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25th - 26th September 2010 FALL NATIONALS at SANTA POD

We were really looking forward to the season finale at the UK National Finals at Santa Pod, which was our Wild Bunch Fall Nationals, and the last round of the Series for Wild Bunch where I was currently 7th, Real Steel Series where I was currently 5th and the MSA Challenge where I was in 3rd place but still within one round of the top spot. I was guaranteed a Top 10 placing in the Wild Bunch Series, with an outside chance of getting up as high as 3rd place, and a chance of getting into the Top 4 in Real Steel. We also hoped that “Backdraft” would run well and dip back into the 8’s in the cooler weather, and given that we had run a couple of back to back 9.03’s! And we were hoping for good weather to get the chance to run for the places! There were 12 Wild Bunch cars entered, the biggest MSA field for several years, so we were looking forward to being in competition with them all.

Claire and I left home around 10:00am on the Friday, towing “Backdraft” up with the Winne. We were making good progress until we got to the Swindon turn off, and were stopped for a random spot check at the VOSA depot. We think the inspectors there were pretty intrigued with the camper, having not seen any like it before. They were also interested to have a look at our racecar in the trailer! About an hour later we were on our way. We got to the track at 2:15pm, and were chuffed to find that we were pitted by the fence again! There were already about 4 or 5 Wild Bunchers there. We parked up at about the 1250ft mark and unloaded “Backdraft” and set up. It rained a bit so we stayed in the camper for a while before going down to sign on. By the time we got back from signing on, Mark had arrived, and had started pushing the dragster towards scrutineering. That morning he had been up to Ford at Daventry to do his final exams for his Senior Technician course, and had rung us to say he had passed, so we were all chuffed! Big congratulations to him! We joined him in the queue with the racecar, and got scrutineered okay by about 5pm, which was quite lucky, as due to the cold weather, scrutineering closed early that day. We got back to the pits and had tea and coffee, and later some dinner. It was a cold night, so we stayed in and had a pretty early night.

Saturday dawned cool and cloudy. We were scheduled to have 3 qualifiers that day and were a fair way down the running order, so we had a little while to wait. We decided to dial in at 8.99 for the first qualifier, hoping to get near that! This run was at about 11:30am, and I was paired with Adz in the “Go Hard or Go Home!!!” Topolino for this run. He ran a 10.764 at 124mph on his 10.72 Dial-in. I was chuffed to run a 9.042 at 146.29mph, so a good start. We went back to the pits and fuelled up and changed the oil.

For the next qualifier, we dialled in at 9.03. We were called out about 3:30 and got to run at about 4pm. This time I was matched up with Dick Sharp in the “Dorset Horn” for the first time for quite a while! He ran a 10.515 at 123mph on his 9.80 Dial-in. I ran a bit slower than before, at 9.155 at 144.41mph. It was really good to race Dick again, and we both enjoyed it! We went back to the pits and fuelled up, and put the battery on charge, ready for the next run. It seemed to be taking quite a while to go through the running order, but we didn’t mind too much, as it meant we might get a night run on the third qualifier.

Around about 5 o’clock, we were wondering if they would be able to start the third cycle of qualifying, as the original track close time was scheduled for around 6pm. Luckily they did start the cycle, so we waited and hoped we would get another run. We finally got called at about quarter to 7, and this time waited till last before joining the Wild Bunch queue, hoping that it would get a little darker. It certainly did that, and we had our night time run at about 7:30pm. By the time I drove round to the start line, “Backdraft” was flaming up really well, and we were all just chuffed watching the flames in the dusk. I was paired with Ed in “RamRaider” and he ran a 9.415 at 141mph on his 9.33 Dial. We had kept the Dial-in at 9.03, hoping the cool air would help lower the time again. I ran a 9.311 at 141.27mph and had some more cool flames at the top end, and really enjoyed the run! I had qualified in 5th place, so better than average.

Sunday morning was cool and cloudy again. I was due to face Keith Crampton in the “Soultown Shaker” slingshot in the first round, which was not scheduled til about lunch time. Racing started not long after 9am, and around 4 or 5 classes got their first round of eliminations in. Then there was an oil down, and while this was being cleared up, some rain fell. The track crew worked really hard to dry the track, but there was a lot of drizzle in the air. They kept trying until about 3pm, when the officials had to call off racing for the day, as more rain was due, and the track just was not going to dry. Such a shame! We were so looking forward to a good day’s competition to finish the season, but this is the first time this year that we have not been able to get a result, out of 10 events, so pretty good going really. I was just chuffed to finish the year on that wicked night run, and was still buzzing after that, so we weren’t too disappointed.

Congratulations to Team B-Sting, who won the Wild Bunch Series for their first ever time! Congrats to Dave & Warren Rowlands on their 2nd place, their highest ever, and to Adz and Team Gridlock for achieving 3rd place, in only their second year of racing. Well done to Team Dog’s Bollocks, too, who finished in 4th place. I have finished in 7th place, which is the first time out of the Top 4 since our 7th place in 2008. Still, I am pleased to be in the Top 10! I finished 5th in the Real Steel Series, and 4th in the MSA Challenge. And we’re already looking forward to running for all the Series next season!

Thanks very much to Mark and Claire for crewing, and Joey for towing and battery lugging! Also, huge thanks to all the Santa Pod marshals and officials and track crew for their hard work all weekend! Can’t wait for the ‘Easter Thunderball’!

We planned to stay over again, and even though things finished early and we were packed up by about 5:30pm, we decided to stay. Val and Dex from Team Gridlock were staying as well, and when the electric got turned off early that evening, they came over and asked us if we would like to go out to the pub for dinner. We said yes, and they picked us up in their day van a while later. We got directions to one pub, but this turned out to not be serving food, so went on the way to the next one. Having not been out much in the area, we didn’t know where things were, and it took us nearly an hour to find it! But once we were there, we had a lovely steak meal, with some lovely company! So many thanks to Val and Dex for a very nice evening! We got up slowly the next day, and made our way back to Bristol, getting home early afternoon.

We’re now looking forward to the Wild Bunch Annual Prize Presentation and Dinner Dance at Drayton Manor on Saturday, 27th November. Another great night! And chuffed to still be in the Top 10 for the Wild Bunch Series, and 4th in the Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars Series.

18th - 19th September 2010 HOT ROD DRAGS at SHAKEY

We were excited about the Hot Rod Drags, as we were looking forward to our third ‘Cacklefest’, and were planning to use our new 1964 GMC Suburban as a push car. I had only bought it recently, and collected it the weekend before the Euro Finals, selling my Hot Rod in between. The Suburban has a cream roof and top half and is gold on the sides. It fits right in with our nostalgia theme and we just love it!

I left home by myself at around 9:30am on the Friday, towing “Backdraft” up with the Winne, as Claire and Mark were going to drive up later, after they finished work. I got to the track around 11:15 and started to park up in a designated spot, in the middle of the pits, just on the left of the middle road as you pull into the pits. I unloaded the car and set up the pits, and was all sorted by about noon. I had a nice chilled out afternoon, meeting up with friends and chatting to everyone. Later that day, Claire and Mark left home around 6:15pm, with Claire driving the Suburban for the first time. They had a good journey up, and the only slight delay was when the rear rubber exhaust mount broke and the exhaust trailed along the road! Mark tied it up with wire, and they got to the track at about 8pm. Claire really enjoyed driving the Suburban, and has so far covered more miles in it than me! We had a nice evening chatting to friends and wandering round the pits.

Saturday was cloudy but not too cold. Nobby Hills had brought his ‘Houndog 1’ to the track to put on display by a marquee, and we helped him unload it. He liked our Suburban! We had a steady morning and I got everything ready with the race car, and signed on. We left the pits about 1pm with Mark pushing “Backdraft” with the Suburban, with Claire walking alongside to check the height of the push bar. We pushed slowly down the queue. But when we got to the corner of the fireup road, the Suburban would not re-start. Mark and Joey used the piggy back battery to jump start it and we were mobile again. We were planning to pair up with Neil Townson in the “Northern Spirit” altered, for a re-match of the race we had at last year’s Hot Rod Drags. He had won by 9 tenths! He pushed round to the back wall and I fired up. We waited but Neil’s altered just would not start, so that was a shame we missed out on the match race. I pulled round to the start and did the burnout. A nice wheelie on launch, and I ran a 9.032 at 146.17mph, just 3 thousandths quicker than the last run at the Pod at the Euro Finals! So it was pretty consistent! I was chuffed later on after the event to hear I had won the NSRA trophy for “Quickest Wild Bunch Car of the weekend”, along with a goodie bag, so many thanks to them!

We went back to the pits and fuelled up and changed the oil. I then had to adjust the height of the push pad, and check the battery on the Suburban. I was not planning to do another run, but Claire and Mark encouraged me to. We left the pits at around 4pm and again used the Suburban to push. The height of the push bar was much more central now, and worked well. We were in the queue for about half an hour, and around half way down the fireup road, which was by then closed, when a few spots of rain started to fall. It turned into a short shower, so the officials were forced to stop racing for the day! Oh well, at least we were now ready for the Cacklefest later! We went back to the pits and I changed the dizzy setting to ‘cackle’ mode, ready for later on that day.

The plan for the Cackle was for some cars to start up statically near the Christmas tree, and all the ’55 Chevys to go first and then some Gassers, other race cars, the Wild Bunch and the Supercharged Outlaws. We again pushed the car from the pits with the Suburban. This time Nobby came along for the ride and to watch the Cackle. We assembled at about 7:15 in the first part of the fireup road, and it was starting to get darker. When we got to the start of the fireup road, Mark had turned off the Suburban. I had not been aware, but he then had to jump start it again! Just in time! The first cars fired up and then those in the pit road drove round. From our place in the fireup road we could see Andy Fadster with huge nitrous-fuelled flames coming out of the headers on his “Twister” T-altered. Then it was our turn, and we fired “Backdraft” up and then ‘pushed’ the car forward, and I drove away from the Suburban as we got round the corner, to simulate a ‘push start’. I drove slowly down the fireup road and onto the track behind the row of cars. Once again, we had some wicked flames, and we were all enjoying watching them! Dom Romney had joined in on the crew, and he took some great shots of the flames. So many thanks to him! We kept running for as long as we dared, and finally shut off. The guys from the NSRA gave us all the ‘Cacklefest participant’ stickers while we were still on the track. Once some of the cars had cleared, we pushed back along the track and back along the fireup road. There had been a big crowd and some stayed behind to cheer all the cars as we went back to the pits, which was really cool. Once again, we really enjoyed the Cacklefest and it was great to be a part of it!

We went back to the pits and packed up and had a nice night chatting to friends. Nobby dropped by for a while and he had enjoyed watching the Cacklefest. We had a pretty early night. On Sunday, the weather was better than expected, but we planned to have a chilled out day. Dean had lent me a battery to use on the Suburban, so I fitted that. Thanks, Dean! Even though we didn’t race, we were pretty busy wandering round the vendors, and chatting to people in the pits and hardly saw any racing! Once again we were hearing great stories from Terri & John Whitmore, and later on Mike Collins. Dick Sharp came along and met up with John and reminisced about old times. He had been match racing with Alan Lloyd in the ‘Gonzo’ altered, the first time the cars had raced in about 30 years, so that was cool. We stayed around all day, and packed up slowly, and even though we didn’t race, were amongst the last to leave the track! We really enjoyed the weekend again!

Thanks very much to Mark and Claire for crewing, and push car driving, and Joey for battery lugging! And many thanks to all the Shakey marshals and officials and track crew and the NSRA organisers for their hard work all weekend! Once we got home, we saw that Jeni Long also got some good pics of us in the Cacklefest, so thanks to her too! Other people sent us more on facebook, so thanks to them too!

We’re now looking forward to the UK National Finals next weekend at Santa Pod, where our Wild Bunch, Real Steel and MSA Challenge Series will be decided. Hope the weather’s good!

9th - 12th September EUROPEAN FINALS at SANTA POD

We were really excited about competing at the “Euro Finals” at Santa Pod, which we had never raced at before. It was another event I wanted to do to celebrate my 50th birthday! We had entered in Super Pro ET class, and were hoping to be back in the 8’s as the Dial-in bracket for the class is between 6.00 and 8.99. There were 35 cars entered for a 32 car field, and our main goal was to qualify, and also we wanted to be back in the 8’s! We had asked Paula Marshall for a race number with a ‘6’ in it and she had given us Su Pro 61. We sent our entry off the week after we ran at York where we had a weekend best of 9.06, and also figured that with adding the MSD 7AL we would be back in the 8’s. But at the Open Sports Nationals we had been running 9.2’s and 9.3’s, so hoped to find two tenths this weekend! After that event I bought a new dizzy cap and leads as suggested by MSD so hoped that would help. That was Plan A. If that didn’t do it we figured that with the new ignition the engine needed more fuel, so Plan B was to change the high speed in the fuel system. We also had Plan C and D to try!

Claire and I left home around 10:00am on the Wednesday, towing “Backdraft” up with the Winne. We made good time, and got to the track at around 1:30pm. We drove in to the pit gate, where we were asked to pull over and wait, as the Super Pro ET pits were then chock a block. We pulled up right next to the Top Fuel pits and Joran Persaker’s awning, whilst Urs Erbacher’s crew were driving their rig in on the other side of us. We waited and waited, around and hour and a half, and then when some more of our class arrived, we went to ask if we could then go into the pits. One of the guys drove me round on the golf buggy to show me where to park, and we drove round. I pulled in next to Mark Flavell and his funny car as instructed, and had nearly finished setting up, when Splinter and Dave Warren, who was doing pit marshalling, asked us if we could move. After a lot of shunting, and with the jockey wheel nearly collapsing, we managed to move the trailer to the new spot, longways down the pit avenue. We finished getting set up, with the Winne in front of the trailer and the race car alongside. This turned out to be a better place in the end, and easier to get in and out of. We later went to sign on, and then took the car to scrutineering, where everything went smoothly. Mark and Joey and Kim arrived later on, towing their caravan with Claire’s Scenic which we were going to use as a tow car. We got back to the pits and had tea, and spent time chatting to lots of the other racers. We have a lot of friends in the class, and have always loved the variety of cars in Super Pro. And were really chuffed when they were all very welcoming! We had an early night, as we were going to be the second class out on the Thursday, and there were 5 qualifiers scheduled, with the possibility of more if things went well!

Thursday dawned dry, so the day looked promising for several qualifiers at least, and we were planning to do as many as possible, and hoped to race as many different drivers as we could. When we were called out, at about 9:20am, we were one of the first cars to tow down. Our first qualifier was at about quarter to 10, and we were paired with Dave Catton in the Marston’s ‘Ugly Stick’ 4-link dragster. He had dialled in at 8.45 and ran an 8.493 at 155mph. I needed to learn the lights, as Super Pro run on a Sportsman tree, and I was not really used to that, so ended up red-lighting! We had dialled in at 8.99 for starters, and would have been chuffed to break out! I ran a 9.171 at 143.92mph. Better than the last run at Shakey, but still not quite there. We went back to the pits, fuelled up, and I blanked off the high speed. I was chuffed to find that this put me in temporary 10th spot in the qualifying.

We did not have long to wait for our second run, as we were called out at about 10 to 11, and ran at about 11:20am. This time, I was matched up with John Atkinson in his Cortina Estate. We’ve known John and his son Tom for a while, so we were looking forward to pairing up. He dialled in at 8.74, and ran an 8.811 at 151.07mph. I red lit again, but not by as much, and ran a slightly better 9.117 at 142.91mph, on my 8.99 Dial. Back to the pits again for another change.

This time I changed the pill in the Main to richen the fuel mixture. We had some lunch and got ready for the next round. We were called at about 12:20pm, and got to run at around 10 to 1. When we were nearly down at the end of the queue, one of the other crews spotted a problem with my wheelie bar wheel. Mark had a look and said it was broken, and that I shouldn’t do a wheelie! This time I was up against Steve Johnson in the Motor Mouse dragster, a very experienced racer! His Dial-in was 7.29, and he ran a 7.288 at 184mph. I accidentally went into full stage first, so apologies to Steve for that! This time I didn’t red light and had a real good reaction, an .086, so pretty pleased with that. But because I was being cautious off the line, I backed off the wheelie and did a second one! Because of this I ran a 9.325 at 142.11mph. We went back to the pits and fuelled up again, and this time didn’t make a change, as the last run had been inconclusive.

We waited around for a bit, and there was some down time, due to a bit of drizzle. While we were waiting, I went on the hunt for a new wheelie bar wheel, and finally managed to get one from John Spuffard’s team. It was a used one off the fuel funny car. I duly paid Bob Jarrett Ł20 for it, and started to find a bolt to modify to attach it to the wheelie bar. Luckily we had some time in between rounds, and after the drizzle, I borrowed a drill from Bob Glassup and some drill bits from Rich Walters, and tried to make the wheel fit, but could not find a bolt the right size. In the meantime, I spoke to Geoff Hauser, who said he could bring me a bolt or bush from his workshop, when he went home that night. But for the time being, I made a temporary fit with the original bolt, and got ready for the next round.

We were called out at about 10 to 4 for our fourth qualifier, and this time I was running against Marck Harteveld, from Holland in the bright green Plymouth Roadrunner. He dialled in at 8.10, and red lit, and ran an 8.092 at 166mph. I pulled a good wheelie on this run, and posted a 9.094 at 143.36mph. That was more like it and going in the right direction! So we were all pretty pleased with that one. Once again, we went back to the pits and fuelled up for the next round. I made another change with the pill to put more fuel back in, and hoped that we would get another qualifier in the cooler air later on. (And maybe even a night run!).

We got ready and waited around, and were a little disappointed when the officials had to call time on the day at around 6pm, as they had finished the 4th cycle, and had a lot of track prep to do. By now, we were further down the qualifying ladder but still safely in the show! We packed up for the night, and had tea, and spent time chatting to the other racers.

Friday turned out to be quite a late start as it had rained overnight and it was still very wet in the morning. The track was nearly dry, and there was another short shower. That morning, Geoff Hauser brought me a bolt and a bush and I fitted the new wheelie bar wheel. Many thanks to Geoff for supplying them free of charge, much appreciated!

Racing was delayed by around 4 hours but eventually got underway around 1pm, and we were called out at about 1:20pm. We got to run at about 1:40pm, and were lucky to get out early in the class as there was some rain during the session. This time I was paired with Jack Brewster in the ‘Just Mustard’ Firebird. He dialled in at 8.60 and ran an 8.614 at 157mph. I ran a 9.208 at 142.01mph. So we thought that fuel change had been too much! We went back to the pits and changed the pill back to the one where I ran the 9.09 and got ready for the next round.

After our class, it was time for all the Pro classes, so after we had got the car ready, we went over to the fence to watch for quite a while! This turned out to be a really long, but great session. With some great Pro Mod action and Methanol Funnies and Dragsters. It took several hours, and then there was a delay for rain, at about 6pm, but the track crew worked hard and got racing going at about 7pm. This was well worth waiting for, as the Top Fuel round was great, with 9 cars vying for 8 places. Andy Carter set the first half of a record with a 4.61 at 298mph, and there were also 4-second passes from Risto Poutianen, at over 300mph, Janne Ahonen and Urs Erbacher. The cycle of Pro qualifying was completed at about 7:45pm! So that was it for the day as the track was becoming cold and the crew had to work on it. We packed up for the evening, and wondered if there would be another qualifier.

Saturday morning, Claire went to check the running order. Just as we thought, they were going to complete the 5th cycle of qualifying for the rest of the Sportsman classes and then go into another round of qualifying for the Pro Classes. The weather was much better, and racing started on time, with the Pros going out at about 10:45am. There was a chance our first elimination would be between the two Pro qualifiers, so we got ready just in case. We went to watch the Pro classes again, including watching Bristol guy Conrad Stanley in his second run in the Pro Stock class. In Top Fuel there were 6 more 4-second runs! It turned out the cycle took several hours, til about 3:30pm so they went straight into the third cycle.

The plan was to complete that cycle, and run the qualifier for Junior Dragster, and then begin eliminations. We had found out that I was matched up with Johnny Everitt in the “Alien” altered for the first round! I was really chuffed to be able to race him and was really looking forward to it. In the meantime, we carried on watching the Pro qualifying, where in the third round, Andy Carter ran an amazing 4.57 at 320mph, and we were at the 1200ft mark when he zoomed by! At around 6pm. After watching Top Fuel, we headed back to the Winne, to wait, just in case there was going to be time to run our eliminations. This was a good thing, as though we thought it might be a while, it was around 7pm when they called us to the pairings lanes.

John had lane choice and we wished him luck. He dialled in at 7.95 and we were excited about the race as it would be two very different wheelying cars side by side! I still dialled in at the 8.99, and wouldn’t have minded a breakout! I left the line first, and had a storming reaction time of .011! In the other lane, though, sadly John broke his gearbox off the launch and coasted over to the side! Such a shame, as it would have been a fun race! I recorded a 9.182 at 142.92mph, and we were all a little surprised to be going to the next round on Sunday!

The other classes carried on with their qualifiers, until about quarter to 9. We packed up for the evening, and had a late tea and chatted to more friends in the pits. We weren’t sure what time we would be out the next day, and had a fairly early night.

Sunday started off really sunny and nice. The schedule meant that the Pro classes would be starting their eliminations first, so we got the car ready, and went to watch this. There was again some excellent racing. We thought we might be out after Pro ET after the first elimination round, so went back to the Winne after watching the Pro Mods. We didn’t think we would be out that soon, but suddenly heard ourselves being called before Pro ET. We got ready quickly and towed out of the pits. Our opponent was due to be Rob Smallworth in the Chevy Doorslammer. A lot of his panels were still off as we towed by, and Claire shouted to them that we would wait in the pairings lanes as long as we could. He got ready quite quick too in the end, and met us in the fireup road. We had lane choice so chose the right hand lane again. He dialled in at 7.73, and me at 8.99 again. This time, I actually saw the green light! And my reaction was a lot slower, at .337! Oh well! At least I didn’t pull a red. He recorded a 7.921 at 149mph and got to the finish line first to take the win! But we were all pretty pleased, as I had run my best run of the weekend, a 9.035 at 145.26mph! And we were chuffed to still be racing on Sunday!

We got back to the pits and packed up throughout the day. We were staying over, so there was no rush. And we watched the racing for the rest of the day, which was great!

Thanks very much to Mark and Claire for crewing, and Joey for towing and battery lugging! Also, huge thanks to all the Santa Pod marshals and officials and track crew for their hard work all weekend! And thanks to all the other Super Pro racers for making us feel welcome! We really enjoyed the event and would love to do it again, and race with Super Pro again.

We’re now looking forward to the Hot Rod Drags at Shakey next weekend, where we are going to be taking part in our third Cacklefest! Should be a great, chilled out event!

28th - 30th August 2010 at OPEN SPORTS NATIONALS at SHAKEY

We were really looking forward to the Bank Holiday event at Shakespeare County, as it was my birthday event, and we hoped that “Backdraft” would run well, after I fixed the breakages we had experienced at York. And for part of one of my presents Mark had chipped in to buy a new MSD 7AL, and I put in some money I had received recently for long service at the ‘w’ place! We hoped this would dip the car back into the 8’s! And we hoped the weather turned out to be as good as the forecast, so that we could get 5 or 6 qualifiers in before Race day. Before the event, I was in 5th place in the Real Steel Series, 3rd in the Roy Wilding Series and this was the last round for that Series, 3rd in the MSA Challenge and 2nd in the APIRA Series, also concluding this weekend, so we hoped we could maintain or improve these positions.

I had had a good week so far for my 50th birthday, beginning with a surprise party Claire had organised me for me, the Friday before, and a nice day with her and the family on the Wednesday. I thought I had received all my presents, as I didn’t know Claire had some more hidden in the Winne which I would find out about during the weekend!

Claire and I left home around 10:30am on the Friday, towing “Backdraft” up with the Winne. We made really good time and got to the track at about 12:15, and were escorted to our marked pit area. This was near the start of the fireup road area, on the field side, and we were really pleased to be there. For a change, and because it worked out better for space, I parked the trailer facing into the field, and then parked the Winne on the grass, making and ‘L’ shape. We then unloaded “Backdraft” and parked almost diagonally in the space. When we got there, Dave and Linda were already there with the “Green with Envy” altered, and so was Dave Rowlands with “Destiny’s Angel”. There were 11 Wild Bunch teams entered at the event, and the rest of the teams soon all started turning up, with Ed with “RamRaider” parked next to us, and newcomer Bob Hawkins and son the other side. They had bought Colin & Roz Aldred’s old “Classy Chassy” slingshot, and renamed it “Timetraveller”. (We had bumped into Colin and Roz at the Hot Rod Hayride recently, so it had been nice to chat to them there).

We finished setting up our pit area, and later got scrutineered and signed on, and had a really chilled out afternoon, followed by a really relaxing evening, chatting to friends. Mark and Joey and friends turned up later, and set up their caravan in the field.

Saturday dawned cool and dry. We were scheduled to have 3 qualifiers on the Saturday. And we were 22nd and last class on the running order, so we knew we would have quite a long wait! We dialled in at 8.99 for the first qualifier, hoping the car would run quick. It took place at about 20 past one, and I was paired with Ed for this run, and he ran a 9.879 at 117mph on his 9.33 Dial-in. We were a little surprised to run a 9.203 at 144.58mph, but thought we would need to do some tuning. I changed the plugs, and we checked the timing, and changed it during a fireup, so hoped that would do the trick. We fuelled up and waited for the second run.

We kept the 8.99 Dial for the next qualifier, which was at about 4:30pm, against Ed again. He ran a 9.444 at 143mph on his 9.33. Despite our changes, the car ran slower, with a 9.339 at 138.81mph. So we were a bit puzzled with this, and checked the timing again, and changed it back. We changed oil and fuelled up, and waited to see if the third qualifier would take place, but there was not enough time to complete the cycle. Well, at least we would have an earlier start on the Sunday, and were scheduled for a total of 3 runs that day, so hoped to have a chance to tune some more.

On Saturday, Bunt and Dinah Willcox had come up to spectate, though it was a shame they were unable to stay over, to join in my pit party that night. During the day, they stopped by at the Winne to give me a present. I started opening it and the box said ‘Edinburgh crystal’ so we guessed it might be a glass, until they said to ignore what it said on the box! I opened the box, and couldn’t believe it, when I saw what was inside! Neatly folded to just reveal the patch on the back was Bunt’s original 1970’s Keith Black jacket! I had admired this for years, and kidded Bunt that he should pass it on to me, and now, there it was! I was amazed, and absolutely chuffed, to say the least! A very special present which I will treasure always!

After racing finished, we had tea, and Claire decorated for the party, with a cool banner she had got me for the surprise party with a personalised message, and a picture of me in my knight’s costume, on the ‘dragon’, from the Mini Showdown fancy dress party! People started turning up at about 8 o’clock, and it soon started to get dark. Our Jade had driven up to join in with the party, and watch the racing the next day, so that was really nice. Around 9 o’clock, Claire surprised me with another present, a painting she had commissioned from Paul Whitehouse, of “Backdraft” doing a wheelie, with the background being like Santa Pod in the early 70’s! It was amazing! And I love all the detail in it! He has captured the movement and the light and the chrome and metalflake and flames, and a good view through the canopy of my mask and goggles, as well as Mark in the background with his teamwear and cowboy hat! Really cool painting! So I was really chuffed with that. Then during the evening people stopped by and gave me cards and presents, and we all had a good night.

Sunday morning was dry and cool again. We raised our Dial-in to a 9.15, thinking we would run quicker, but maybe not into the 8’s yet. Our third qualifier was at about 10:45am, and I was hoping to run Dick Sharp in the “Dorset Horn” but he had a slight problem firing up, so I had a solo. This time, I ran a 9.261 at 141.97mph, so a little better, but still not where we wanted to be. We then refuelled back at the pits and waited for the next round.

Around mid-day, there was small shower, and it took less than half an hour to dry up. But then around 1:30pm, a massive deluge fell, and that was it for a couple of hours. The track crew worked hard to dry the track, and the jet dryer was called into action, assisted by a really strong wind. But on the restart, a Beetle tagged the guardrails. Fortunately the driver was okay, and hopefully the car not too badly damaged. The track opened again at about 4:00/4:30pm, and we waited for our round. This did not take place until nearly 6:30pm, so it was a long day. We kept the Dial-in as 9.15, and this time, I did pair up with Dick, who ran a 10.414 at 130mph. I pulled a red light! And ran a 9.466 at 140.26mph, so really wasn’t sure what I would dial in for Race Day. I qualified in 7th place overall, which wasn’t too bad. We went back to the pits, changed the oil and fuelled up ready for the next day. We had a wander round the pits in the evening, and then had and earlier night. We found that I was paired with Darren Law and “The Wicked Lady” in the first round, so it would be a good race!

Monday morning was sunny and cool again. This time we were around 13th on the running order, so not that late, and we were called around noon. Darren and the team chose their usual Dial-in of 9.00 even, and after discussion, we decided on a 9.22. Darren had also red lit in qualifying, so I think he was a bit more cautious than usual on the lights, and I managed to get a two hundredths advantage. It was pretty close at the top end, but when Claire and the crew came up to the top end, I found out that Darren had broken out, with an 8.954 at 145mph, and I had run a 9.250 at 139.96mph, my closest of the weekend! Real chuffed to make it through the first round, and really enjoyed racing Darren again, a great race!

After this race, Claire had another present for me – an Action Man dressed in a silver suit! A bit like a ‘mini-me’! Real cool, and everyone laughed when I showed them my secret weapon!

In the Quarter-finals, I was matched up with Terry Clifford in the “Ratcatcher Resurrection” slingshot. We kept the same Dial-in as the last round, and Terry chose a 10.18. Well, I’m not real sure what happened, but I ended up deep staging the car, and on the launch, pulled another red light! (Well, Claire had said to ‘bring something red to the party’! So I guess this was it!). I ran a 9.341 at 140.21mph. Terry recorded a 10.239 at 128.31mph, so would have been tough to beat. Oh well, that’s racing! Congratulations to Terry, who went on to win the whole event, his first this year.

We held our prize presentation a little while later. And though I didn’t win anything, Claire had one more surprise for me! A fabulous metal sculpture of a wheelying red metalflake “Backdraft” complete with a tiny galvanised bucket as the canopy! It was mounted on a sprocket, and had a Christmas tree in the background. She had commissioned this from Elaine Southworth of the “Daddy Cool” team, and her company ‘Cool Engineered Art’, and it really is way cool!

Thanks very much to Mark and Claire for crewing, and Joey for towing! Also, huge thanks to all the marshals and officials and track crew for their hard work all weekend! We really enjoyed the event again, and glad to see that all eliminations took place.

We’re now looking forward to the “Euro Finals” MSA event at Santa Pod on September 9th to 12th, which we have entered for the first time! In Super Pro class! We really hope to be back in the 8’s for that one, as the maximum Dial-in allowed is 8.99! We are also looking forward to the Hot Rod Drags and the Cacklefest the following weekend, and the ‘UK National Finals’ the following weekend, for our last Wild Bunch round of the season! Hope the weather’s good all September! A really great month for drag racing!

7th - 8th August 2010 YORK SUMMER SHOWDOWN

We were really looking forward to the ‘UK Northern Nationals’ event at York, which is our ‘Summer Showdown’ event and fifth Wild Bunch Series round, and eighth Real Steel Series round of the season. The weather forecast looked possibly showery on the Saturday and fine on the Sunday. There were only 6 of us entered, so a small but happy Bunch! Claire and I left Bristol at about 11am, towing “Backdraft” up with the Winne for its first trip up North. The journey went really well, with hardly any traffic holdups, and we stopped briefly at Tamworth for a break. We got to the Doncaster North Services by 4pm, so really early. We were meeting up with Adz and Dex and Val and Lorraine with the “Go Hard or Go Home!!!” altered, and they arrived at the services about 5pm, and we started on the last leg of the journey, arriving at York Dragway at about 6pm. We drove straight in with the queue, and got into the pits, and started to set up in the Midway area, but on the opposite side to where we have parked before.

Ed had arrived with the “RamRaider” and Team “B-Sting” were there shortly after, as well as Dave Rowlands with “Destiny’s Angel”. We were nearly going to set up overlapping the pairings lanes, but I double checked with Steve Murty and Al Perkins from the PDRC, and we manoeuvred into position, with the cars lined up alongside the campers, on display. Mark and Joey and Chloe and Kim all arrived later that night, after a good journey up. We had a really nice chilled out evening chatting to friends, and went to bed fairly early.

Saturday dawned a bit cloudy but dry, and we started to get the car ready. We had a fire up to check the timing, as I had adjusted it back from ‘cackle mode’ to ‘race mode’, after our fireups at the Hot Rod Hayride the weekend before (really enjoyed those with all the flames!). The car sounded fine, and we got ready for our first run. I was in the left hand lane on this one, against Ed who ran a 9.477 at 13mph. Well, what a launch that was, it was a triple wheelie this time! And a pretty wild one, though fairly straight. I recorded a 9.446 at 143.74mph, so knew we could go a bit quicker.

We went back to the pits and fuelled up for the next round. This time I was paired with Ed again, and I had the right hand lane. Ed ran a 9.705 at 123mph. I pulled one nice wheelie, and was real chuffed to run a 9.125 at 144.66mph.

We then towed back to the pits, and Mark changed the oil whilst I fuelled up. The car had been running well at the top end, and I felt I wanted to stop a little quicker than I had done, so decided I would pull the chute on the next run. This time I was in the left hand lane again, and pulled another multiple wheelie, and ran a 9.382 at 142.92mph. I pulled the chute at the top end, and this had the desired effect! Claire said she could see it blossom quite well back at the start line. In the other lane, Dave Rowlands ran a 9.953 in “Destiny’s Angel”.

Back in the pits, we fuelled up, and arranged the time of our next run. This time we sorted out a match race with Ben, in his pink Ford pop. I hadn’t realised that it had been a race car way back in 1974. Ben had been running low 10’s in the car, and we were both looking forward to the run. This time, he ran a 10.450 at 126.05, real good for a heavy car. I was in the right hand lane, and pulled a single wheelie again, and ran a 9.187 at 142.97mph, so pleased with that one again. We both really enjoyed the race! And yes, his 60ft time was quicker! Though mine was probably with the back wheels!

We went back to the pits, and packed up for the evening. We had an early tea, and chatted to friends. Later on Ant Harris and Lorraine arrived to meet up with the Bunch for a social evening and take pictures on the Sunday. It was good to see them, and chat about some of their racing plans. Best of luck to them! We later went over to the clubhouse where there was a really good band playing. And then we turned in for the night.

Sunday morning was nice though cloudy, and we started getting the car ready. With such variable runs, the Dial-in was a bit tricky, but we finally decided on a 9.30, being in the middle and achievable.

In the first round, we were paired with Ed again, and I went in the left lane. Ed ran a 9.409 at 141mph, on a 9.40 Dial-in, so really close. Well, it was a case of never mind our Dial-in, as I pulled a nice wheelie and was real surprised to hear that I had run a 9.066 at 145.15mph! Oh well! We were all chuffed with that one, which was pretty near our best run at York, though we are still hoping for an 8-second pass there sometime!

We went back to the pits pretty happy, and fuelled up for the next round. Again, we were paired with Ed, and we were initially going to swap lanes, but then stayed in the lanes we had in the previous round. I had a bit of a hairy burnout on this one, and then an even more out-of-shape launch, drifting right straight afterwards. I gently started steering back straight, but I ended up touching the white line on my side of the centre line, before getting back into the groove. Meanwhile, in the other lane, Ed had drifted left himself, though not so far as me. He ran a 9.3 at 1 mph. Back on the start line, Des signalled to Claire that I was disqualified for this, the one and only time I have ever crossed the centre line. After that the run was going well, until after the finish line, when I heard a really bad grinding noise! I pulled the chute and got the car stopped okay, but wondered what had broken – could it be the diff, or the gearbox?! I had still run a 9.133 at 143.74mph! The crew towed me off the collection area, to the road behind the pig barn, and eventually we pulled over, to assess the damage. We had to go back to the pits twice to get some tools to take off the prop shaft cover. And when we did, we immediately saw that the coupler had sheared! Well, that was pretty good news, as we had a spare, and although not fixable at the track, meant that we would be able to repair it for the next event. In the meantime, we had also spotted that the front wing mount had broken on one side! Again, easily fixable! We towed veeerrrryyy slowly back to the pits, arriving about half an hour after everyone else had! We were a bit disappointed, and also to lose the round point for the DQ, but at least we knew we would be able to fix the car in between events.

We went down to watch the Bunch for the third and fourth rounds, loading the car in between, so Mark and Joey and gang could get away early back to Bristol. Claire calculated the results, but we then had to wait for racing to finish before our prize presentation. We were real pleased to see that young Adam Price had earned his first ever win! The whole team were amazed, and well chuffed! Many congratulations to them!

We were pretty chuffed ourselves as we were awarded the “Best Appearing Team” Spot Prize by Graham Beckwith and the team up the tower. And a surprise was that we won two trophies from the PDRC for “Quickest Wild Bunch car” on both Saturday and Sunday! Cool! The result means we are now in 7th place in the Wild Bunch Series and 5th place in the Real Steel Series.

Thanks very much to Claire and Mark and Joey for crewing and towing. Also, many thanks to all the marshals, officials and track crew, especially Des and Al for all of their hard work this weekend, and thanks to all at the PDRC for the warm welcome and hospitality. We really enjoyed the event, as always! We stayed over that night too, with Gos and Em and the boys and Ed with “RamRaider” and Val and Dex, and had a nice chilled out night before the long drive the following day.

We’re now really looking forward to the ‘Open Sports Nationals’ August Bank Holiday weekend at Shakey, where I will be celebrating my 50th birthday! So better get cracking on the repairs!

PS. Since the York event, I got “Backdraft” in the garage on the Monday, and stripped the panels and wheels. Since then I have already installed the new coupler, and welded up the front wing struts. And had a good check over the car, and all is going well.

10th - 11th July 2010 BRITISH MINI SHOWDOWN at SHAKEY

We were looking forward to the Mini Showdown event at Shakey, which is also our annual fancy dress party, and this year the theme was Medieval. It was the fourth Wild Bunch Series and seventh Real Steel Series round of the season (the season is just flying by!). Again, the weather forecast looked good, so real chuffed about that.

On the Friday before the event, we had a quite different journey to make before going to the track. The week before, friends Karen and John had rung me up to ask whether I could take “Backdraft” to a wake, and fire it up, as a tribute to Bob Shayler, who had recently passed away. We had known Bob for several years, through his crewing with John on his “Every Penny” dragster and before, and had seen him a few weeks ago, at the Xtreme Wheels Motor Show at Haynes that we displayed the car at. It had been good to see him then, and have a chat, and we count ourselves lucky to have seen him recently. At first I wasn’t sure about going, but as soon as I put the phone down, I knew it was something we had to do. On the Thursday night, we put a message in shoe white on the nosecone, simply saying ‘For Bob’, which we would keep on the car for the weekend. We left Bristol Friday morning, before 9am, and drove down the M4 and up the A420, and, after getting lost initially, finally found the pub where the wake was due to be held. We dashed to the church in a taxi, for the funeral, and managed to get a ride back with a nice chap and his wife, so many thanks to them for the lift. We then got the car out of the trailer, and when everyone had gathered, we fired it up. We chatted to a few of the family and friends, and it was good that it was something different for everyone, in the middle of a sad day. We felt honoured to be able to do this for Bob. After a while, we loaded up and got on our way up the A34 and M40, and got to Shakey about 4pm.

We got set up in the middle of the pits, nearer to the fireup road than usual, as the Wild Bunch pits began at the head of the pits. Not long after, newcomers Tom and Steve arrived. They had bought John Byng & John Attridge’s “Oddball” slingshot two weeks before, and were looking forward to Tom’s first drive in the car. Our Mark and friends arrived later on that night and set up their camp in the field. We had a good night walking around the pits and chatting to friends in the Winne, including Helen, Dean and Christine, who had arrived later in the evening.

Saturday morning dawned sunny, and soon became quite warm, though there was a nice breeze blowing. We didn’t need to fire the car up on the morning, as we had fired it on Friday. We went down to the fireup road mid-morning, and I was paired with Terry Clifford in the “Ratcatcher Resurrection” slingshot. He ran a 10.211 at 130mph. I ran a nice pass of 9.131 at 146.01mph, which was good for starters. We went back to the pits, fuelled up, changed the oil, had lunch and got ready for the next run.

On the second run, around 1:30pm, I was supposed to be matched with Adam Price in the “Go Hard or Go Home!!!” altered, but he had a problem, so I was on a solo. This time, I recorded a 9.148 at 144.96mph, in the slightly hotter part of the day. We fuelled up again, and went down for the last run at about 3:30pm, but there was an oil down, so had a bit of a wait, until 4:30pm. This time, I was with Phil Sweeney in the “Bone Idle” altered. He recorded a 9.545 at 137mph. I ran a 9.202 at 142.78mph, and again, it was pretty warm at this time of day. We got back to the pits, changed the oil, and packed up for the day.

At this event, some of the folks from the Bristol Pegasus Car Club brought their cars up to try out Drag Racing for the first time. They are used to sprints and rallies normally, but were interested in trying something different, and last year we encouraged Nick Wood, their social secretary to get a group together to go to an event this season. They made arrangements with Jerry Cookson, and pitted in their own area down by the fence. I am a member of the club, and was also around to give a bit of advice, in addition to their startline tuition given by Ed Baldwin, Chief Starter at Shakey. There were about 6 drivers on the Saturday, and about 10 altogether on the Sunday, and they all seemed to have a great time! (We’d got them a couple of trophies to hand out for ‘Best Reaction’ and “Quickest E.T.’ which we later presented at their Monday club night, after the slide show of photos from the weekend). They enjoyed it all so much that they are already talking about going again next season!

Later on Saturday night we had tea and started getting ready for our fancy dress party, with Claire decorating the Winne with heraldic flags, and also a poster with the Hartnell Coat of Arms, plus messages such as ‘Ye Olde Chariot Backdraft’ and ‘Ye Olde Winnebago’! This year, Claire was dressed as a Medieval lady in a red, black and gold long gown and headdress. I had a knight’s costume, complete with tabard with St George cross, cloak, gauntlets, boots, chain mail headsock, shield, sword, and plastic helmet with a long red feather! And this year, I turned the bar stool into a red fire-breathing dragon! Again, I had help from mate Spud who drew the outline on cardboard. I painted it red, with gold and black highlights, and also installed a twin fire extinguisher system, so that the dragon could ‘breath smoke’ out of its nose! We got ready and started to wander round the pits, where we met up with more knights, ladies, jesters, monks and more! We were really excited to see what Helen and Dean were going to be, and again, we could not have guessed it! Dean was a giant executioner, all dressed in black with a scary mask and axe, and on stilts!! Helen was his prisoner, a condemned witch heretic, in sackcloth! And Christine was a lovely lady. We all walked down the fire up road and grouped up for pictures with all the Bunch. Everyone looked great, and there was even some jousting! We met up with loads of people, and had a great night, dropping into the clubhouse, and riding round on the dragon! (Which later got loaned out to loads of kids who were really desperate to have a go! Including Helen!) Great fun!

Sunday morning was also nice and dry and sunny. We decided to Dial in at 9.13, as Mark and Claire thought the car would do the same as last event, and go quicker on the Sunday. We had charged the battery overnight, as we suspected that it had been losing power recently throughout a race weekend. We got in the queue for the first round at about 10:30am, and I was one of the first Bunchers in the fireup road. I was due to be paired with Dave Williams in the “Green with Envy” altered. I fired up “Backdraft” and drove round to the burnout box. When I looked down to check the gauges, I was pretty shocked to see that the oil pressure was running at about 20psi! (It is normally around 60 to 70 on idle, and 80 to 90 when revving up). I blipped the throttle to see if it cleared, but it didn’t, so I shut off immediately, before doing the burnout. Claire and Mark pushed me back to the wall, and we had to tow back to the pits, gutted! It was a shame to be out of the first round, but more worrying about what had caused the low oil pressure. After discussion, we realised that the oil we had put in Saturday after racing was the first of the batch of new oil I had bought recently. Mark drained the oil, and it was coming out really thin, though thankfully no metal bits in it! I then went to the Dog’s Bollocks pits, to see if they had any spare oil I could buy from them, and they did. It was worth a try for a fire-up. We put the new oil in, and I got in the car and fired it up. Straight up to 70 psi and 80/90 on revving! Phew!! Problem solved! We were all very relieved! So we were back in the show, and on to the second round. Thanks to Ed, Gos and Ray for the new oil!

After this, I was not eligible for a Top 4 placing, as we had missed the round, but we could still collect points and have some fun! And I sure did that! On the next run, I pulled one of those double bouncing wheelies that the car has done lately! I had to back off, to a 9.327 at 142.63mph, but really enjoyed that one! And it showed that the power was back, and the car was on form! (I did check the pressure throughout the run, and it stayed good!). I was running against Tom Maunders in the “Oddball” slingshot, and he ran a 15.509 at 79mph. We went back to the pits and fuelled up. That was about quarter to 2.

In the third round, about 3:30pm, I was again paired with Tom in “Oddball” he ran a 15.581 at 82mph. I had to back off a bit more as I was going towards the centre line, and I then kept it in nice, just left of the groove, and ran a 9.450 at 144.03mph. Again, we returned to the pits, and as it was an oil change, had to buy another gallon of oil from the Dog’s Bollocks team. Cheers again guys!

Our fourth round was at about 4:30pm, and there was no queue on this one. I matched up with Adz Price, and he recorded a 10.991 at his best ever speed, 125.27mph, his first time over 125. Again, I backed off after another wild wheelie, and posted a 9.549 at 142.90mph. So we’d still made it to three of the rounds, and I really enjoyed all the runs on Sunday!

I wasn’t expecting anything at the trophy presentation, so was really chuffed when Claire said I had been awarded the “Best Slingshot” Spot Prize by the commentators. On their voting slip they had written ‘Mr Entertainment Crazy Chris’, so really thrilled with that! The points I did collect meant that I am now in equal 6th place in the Wild Bunch Series and 3rd place in the Real Steel Series, so not too bad. But I’m hoping to improve when we race at York in August!

Congratulations to Darren Law in “The Wicked Lady” who won the event, his second win of the year. Also great to see his son Sean having a few runs in the dragster, and Dave Rowlands’ son Warren competing in his first Wild Bunch event in his Dad’s “Destiny’s Angel” altered. Well done to both of them! And well done to Terry and Dave Williams, who were both exactly on their Dial-ins at different rounds during the day! The Bunch are getting even more consistent!

Thanks very much to Claire and Mark and Joey for crewing and towing. Also, many thanks to all the marshals, officials and track crew for all of their hard work again this weekend. Great to be able to race with the Bunch altogether in the rounds again, and another great show!

We are now really looking forward to our annual trip up North to York Dragway, for the Wild Bunch’s “York Summer Showdown” at their ‘UK Northern Nationals’ event on 7th & 8th August! We love racing there, and look forward to seeing all the people from the PDRC and the track! And the weekend before that, we are taking “Backdraft” to the Hot Rod Hayride, for some cackle-style fireups. I’ve always wanted to go to that event, so it should be a lot of fun!

PS. Since the Mini event, I bought a new battery to hopefully cure the slight reduction in performance we have had during some events. Oh, and of course, some of our regular old oil!!

26th - 27th June 2010 NOSTALGIA NATIONALS at SHAKEY

We were really looking forward to the Nostalgia Nationals, one of our favourite events. It was the third Wild Bunch Series and sixth Real Steel Series round of the season, as well as the second of Roy Wilding’s Series, and it looked like it was going to be a hot, sunny one! It turned out there was an even bigger field of Wild Bunch participating this weekend, with a total of 17 cars, and we were one of 8 slingshots at this event.

This time Claire could not get the time off work and I drove up myself late morning Friday, towing “Backdraft” up with the Winne. I arrived at the track around noon, and started to set up in the middle of the pits opposite the ‘food court’. Again, we were right next to Team Gridlock with the “Go Hard or Go Home!!!” altered. I had a quite chilled out afternoon, enjoying the sunshine. Mark had been at college at Daventry, and he arrived around 5pm. Claire got a lift up later on with Mark’s friend Mark Galpin, and got to the track at about 7:15pm. We had a nice night wandering around the pits and chatting to friends in the Winne.

Saturday morning dawned sunny, and warmed up quite early on. I had changed the pill in the fuel system, and we fired the car up in the pits, and all sounded good. We towed down the pairings lanes for a run. Claire sat in the car on the way down and as it was ‘silver suit time’ again, I was happy to walk down the fireup road, and get in “Backdraft” once we got round the corner. On this run, I had a solo. I had a good launch and ran a nice straight pass of 9.105 at 145.19mph. Really good for starters. We fuelled up, had lunch and got ready for the next run.

On the second pass, I was paired with an Old Skool Ford guy who ran a 13.92 at 95mph. Again had a good straight launch, this time running a 9.160 at 142.71mph, in the heat of the day. (By now it was real hot!). We got back to the pits and changed the oil, and fuelled up. At this point, I changed the pill back, as there had not been any real difference, and wanted to get a run on this setting to get an idea of Dial-in. We went back out at about pm, and just as we were getting near to the end of the queue, there was an oil down, so I jumped out of the car for a bit to stay cool.

On this run, I was paired up with an HRG car and they ran a 12.12 at 118mph. Once again, it was a good, wheels-up run, and I recorded a 9.149 at 142.41mph, so had a fair idea of Dial-in. We got back to the pits and fuelled up again. This evening we were asked to be one of 8 cars taking place in a mini-cacklefest style fire-up at around 8:30pm. It wasn’t going to be dark, so no flames, but it would be a good noise. We had tea, and got ready.

About 8:15 we towed round to the collecting area at the start of the pairings lanes. We were about the first car there, and waited to be told where to set up. We were parked in one place then moved over a bit, and then round the other side of the fence, with the back of the car to the back of the fence. Dick Sharp and team parked the “Dorset Horn” just to our left, next to “Hooligan” ’57 Chevy Estate, and on our right was the back end of the “Roaring Rat” ’57 Chevy, next to “Henry Hi-rise”. Sid Slattery was next to them in his slingshot, as well as Liam Maltby’s Chevette and Andy Fadster’s “Twister”. We knew that Al O’Connor’s team were going to do a special presentation to him, to commemorate his 40th Anniversary with his “Al’s Gasser’ Pop, and I had signed a board and joined in the collection form him earlier that day. (I also bought his commemorative T-shirts for me and Claire.) But we didn’t realise that the fire-up was also a tribute to him. He was asked to bring his car round facing all the other cars lined up, and they made the presentation to him. He was pretty stunned! And could hardly speak! They then gave the command to fire up the engines. I quickly got in the car, and one by one everyone fired up. It was a real good noise all together and it was nice to take part in the tribute. Congratulations to Al on his first 40 years of racing!

We then went back to the pits and spent the evening chatting to friends again, before turning in earlier than the night before. Sunday morning was nice again, and though hot, there was a light breeze around. The track was going to be open at 10:00am instead of 10:30, so we were going to try to get our first round early and get to the queue by 10:30am. We decided on a Dial-in of 9.13, somewhere in the middle of Saturday’s runs, although we didn’t know if we would run slower if it became hot, or quicker if it cooled down.

We started for the queue just before 10:30, and found that it was not as big as expected, so we soon got to our first round by about quarter to 11! Our Lee and Liam had arrived just in time and were able to watch us from the stands, though we hadn’t met up with them before the run. On this pass, we were paired with Andy Solley, and he ran a 9.621 at 135mph, just a thousandth off his Dial! I had a good launch again, and a nice straight run, and ran a good 9.110 at 144.06mph. With just .020 off, I thought this would be pretty near the top, and was amazed that it was just 4th place. Really tough close racing we’re having at the moment with the Bunch! We went back to the pits, and got fuelled and ready for the next run.

We started to get in the queue about quarter past 12, and again, it was not as long as expected, so our run was at about 12:35pm. This time I was paired with Adz Price in the “Go Hard or Go Home!!!” altered. He ran a 10.708 at 124.92mph, his best speed yet in the Topolino. I launched well, and posted a 9.095 at 144.08mph, even quicker! But still not too far from the Dial. Claire told me that I was then in equal 2nd amongst those running. We went back to the pits and had a bit of lunch, changed oil and refuelled, and had a bit of a break in the heat of the day.

Our third round was about quarter to 3, and once again, not a very big queue. Liam was really keen to attach the tow rope from “Backdraft” to the tow car, and he enjoyed going down in the car and seeing the runs. With his earmuffs of course! On this round, I was paired with Ray in the “RamRaider” and he ran a 9.658 at 123.87mph. I had a really good run, and a nice wheelie (the 60ft time was a tenth slower on this one than any of the others at the weekend!). I recorded a 9.037 at 144.42mph! Getting close to that 8 again, but a little way off the Dial.

We fuelled up and waited for the fourth round. There was not much going on at the track, so we had to check with the officials to make sure it was okay to run about 4:15pm. But in the end it was about 4:30pm, and we were some of the last cars to run that day. This time I matched up with Simon Williams in the “Pure Nostalgia” slingshot. His car had been running well and he was running PB’s and getting used to wheelying. We both pulled wheelies on the run and Simon recorded a 10.072 at 146mph, backing off a bit at the start. I also had to back off a bit after the launch, and posted a 9.390 at 144.87mph. A fair way off the Dial, but another enjoyable run!

I ended up in 6th place overall this weekend, and really enjoyed the event, as always! This means I am still in 5th place in the Wild Bunch Series, 2nd place in the Real Steel Series and now 3rd in the Roy Wilding Series, so pretty good so far!

Congrats to Dave Rowlands in “Destiny’s Angel” who won the event, after not even being able to get to the first round last event. He is now leading the Wild Bunch, so fair play to him! Congrats also to Dick Sharp and the team as they had managed to get the body rebuilt and painted in time for the Xtreme Wheels show last month, and also ran some excellent passes this weekend, getting back into the 9’s for the first time since the new car was built and running a 9.6 – great to see! Also really great to see Steve Field running well (a 9.69) in his and Lesley’s “Black Pig Too” slingshot after problems at the last event, where they could not make a run. Fair play to Andy Solley in the “Repeat Offender” altered, having his best runs ever (9.412) this weekend. We enjoyed our matchup! And more PB’s for Adz!! As usual! Good to see Mark Coulsell and Steve and the team bringing out their “Ballbreaker” slingshot. Our Mark had recently been up their place doing the wiring for the car, so he was real keen to see it run too. Sadly the team had problems and could not run, but the car looks really good, so hope they can sort out the gremlins and get it on track real soon. Commiserations to Ant in the “Frantic” altered, as he had recently had the front end re-done, and had been running well until a bouncy trip into the field just past the finish line – thankfully he was okay, but will have to check the car out again and make some repairs, so hope that goes well.

Thanks very much to Claire and Mark and his mates for crewing. And special thanks to Liam for attaching the tow rope on Sunday! Also, big thanks to all the marshals and officials and track crew for all of their hard work as ever. And for the help to organise the rounds again so that all the Wild Bunch could run together on the Sunday. It was an even better show than the last round at Shakey, with exciting burnouts, wheelies, strong performances and lots of fun! Great to race with all the Bunch!

We are now looking forward to the “Mini Showdown” at Shakey in two weeks, where there may even be a bigger number of Bunchers. The Bristol Pegasus Motor Club members will be coming up to run at the test and tune, and we are invited to the barbecue. I am a member of the club too, so look forward to seeing them all and hearing how they enjoy their first experience of drag racing! The event will also be our annual Wild Bunch fancy dress party, and the theme this year is Medieval, so that will also be a lot of fun. Hope the weather’s good, and we can have some more good wheelying runs in the low 9’s and maybe the occasional 8!!

19th - 20th June 2010 SUMMER NATIONALS at SANTA POD

We were once again really looking forward to this event, our second of the season at Santa Pod. We were one of 6 Wild Bunch entered, and this time there were gonna be 3 slingshots altogether. Claire and I left home around 10:15am on the Friday, towing “Backdraft” up with the Winne. We had a much better journey than at Easter and arrived around 1:30pm. When we got there, the only Buncher already there was Dex Price, with his camper and awning, waiting for Adz and Lorraine, who were driving up with their altered. We were really pleased to see that once again we were pitted against the fence, this time around the 1100-foot mark! So more good spectating for us this weekend! We parked up and started to get set up, and went down to sign on. Meanwhile some of the other teams had arrived, and later on, Bob with the “Wicked Lady” kindly towed us up behind their dragster, with Ed also on tow behind us in the “RamRaider” slingshot. It took around an hour, but we were all scrutineered okay, and towed back, just before a short rain shower, so real good timing. Mark and his friends arrived later that night, and got set up to sleep in our trailer. We had a bit of a wander as the weather was a better later on, and chatted to friends, and stayed up past midnight.

Saturday dawned cool and cloudy, and turned out really cold and windy during the day. We were scheduled to have 3 qualifiers on the Saturday, so I decided to change a pill in the injection system, to try and get back into the 8’s. We had been so close with several 9.0’s already this season, so it was just a matter of some fine tuning. We were 17th on the running order, so not out too early. The track temperature was pretty cold, and so was the air. We had our first run at about 11am. I was paired with Terry Clifford in the “Ratcatcher Resurrection” slingshot, and he ran a 10.125 on a 10.05 Dial-in. We had decided to Dial in at 8.98, as we were hoping to break that 9-second barrier again. I did a very mild burnout, and then had quite a squirrely launch, having to back off after the wheelie. This lost me some time, and I recorded a 9.719 at 145.27mph. Not so good on the E.T. but the speed was still promising, and the car was pulling well at the top end.

We went back to the pits, and I changed the oil and refuelled, and we all had some lunch, watched some racing, and chatted to friends whilst we waited. Our second round was at about 3:30pm. Again, I was paired with Terry, who ran a consistent 10.123 at 130mph on the 10.05 Dial. We had changed our Dial-in to 9.18, as we were way off the mark on the first run. I did a fuller burnout, and had to back off a bit again after the launch. But it was a much better time of 9.363 at 147.13mph, my best speed for about a year! So we were pretty pleased with that.

We refuelled back in the pits and got called for our third round at about 6pm. This time we paired up with Ed in the “RamRaider”. He ran a solid 9.351 on his 9.33 Dial-in. We kept the same Dial-in from the last round, as we were hoping to go a bit quicker. This time I chose the right hand lane, though it did not seem to make any difference. I did a regular burnout, with some smoke off the left wheel, and got a good launch. “Backdraft” pulled all the way, and back at the start line, Claire and Mark were jumping up and down, as I had broken out big style, and ran my first ‘8’ of the year, with an 8.992!! This was at 147.16mph, another good speed! We were all well chuffed with that one! And not at all bothered about breaking out! We qualified in 6th place. And were pretty excited about being back in the 8’s! It was almost like doing it for the first time! (In fact we think some people mistook it for our first 8, as Claire and Mark were so excited on the start line!).

We got back to the pits, and Mark changed the oil, and we got the car ready for the following day. We had tea, and later went round to see Rich Walters and family, as it was his birthday that day. We had a real nice chat in their camper for a bit, before popping along to the Pro E.T. pit party to hear the band for a while. But it was so cold that we did not stay for very long! And went back to the warmth of the Winne, and went to bed much earlier than the Friday night.

We thought we would be out pretty late in the morning, as we were 24th on the running order. Claire had done the provisional pairings Saturday night, and checked Sunday morning, and we couldn’t believe it when we knew we had Terry in the first round! And he was Mr Consistent this weekend!

Sunday was sunnier, and eventually started to warm up, especially by the afternoon. We were called for our first round at about 11:30am, and made our way to the pairings lanes. Terry had dialled in at 10.10, and we had chosen a 9.05, after some deliberation. I had my best launch of the weekend, with a 1.32 60ft time, and managed to catch up and overtake Terry. I didn’t want to break out so backed off a fair bit. He posted a 10.211 at 128mph, and I slowed at the top end to a 9.250 at 118.54mph, and won the race! We were all chuffed to get to the Semis! Well done to Terry on a good race, and some good numbers again.

We went back to the pits and fuelled up and had lunch. I realised I was going to be against Ed in the Semi-final! So, it turned out that all 5 races were with slingshots this weekend! The quarter final had showed that I could achieve a run in the very low 9-second range, so we decided to keep the 9.05 Dial-in again.

We waited for a couple hours for our Semi-final, and were called out about 2:30pm. Ed had dialled in at 9.28 for this round, and he had been running fairly close to that. He went first and had a very slight reaction time advantage, with a .209 to my .223. I chased hard down the strip, and was just catching him in the lights. But he had run perfect to Dial-in with a 9.280 at 142mph, whilst I broke out slightly, trying to catch him, with a 9.034 at 146.26mph, which meant we crossed the line 2 thousandths of a second apart! He took the win, as I had broken out, so fair play to him. It was a real close race, which we both enjoyed! He then went on to take the win over Darren Law in the “Wicked Lady” rear-engine dragster, but only after he and Gos helped the team to fix a slight brake pipe problem they had! Well done to them all for making it, and making a race of the Final. Darren had also been firmly in the 8’s this weekend with a new PB, and congratulations to him and the team, and also to Adam and Team Gridlock who ran more PB’s in the “Go Hard or Go Home!!!” altered. Nice to see them doing so well!

Thanks very much to Mark and Claire for crewing, and to Sarah M for the use of her car, and to Joey for moving it around. Also many thanks to all the marshals and officials and track crew for their hard work all weekend, as always. And thanks to all at Santa Pod for the warm welcome, and for the great pit space, where we enjoyed watching all the racing!

We had planned to stay over that night, if the racing went on late. But as our last run was at 3pm, and all the racing finished by 4pm, we decided to make our way home. Thanks to Ian Blackett of Blackett Photography for more great photos and a cool slow-mo. And catching the double wheelies again! We were getting up pretty high again this weekend, so really enjoyed doing those! And especially running the first ‘8’ of the year! We finished 3rd this weekend so pleased to be in the Top 4 again. We’ve now moved up to 2nd place in the Real Steel Series, from 4th, so doing well there this year!

We’re all now looking forward to the “Nostalgia Nationals” at Shakey next weekend, the 26th & 27th June, for the third Wild Bunch and sixth Real Steel round of the season. The weather’s looking good, and there should be a much bigger field of Wild Bunch to race with, so really can’t wait for that one!

29th - 31st May 2010 JUNE SHOOTOUT at SHAKEY

We were really looking forward to the first 3-day Run-What-You-Brung we had ever attended, the Gary’s Picnic Yanks Weekend at Shakey, which was our Wild Bunch “June Shootout” (as it had always been in the first week of June!). It was the second Wild Bunch Series round of the season and the weather forecast was mixed, but promised at least 2 days of good weather. We thought there would be a bigger field of Wild Bunch and there was, as it turned out to be 15 of us participating. We had had the mysterious drop in performance on the last 2 runs of the last event, and I had been through the whole car to check everything was okay. The best guess we made at this time was that it was down to a loss in battery power, after the 8 runs, and the extra bit of use from trying a different method of starting (spinning the engine over each time to get the oil pressure up – usually we just do this on the fireup but tried it in the staging lanes to see if it made any difference). We hoped that this was the problem.

Claire and I left home around 6pm again on the Friday, towing “Backdraft” up with the Winne. We arrived at the track about 10 to 8, and were chuffed to find that there were quite a lot of Wild Bunch there already. We also had designated pit space, with ‘WB’ sprayed on the tarmac, so that was nice. We set up in the middle of the pits, right next to Team Gridlock with the “Go Hard or Go Home!!!” altered. Later on, Vic Hammond arrived and pitted the other side of us, with his “Speed Demon” slingshot, driven by Sam Freeman in the Supercharged Outlaws. We managed to leave a space behind us for Jamie Faulkner, who was arriving Sunday morning. Jamie had bought our Lee’s altered last year, and was making his Wild Bunch debut this weekend. He had been to a RWYB in October with the car, which he has painted red (good colour!) and named “Red Devil”, but this was his first time in competition with the Bunch. We were going to be towing together, and Mark and his mates were also helping to crew for him. Mark arrived later that night with friends, and they set up their caravans in the field. The weather was not looking too great for the Saturday, but you never know! We settled in, and then had a wander, chatting to friends, and as it was a bit warmer, we stayed out a bit longer before turning in.

It did rain quite a lot during the night, and was still fairly damp in the morning, so we had a really leisurely morning. The track crew worked really hard to clear and dry the track, and were really close by about 2:30pm, but about 3pm another shower fell, and they had to call it off for the day. By then we were so chilled out, that we had decided not to run, as we would have only fitted in about one run anyway. So we stood down for the day. Again we had a nice chilled out night, going for a wander. Jamie and his girlfriend Sher arrived that evening, and got parked up in the space we had left. We popped next door to the Team Gridlock marquee, and had a chat. They were real excited about their weekend, as they had got so close to a 10 at the last event, so it’s nice to see them doing well, after all their hard work. We left them with a whole group of friends, still enjoying some music, and turned in for the night.

Sunday morning was cloudy but dry, and the forecast had been okay, so we thought we would get in a few passes. But there were now a lot more cars at the track, so the queues were bigger. We fired the car up in the morning, and it did seem to be popping and banging a bit and running slow on idle, so I adjusted the idle setup. I had also taken all the lead out of the front weight box that I had put in before the last two runs at the last event. By now, our Lee and Liam had arrived, so it was nice to see them there again. Liam couldn’t understand it when we fired “Backdraft” up 3 or 4 times, to check things over. We went down for our first run at about 11:30am. And there was a bit of a wait, due to an oildown. I paired up with Jamie, as we had towed down together. The car launched hard and picked up the wheels, and got a little out of shape, so I backed off a bit, but we were already cheering about getting the wheels up! The time was a 9.350 at 144.61mph, with a 60ft time of 1.63 (the bit of a back off after the launch). We were really chuffed that the drop of power problem was no longer there! Jamie ran a checkout 13.63 at 96 mph, and was amazed at how fast I accelerated off the line. We went back to the pits, and got ready for the next run. We had a bit of lunch, and then waited, as there were some more oil downs and incidents. We were in the fireup road for a while, and queueing up back into the pits.

Whilst we were waiting, Liz Burn came over and introduced herself. We had both just been reading her excellent book “Drag Racing through the eyes of a Woman”, about her and Ollie’s time racing in the mid 70’s. We had e-mailed her when we bought it. One of her Pro Comp cars was built by the same guys that built “Malibu Express”, so that was a cool connection. Claire and I both loved the book as there are so many similarities in drag racing still today, and we knew quite a few people in the book. It’s written in a nice easy-to-read style and has a lot of good stories in it, as well as a good insight into everything that goes into running a car, and the behind-the-scenes tales of races. You can get the book through eBay or Amazon, and we highly recommend it! We enjoyed meeting her, and talking to her, and I moved on with the car in the queue and left Claire chatting to her about all the things she liked about the book and all the coincidences we have experienced in our time racing.

We moved further down the pairings lanes, and eventually got to run again at about 4pm. I paired up with Jamie again, who improved to a 13.16 at 98mph. Again I had a bit of a wayward launch, a double wheelie (loving them!) and a back off, and recorded a 9.452 at 143.96mph. Not a real quick time, but still good on speed. It was great to have the wheelies back, even though we didn’t have much of a clue for a Dial-in for Monday! But at least we knew there was no major problem, and we were out there enjoying ourselves again! We went back to the pits, and changed oil, fuelled up, and added about half the lead back in the front weight box, to try to get the right amount for more controlled wheelies. We were thinking of having another run, as they were going to keep the track open til 6pm. But then there was another incident, and they announced the fireup road was closing, so we just packed up and went down to watch some racing with Lee and Liam for half an hour. Liam is getting more used to the noise and was practically dragging his Dad down to the stands to watch racing! We watched some of the Bunch and went back to the pits.

Lee and Liam left for the day, and we started to get tea. Rupert and Georgie from the Piston Apparel stall came round for a chat and a look at our History books. We’d been chatting during the day, whilst waiting in the queue. They really like the Wild Bunch and what we do, and enjoyed watching our car wheelying! They have some great T-shirt designs, like the fuel mask and crossed conrods shirt. They’ve got a neat website, if you want to check out their stuff! That evening we had another wander round the pits, and made it to the outside of the clubhouse for about 15 minutes! We went into the Team Gridlock marquee again, and they were all over the moon as Adz had run his first 10-second pass that day. Fair play to him and the team after all their hard work!! We chatted for a while then went off to bed. Monday was also meant to be okay weather, so we were really looking forward to it!

Monday dawned cloudy and dry, and as the track was opening at 10am, we were going to start joining the queue at about 10:30am. We got all hitched up and started towing down, and all the Bunch assembled at the top of the pairings lanes, and went round the corner together. Everyone looked really good in all their teamwear, and we really think the Wild Bunch put on a great show, and most of the rounds saw 12 to 14 cars taking part each time. I had re-adjusted the idle during the morning fireup, and the car sounded good. We deliberated the Dial-in, and knew it would run better than the 9.3 or 9.4, but didn’t know by how much. We decided on a 9.20, and wouldn’t mind at all if “Backdraft” ran quicker than that all day! For the first round I paired up with Mark Richardson in “Pony Express”, which was cool, as it meant there were the two ‘canopied’ cars running together. He ran a 9.473 at 138mph. I had a really good launch, and a nice controlled wheelie, and ran a 9.100 at 145.41mph, so real happy with that one, even though it was one tenth off Dial. At this event, Dave ‘Sag’ and Elaine Southworth and family had come south to Shakey for the first time in 12 years, with their “Daddy Cool” rear-engined dragster. It was great to see them at the track, and hope they can join in more regularly with the Bunch. Unfortunately, on this round, their torque converter seems to have let go, so they could not race the rest of the rounds. Hope they will be back out soon!

We went back to the pits and fuelled up, and had lunch. We left the pits at about quarter to 1 for our next round, where I was due to be paired with Simon Williams in the well turned out “Pure Nostalgia” slingshot. Unfortunately, his chute came out on the line, so I was on a solo. Another good wheelying launch, and I ran 9.070 at 145.13mph. Further off Dial-in, but our smiles were bigger!! We returned to the pits, and changed oil and fuelled up.

We all went back to the queue at the end of the lunch break, and our third round was at about 3:15pm. This time, I matched up with Terry Clifford in the “Ratcatcher Resurrection” slingshot. He’d had a good first run, but then discovered a breakage on his steering. Luckily he was able to get this welded, and came back out for this round. He ran a good 10.11 at 128mph. I had another real good launch (a 1.34 60ft time), and after running 121mph at the eighth (always a good sign), I recorded a 9.066 at 145.34mph! Real chuffed, and pretty consistent on the day.

We fuelled up again, and were pleased to be able to get a fourth round in, at about quarter to 5, and the Wild Bunch closed the show on the day. I paired up with Jamie again, and he ran a 13.164 at 99mph, his closest to the Dial-in that day. This time, I had a bit of a wild burnout, and launched a bit squirrely, with starter Ed telling Mark he had ‘never seen tyre-shake on a wheelying launch before’! I backed off a little to a 9.254 at 142.97mph, which turned out to be my closest to Dial-in that day!

At our trophy presentation after racing, I was still wondering where I finished, and when Claire read that Keith Crampton had finished 4th in the “Soultown Shaker”, I didn’t think I had managed to make the Top 4. There were some people who were very close on some rounds, but quite a way further off on others, so I was surprised when Claire announced that we had finished 3rd! Well chuffed! Congratulations also to Dave Williams who was 2nd and Paul Croston who won the event in his first drive of the “B-Sting” altered this year. It was a really good weekend, and good to be part of a really great show from the Bunch. And especially glad to have those wheelies back!

Thanks very much to Claire and Mark and his mates for crewing, and Joey for the loan of his car. Also, big thanks to all the marshals and officials and track crew for all of their hard work as always. And for the help to organise it so that we could all run together on the Monday.

We are very much looking forward to our next outing, which will be the Xtreme Wheels Show at Haynes Motor Museum at Sparkford, on the 12th & 13th June. The event is being organised by Bob Glassup and team, and there are going to be a load of different types of vehicles there, but what we are looking forward to the most is the Nostalgia Drag Racing marquee with Nobby Hills’ rebuilt ‘Houndog 1’ slingshot, the Allard Chrysler (the first British dragster), “Dorset Horn”, Alan Smith’s “Avanti” Allard Dragon, and us being part of the display. Norm Wheeldon will also be there with his twin-engined slingshot. Sounds like it will be a great show! We’re also looking forward to the “Summer Nationals” at Santa Pod the following week, and the “Nostalgia Nationals” at Shakey the week after that. Hope the weather’s good all of this busy June!

15th - 16th May 2010 SPRING NATIONALS at SHAKEY

We were looking forward to the first Wild Bunch Series event of the season, at Shakespeare County Raceway, and hoping the weather forecast was as good as expected, and that there would be quite a few Wild Bunchers at the event to race with.

Claire and I left home around 6pm on the Friday, towing “Backdraft” up with the Winne. We arrived at the track about quarter to 8, and were surprised to find quite a lot of space. We set up in the middle of the pits, opposite the Dog’s Bollocks team with “RamRaider” and next to Ant Harris and his crew with “Frantic”, who saluted us into our pit area! (Could it be the impressive frontage of the Winne?!) We got unloaded and sorted out and settled in for a nice steady night, chatting to friends. Mark arrived not long after with friends and set up their caravans. It was good to see a field of a dozen Wild Bunchers altogether, and it looked like we would get quite a lot of track time over the weekend, as the weather was looking okay.

Saturday morning was really nice, with not a cloud in the sky at the start of the day! It clouded over a bit, but stayed fairly warm, and most of all dry! We fired up the car, and all sounded good. We went down to the pairings lanes at about 11am for our first run of the day, and did not have too long to wait. On this run, I was paired with a street car and I ran a 9.403 at 144.72mph. The launch was a bit of a bouncing wheelie, which was shown by the 1.59 at the 60ft mark! We went back to the pits and fuelled up, and had some lunch before the next run. This was a much better 9.103 at 144.52mph, my quickest run of the year so far! So we were pretty pleased with that.

The car was still running quite rich, so after the oil change, we decided to change a pill in the fuel system. This was a real good run, with a 9.061 at 145.29mph, again, the best run of the year. And the rings must be starting to bed in well now. My speed at the eighth was 121mph, so this was a pretty strong run, with a nice controlled wheelie.

We changed the pill one more time, for the fourth run of the day, and this time I paired up with “B-Sting”, for a sort of ‘re-match’ of the Final that didn’t happen last time, though there were no Dial-ins! I ran a 9.169 at 144.98mph, to Andrew’s 10.562 at 127mph, and we enjoyed the matchup. Time for another oil change, and we readied the car for the next morning. We had finished running about quarter to 5. It was Alec Coe’s 60th birthday weekend, and he brought his “Shy Talker” blown slingshot for some test runs, and to do something he had always wanted to do..... a flame burnout! We went down to the VIP viewing area to watch, and also got to see Nobby Hills “Houndog” Fuel Funny Car fired up, and attempting to do a burnout. There was something not quite right, so driver Simon Hayward had to shut off. [We later talked to Nobby, who was quite happy with the progress they had made, as each time they bring the car out, they learn more about the setup. It was nice to chat to him, and we are looking forward to seeing the refurbished “Houndog 1” slingshot, when it will be on display at the Xtreme Wheels show mid-June at Sparkford Motor Museum, where we are taking “Backdraft” to join the nostalgia display at the event. It sounds like it’s going to be a really great show.]

Then it was time for Alec to attempt the flame burnout, which they think no-one has done in the UK for over 20 years. There was a safety briefing, and the crew all got ready, with a special mixture being poured behind the tyres in the burnout box. This was then lit. The burnout went pretty well, and there were some good flames, so a success, and Alec had a run afterwards, too! So the team were all chuffed with that! Fair play to them!

We went back to the pits, and got our car packed up for the night, and looked forward to a relaxed evening. Because it was a bit warmer we were able to get out and about in the pits and socialise more, so that was really nice. We went to Alec’s birthday do in the team’s awning. We even made it to the clubhouse for about 15 minutes! And then turned in for the night.

Sunday was quite a bit cooler than Saturday, with a fair bit of cloud around, but luckily, this never turned showery, as was being predicted that morning, though there were a couple of spots at one point. We all got ready to run, and the Wild Bunch headed to the queue at about 11:30am. We had dialled in at 9.11, being roughly in the middle of our best runs Saturday. There were now just 10 teams participating in the rounds, as Neil Ward and team had discovered reduced oil pressure in the “Andromeda” slingshot (though they had just run a great 8.74, so hopefully they will be able to get back out for a couple more events, as it would be good to have a match race again). And Ant Harris had a bit of a bouncy run at the top end in his “Frantic” altered, and there may have been some geometry out of place, so they will investigate and form a plan before running again. Hope they will be back out soon, too!

On our first run on Sunday, we were paired with Keith Crampton in the “Soultown Shaker” slingshot. Keith was pretty chuffed as he had run PB’s on the Saturday, so good to see the car running well. He ran an 11.776 at 113mph. And I once again had a little bit of a bounce on the wheelie landing, so was a little off Saturday’s numbers, with a 9.233 at 145.85mph, but not bad for starters! We went back to the pits and fuelled up. And had our lunch.

Our second run was just before the track lunch break, at around 1:45pm. I was again paired with Keith who ran a 12.054 at 113mph. This was a much better run for me, and after the wheelie, I was on one! Mark and Claire thought it looked like it might be an ‘8’! But not quite! It was my best run of the season, with a 9.043 at 146.52mph! So we were really chuffed with that one!

Again we fuelled up, and this time changed the oil. The previous 2 launches had been a bit bouncy again, so we decided to put a little bit more weight in the front end, and I added a bit more lead to the weight box. Our next round was at about 3:15pm, and there was no queue at all really. This time I was matched up with Gos driving “RamRaider”, so this was going to be a good one! He ran a 9.194 at 144.20mph, and I ran a slightly slower 9.241 at 140.34mph, and the wheels hardly lifted on this run!! Oh boy! Maybe too much lead! But then this didn’t really account for two tenths at the top end, with 6mph slower, so that was a bit puzzling. We took a bit of lead out for the next run, and fuelled up.

Our fourth and last run of the day was just before 4:30pm, and this time I was racing with Terry Clifford. He had a new box in his “Ratcatcher Resurrection” slingshot, and it was running well, with consistent 10.1’s in the high 120mph range. So I enjoyed this one as well! He ran a 10.171 at 129mph, but again, my front wheels hardly lifted on the launch, and I ran a slower 9.364 at 138.68mph, leaving us to do a bit of head scratching.

I finished 7th overall this weekend, and we were chuffed to be awarded the “Best Slingshot” by the commentators!

Thanks very much to Mark and Claire for crewing, and Joey for towing with his car. Also, big thanks to all the marshals and officials and track crew for their hard work as always. It was a really nice relaxed atmosphere this weekend, and we really enjoyed the event.

We’re now looking forward to the “June Shootout” 3-day RWYB event at Shakey on May Bank Holiday 29th – 31st for the second Wild Bunch Series round of 2010, and the fourth Real Steel round of the season – already! Hope the weather’s good for that one all weekend! And looking forward to an even bigger field of Wild Bunch!


We were looking forward to the first event of our season at Shakespeare County, and hoping the weather turned out to be better than the forecast, so we could at least get in a couple of qualifiers before Race day. We were running the canopy again, and had been chuffed with all the positive comments we had received so far.

Claire and I left home around 2pm on the Friday, towing “Backdraft” up with the Winne. With the bus steering damper that I had fitted, and the adjustment to the level of the anti-sway bar, I noticed a big improvement in the steering and towing! We arrived at the track at about quarter to 4 which after a pretty good journey. We were pleased to find out that we were pitted not too far from the start of the fireup road entrance, on the grass side, and we started to unload and get set up. There were only gonna be 6 Wild Bunch teams at the event, as Ed with “RamRaider” had to cancel due to a temporary back problem, and Terry had texted me to say he had a problem with “Ratcatcher Resurrection’s” transbrake. So this meant I was then the only slingshot at the event! We got our pit area all sorted and by 5:30pm we were scrutineered, and later signed on. We settled down for a chilled out night. Mark arrived later that evening. He and Joey had bought a caravan from Ian & Ozzie Brown with the “Thatadoo” Camaro and they were really chuffed with how nice it is! They set up with friends in the field.

We were scheduled to have 6 qualifiers, with 3 Saturday and 3 Sunday. But we were last on the running order, so we knew we would have quite a long wait. Saturday morning was pretty damp, so there was a delayed start. The track crew worked hard to dry the track, and we were later called for our first round at about 1:30. I was paired with Dave Rowlands in “Destiny’s Angel” and it turned out to be a good ‘race’, though just a qualifier. We chose a 9.15 for the Dial-in after some deliberation, and I was chuffed to run a 9.183 at 142.90mph, the quickest of my season so far. Dave also ran close to Dial and put in a 9.727 on a 9.70 at 141mph. I had a slightly better reaction, and according to the ticket, got to the top end just .047 ahead of Dave.

The second round took place at about 4pm, and again I was paired with Dave. This ‘race’ was even closer as I ran a better 9.179 at 143.12 on the same 9.15 Dial, to be just .029 off, and Dave had a better reaction this time, running a 9.828 on a 9.70. This time I got to the finish line just .012 ahead of him! Great matchups, which we both enjoyed!

For the third qualifier at about 5:30pm, I was matched up with Andy Murphy in the “B-Sting” Topolino altered for the team’s first time out this year. We decided to raise the Dial-in to 9.17, and I still ran pretty close, recording a 9.206 at 141.79mph. Our reactions were nearly identical and Andy posted a breakout 10.455 at 125mph on his 10.50 Dial, so another good match race.

So, we ended up getting a few more qualifiers that day than we had thought. After the first round, I had been 2nd place qualifier, then 3rd after the next round, then 4th, even though my differences to Dial had been .033, .029 and .036, which was real consistent over the day! Everyone is already that good this early in the season! (And .029 would have got us #1 at the Thunderball!). We had another good night in the warmth of the Winne, as it started to rain after the end of racing. Sunday had not looked too good, but we were chuffed to already have made three runs.

Sunday morning was pretty cloudy, and there had been a lot of rain in the night, so it was wet first thing. We were having a steady morning, as we were all ready, and were last on the running order again. So we just waited, in case qualifying was going to get underway. Mid morning, our Lee and Liam turned up, and it was real nice to see them. We were real chuffed when Barry Bohannon announced over the tannoy that racing was going to start, not long after noon. This time we towed down to the pairings lanes with Lee and Liam in the tow car, at around 2pm. We were again paired with Dave Rowlands, and this was the closest ‘race’ yet. I had dialled in at 9.17 again, and had a double wheelie on the launch, and backed off a bit, recording a 9.322 at a better speed of 144.18mph. Dave ran a 9.812 on his 9.72 Dial, and though I had a slight reaction advantage, he got to the finish line just .009 ahead of me! Fair play! The crew came up to get me and this time Liam got in “Backdraft” with me for the slow tow back to the pits. He was having a ball, and asking me loads of questions, and thought it was great! I really enjoyed it too!

The next round was less than 2 hours away, at 10 past 4. This time, I was qualifying next to Darren Law who had been running real quick already this season in “The Wicked Lady” rear-engined dragster, posting a 9.009 late Saturday. This time, Mark and Claire raised the Dial to 9.22, as the day had turned out a lot colder than Saturday, and the track was pretty cool. I had another wayward launch and had to back off, so recorded a 9.500 at 142.80mph, whilst Darren, who was leaving second, had a red light, and slightly got off the throttle, recording a 9.095 at 129mph. After this, and with the track cooling even more, we decided to sit out the 6th and last qualifier, which took place around 5:30pm, as we were not going to improve on anything, and had slipped down to 5th place qualifier! Lee and Liam went home, after having a good day. And we went down to the stands to watch ‘the Bunch’ race. Dave Rowlands also sat it out, so there were just the two pairs to see, but still very entertaining, as Dave Williams ran a PB in “Green with Envy” altered, Adz Price ran a PB in the “Go Hard or Go Home!!!” Topolino, with a breakout of one thousandth, Andy Murphy equalled his PB in “B-Sting”, but Darren still didn’t quite crack the 9-second barrier, as he ran a 9.025. With all 6 cars well qualified, with .005, .009, .023, .027, .029 (me) and .630 off Dial, it was going to be a tough race day! We had another relaxing night in the Winne, and looked forward to Monday’s racing.

It turned out to be a bit of a frustrating day Monday, as it started off a bit damp again. And there were very short rain delays throughout the day, with an oildown around midday. We were a fair way down the running order again, so knew we had a bit of a wait. We were due to face Darren Law in the first round, so really deliberated the Dial-in. We opted for a 9.28, being an achievable number, even if the track was a bit cool again. We were called to the pairings lanes about 2:45pm or so, and it looked promising to get all our rounds in. I was going to be in the first pairing out again, and had just fired the engine up to start driving round to the burnout box, when the officials shut me down! There had been an oildown from the previous pair of bikes. I sat it out for a bit, not knowing how long it would be, but then was told it would be a while so got out of the car, and pushed it to the back wall. Well, this turned out to be a real long oildown, and when it started raining again, in the middle of the clearup, things did not look too good!! We sat in the car for a while, and got out again, when it was dry, and wandered up to the tower for a bit, then hung around the pairings lanes with some of the Wild Bunch. The track crew were working their socks off, trying to get the track ready and well-prepped for all the racers who were still waiting to run. Most were on the Quarter-finals, like we were. The skies were still cloudy when they gave us a 10-minute warning at about 5pm! (Normally curfew time!!). We hoped we would at least get this round in!!

Darren had dialled in at 9.00 even, and Karen had requested that, after the long wait, he either “break out, or beat Chris”, and she “didn’t mind which”!! Our reaction times were pretty close, with Darren’s just a hundredth quicker, a .135 to my .146, and I had a real good wheelie, as my 60ft time was 1.61, so definitely on the back wheels! I went flat out after that, and ran just .029 off my Dial, with a 9.309 at 144.18mph, whilst Darren did indeed breakout, running his and the team’s first ever 8-second pass, with an 8.985 at 145mph! Many congratulations to all of them!! This meant that I had won the round! So we were really chuffed with that! And Darren and the team were also chuffed, and didn’t mind not winning that one! Fair play! I also won the “Closest to Dial-in” of the Bunch for the day with this run.

Well, we weren’t sure if we were going to get another round, though Claire was slightly optimistic, and the track might keep running til about 6pm. We didn’t have any time to wonder, because, as we were pulling back into our pits, the officials were calling us for our Semi-finals!! This time, I was paired against Dave Williams, who was also running well. We fuelled up, and quickly got turned around, and made our way down to the fire-up road. The clouds were still around, but the marshalls and officials were getting racing through quite quickly.

This time, we dialled in at 9.28 again, whilst Dave dialled in at 11.52, so a fair difference on the start line. It was now 5 minutes to 6! Dave left the line first, and I caught him up fairly soon, as I hadn’t realised at the time that I had around a half second reaction time advantage. I backed off a fair while before the top end, but still broke out, with a 9.196 at only 123mph!! But Dave had broken out by even more, with an 11.396!! So this meant I was through to the Final!! We were amazed!

And we knew if there was time to complete the Finals, it would be another really quick turnaround! And ..... we had to do an oil change! Mark and Joey towed “Backdraft” into the pits, forward, as they found a shortcut, but this was then the wrong way round. Mark started to change the oil, but then the sump bung fell onto the hole in the oil drain tray, and blocked the old oil from going in, so we had a slight overflow situation! Mark temporarily put his finger in the drain hole, and we managed to sort it all out! We also had to fill up the fuel, so I got on with that! Meanwhile, our opponent was due to be “B-Sting” and they were having trouble with their battery! Off course, the officials had already called for all Finalists, so we pushed back out and got hitched up again. We got ready, and Claire strapped me in and I suited up, and we told Paul from the “B-Sting” team to make their way down, and we would wait for them. We got into the pairings lanes with about 8 or 10 cars in front of us, and “B-Sting” came round the corner, and lined up behind us. We then had a few minutes to settle, and get ready. It was now nearly about 20 to 7, so it would have been all 3 rounds in an hour and a half! But the marshalls and officials were determined to try to complete all the remaining Finals, as they had run about 12 out of 22 classes through. But then it started to rain at the top end!!! And with the lateness of the day, and the quick shower, the officials were forced to call time on the meeting!! Such a huge shame, as they had worked so hard to try and get the track ready, and keep the racing going! Many thanks to them all for trying so hard!! We were disappointed, but realistic, as there was nothing more they could have done, and they gave it a real good go! As we did and “B-Sting” did to get there!

The shower was brief, and it didn’t rain again whilst we packed up, but it just would not have dried. We held our prize presentation a little while later, and declared the results on the basis of the last round run. So 1st and 2nd places were decided on ‘closest to Dial-in without breaking out’ of the Semi-Final winners, but as we both broke out, it was down to who broke out the least! This meant that Andy took the win, and I was Runner-up. It was a shame we didn’t get to run the Final, but we got further than we thought we would, so all in all a good weekend.

Thanks very much to Mark and Claire for crewing, and Joey for towing! Also, huge thanks to all the marshals and officials and track crew for their hard work all weekend! They sure tried really hard to complete the meeting! Thanks to them for all their dedication and determination. And well done to all at Shakey for the improvements around the site.

We’re now looking forward to the “Spring Nationals” RWYB event at Shakey on May 15th – 16th for the first Wild Bunch Series round of 2010, and the third Real Steel round of the season. Hope the weather’s good all weekend! Looking forward to a big field of Wild Bunch!

2nd - 5th April 2010 EASTER THUNDERBALL at SANTA POD

We were really looking forward to this event after the winter layoff, and engine rebuild. We had been really chuffed that the damage was not extensive after the timing chain had let go at the National Finals last September, which meant that I didn’t have a whole engine to replace! I installed new rings, bearings, gaskets and timing chain, plus the timing cover Dean Smythe had donated. This time, I added some rocker cover spacers which I had bought in Bakersfield, to fit the stud girdle, to help keep all the roller rockers in place. A mid-February fire-up sounded good, and with the freshen up we were all hoping for some good runs this season! Also, in the off-season we had bought a Classic 1973 Winnebago Brave camper, one of the ‘eyebrow’ series, and it looks really cool! I had spent several months working on it to refresh some of the insides, sort out the water tank, engine cover and other bits, and Mark did a complete re-wire. We had a few test drives, to make sure it was driving well, and fired up all the onboard equipment, such as the fridge, cooker and hot water! And we just managed to finish it all off the weekend before the event, so we were looking forward to using it for the first time.

Also in the last few weeks, Jade’s fiancé Jay and friends had done a re-spray of our cockpit canopy, with red metalflake. We had the canopy in purple lake last season, to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the car as ‘Malibu Express’, and now thought it time to go all red, for our 16th season with “Backdraft”. It looked great, so thanks to Jay for the early 50th birthday present! After the success of the canopy at last year’s Hot Rod Drags, I am planning to run with it all this season, so looking forward to that experience.

Claire and I left home around noon on the Thursday, towing “Backdraft” up with the Winne for the first time. We had a bit of an eventful journey, as I had to adjust the steering box a few times, to get it the steering to respond better. We kept below 50mph most of the way, and after the last adjustment, the handling improved, but I will still need to have another look at it all back home, and check what improvements I can make. We arrived around 4pm which was pretty good going. We were chuffed to see that once again we were pitted against the fence, at about the 1200-foot mark! Great for viewing, and keeping in touch with the running order. Ed was already there with “RamRaider” and Darren and Bob with “Wicked Lady”, and we started to get set up, with the Winne parked facing the track – really great for viewing!

Mark Richardson was also there, helping crew at the weekend, and he kindly towed us up to get scrutineered, which all went well. It had been a bit drizzly on and off, but luckily we were dry, and got the car back and the pit all sorted. Mark came up later that evening, as did his friends Joey, Kim and Sarah, and Joey was also going to help crew and tow. We had tea, and chatted to friends, and went to bed quite early.

This was the fifth time that the Wild Bunch had raced at the ‘Easter Thunderball’ as a class, and we were all raring to go. We were scheduled to do 9 qualifiers, with 3 each day over the first three days, and were 17th on the running order, so not out that early. The weather forecast had not been too good, so we hoped to at least get in a couple qualifiers, on whichever turned out to be the best day! Friday dawned wet, cold and cloudy, and with the forecast predicting it to be the first day, we were not too certain of a run. We fired the car up in the pits in the morning, and all sounded good. The track crew worked hard to dry the track, and they actually did get around 20 minutes of qualifying for one of the classes, before rain stopped running. They did not complete the round, so would have to start from scratch the next day. We had another night hibernating in the warmth of the Winne, as it was still drizzly outside. By now we had 8 teams in the Wild Bunch, so a bigger field than last year’s Thunderball, which was great! Helen and Dean had arrived that morning, as Helen was going to be sharing Colin Stevens’ stall and helping him, as well as selling some of her lovely self-made handbags and tops, and they joined us in the warm, and had a nice night. Claire was getting used to the cooker and everything, and couldn’t get over the fact we were able to cook ‘micro-chips’ from our freezer section, in the microwave! A real novelty!

Saturday morning was still pretty cloudy, and had been wet first thing, though the crew worked hard again, and got qualifying underway at around 10am. Fair play to them! We hoped to be out mid-morning, but with the slight delay in the start, this meant the Pro classes were out early, so we were going to be after them. But we did get a chance to see some racing in the comfort of the Winne, and were all ready to go when we got the call for our first qualifier, at around 1:15pm. We did not have much of a wait once we got down there, so ran about 1:30pm. We decided to leave the Dial-in as it was on the board, as the last Dial-in from last season, an 8.98. And we would not have minded a bit if we broke out! Though would expect it to take a bit of time for the rings to bed in. I was paired against Dave Williams in the “Green with Envy” altered on this run, and it was his first time in MSA competition. I left the line about half a second before him, and launched well. But as I had not run with the canopy for about 6 months, it was a real surprise when I heard how loud it sounded inside it on launch! But I did remember to shift this time, and recorded a 9.196 at 143.38 mph in this round. Pretty good for starters, so we were pleased with that!

We got back to the pits, and I changed the oil, and got ready for the next run. We were still hoping we would be called out, when some more drizzle arrived at around 6pm, which stopped racing for the day. One of our Wild Bunch teams, Adz & Dex with the “Go Hard or Go Home!!!” altered had had a real struggle to get there, after damaging their engine and box the Sunday before, and had now damaged push rods and valves, and made a round trip to Essex for parts, so they hoped to make the show the next day. Fair play to them! We had another good night chatting to friends in the Winne, and popping along to Lauren Molden’s 21st party in the Pro ET pits by her Dad’s “White Noise” car. The weather was due to be improving for the next two days, so we were excited about that! We thought we would be out pretty early the following morning, as about 5th on the qualifying cycle.

Sunday was still cloudy and cold, and damp, so it took the track crew until about 11am to get the track ready, after another stirling effort! We decided to raise the Dial for the second qualifier to 9.10, to get a bit closer, and got ready for the round. Because of the late start, the Pro classes were out around noon, and we did not get called until about 2:30pm, so were raring to go, and headed out to the pairings lanes. The pair ahead of us were Darren in “The Wicked Lady” and Dick Sharp in the “Dorset Horn”. All seemed to go well with the Horn, as Dick ran real close to his best numbers with the current version of the car, but after the finish, his throttle stuck open, and though he managed to scrub off most of the speed, the iconic altered ended up on its side. We didn’t know anything about this at the start line, though the crews were on the scene to help. Luckily he was perfectly fine, and had got out the car himself, though the beautiful bodywork was damaged on one side, and all the Perspex was shattered. We were gutted to see this, as it has been great to have Dick and the team back with us. We are thrilled that he was a-ok after the roll, and hope the damage will not be too bad, so they can get fixed and be back out again soon! All the best to them!

Once the marshals and crews were back on station, I was paired with Ed in the “RamRaider”. I pulled another good wheelie, and had to come off it a bit, so I ran a 9.408 at 142.53 mph, which turned out to be quite close, as Ed ran a 9.411 at 140.36, though he was a tenth slower on reaction. We got back to the pits, and I fuelled up ready for the next round. We kept the Dial-in at 9.10, and were called out at about 6:30pm. The run took place at about 7:15pm, so not quite dark enough for good flames! I was paired against Dave Rowlands in “Destiny’s Angel” for this run, but he lost fire after the burnout, so I was on a solo. I launched and pulled a double wheelie this time, like I had at last year’s National Finals! I ran a 9.323 at 143.38 mph, so not too bad. I ended up finishing in 5th place overall in qualifying. We had a pretty early night again, and were very cosy in the Winne.

The weather was due to be better Monday, and it turned out dry, but very windy still! The crew did well to get racing going at about 9:15 that day, as it had been a bit damp a few hours earlier. We were due to be 12th on the running order, so thought we may be up by late morning, or even earlier, so got ready, and watched some of the racing. Eventually we were up on track at about quarter past 1.

We were due to face Dave Williams in the first round, and he had qualified at Number 1 on his first attempt, and was running very consistently. We had a discussion about Dial-in and opted for a 9.25, and Dave stuck with his 11.65 that he had run to all weekend. I was real surprised to have about half a second Reaction time advantage from the start, and managed to catch Dave fairly early. He was closer to Dial with an 11.787 at 113.92 mph, whilst I ran a 9.531 at 141.18 mph, but I managed to win on the holeshot! Really chuffed to win the first round of the year! And to get another run! We got back to the pits and did an early oil change, though we expected a bit of a wait til the Semis. We watched some more racing, and were gutted to see Roger Goring have a crash with his “Firestorm” jet funny car at nearly 240mph past the finish line! Such an awful shame, as he is such a nice guy, a real gent, and a good showman and ambassador for the sport, and always puts safety first. It had been really good to see him carefully and patiently develop the potential of the car over the past few years and achieve success in the 6.0s at 260mph plus. Thankfully Roger was amazingly okay, and back in the pits after a checkup, which is such a relief to everyone! Unfortunately the car is badly damaged. We later went to see him and Helen to show our support. And we wish them all the best and hope they can rebuild and be back out putting on a show again. All the best to them!

We waited for a few hours for our Semifinal, and were called out a bit before 5pm. We had decided to change the Dial-in a bit, to 9.30, for this race against Dave Rowlands, who was running on his 9.70, which he had chosen all weekend. He was also running consistently, so another tough opponent! Dave had a real good reaction on this one, an .080, which was tough to beat, plus he ran a 9.809 at 131mph, whilst I ran a 9.422 at 141.58 mph, and couldn’t quite catch him. It was a good race though, and I really enjoyed being back out after the winter break! Dave went on the win the event, his first MSA Final race win, so many congratulations to him! We were also chuffed to hear we had won the “Best Appearing Car” Spot Prize, chosen by the commentators, Colin and Darryl, who said they had enjoyed the wheelies, and liked the appearance of the canopy in its new red metalflake. We also had lots of nice comments from spectators who liked it and also enjoyed the wheelies.

Thanks very much to Mark and Claire for crewing, and Joey for moving the tow car around. Also many thanks to all the marshals and officials and track crew for their hard work all weekend! They did a fantastic job, and managed to complete all the eliminations by around 7:30pm that night. Thanks to them for all their dedication and determination. And thanks to all at Santa Pod for the warm welcome!

We had planned to stay over that night, as we knew we would be tired, and it was going to be good to go home in the daylight after a rest. We had a nice chilled out evening. Thanks to Ian Blackett of Blackett Photography for filming a slow-mo of one of my runs, and some great pics which he came by and showed us at the end of the day in the Winne. We got up fairly early on the Tuesday morning, and slowly got ready. Mark had gone out and bought an anti-sway bar for our trailer, so I fitted this for the journey home, and that made a big improvement.

We’re all now looking forward to the MSA “SpringSpeed Nationals” at Shakey on May 1st – 3rd, for the second Real Steel round of the season. Hope the weather’s better! Can’t wait!

That was the News