2022 Main Event

Not the great line up pre-Covid.  A lot has changed in the past three years.  The cost of travel has sky rocketed, there is a shortage and long wait for spare parts but most telling is that post-Brexit there is now a customs duty called ‘carnet’.  This is a refundable payment imposed on teams travelling to the UK and is based on a percentage of the value of the vehicle, parts, tools etc.  Each Country has a different levy, Sweden (from where a large number of teams come from) has the highest and as a result only one team from there made it over.  I feel this is making the ‘European Championships’, if not a mockery, a devalued event.

Enough politics.  I went over to Santa Pod Raceway on Saturday to watch the third day of qualifying.  Not disappointed.  There were many records broken including a world record for the quickest and fastest electric vehicle when Hans-Henrik Thomsen of Denmark ran 6.6197secs at 206.24mph 0ver the 1/4 mile on his bike ‘Silver Lightning’.  On Sunday the European Top Fuel record fell to Ida Zetterstrom with a 3.782sec run (the first in Europe to go in the 3.7s) and Samu Kemppainen went 5.999 on his new nitro Super Twin bike to set a new European best.

Anyone who has seen the Pixar movie ‘Cars’ will be familiar with Lightning McQueen. This is John Tebenham in his ’53 Corvette supercharged, methanol burning Pro Mod
Wheelies always make a great shot and some cars do it every run like ‘Metamorphosis’ Pete Dodd’s ’67 Camaro
‘Tim’s Toy’ a ’55 Chevy Bel Air gets checked over in the pits
The world’s second quickest top fuel drag bike. Neil Midgley on the ex Ian King/Fast Fil Cannon Motorspots Puma

A lot of drag cars are based on American vehicles.  Here is a selection of truly British ‘classics’ though the engines are not what came off the production lines!

Dave Russell warms the slicks in his Austin Marina van complete with a 540ci (8849cc) supercharged V8
‘Brute Force’ is Andy Harrison’s Ford Sierra running in Super Gas a class where you must not go quicker than 9.90 seconds
Ron Bartlett lifts the front of ‘Sweet FA’ based on a 1960’s Ford Anglia. This has a 584ci nitrous injected V8 and runs low 8’s at over 160mph

A lot of people think drag racing must be easy.  After all they are going in a straight line for just 440 yards, what could go wrong?  Things can go wrong and very quickly.  Thankfully accidents are few and far between but on Saturday I witnessed the worst I’ve seen.  Kevin Chapman launched his 10,000bhp nitro Funny Car which will reach 100mph in less than a second.  The car headed right toward the centre line.  Correcting this it made a sharp turn left, the back end broke free and it smashed into the concrete wall at the 330 foot mark.  Here the fuel tank, about 15 gallons of nitromethane, exploded.  The car slid down the track against the wall, the body flew off and the chassis, complete with driver and engine, ended upside down against the opposite wall at 1,000 feet.  Amazingly KC walked away completely unharmed.  This all happened in a matter of seconds.  At the time I was photographing in burst mode and this is the last shot, not for the faint hearted.

This is not good

I hate seeing this.  All the safety gear worked and the rescue crew were brilliant.  40 years ago and the outcome might have been so different.  I called it a day and came home rather subdued.

25 thoughts on “2022 Main Event

    1. It was bad Rubens. I have just heard the cause. The butterfly in the injector hat became stuck open when a burst panel let go on the launch, basically Kevin was in a bad situation and did the best he could, he was more or less along for the ride.

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    1. There is a huge amount of skill involved in driving these vehicles at the speeds they reach in seconds and if the worst happens you hope all the safety gear works as it should, in this case it did perfectly.
      Thanks for taking a look Belinda even though it’s not your thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Fantastic shots, Brian, but I complete understand how that sickening accident put a damper on your day. Thank goodness the driver walked away from it unscathed, and that no spectators got hurt either.

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    1. Thank you Dries. So good the driver was unhurt (probably a bit stunned and dizzy). You are right that spectators were not affected, sometimes a big explosion can sent parts flying a long way, not this time thankfully.

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  2. It has been almost 60 (!) years since I’ve been to a drag race. The skill of the drivers, the thrill of the speed, the amazing vehicles – all of that appears to be still intact. The greatest change, thankfully, is the development of technology to help keep drivers safe.

    Outstanding photography all around, Brian!

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    1. Thank you Wally.
      Agree with you on the advancement in safety equipment. When I first started going to the races this incident would not have had a happy outcome.

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  3. Wow, quite the crash. I’ve seen enough drag mishaps to know those can go wrong .. and as you said.. in a hurry. Thought of you last Saturday – we headed out to our local speedway and took in a night of dirt track racing. Been a while since I felt that power and smelled that octane. Didn’t miss dodging the mud chunks when they got to high in the “pebbles”. Thrilling to watch the late models power through the turns on three wheels. Definitely underpowered compared to the ones you were watching.

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  4. Hey Brian. Obviously I’m way behind on consistently following & commenting on all my blogs I follow. It’s been a pretty rough go of it for me these last several weeks and going back into April.

    Goodness! Did the driver in your last pic come out okay without a scratch? Great stuff for the Rescue Crews for sure!

    Hey, I am very much looking forward to our WC Qatar Group B games, especially on Nov. 25th! 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 😁

    I fully expect some good humored banter with you and Ark/Doug over at that blog for Gardeners, Animals, and Satanists! 😉 hehe

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    1. Fully understand what you have been through Mr D. Sadly had a lot of that in my younger years, a lot of good friends went way too soon.
      Yes the driver was ok, a bit bruised and shook up but he walked away.
      Not sure how this world cup will pan out. The three lions lost to Hungary the other night in some tin pot European competition. We were bloody awful really after a promising opening 1/4 hour and now have to play Germany & Italy. Watching the game I could not get at all excited even when Harry nearly pinched an equaliser near the end.
      Don’t think Mr A will be too bothered either way, he’s a long time ex-pat now.

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