Shakespeare County Raceway
|It was nice that the
weather gods looked down kindly on us at Shakespeare County Raceway. Lovely
bright skies greeted us this morning and it made the whole day thoroughly
enjoyable. The Ford Weekender meeting was open to all sorts of performance Ford
machinery who, in Run-What-Ya-Brung fashion were free to use the track for
'testing' purposes. There certainly seemed to be quite a bit of that going on!
There also seemed to be quite a bit of stuff that had never been anywhere near a
Ford factory either... which in my book was, 'the more the merrier. There was
also a number of racers taking advantage of the exhibition and testing
facilities and these included Roger Goring's
beautiful Firestorm Jet Car and Darryl Bradford, who was driving John and Lesley
Wright's Top Fuel dragster.
Each competitor was able to return to the start line on a seemingly unlimited number of occasions and as such, the track remained busy throughout the day. Roger Goring gave everybody a jolly good warming with his fabulous Jet Funny Car and crossed the finish line at over 250mph - a zone which he seems to be becoming a frequent visitor.
Darryl Bradford took time out from his commentating duties with the FIA to drive the Wright's fabulous Top Fuel dragster. The whole car has been completely revamped and looks absolutely sensational. There's a lot more than just elbow grease that's gone into the preparation as well; countless new parts have been purchased, including new big fuel pumps and carbon brakes and the whole package looks superb. They planned for two runs during the day and each one of those was preceded by the statutory warm-up procedure. As a self-confessed 'nitro freak', I love these warm-ups and Crew Chief John Wright did not disappoint the enthusiastic onlookers, not least of which was myself! The first of the runs was opened up with a long and pleasingly smoky burnout from Darryl. As there were so many new components installed, the first run was planned to be a 'launch' to about 200 feet or so just to get some tuning data. This proved to be successful. On the second run, at the back end of the day, it proved to be a little more eventful. A near-full pass was planned and unfortunately, things went wrong as soon as Darryl stepped on the accelerator. A failure in the rocker arm assembly, immediately caused at least one engine cylinder to 'drop', i.e: the cylinder is not burning any of the fuel that is being pumped into it. This can lead to 'hydraulicking' where the unburned fuel is compressed.... and that has the inevitable result of causing a catastrophic explosion, which is sadly what happened. Darryl certainly warmed me up as he went past and, thank goodness, he got the car safely stopped with no injury to anything or anyone, except the engine department of his dragster. Let's hope for a speedy return to the track and a little trouble-free racing, next time!
Following on from this brief report is a gallery of some of the pictures I took throughout the day. I hope you enjoy the following picture gallery and come back to topnitro.co.uk soon.
I would like to express my boundless gratitude to everyone at Shakespeare County Raceway. This includes Lee Child, Jerry Cookson, Wendy Talbot and all the staff in the Media Centre, for extending media courtesies to me at the track, which have been gratefully received. Thank you all very much indeed.