass, I ran a 9.759, just 9 thousandths off!! Wow! I also recorded a 133.19 mph on this run to take the Fastest MPH Spot Prize for the day! I then found out that Paul Croston had run 6 thousandths off his Dial, so the challenge was on!! The first run had been against newcomer Julian Meakins in the Claustrophobic Rear-engine dragster and we also paired up for the second round, where I then ran a 9.733, just the other side of the Dial, and I was lucky enough to win the Quickest E.T. Spot Prize for that one!! Paul had now run 5 thousandths off his Dial in (on the other side!) so he was spot on, but I was still in the running! On the third run I had a solo, and pulled a small wheelie, running a 9.802 @ 129.69 mph. So it was all to play for on the fourth run, as I was still in the running. I ran a 9.737 @ 129.52 mph, which was still in the region of my Dial-in, so I was quite pleased with the consistency, even though the E.T.s’ were a bit slower for some reason.

We then had the prize presentation by the tower and we were really chuffed to finish in 2nd place! We also were awarded the Best Slingshot and Best Appearing Team Spot Prizes, so were really happy with that! Thanks to Claire and Mark, and to Sarah and Darryl for the tow car and all their help, and special thanks to Darryl for all the polishing!! And many thanks once again to all the organisers and the marshals and officials for all their hard work! And Congratulations to Mike Cresswell in the Living the Dream slingshot for his first ever event win in only his second full Wild Bunch event! Well done, Mike! Also well done to Steve Field who achieved a great 3rd place on only his second full WB event! Fair play also to Tony Smith, for getting in the Top 4!

We’re now really looking forward to the second Ultimate Power Series round, an MSA event, the Power Nationals, on the 12th & 13th June! That should be really exciting!!

PS. Since the event, we’ve had Backdraft in the garage and diagnosed a problem which resulted in the recent off-pace runs. We discovered that there was about half inch of play in the supposedly ‘locked’ dizzy. I have now fixed this problem so hope that will eliminate the ‘variable’ timing! I have also installed the big Crower injection system, after resolving the problems with its settings. We fired the car up in the garage a couple times and it sounds like a real beast, with big header flames and all! So hopefully it’ll run as well as it sounds next weekend! Stay tuned!


This weekend was a RWYB event. I was one of 7 Slingshots in a field of 16 Wild Bunch cars taking part, and we were looking forward to some good runs. Between events, I had moved the front wing over the front axle and we had the tune-up from the last meeting untried, so left it the same to start off with. Claire, Lee, Mark, Jade and I arrived at Shakespeare County Friday evening, and unloaded Backdraft. Darryl and Sarah had already brought up Lee’s altered, Dazed & Confused and they were going to crew for him as well. So Mark and Claire were crewing for me. Me and Lee were lucky enough to get scrutineered Friday night so we were all ready to go. The weather forecast for the weekend was hot and sunny. About time too!!

Saturday morning I was up bright and early, and signed on, ready to roll! This was the first time I was going to be racing my son Lee, so the pressure was on!! Ha ha! We towed down to the pairings lanes. This is the first time Claire has put petrol in the injector stacks in the fire-up road to fire the car up, so fair play! Mark was backing me up and was very precise with his instructions he made me take notice, so fair play to him!! It was great to pair up with Lee and see his altered in the other lane! We both went into stage and the lights ran. Real glad I didn’t red light!! I ran a Personal Best time of 9.172 @ 143.18 mph, taking 5 thousandths of my previous PB, and Lee took 5 seconds off his previous best, running a great 14.225 @ 94.34 mph!! We went back to the pits and checked the plugs and fuelled up. Lee checked out his carb ready for the next run. I hitched up behind Lee and we joined the long queue. Unfortunately Sid Slattery’s Jag-powered “Destiny” slingshot had chucked a rod out mid-run, so hope he can get it fixed or sort out a new engine real soon. After this, we were running single lanes for a while, and Lee ran first with a 17-seocnd pass which meant more adjustments to the carb. I had a crazy launch on this one, hit the wheelie bar hard and came down, and people told me I had air under my rear wheels! This resulted in a 9.706, but still over the 140 mark, with a 141.88 mph. We needed an oil change this time which Mark got on with. I changed to a bigger pill in the injection system to take more fuel out and we went down for the last run of the day. Me and Lee paired up again. It felt good, launched hard with a nice wheelie, and I ran a 9.259 @ 140.13 mph. Lee went in the right direction too, with a 15.324, but still needed some tuning.

Sunday morning dawned with some more lovely sunshine! We put more advance in the ignition of Backdraft and dialled in at 9.30 so fingers crossed, while Lee dialled in at 13.50, saying he would be very happy to break out! Me and Lee paired up once again to start the day off. We both had pretty strong runs and Claire, Mark, Sarah & Darryl came to get us with the lights flashing and the horn beeping. I asked which one of us had done a good run, and Claire answered Both!! We had just run side-by-side PB’s again with Lee running a brilliant 12.214 @ 109.96 mph (over a second and a quarter under his Dial-in!!) and I had taken 5 hundredths off my time with a 9.126 @142.21 mph! We were all well chuffed!! The next run Lee paired up with newcomer Neil Ward in the ex-She Devil 2 slingshot. He had trouble keeping the car running in reverse and lost fire a couple of times. Not sure what really happened but in the end, there was a staging problem and Lee did not get a time recorded on what looked like a strong run. I paired up with Alec Coe in the “Shy Torque” slingshot and he ran a 10.614. I pulled a nice long wheelie and ran a 9.401 @ 135.14 mph, which was a little off the pace with a misfire at 7/8th’s track. I got back to the pits and put in a new set of plugs. [During the afternoon, Wayne Saunders had a bad crash at 164 mph in John Hales ’56 Chevy CCSE car, and was taken to hospital with multiple injuries. We all wish Wayne a real speedy recovery and a quick return to the track. All the best, Wayne!] For the third run, we queued up in the pairings lanes. Unfortunately, Clayton Round had just blown his engine on a brilliant 7.66-second pass in his beautiful new Supercharged altered. It is such a shame as he was just getting a handle on the car and it looked and sounded great! Hope he can get a new engine soon and be back out running again! When racing started again, Lee paired up with Alec and ran a 13.203 @ 105.08 mph, so doing pretty well so far!! I paired up with Paul Harvey with the “Mailkey Dragster” who had been running a couple of tenths quicker than me, so it was gonna be a good race! Paul ran an 8.996 and went on to win the event, so fair play to him!! The day had turned really hot and muggy, and I ran a 9.604 @ 133.54 mph, still with a misfire at 7/8th’s track.

When we got back to the pits, a guy who had a company selling electric fold out awnings for vans had asked if he could use Backdraft in a few photos under the awning. Of course I said yes! So we had to pose like we were working on the car!

Wow, what a great weekend! We came third overall so well chuffed with that!! Lee won the Best Altered trophy for the weekend, so really pleased for him, and great to see him out racing and have some match-ups with him! Thanks to my babe Claire, and Mark for his help and to Sarah and Darryl for towing and helping loads; and thanks once again to all the marshals and officials for their hard work! And Congratulations to all the Wild Bunch drivers who ran PB’s this weekend - apart from me and Lee there were 7 others who did!! Fair play!

We’re now really looking forward to the first round up at York, the UK Open Nationals, which is our Wild Bunch Spring Shootout at the May Bank holiday! That should be really fun!!

1st - 3rd May 2004 - EXCITEMENT NATIONALS

This weekend was our first MSA event of the season and we were hoping for some good close racing with the Wild Bunch. I was one of 4 Slingshots in a field of 9 Wild Bunch cars taking part, and we were looking forward to some good runs, after I had added a weight box mounted in the chassis under the nose cone to cure those aggressive wheelies, and fabricated a wing over the front axle for more stability at the top end. Me, Claire, Lee and Mark drove up to the track Friday night, and the Wild Bunch were pitted in quite a prominent place near the start of the pairings lanes, opposite the Top Methanol cars.

On Saturday it had rained overnight and early morning and the marshals and officials worked hard to try and dry the track, but it was to no avail, as the rain came down mid morning and early afternoon after their second attempt, so the qualifying day was completely rained off.

Sunday didn’t look any better for a while, but the weather started improving and the marshals got the track ready and prepped by quarter to 12, so qualifying began. We had the tune-up from the last meeting untried, so left it the same for the first run. I decided to Dial in at 9.20 to get a banker in. I was paired against Tony Wynne-Jones in the “Welsh Raider II” Corvette Radical. I launched real hard and the car pulled a beautiful wheelie, much more controlled than at the last event, and she came back down real sweet, so I kept my foot in it!! Claire, Lee, Mark and Sarah came to get me with the lights flashing and the horn beeping again. The first thing Claire said was that I had broken out!! I had just run a massive PB of 9.177!! Well chuffed!! All of the time statistics on the run were better than I had run before, including a 60ft time of 1.296! The speed had only been 139.28 mph, but she had sounded like she needed less fuel at 7/8ths track. Still well happy!! The timing tickets now have more information on them, including times to the hundred thousandths place, so our official time was actually 9.17727!! And my Reaction Time was 0.14732!

We changed the oil and refuelled and took some more fuel out, ready for the next run, but there wasn’t to be one that day, as after the first cycle of qualifying, time ran out after one of the eliminations and practice. I was the only Wild Bunch racer who had broken out, and that meant I qualified last in 8th place, but I wasn’t worried about that after such a great E.T.! That evening, after close of racing, we had the Ultimate Power Series 2003 trophy presentations and I received my 2nd place trophy for the Championship, along with Alec Coe who won the Series.

On Monday, the rain started about dawn and continued til about 10am off and on. The track was drying until another heavy shower at noon, and things didn’t look promising. However, the rain stopped and the marshals and officials worked hard yet again, and the track finally opened for business at twenty past three in the afternoon!! They started running eliminations, and we were hopeful of getting the first round in, if no further. We were due to race Andy Murphy in the “B-Sting” so I was getting all fired up for that! Unfortunately, the curfew came before our allotted slot in the running order and we didn’t get to race. We were all very disappointed, especially after sticking around all day hoping for a run, but it wasn’t to be. (And because we didn’t get any rounds in, it means that 8 of us are in equal 1st place at the moment in the Real Steel Series!).

Thanks to Claire, Lee and Mark for crewing, and to Sarah and Darryl for towing and once again to all the marshals and officials for their hard work, trying to get the track dry for us all so many times!

We had our Wild Bunch trophy presentation after close of racing, and I was again lucky to win the “Quickest E.T.” (for the 9.177!) and also the “Best Slingshot” Spot Prize, which I was really chuffed with! Congratulations to all the WB winners and thanks for their patience in sticking it out, even though we didn’t get a run! Well done to Roy Wilding on his great 8.25 PB in the “Hemi Hunter” and many Congratulations to Doug, Jane and Kieran Ripley & the CC Racing team on Doug’s first ‘Six’, a brilliant 6.811 run in the Methanol Funny Car! Fair play!

We’re now looking forward to the Classic American event on May 15th & 16th, so hope for some better weather at that one! And some more good runs!! Stay tuned!!

17th - 18th April 2004 - SEASON OPENER

This weekend was a Test n’ Tune and we were excited as it was also the first round of the Wild Bunch and Real Steel Series. I was one of 6 Slingshots in a field of 12 Wild Bunch cars taking part, and we were looking forward to some good runs, after hopefully curing our recent problems with the starter motor and flexiplate (after borrowing a new flexiplate from the Dog's B******s team and buying a proper race starter from Real Steel). Me, Claire, Lee, Mark and Jade headed up to Shakespeare County Friday night, and pitted in almost the same spot as a fortnight before, and were all set up by about 8 o’clock. Lee then noticed that the front end of the car looked a bit low. When I looked into it further, I realised the front torsion bar had split open. (I had meant to make some brand new ones after it broke last year!). Luckily I found a guy with a welder and he took it away and re-welded it up and had it back to me at 11:20 pm (still warm from the welding) so I could be ready for the morning. Well chuffed, and well grateful! Many thanks to him!

On Saturday we passed scrutineering, signed on and were raring to go! It had rained overnight and early morning so the track took a while to dry, but thanks to the efforts of the marshals, it opened about 12:30 pm. We had the tune-up from the last meeting untried, so left it the same for the first run. I was paired against Tig Napier in the beautiful purple Dodge, and he was trying for his first 9-second pass, so that was gonna be fun. I ran a 9.738 @ 137.61 mph. That was okay, but we took some more fuel out and advanced the ignition a bit more. Well, the next run really woke me up! A really harsh wheelstand which hit the wheelie bar hard, then the car turned left. I had to get out of it, then nailed the throttle again. I got to the top end thinking I’d messed that one up, but Claire, Lee and Mark came to get me with the lights flashing and the horn beeping. Despite the backing out, the run had been a strong 9.448 @ 143.31 mph, my fastest speed ever!! And on getting back to the pits, Jade was waiting by the bus with my timing ticket to prove it!!

We changed the oil and refuelled and, for the next run, I thought I’d put a bit more air in the tyres (up to 5 ˝ lbs now) so it wouldn’t leave the line so harsh. The tyres spun off the line and this was another big wheelie with a left turn - fun but not so good on the front end! This time I ran a 9.665 @ 142.86 mph. I was keen to run again, and we refuelled, lowered the tyre pressures to our normal settings, and went down for another pass. The wheelie wasn’t so big this time, and the run was pretty smooth, although the rev limiter kicked in about 7/8 track, which was frustrating at the time because she was still pulling! I waited at the top end, thinking it had been a pretty good run, and the team turned up without flashing lights, but promptly told me that I had just run a 9.311 @ 146.10 mph!! WOW!! “Backdraft’s” fastest EVER speed, and getting nearer to that magic 150 mph mark!! On that run I had also reached 120.00 mph in the 1/8th mile for the first time, so was really chuffed!!

We got back to the pits again and made another oil change. Surprisingly, it was still not that late, the weather report didn’t look brilliant for Sunday, and we’d been having such a good day, that we were all keen to have another run (Yes, that makes 5 - and we did have people commenting on our methanol bill!)! So once again we refuelled and went down to the fire-up road. I paired up with Tony Smith. The temperature had cooled off considerably, and we both span the wheels off the start line. I ran a 9.788 @ 141.51 mph. Not a bad E.T. and my fourth run over 140 mph that day (and the fifth ever)! What a great day, great fun! And loads of people commented on our sparkly paintwork! (We’re hoping for some real sunny days soon to see it shine even more!).

That night it was quite wet and windy, and I had to get up at quarter to 2 to take down the awning – it was gusting so much that it was really rocking the bus and keeping us awake! It was also a wet start on Sunday morning, but the rain stopped and the clouds were starting to disappear, and the track was nearly dry after midday, thanks to the wind and the hard work of the marshals, so we hoped to be lucky and get a few runs in on this, the first Series Points day of the year. But it wasn’t to be, and the rain came back by 1:00 and kept going, and they finally called it a day by about 2 o’clock.

We had a rather wet trophy presentation, and I was lucky enough to win the “Quickest E.T.” (for the 9.311) and also the “Fastest MPH” for my 146.10 mph pass! (Wow, it still sounds amazing for us to be running that quick, and to have raised our best speed by 5 mph over the weekend!). [And only 3.9 mph to go to my dream speed!].

Wow, what a great weekend! It felt like we won because of our achievements with the speed, although none of us got to take part in any rounds on Sunday!! (Which also means the 12 of us are in equal 1st place at the moment!). Thanks to Claire, Lee, Mark and Jade, and to Sarah and Darryl for the tow car and once again to all the marshals and officials for their hard work, trying to get the track dry for us all! And Congratulations to Sid Slattery on his first ever 10-second pass in the “Destiny” slingshot, a massive PB of 10.754 in his nicely ‘engine-turn’ decorated bodywork! Fair play, Sid! Also congrats to Alec Coe and Tony Wynne-Jones for breaking the 120 mph barrier for the first time (and Tony for taking 2/10ths off his PB with an 11.629). Also nice to see the old “She Devil 2” slingshot out in the hands of new Wild Bunch member Neil Ward, and Helen and Dean with the “Hell’s Belle” winning their first trophies!

We’re now really looking forward to the first Ultimate Power Series round, the “Excitement Nationals”, over the 3-day Bank Holiday event on 1st-3rd May! That should be really exciting!!

3rd - 4th April 2004 - SEASON OPENER

WOW!!! It’s great to be back, and in our 10th year! And with “Backdraft” sporting her original number, WB 6.

Over the winter, I had rebuilt the gearbox, had the torque converter re-conditioned (thanks to Bob Lees) and rebuilt the engine, installing new rods, cam and cylinder heads, so I was really looking forward to seeing what the car could run now! To celebrate our 10th year, we’d also had a new paint job done, in red metalflake with gold flames on the swoopy! This was something I’d always wanted to do which had now become reality (many thanks to Road Zombie workshops for the long hours spent painting, rubbing down and lacquering, and also thanks to Demonscream for the brilliant gold diffractive stickers, which set the paintwork off a treat). I had only just fitted the bodywork to the car the week before the first event (as it had sat lovingly in our dining room for over a month!) and we couldn’t wait to get to the track and be able to admire “Backdraft” complete with her new sparkly paintwork!

This weekend was the long-awaited Season Opener, a Test n’ Tune where we were also running for Spot Prizes. I was one of 6 Slingshots in a field of 13 Wild Bunch cars taking part, and I was raring to go!!! We drove up Friday night, me, Claire, Lee, Mark and Jade, and got unloaded in the dry, always a bonus. “Backdraft” with her new paint even looked good in the dark! We parked opposite Ian Caseley’s new jet dragster, “Road Zombie 2” because we were going to be doing some crewing for him as well. (I was quite excited to be given the job of ‘chief gauge reader’ as the car was firing up on the line!).

Saturday dawned not too bad, some blue sky amongst the clouds. We fired up “Backdraft” and Lee checked the timing, etc. I had to adjust the shift linkage because it was going from first gear back to neutral instead of second gear. We wouldn’t want that on a run!! Mark then changed the oil. We saw we needed to take some fuel out of the system but we thought we’d get a run under our belts and then we would have a baseline for future fire-ups.

On the first run of the year the car performed a great smoky burnout. It sounded good, but it was way too fat (too much fuel). I staged at 1500 rpm, nailed it, and it felt great! A nice clean run at 9.625 @ 138.46 mph. Well chuffed! We got back to the pits and put more advance into the ignition and took some fuel out, by changing a pill. We were then ready for the second run, but it started to rain, and rain some more! Oh well, tomorrow’s another day!

The weather report had said sunshine and showers for Sunday, and the day started off dry. We went down for our first run, and had to go on hold during some light rain. We finally got ready to fire “Backdraft” up and the starter motor packed up! We had a spare but the ring gear didn’t look that clever, so we called it a day. We packed up, but still stayed to the end of the day, to see how everyone else was getting on, and hoping that Ian could get in his first run in the jet car, as he was still waiting for a chance in a weather window.

Everybody had thought the new paint job looked great, and we had lots of good comments. We were mesmerised by the effect, circling round to try and catch the sun on it! We’re really chuffed with it!

Wow, it’s great to be back! Thanks to Claire, Lee, Mark and Jade, and to Sarah for towing and to all the marshals and officials for their hard work, keeping the event going in between the showers, they never gave up trying to keep us all running! (Tony Smith got in 6 runs, and started off with PB’s, so congratulations to him!!).

Although we had some teething troubles, we thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and debuted our wicked new paint job, so many thanks again to Road Zombie workshops for the paintwork, and Demonscream for the stickers! We’re now looking forward to the first Wild Bunch round in less than 2 weeks’ time, at the Club Test n’ Tune weekend on April 17th & 18th.

PS. News update: I had the dragster in our garage over the weekend, and have installed a new starter motor, and borrowed a new flexiplate (many thanks to the Dog’s B*******s Team for the loan!) and have successfully fired the car up quite easily, so, fingers crossed, we will be able to put in some good passes at the next event and try to improve on “Backdraft’s” Best E.T…………and this year I hope to reach my dream of going 150 mph!

1st January 2004 - HAPPY NEW YEAR

HAPPY NEW YEAR - From us all

That was the News