"An Xtreme Weekend"
The Xtreme Wheels Show, Alexandra Palace, London, 19th to 20th February 2005
Report and pictures by Richard Stirling
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What an excellent weekend this year's Xtreme Wheels Show turned out to be! Last year's inaugural show was superb, but the contrast to this year reflects the supreme efforts of Obsession Motorsports and its' toiling staff to take advantage of all avenues and advertising possibilities, as the net result was a superb show, crammed full of exhibits and visitors and one and all had a superb time.
I travelled to the show Saturday morning and arrived there later than intended, after getting caught out with road works and closed roads. The show was just getting under way and the thing that impressed me so much was the vastly improved layout of the exhibits and also the improved lighting in the Great Hall, for those (such as me) who have been known to take a photograph or two.
Dave Wilson's Top Methanol dragster was, as one would expect, prominently displayed on the American Car Imports stand. It was good to see Dave and the team chomping at the bit to get racing this year. I had this silly notion that maybe we would see an ACI Top Fuel dragster, after Dave's Nitro licensing last year, but there's plenty of time for that yet! Whilst I was on the stand, ACI Principal Anthony Cohen was urging me to get rid of my Volvo and get myself something with a 'burble', instead. In no time, I was sitting in one of his new Mustang GT machines. What a beauty! It's just a pity that finances don't run to that at the moment, but I'll keep filling in those lottery tickets...
Taking a prominent position on the superb Santa Pod stand was the fansfueler team and in addition to the regular team members was a new feature to draw attention to the project's cause. A Top Fuel simulator game was on hand to help give fans and members an opportunity to understand the process of driving a dragster and believe me - it is much more difficult than it looks - particularly reversing. Fansfueler driver Barry Sheavills will freely admit he is not a computer wizard, but after a little practice he ended up being 'back in the fours' with regular high performance runs. The game proved immensely popular over the weekend and hoards of people had a go at mastering this tricky game. The team were also raffling £1000 worth of wheels, courtesy of team sponsor AEZ, which were won on Sunday my Mr. G. Brown. Special thanks must go to fansfueler member Gary Simes, who previously won the prize at the Flame and Thunder meeting at Santa Pod and immediately donated the prize back to the fansfueler team. Thanks to Gary and also to AEZ! The project is still gathering pace and the crew members were keeping the plentiful visitors advised of how they could be part of the fansfueler community.
The moment I saw Danny Cockerill's 1957 Pro-mod Chevrolet Bel Air, I was simply astounded with its beauty. Danny has apparently coughed up something like £90,000.00 to build this car and I have to say that it looks as if it's worth every penny! The stand was swarming with enthusiastic spectators over the weekend and I found myself drawn to it, as if by a magnet, on a number of occasions. Danny has announced that he's going to attend pretty much all of the Pro-Mod tour and I'm pleased to say that the British contingent on the tour is rapidly growing. The emergence of blown engine configurations for Andy Robinson and Gordon Appleton will give the Nordic Pro-mod contingent something to think about!
Ian King's Top Fuel bike was on display looking resplendent, as ever. I'm most impressed that he uses a Carbon injector, specially produced by Carbon By Design's Knut Söderqvist, to enhance the air intake to the supercharger. I hear that new parts aplenty have been produced for the bike, including a super-trick billet cylinder head. Let's hope that the improved performance (and much less damage than last year) has Ian notching up those round wins and snatching the European Top Fuel Bike championship back from his buddy Roel Koedam.
On Saturday night, myself and the fansfueler team were accompanied by honorary fansfueler member and victorious Top Fuel simulator pilot Darryl Bradford and we headed off to the world famous Ace Cafe, along with many of the hot-rodders, racers, and bikers exhibiting at the show. It was great to see quite a few rods and yanks in the car park adding even more to the great atmosphere at the Ace as did the band "The Surfing Gorrillas", exponents of the long lost art of the instrumental surf sound. The Ace was really heaving but we still managed to find a seat and order some excellent nosh and partake of a few beverages.
Top Fuel racer Andy Carter was smiling right through the middle of a really heavy cold and flu-type dose of yukkiness, though instead of the prescribed treble Jack Daniels and lemonade, he had to put up with a good old English cup of tea (good colour Andy!). It has to be said that he didn't feel too good all weekend, but he and the team kept onlookers well entertained with strip downs and rebuilds of the Top Fuel motor. This was fascinating to all spectators, as it seemed to take just a few short minutes to pull the engine down and rebuild it - something that these guys are used to doing for real three times a day on race day! Andy was saying that he had had enough of the stickers of outgoing sponsor Go Talk and that he was going to peel them off after the Xtreme wheels show. "They've had their money's worth" said Andy and I reckon they have - they have made an appearance at two shows in 2005, for free. Here's hoping that the team's quest for primary sponsorship for this season bear fruit in the near future. Car chief Ben made the trip over to Norway to meet up with Crew chief and car owner Rune Fjeld. Both have been busying themselves on the car and Andy's team mate Thomas Nataas has also been working hard to get the cars ready for the new FIA Top Fuel season. They will all be ready for the Easter Thunderball at Santa Pod in just a few short weeks.
All in all, the 2005 Xtreme wheels show was a superbly organised and efficiently run event. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and just before I was going to rest up at the coffee shop, I saw the legendary Nobby Hills having a natter to fansfueler driver Barry Sheavills and wishing him the best for a comeback season in Top Fuel for 2005. I couldn't help but take a quick shot of them by the Altered's Christmas Tree. Let's hope it's a double comeback season for both Barry and Nobby!
To take a tour of the Xtreme Wheels 05 show, please take a look at the full photo gallery. I make no apology for certain items appearing more than once, but I hope you enjoy taking a look at what was happening by clicking just here.
See you at the Easter Thunderball in a few weeks!