Although Mother Nature tried her hardest to ruin the best damn nostalgia hot rodding and drag racing party on this side of the world,
the damp conditions which prevailed for most of the running of Shakespeare County Raceway's 23rd annual NSRA Hot Rod Drags didn't stop
the many thousands of enthusiasts packing the facility to bursting point come Friday night.
The start of the weekend was blessed with some fine end of summer season sunshine for five hours of traditional Friday Street Drags.
And judging by the turnout this feature to the event is becoming very popular indeed.
But come early Saturday morning the skies and the TV forecasters were telling us a different story. In fact the map of Britain looked
more like a spotty dog with its isolated pockets of predicted showers and dry spells. Time after time, the track crews did their damndest
to get the track into a workable condition and every time the final preparation had been completed in came the rolling black clouds followed
by thunder, lightning and more rain.
With spirits low, the question now being asked would the planned fire burnouts and Cacklefest take place? You betcha. After a quick and
decisive meeting with the brains trust, the marshals again dried the start area along with the first eighth mile to accommodate more than
twenty five cars for the event's traditional Dusk Rollin' Cackle.
Following the two-minute dedication in memory of fallen hero Kasey Dixon Grainger, the evening started with two of the most stunning fire
burnouts seen to date performed by Supercharged Outlaw racers Tom Coe and Lee Gallimore. Both drivers were well and truly in the thick of
the flames to the applause of the packed grandstands and the assembled media.
At the witching hour of seven, car after car rolled down the staging lanes (some were even lighting up the tyres in the staging lanes to
give the crowd what they had been dye during the day), with the crowning glory at the end going to Joe Bond, Norm Wheeldon, and especially
Rockin Ramon van der Weurf at the wheel of his '71 Dodge Charger Funny Car. The evening was rounded off with fireworks, bands and burlesque
dancers in the main marquee. I feel that a big round of applause is due to all the drivers who took part from the assembled Supercharged Outlaws,
Gasser Circus, Outlaw Anglias and Wild Bunch for making this years Cackle another truly memorable one.
As dawn began to break and as everyone began to peel back the curtains Sunday morning I don't think anyone in the place was prepared for the
sounds they were hearing of more heavy rain beating its path. But as the hours rolled by, and as the weary track crews began the drying process
all over again, a glimmer of hope began to travel throughout the pits that some track time might well be on the cards. As the jet dryer began
its laps of the quarter mile the staging lanes began to fill and by midday the track was given the all clear for the maddest five hours of nostalgia
racing seen for a long time!
Although the track prep crew dodged a few bullets with a couple of oildowns just past the end of the glue and into the shutdown area the assembled
crowd were treated to some fantastic and sometimes dramatic side-by-side runs.
First to wake up the crowd after the heavy night of partying was Sam Freeman with the '23 T Altered Double Density pedalling to a centreline bashing
8.270/148.19. The Twister Model T was as wild as ever with Andy 'Fadster' Hadfield powering through to two under load nitrous filled runs resulting
in mid eights. Making the long journey from the north, Darren Peart at the wheel of the ex Tim Garlick Super Mod Tiger Tina gave us all a heart stopping
moment, including the safety crews, after disappearing in a cloud of oil smoke exiting the traps but still ran an 8.534/154.64. The best the car has run
so far is an 8.3 at York Raceway. Also disappearing in a cloud of oil smoke was Ian Turburville's slingshot dragster. Not sure what happened but reports
suggest that Ian had a footwell of oil in the car!
Quickest of the Supercharged Outlaws was the Topolino altered of Joe Bond with an incredible arrow straight 6.940/201 followed by a 7.761 from that
man again Sam Freeman in the Speed Demon dragster. Lee Gallimore, running with a small percentage of nitro in the tank of the Red Mist altered, was
going for broke and unfortunately that's what it did with a cylinder head split at the end of the 8.1 run.
After seeing the car in the previous evening's Cackle it was great to finally see Ramon's Wilder at Heart '71 Charger taking pride of place on the start
line against the modern day machine of Steve Goode's Ghost Train '02 Pontiac Firebird. Although Ramon, gaining a lot of English fans along the way, has
a long way to go the Nostalgia FC ran a creditable 9.201 to Steve's 8.57. More of the same please! Norm Wheeldon brought out the 'Too Much' twin engined
dragster much to the delight of the crowd who had never seen such a tool before on the drag strip. After lighting up the tyres in the burnout, Norm launched
to an impressive 1.1 60ft but had to get off the loud pedal when the eighth mile timing blocks began breaking out in sweat!
Quickest of the assembled Outlaw Anglia racers was Paul 'The Guv' Wright with a back on form 7.879/181. Also rockin' in the eights was Colin Millar with
an 8.032/169 followed by champion-elect Cliff Griffin with an 8.43/163.
Also out to entertain was Matt Wright with his mad but impressive Rolls Royce Silver Shadow doorslammer. Following a testing 8.702/161 on Friday an 8.513
quickly followed and at 171 mph it shows that there's still more to come out of the car from its 9.8 litre twin turbocharged V8. I wonder if there were
any churchgoers in the audience?
All in all despite the weather the 23rd annual Hot Rod Drags was well received. Congratulations to all the trophy winners and commiserations
to those who didn't. Better luck next time. But to everyone who attended and gave it there all deserves a big pat on the back for staying with the
event until the close of play on Sunday. And that goes for the SCR track crews and event staff as well. Not only in the lead up time to the Drags
but to the after-hours break down too. Well done guys. I'm proud of you all. See you all again in 2012.
NSRA Dirty Dozen
Keith Williams: '33/34 Ford 5 window Coupe
Becky Dunn: Ford Model A Sedan
Mick Wilkes (Wacky Mick): Vauxhall HA Van
Marianne Woolfall: '32 Ford Sedan
Alan Mearns : '33 Willys Coupe
Billy Cattell: Austin A40
Carl Jackson : '56 Chevrolet
Ray Bolt: '38 Ford Pick up
Treve Falmank: '41 Ford "Gold Rush"
Ella de Vos: White Morris Minor
Mark Bracking: Ford Pop
Norm Wheeldon: 'Two Much' twin engined dragster
NSRA Hot Rod Drags Quickest Of The Quick Awards
Supercharged Outlaws - Joe Bond 'Nuthin Fancy' Altered 6.940/201.65
Outlaw Anglia - Paul Wright 'Alco Pop' Anglia 7.879/181.85
Gasser Circus - John Gibson 'Crowd Pleaser' '55 Chevy 11.760/119.93
Wild Bunch - Chris Hartnell - 'Backdraft' Slingshot Dragster 9.155/142.06
Flathead - Al Boxhall '23 Model T 16.153/83.54
Tot Rod - Jay Coulter '34 Ford Tot Rod 14.518/44.26 (eighth Mile)
Jeni Long's NSRA Hot Rod Drags gallery
Kirstie's NSRA Hot Rod Drags gallery
Jon Spoard's drag racing photographs