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.
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!
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.
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.