Ford Weekender

Shakespeare County Raceway
1st May 2005

Report and pictures (c) 2005, Richard Stirling

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. 

7115 7116 7117 7118 7119 7121
7115 7116 7117 7118 7119 7121
7122 7123 7124 7126 7127 7128
7122 7123 7124 7126 7127 7128
7129 7130 7132 7134 7135 7136
7129 7130 7132 7134 7135 7136
7137 7138 7149 7151 7152 7153
7137 7138 7149 7151 7152 7153
7154 7157 7158 7159 7161 7162
7154 7157 7158 7159 7161 7162
7163 7164 7166 7167 7168 7169
7163 7164 7166 7167 7168 7169
7170 7171 7180 7181 7182 7183
7170 7171 7180 7181 7182 7183
7184 7185 7186 7187 7188 7189
7184 7185 7186 7187 7188 7189
7190 7191 7195 7196 7197 7198
7190 7191 7195 7196 7197 7198
7200 7203 7204 7205 7206 7207
7200 7203 7204 7205 7206 7207
7208 7209 7210 7211 7212 7213
7208 7209 7210 7211 7212 7213
7214 7215 7216 7217 7218 7219
7214 7215 7216 7217 7218 7219
7220 7221 7227 7229 7230 7231
7220 7221 7227 7229 7230 7231
7232 7234 7235 7236 7237 7238
7232 7234 7235 7236 7237 7238
7241 7244 7245 7246 7248 7249
7241 7244 7245 7246 7248 7249
7250 7251 7253 7257 7258 7259
7250 7251 7253 7257 7258 7259
7261 7262 7263 7266 7267 7269
7261 7262 7263 7266 7267 7269
7270 7278 7279 7280 7282 7283
7270 7278 7279 7280 7282 7283
7289 7290 7291 7292 7293 7294
7289 7290 7291 7292 7293 7294
7299 7300 7302 7308 7309 7310
7299 7300 7302 7308 7309 7310
7311 7313 7315 7317 7318 7320
7311 7313 7315 7317 7318 7320
7321 7322 7323 7325 7327 7328
7321 7322 7323 7325 7327 7328
7329 7331 7333 7334 7335 7337
7329 7331 7333 7334 7335 7337
7339 7340 7342 7344 7345 7346
7339 7340 7342 7344 7345 7346
7347 7349 7350 7351 7352 7353
7347 7349 7350 7351 7352 7353
7359 7360 7361 7362 7363 7364
7359 7360 7361 7362 7363 7364
7365 7373 7375 7376 7379
7365 7373 7375 7376 7379