27th June 2004 - Santa Pod, UK, Summer Nationals
Report and pictures by Richard I. Stirling Copyright © 2004 http://topnitro.co.uk
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Oh Dear! What a complete mess-up I've made this time! I was struggling with a really painful back, a camera that was consuming expensive Lithium batteries at an alarming rate of knots and the Lord alone knows what I was doing with my lighting settings. The miserable offerings on show in this report are a culmination of a disastrous day's photography and a dysfunctional camera which, despite my restraint in not jumping up and down on it and reducing it to its atomic parts, then decided to give up completely long before eliminations had really got underway. After it packed up, I shuffled back to my chariot and dumped all my equipment in disgust. I was feeling sore, cheesed off, overheated and a little uneasy about the long walk back. Instead, I started up the old girl and snuck round to the pit side and enjoyed the rest of the racing. A hero was at hand, however, in my hour of need. Jonathon Crawford, Press Officer of the Santa Pod Racers Club, has again generously supplied some exceptional material which, as usual, puts all my shoddy work to shame. Enjoy Jon's pictures, they are peppered throughout this report.
It has been just a couple of weeks since the Power Nationals at Shakespeare County Raceway and I can't believe its a month since the Main Event here at Santa Pod. It looked like a promising day at the Summer Nationals on the Sunday, as I hear that Saturday's racing was repeatedly interrupted with rain. The day was bright and warm and the run down from Derby was uneventful. When I'd parked up, I headed though the spectator catering area towards the barn and my nose was immediately arrested by an enchanting smell of bacon. Surrendering to the rumbling noises from my mid-section I was drawn, as if by a magnet, to the source of these heady scents and within seconds I was munching greedily at a bacon baguette rather like Homer Simpson in a feeding frenzy. Feeling refreshed, I set off to find out what was happening at the SPRC Summer Nationals.
I bumped into CCSE competitor Andy Frost soon after struggling to the top of the pits with my wretchedly painful back. He was explaining that the team had a little difficulty in getting everything to work together well and that he wasn't sure how it was all going to pan out. Well, Andy must have done something right, because he went out and won the CCSE category when it came to eliminations. Congratulations with the win, Andy! This adds to his victory at the Easter Thunderball and must bode well in the points chase in the Custom Car Street Eliminator championship.
Down at the start line, Jon Crawford managed to grab the usual suspects attempting to point their headlights to the heavens. Al Golding in his Firenza seems to be a real 'wheelie' specialist and his runs are very exciting to watch. Steve Wells is another who always catches my attention with hiked up front wheels. I often wonder if the clutch setup was different on both cars and they did not 'wheel stand' as much (or at all) whether they would end up with a faster elapsed time on the run. As a spectator, my comment is leave it as it is because I love those wheelies! You might wonder why I have included the middle picture of Chris Emms in his Escort estate. I understand that he is using the car to notch up the required 4 competition meetings before jumping behind the wheel of his Top Methanol dragster. Although Chris went on to win the race in this Sportsman ET category and well done to him, I cannot help but think that another faster type of race car should be sampled before driving the TMD.
Pro-mod racer Andy Robinson was also in attendance in the Super Pro category. I saw him on a couple of sizzling runs including a storming 6.83 second run at 202.83 mph. He seemed to be grafting away up at his pit re-facing clutch plates, pulling transmissions out and servicing a regular stream of other team members or customers arriving to take up a little of his time. He always seems to be one of the busiest people at the races when he is racing himself because a lot of the other racers are his customers. All the effort came to nought, sadly, when Andy tripped up with a -0.247 red light in the first round of eliminations. Bad luck Andy.
Present, as always, was the ever popular FIA 1998 Top Fuel Champion Barry Sheavills. When I first bumped into him he looked as though I'd caught him off guard (or was it last night, Barry?) but he soon cheered up when these two lovely ladies arrived. That certainly put a smile on his face, although he did have to steady the lady on the right (in the right hand picture) to stop her from falling over....! As far as his return to racing goes, I hear that 'something' is brewing and I sincerely hope, along with the thousands of his other fans that whatever it is, it materialises in him being back on the FIA Top Fuel tour as soon as possible.
A couple of other items caught my eye as I limped around the paddock. In the left hand picture above is the most lovely example of an early 60's or late 50's Bentley. Don't you think it would make a fantastic basis for a blown Pro-Mod? I would love that car! I think it would take a braver man than me to take a plasma cutter to that, though! The centre picture is of Carl Levine's Plymouth and it was looking beautiful with that lovely paint job by Greg Howell - a faithful copy of the Sox and Martin cars with the factory supported Dodge entries in the early sixties. The engine on the right is in Richard Hillier's 'Mustang Sally' Ford Mustang. The engine is a Ford 351 Cleveland engine and I have a particular favour for this type of motor because I have a blueprinted 4-bolt mains version of such a race-prepped Cleveland (built by Anglo American Racing) which is sat on my Mother's garage floor. I always thought it would go well in a Ford Ka.....
Doug Ripley's Top Methanol Funny car was back again to take part in the British Top Alcohol championship. It's great to see Doug back because this car is a real beauty and the team have worked so hard to get it to where it is at the moment. Hoping to spoil Doug's crack at the race win was Trevor Capewell who was down to complete observed runs over the weekend. There was a possibility that if the runs went well, that he would be able to gain his licence and race Doug.
It was good to see Ian Hook back again after his recent CCSE win at the Power Nationals at SCR. He didn't look too happy at something in that middle picture! I think it was something to do with the competition ladders. Anyway, when racing got underway, Ian had a bit of a frightener when he launched in his elimination round. He hit some bad tyre shake which went and rattled open a door which then thudded against his immaculate bodywork. Ian got out of the throttle straight away and pootled down the track and towards his trailer.
I mentioned earlier that Trevor Capewell was licensing in his Top Methanol Funny car. I recall Trevor being at the rain drenched Excitement Nationals at SCR but I guess the poor weather stopped him getting in any meaningful runs. This car was the subject of a 'swap' between Smax Smith and Leif Helander - Leif getting Smax's nitro funny car and Smax getting Leif's alcohol funny car. I remember seeing on Eurodragster that some of Leif's guys who ran this car came over to Trevor's to play with it to help him get down track. Well, whatever they did, it certainly seemed to do the trick. Trevor made a decent burnout (though he did seem to take too long to reverse) and made a good run to half track before getting a bit wibbly. On his second run, however, he was given the mark to aim for - if he achieved a time of 6.8 seconds or better - he would have his licence. On a most impressive run, Trevor hammered down the track to just before 1000 feet where got a bit loose and rather close to the centre line. Backing off was a sensible choice. Congratulations to Trevor for beating the licensing mark with a very creditable 6.582 second pass at 161.80mph.
A special mention must be made of SuperTwin Harley rider Ian 'Turbo' Turburville. On the back of his recent win at the Power Nationals at SCR, Ian would be up against it this weekend with other competitors running high seven second or low 8 second runs. Ian took on board some tuning advice from Frank Brachtvogel. The tune up ended up being a little too aggressive for Ian's rear hub as it instantly broke at the hit of the throttle and a million little gear teeth were spattered all over the start line. Bad luck Ian! His mate on the middle picture, I hear, has had a little trouble with some traffic police, though; thus the reason for the T Shirt! Spencer Tramm was not having any sort of Police bother with his super Corrado. He teamed up with his mate and car painter Martin Curbishley for the weekend and had a jolly good time.
By the time we were wading through eliminations my back was getting unbearable and right after Doug Ripley made his pass to win the TMFC race over the no-showing Trevor Capewell, I said a fond farewell to one and all and slumped into my car for what seemed, at the time, an impossibly long journey home. I would especially like to thank Jon Crawford for assisting by providing some excellent pictures for me to use in this report. As always, I would like to thank Tog, Eurodragster and Sharkman for the aide memoir as regards event results, pictures and general gossip. Thanks also, for detailed timing data must go to TSI Timers and I would also like to thank Phil Cottingham for his assistance throughout the day. I would also like thank my non-racing pal Billy for his help in minimising the spellling and gramatikal errors in this report. Finally, I would like to thank YOU the reader for spending your time here at http://topnitro.co.uk.
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