Euro Finals ’19

September already and the drag racing season is drawing to a close.  What better way to wrap up the European series than with one of the best, if not the best, meetings I have ever seen.  The weather conditions on Saturday and Sunday were perfect and to reflect this the number of records and personal bests broken was unreal!  In qualifying on Saturday, which I watched via live feed, the Top Fuel Bike world record came within 1/100th of a second of falling not once but twice as ‘Fast Fil’ from Greece ran two 5.66 sec passes.  The European Top Fuel E.T record was lowered to 3.806 by Norway’s Maja Udtain.  And the Pro Mods just keep on getting quicker.

Race Day on Sunday and it’s a different mindset.  Now is the time to get to the other end of the 1/4 mile first yet still the times were phenomenal.  Apart from 2019 champ Anita Makela the Top Fuel cars struggled to get the power down and several very expensive engines went bang.  With few major clean-ups the day flew by.  Roll on next season.  As usual there are more images and results on my HOME page https://blhphotoblog.wordpress.com/portfolio/drag-racing-2019/

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The queen of drag racing Anita Makela of Finland leaves the line in Top Fuel final and wins with a 3.850 297mph run which would have been quicker if the engine had not let go before the stripe!
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The nitro burning Super Twins have a unique method of steering as the front wheel stays up for almost the whole 1/4 mile! This is Christian Jaeger from Germany on ‘Juntes One’
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Robin Noren of Sweden wins Pro Stock beating champion Jimmy Alund on a holeshot. A holeshot is where the elapsed time is slower but the reaction time to the starting lights quicker
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The quickest and fastest bike over the 1/4 mile in the world. This is Eric Teboul known as ‘The crazy Frenchman’ on his rocket powered missile running a 5.321 @ 262mph demonstration. The 1/2 mile shutdown area is only just long enough!

Dragstalgia

Every year Santa Pod Raceway holds a special event to celebrate all things nostalgia about drag racing.  It’s been several years since we last went but the line up was so good this year it was a must see even though it was only a day after our return from the Lake District!

True to form it was raining when we arrived but it soon passed.  While waiting for the track to dry we checked out the Rod & Custom show, took a stroll through the pits to admire all the classic machines and chat to the owners and browse the trade stands selling retro ’50’s clothing and souvenirs whilst ‘proper’ Rock ‘n’ Roll music played over the tannoys.

The racing was fantastic.  Ok so there are no 3 second 300mph monsters in fact the quickest time was 6.3 seconds and few cars made 200mph but it was the spirit and willingness to win and put on a show that made this special.  We headed for home with the smell of nitro and burning rubber in our nostrils and big smiles on our faces.  So many images to choose from I didn’t know which to pick, there are a few more on the HOME page https://blhphotoblog.wordpress.com/portfolio/drag-racing-2019/

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Legendary bike racer John Hobbs on ‘Olympus’ a 500c Weslake
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A jaw dropping display of some very famous Funny Cars from the past
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Like something from a ‘Mad Max’ film! Twister is a Supercharged Outlaw based on a Ford model T and driven by Andy Hadfield
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Des Taylor’s ‘Thundergod’ warms it’s tyres
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Sam Freeman and his slingshot ‘Long Time Dead’. Sam had a lucky escape after an horrendous crash at the finish line

Main Event… Rain stops Play

For me the most eagerly anticipated drag race of the season is the Main Event.  This is the first round of the European FIA FIM championships and all the big boys (and girls) will be out to try and get some points on the board.  Held over the four days of the Whit bank holiday, due to work, I can only get to the Sunday Qualifying round.  This is ok as it’s usually the best day with all the teams aiming to be number one heading into Monday’s eliminations, plus you get the chance to see all the cars/bikes twice or so you hope…..

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Backing up to the startline after their burnouts, Laura Turburville in the ‘Bad Blood’ dragster and Mark Flavell in the Pontiac bodied funny car. These run in a class called ‘Super Pro ET’ which is open to any car that can run between 6 & 8.99 seconds. The team will state what elapsed time they aim to run (ET) this is called ‘dial in’ and the car with the slower dial in gets a handicap start. It’s first to the win line but they must not go quicker than dialed in. Most teams can forecast their time to the hundredth of a second!

Tickets were booked weeks ago so I could get my favourite grandstand seat as this meeting attracts many thousands of spectators.  After a restless nights sleep we were away early for the two and a half hour drive (Tina always drives there, I have the homeward journey) to arrive before they start at 9am.  The weather forecast was not good.  It was warm and partly sunny on arrival but with a strong head wind straight down the strip and by 10.30 ominous grey clouds were beginning to move in just as the top Pro classes were starting their qualifying.

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In the gloom between the showers Jimmy Alund of Sweden runs a 6.579 @ 210mph in his Pro Stock Camaro

Sure enough the first heavy shower fell when forecast!  In drag racing the cars cannot run if there is any liquid at all on the track.  The strip is prepped prior to the event by dragging rubber over the surface of the concrete this is then sprayed with a traction compound we call glue.  Any liquid will sit on top of this like little ball bearings.  A race vehicle hitting that at speed on slick tyres is in big trouble!  The team worked like Trojans drying  the track and after forty five minutes they were ready to go again.  During this time we had walked back to the car park so came back and viewed from the bank near the finish line.

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‘Another Small Fortune’ is in reality a Top Methanol dragster but runs in Super Pro ET, it has trouble in keeping over the 6 seconds!

Four pairs of cars ran and the 300mph Top Fuellers were lining up and it rained again!  An hour later just as the crew were finishing off drying up another shower.  By now I was very tired due to lack of sleep and the strong wind so we headed for home.  They did get qualifying finished by 9pm and before work on the Monday I watched some of the eliminations on the internet.

Festival of Power!

“I love the smell of nitro in the morning!”  Ok so not quite the quote from ‘Apocalypse Now’.  I have been coming to the ‘Pod’ for forty years now and still get that tingle of excitement as we wend our way along the narrow, twisty road, through the pretty well-to-do villages of Wymington and Poddington.  Take a left at the crossroads onto Airfield Road and you are almost there.  Santa Pod is the last purpose built drag strip remaining in Gt Britain and has changed massively over the years but still has that ‘feel’ of the past (thankfully proper toilets now!).  The strip is built on what was the world war two runway of the American 92nd Bomb Group, and there are memorials to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.  The hot rod revolution really took off after the war with young service men looking for new thrills, so maybe the spirits smile down on our ‘playground’?  It always seems a happy place.

Sunday the 21st and the first event of the season the Festival of Power.  Not just the first rounds of the sportsman classes but also exhibition runs by three Top Fuel dragsters.  Then there was no fewer than eight jets and the amazing rocket bike of Eric Teboul.  Wall to wall sunshine, temps in the 70’sf and the lightest of breezes, the action on the track was even hotter.

There are more images and results on my HOME page click here https://blhphotoblog.wordpress.com/portfolio/drag-racing-2019/

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Top Fuel match race. Liam Jones of the UK (green car) thunders down the strip in 3.90 secs at 307mph!  Maja Udtian from Norway unfortunately loses traction and smokes the tyres. You  have to witness this spectacle, it is hard to describe the sound and smell
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Jordan Kenway fights to keep his Suzuki GSX off the centre line during his semi-final win in ET Bike. Cross the line and you are disqualified
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‘FireForce 3’ Jet Funny Car piloted by Martin Hill on his way to 258mph in 5.93 secs.  The team always puts on a great show

 

Fireworks!

Remember remember the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot

In 1605 a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament and assassinate King James I was foiled at the last minute.  Those responsible that were caught met a very grisly end, the most well known (though not leader) being Guy Fawkes.

So every year in the UK we ‘celebrate’ the occasion with big bonfires and firework parties.  This is my version.  LIGHT THE FIRE!

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Roger Goring’s ‘Firestorm’ a centre drive jet Funny Car hits the afterburners

SEND UP ROCKETS

The world’s fastest drag bike Frenchman Eric Teboul on his rocket powered missile

And all keep warm!

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‘Fire Force 5’ the 300mph Jet Dragster driven by Martin Hill ‘warms’ up

Dragging On

Euro Finals Sunday 9th Sept,

Unfortunately a rather disjointed stop/start meeting with a lot of breakages early on which meant everything fell over two hours behind schedule.  By 3.45pm the semi finals had not even started, Tina and I decided to call it a day and head for home, something I’ve not done before.  We got home at 6.30pm and I watched all the finals on the internet!

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The moment 10,000 horsepower is let loose! 2018 champion Anita Makela of Finland launches her Top Fuel Dragster and runs 3.872 312.44mph over the 1,000 ft

There was some super racing though and you have to feel sorry for all the teams who suffered damage, huge expense for so little reward.  Many records were again broken as the new Santa Pod track proves its worth.

As usual there are more images on my HOME portfolio of images page  https://blhphotoblog.wordpress.com/portfolio/drag-racing-2018/  Check them out.

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Top Fuel Funny Car, Kevin Chapman
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Peter Wacker of Switzerland’s beautiful 57 Chevy Bel Air Pro Mod

Summer Nationals

Fun in the sun at Santa Pod Raceway on Sunday the 1st.  The Summer Nationals held in scorching hot conditions gave us a fantastic days drag racing.  Many records were broken and personal bests set on the new concrete drag strip.  There are a lot more pictures and report on my HOME page,  https://blhphotoblog.wordpress.com/portfolio/drag-racing-2018/

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The most popular winner on the day, Michel Tooren in the ‘Pro Dutch Racing’ Pro Mod starts his burnout prior to the final. A great achievement to rebuild the car after a bad smash in May
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Lorcan Parnell and the ‘Storm’ Yamaha Funny Bike set new ACU elapse time and speed records