Autosport International
NEC, Birmingham 10th-13th January 2019


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Robin Read's blown-nitro Daimler-powered dragster was in the Trade Days-only Engineering Show supporting sponsors Engine Parts UK and ACL engine bearings. "There has been a lot of interest, people have taken a lot of pictures", said Robin. "Engine Parts UK have been really good in introducing us to their suppliers who have come on board with products". Robin's new car is coming together with work currently being done on the bodywork. "I'm pretty sure it will be out this year", he said. "All the lessons learned and problems solved will be incorporated into the new car. One school of thought says a completely different design for the paint but I am leaning towards something similar to the current car. The old car still looks fresh and modern now, it's amazing how advanced it was for its time". The current car will be running at Dragstalgia in July. "Dragstalgia is its banner event", said Robin. "I was really sad to miss a run at the Flame and Thunder Show but that's this country and its weather."

Whilst talking to Robin we were joined by the BA Racing Pro Modified team of Bert Englefield and both Andy Wrights accompanied by Top Methanol Dragster legend Dave 'Grumpy' Wilson. Andy said that his business Wrights Mechanical Engineering Fabrication has got plenty of work. "The Wallaces are keeping me busy!", said Andy Senior. "We are doing work for Nev Mottershead, Bobby Wallace's Willys, a couple of street rods, a lot of components. There is quite a long line in the Shop". "I gave him too much room, I knew he'd fill it up!", said Grumpy. Andy said work will start on BA Racing's second Pro Mod this year. "We will be making a jig in the next few months", he said. "We have all the parts so it should come together ("So long as the money doesn't run out" interjected Andy Jr). We all like the old car too much now that it all works, we want to run a five in it". "Did you know that Andy Robinson is retired now?", asked Bert. "I'm the longest-standing Pro Mod driver!". See below for more on that subject, and for more about Wrights Mechanical Engineering Fabrication check out the web site at

2018 ACU UK Funny Bike Champion Lorcan Parnell was at the Show on behalf of employer AC Schnitzer. "AC Schnitzer have been around for thirty years tuning BMWs", said Lorcan. "Engines, wheels, suspension, exhaust, anything they can put their name on! If you can spend ninety thousand on an M5 then another thirty then we're the people". Lorcan said that the Storm's season may be late starting due to an accident in testing at the end of last season. "My shoulder is still mending", he said. "My leg was burned, I bailed out on the left side and broke a shoulder blade but actually the accident made an existing shoulder problem worse. But that was the first time in thirty two years that I've had any sort of injury. The bike is coming along well, it wasn't badly damaged. It has a new wiring loom and four more injectors so we now have twelve instead of eight."

Jim Kelly was at the Show to promote and sell his book Fuelin' Around, reviewed on on 7th January. Jim's first sale on the Thursday of the Show was to someone who mentioned and he said that several people had mentioned us (Thanks to you all - Ed). "DRAW will be selling the book at NHRA events and we will be holding signings at Pomona and Gainesville", said Jim. "John Force read my books and sent me a signed hero card which said "Best books!".". Jim added that Santa Pod Raceway have bought a box of autographed books to market at the track. Fuelin' Around is available on Amazon for £9.99.

The badly-beaten-up passenger side door of sponsor Andy Robinson's Anger Management Pro Mod was on the stand of sponsor NGK Spark Plugs accompanied by a looping video of the UK National Finals crash which did the beating up. Andy, Kate and Luke Robinson were at the Show as guests of fellow sponsor Aurora Bearings. "We'll be back!", said Andy. "Parts are starting to come in for the new car and the chassis will go on the jig later this year; we won't put it in front of customer cars. The new car will be lighter and quicker. There was lots of stuff which we could use off the old car, small stuff such as hinges and pedals, and we are making carbon fibre components. A new four link system has already been designed. All of our sponsors are still on board and we appreciate their support". "The new car will have a Man Pedal!" added Luke.

Mark and Jackie Hawkins' Fuel Funny Car now sports a Gladiator colour scheme in tribute to the classic Vega FC fielded by Roy Phelps and Allan Herridge. Driver Jason Phelps explained how the new livery, courtesy of Power Race Graphics, Rushden Graphics and Classis Legends, came about. "It's an important bit of history", said Jason. "Darren came up with the design. I showed it to Mark and he was stunned and said "We'll go with that". The important thing was that Jackie liked it! It's a work of art on top and underneath". Jason is very pleased with the way things have turned out after the move to Hawk Racing. "The car drives like a Corsa, like it has power steering", he said. "We have a nice happy working environment, I brought in some of my people and it all clicked. Mark said "I'm enjoying this!".". You can find out more on the Hawk Racing Facebook and Instagram pages.

Wayne Jackson of UK National Super Pro ET Champion Brad Jackson Racing is the UK importer for HRX racewear and was already very busy. "It has been relentless, which is great", he said. "We have sold thirty two firesuits since the Show opened yesterday. We measured a customer two hours ago, Sylvana has done a design, we E-Mailed it to him and he likes it. I've just measured up a guy who races in WRC". Wayne became involved with the Italian company when buying a firesuit for son Brad. "It's a good product", he said. "The owner worked for Sparco. The suits were developed with United Autosport who run Ligier. They are lightweight and durable for endurance racing such as Le Mans. Everything is bespoke - racewear, underwear, boots and gloves. We have sold suits to Super Pro ET and Junior Dragster racers."

On the stand of sponsor VP Racing Fuels we met Mark Gardner of UK and Eire distributor Race Fuel. "My company is heading up the drive to ensure availability and brand recognition", he said. "We have expanded the network across the country and across disciplines; the basic massage is that the dealer network increases availability to racers, a simple message but an important one. All of our dealers are able to offer a fuel delivery service. Santa Pod Raceway do a fantastic job, and we work closely with them."

We met VW Pro and Topspeed Autmotive Street Eliminator racer Carl Goldsmith on the Santa Pod Raceway/Lucas Oil stand. "I have to start the upgrades soon", said Carl. "I have to put a parachute on, I went 142 miles per hour and the scrutineer went (At this point Carl did an impression of the scrutineer making a noise which I could not spell - Ed). I have a different gearbox, bigger turbos and a bigger fuel pump as the last one ran out."

Former Lucas Oil Junior Dragster racer and previous UK National Champion Jordan Payne, seen with dad Nigel, is moving to Gearhead Garage Super Pro ET this season in the family's Corvette with a plan to contest Comp Eliminator in 2020. "Our plans are going well", said Jordan. "The chassis work has been done by Hauser Race Cars and ICE Automotive dyno'd the motor; it's running how we want it and is ready to go back in the car. I hope to be out at the Saturday Night Special at the start of April, then licence at the Peak Performance Day before the Festival of Power. I want to get in as much testing as I can for the seat time. I will be doing the quarter in the same time I used to do the eighth, it's quite nerve-wracking but I am looking forward to the challenge. And I have to show Dad up!". VP Racing Fuels have increased their backing this season and Jordan has already met with Cam Auto Developments who are continuing their sponsorship. Lifeline Extinguisher and Goodridge Hoses are also on board.

Bob Glassup's six-second Bubblegum Nostalgia Funny Car was on the Santa Pod Raceway/Lucas Oil Products stand. "We will go to at least two meetings, the Springspeed Nationals and Dragstalgia, and take it from there", said Bob. "I am excited about the 6.7s we ran, it's where we want to be. We're getting down the track and not hurting anything and those runs were a good finishing spot and a good starting spot. We lost a pushrod on the last run so it could have been a 6.5. We'll be happy as Larry if we can carry on from there and put on a show."

One of the undoubted drag racing hits, and surprises, of the show (Nary a "Heard something about this some time ago" - Ed) was the début of Mark Todd's Six Appeal Topspeed Automotive Street Eliminator Aston Martin on the stand of Serck Motorsport. You can read technical particulars on the News update of 10th January. The Aston Martin was accompanied by a gorgeous Mustang (See below) which had been restored ground-up by Hot Rod Technologies. Graham Smith gave us some more details. "We supported Mark's GTO for a while", he said. "On this car the fuel lines, the oil lines, everything is Racinglines. We supplied the radiator and the oil cooler. We supplied a radiator and Firetech fuel injection unit for the Mustang. The owner says that it's like a new car, instant response and no fuel slosh". Graham ran a PB of 9.1 in his own street-legal race car, Snow White, on his last run of the season. "Roger Butterworth ran 9.1 on slicks and I promised him that we would run an eight", said Graham. "We were third in Topspeed Automotive Street Eliminator in our first seasn and second in the Tri Chevy Shootout by one point. We are revamping the radiator, we use the car as a guinea pig as we experiment with systems and get a lot of data". This is Serck Motorsport's sixth year at Autosport International. "Every year has been a success so we keep coming back", said Graham. "We always have a drag racer on the stand; we feel it is different from the rest of the Show, people just say "Wow!" at it."

Martin Hill is celebrating thirty years of Fireforce Jet Funny Cars in 2019 although his jet career began before that with a Jet Dragster. Fireforce 3 graced the Santa Pod Raceway/Lucas Oil Products stand but Martin unfortunately had disappeared off on business elsewhere by the time we got out the notebook. Stay tuned, though, as will be running a Feature with Martin in the near future. Split Second Jet Dragster pilot Julian Webb, who has also driven Fireforce 5 and Fireforce 3, was also representing the team on the stand so we cornered him. "Split Second is booked for the Festival of Power", said Julian. "Last time out we ran within two thousandths of a second of our Personal Best ET. We have made some minor changes. We will be having a go at the outright British Land Speed record of 301 miles per hour at Elvington. My own best is 287 miles per hour shut off with the chutes out. We will also be going back to Jurby which was excellent last year, we ran 233 miles per hour there and I understand that that was an Isle of Man Land Speed Record". Julian said that both of the Fireforce rides were different to Split Second. "The speed of the dragster is phenomenally different", he said. "You launch and it's a whole new world but it's great fun. The Funny Car is a totally different experience, you stop so quickly. The noise is also totally different and it is strange being enclosed."

The very tidy display of sponsor Lucas Oil Products who shared a stand with Santa Pod Raceway

This very smart Camaro was resident on the stand of sponsor the Anglo American Oil Company...

...for as long as we have known him, Anders Hildebrand of Anglo American (right) has never stopped working whilst at Autosport International. Your Reporter will have a cup of whatever Anders is on.

You may ask what a circuit racer is doing on a drag racing web site; we're prepared to make an exception as this car is owned and was restored by former, and still-missed, Super Pro ET racer Dave Ward. sponsor Hauser Race Cars are invited to bring Scott Hauser's Gearhead Garage Super Pro ET dragster every year. Alas we didn't manage to catch Geof and Scott this time.

Two nice touches on Robin Read's blown-nitro Daimler-powered dragster.

Robin and Ella talk to an interested party.

This gorgeous Cobra could have been yours if you had sold your house and probably your next door neighbour's house too. Super Street racer Matthew Seamarks, who was present at the auction, told us that it went for £130,000.

Drag racing got a look in on the Motorsport UK (previously MSA) stand.

"I came, I saw, I conquered"

Next time out we find out which members of the timing crew had a Classics education.

Cooling system by Serck Motorsport, exhaust system designed by a kitten with a ball of string.

This Mustang was restored from the ground up by Hot Rod Technologies with support from Serck Motorsport.

Lucas Oil Junior Dragster racer Frankie Fordham has received an official warning about circuit racing in front of Your Reporter.

To absent friends.

Reports and pictures ©