Gary Page ' In the Cockpit' at the Allstars Nationals Shakespeare County Raceway 23-25 Aug 2003

(c) 2003 Topnitro.co.uk

Report and pictures by Richard I. Stirling

                       

We were blessed with beautiful weather all weekend at Shakespeare County Raceway (SCR) and the 'title act' for the meeting was the appearance of the cackling nitro funny cars. Making its first appearance at the track was the Showtime funny car of John Spuffard donned with a superb Ford  Mustang body, courtesy of Mr. John Force. Head wrench man Bob Jarrett had plenty of ideas to try out following a couple of supercharger problems earlier in the year. Now fitted with one of  Big Jim Dunn's "Fireman Quickie" Pontiac Firebird bodies, Gordon Smith and Dave Bryant's Shockwave funny car looked superb and seemed definitely to be gunning for the other contenders. I enjoyed several smelly nitro warm-ups courtesy of this very personable team. Holland's Lex Joon was making his first appearance at SCR with the ex-Dean Skuza nitro Dodge Avenger. The MPM paint job looked superb but clearly the team had some way to go to complete the transformation from Methanol to Nitro Funny Car. Looking resplendent in its updated paint scheme was the ever immaculate Dodge Avenger car of Mark and Jackie Hawkins which was featuring new sponsorship from Mag American. Their driver, hired gun and nitro legend Gary Page, was on hand and eager to get his hands on the funny car which was making its first appearance of the year. Gary seemed to be brimming with confidence as this has certainly turned out to be pretty much a banner year for him. Back at the FIA Main event at Santa Pod in May, right before going to the races in Chicago,  he was driving one of  Knut Soderquist's Top Fuel dragsters and made it all the way to the Final Round before bowing out to the ever cheery,  cheeky(!) and fellow team mate Smax Smith. In mid-July, Gary was again behind the wheel of a Top Fueller (Smax's Purple Loans car) and was victorious at the Swedish Top Fuel Tour at Pitea. Now, here at SCR, he was pleased to be back in his preferred Funny Car environment (he does drive these Top Fuellers rather well, though!) and was eager to get out on track. All in all, though, technical difficulties overcame the jolly hard work and boundless enthusiasm of the Hawkins' team after the first round of racing. The car was eliminated by inexplicable connecting rod failure at three quarter track on a run that had the Showtime team very worried indeed. A rumoured new car for 2004 is well on the way on the drawing boards and the team, as always, must be positively considered as a most professional and capable organisation, which with Gary's driving skills,  is now fully equipped to pull the carpet from underneath their fellow competitors. Good luck to one and all for 2004!

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