FIA / FIM European Finals
Santa Pod Raceway, 3rd-6th September 2015


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Santa Pod Racers Club's new official notice board was supplied by Bentley Fab Engineering Services, a company owned by SPRC marshal Bob Bentley (left, with Event Secretary Kathy Taylor). The new notice board is one of a number of jobs which Bob has carried out for the Club. "I've been coming here since the 1980s", said Bob. "I have run a number of cars and bikes on the track at Run What You Brungs but then the opportunity arose to become a marshal and I am now in my second season. My fabrication company employs six guys, if it involves metal then we can do it.".

Fuel Funny Car racer Kevin Kent went a best of 5.77 in the 1000ft run. He said 'Like other fuel racers yesterday we suffered bad tyre shake. In some ways the track is too good, great preparation but too cold. So we have to put ignition back in and risk it won't smoke the tyres. On the run last night Gordon moved over, the car took out the 330 foot block and I got into shake so I backed off. I saw him near me out of the window come by closer than I expected. Getting shake and lifting early doesn't make maintenance any easier, we had to tear it down to the last nut and bolt in case it had caused damage'.

Jet Dragster racer Julian Webb was a welcome late addition to the programme. 'We had the call on Wednesday and we weren't planning on running but made ourselves available. We arrived at the track about 5pm yesterday and the SPR team helped us unload. We then prepared and immediately went to the fire up road as the Top Fuel cars were running'. Julian last ran in the dark a couple of years ago, but not in a pair as he did last night. A 5.99/206 to 1000ft was followed by a full quarter today in solo mode to 6.52/246. 'Last night we ran out of fuel with all the burner pops'. There will be a further run later today against Fireforce 5 and two more planned for tomorrow. Julian's next event is at Elvington on 19-20 September when he will be making an attempt on the British Land Speed Record (currently 300.1mph) and Quarter Mile Standing Start record.

Top Fuel Dragster racer Duncan Micallef, pictured with son Isaac, said 'I had a brilliant weekend at Tierp and the car was quick and consistent, it was good to be in the final. I missed the first session yesterday because new parts only arrived on Wednesday and needed fitting. In the second session it was a good launch and 0.86 to 60 ft but then shake hit and I didn't pedal as it was the first run. The track is tricky because of the temperature and getting the power down without shaking or spinning the tyres. It is the same for all of us. Rune has tuned the clutch to get us from A to B on the next pass. Conditions have been so different at all the events this year'. Duncan is sixth after the third session with a 4.67.

Top Fuel Dragster tuner Jimmy Walsh said 'It says something for the conditions that after 17 attempts only one car got down the track. Tyre shake means we have got to hit it harder next time. If the sun comes out at the track temperature goes to 80 degrees fahrenheit we will see cars go down the track and the times will fall.

Super Comp and Super Gas racer Stuart Doignie ran nine times on Thursday, but one of the runs on Friday resulted it being sidelined. Dad Bob said 'The shifter wouldn't select second and the car got stuck in first. Fortunately the shifter was easy to mend. The only other problem we had was a little smoke which turned out to be a spring coming off the dipstick resulting in a fine mist of oil.

Super Comp racers Darryl and Sarah Howells are collecting money for charity Canine Partners. She said 'Running in Super Comp has been interesting as we are launching the car in second for consistency so the 60ft times are struggling. We also had to change exhausts on the car because of a rule that says they should only have two exhaust outlets. For my car we have exhausts from Mick Hillier's Texas Ranger which have been modified and on Darryl's Chemical Reaction Bob Hawkins has lent us the exhaust from Time Traveller 1'.

Super Comp racer Steve Ashdown was full of praise for Paul Marston's Drag Racing School. 'Paul and his team have been so helpful, my only previous experience is a mile dragster about 25 years ago. I came here not expecting to qualify and to get 14th was great and it was fantastic to get a round win, especially against Paul Pryzbl who is a good racer with a nice car. We have had to take the heads off as there was some smoke off the engine, I couldn't see where it was from and we suspect a lifter may be the problem'. Steve and son Tyler are looking to form a two car team with Tyler running Joe Kellett's car in Super Comp and I have another dragster and a supercharged engine from Wayne Nicholson which Charilie Draper will help with the tuning.

Super Pro ET racer Chris Parker revealed to us his problem with pulling red lights. 'I thought I was going to do a good job on the tree but I started with a 0.001 red and it wasn't going to get better from then on. I thought I had a chance against Mark Flavell as he came in as alternate and moved his dial-in from 7.99 to 7.60. But I red-lit by 0.01 and he ended up with a 7.63 anyway. The car ran well all weekend, but I need to work on my lights'.

Super Pro ET racer Rod Harrison is delighted to have run his first five second pass eventually running 5.87/225. 'We are fine tuning the car and it is wonderful to drive. We have modified the gear linkage to make sure we don't accidentally select reverse. We also have our supporter (and no.1 singer with 'Nineteen') Paul Hardcastle joining me today. We are working on sponsorship to enable us to go TMD for 2016 and displayed the car to a hugely appreciative crowd at the Warren Golf and Country Club a few weeks ago'.

Super Pro ET racer Mark Adams plans to have his last race in the car at the National Finals. Team owner Rod Harrison said 'When Mark joined us he said he had a three year plan for going drag racing and now he has bought a new house, he has a financial commitment. Mark has been a first class guy in all respects. In order to concentrate on TMD we have decided to sell the car turnkey, with tuition and mechanical spport included'.

Top Methanol Dragster racer Dennis Habermann said the last three events have been very busy for the team including all the preparation and travel. The cars have been running reliably and it was great for Timo to run a 5.20 at Tierp. We know the championship is in the team but either of us could win. I will win if I get a round win, but if I lose in the first round Timo will need to win the race to take the champinship from me'. The only mechanical problems all season were at the Main Event when some new lifters were found to be out of true which resulted in replacements needing to be got from another manufacturer and the team missing the June Tierp meeting.

Happy Birthday to Pro Modified racer Wayne Nicholson, who is raising money for the East of England Air Ambulance. He said 'It's a really worthwhile cause which I and other members of the racing community have benefitted from. You can give to it online and there are collection buckets here'. On track, Wayne said 'We are trying to apply the power we have got and the situation is marginal. Our objective is just to qualify'. Wayne's last run put him in second alternative position.

Pro Modified racer Roger Johansson had to lift during his first three passes. He said 'The track is good but we have not yet figured out how to get down it. The starting line is fine but we need to calm the car down for further down the track and so far it has not been with us'. Roger plans to run the same FIA schedule next year.

Pro Modified racer Chris Isaacs suffered a broken wheelie bar on two consecutive sessions. Team member Kirstie said 'We had to get it welded as it bent and snapped. The car has a new convertor which has helped the sixty foot times but we are getting tyre shake after that. We are pleased with progress overall'. Chris is in 12th place with 6.86/215 and on the fourth session a valve adjuster broke and a loose pushrod left the engine running on seven cylinders and producing no boost for the pass.

Pro Modified racer Roland Belleter ran a best of 7.25/194 before a nitrous burp in the final session caused him not to run. He said 'The track is very good and the team have done a tremendous job on preparing it. We had some Lenco problems after Hockenheim where our US supplier sent us the wrong parts and it took us some time to figure it out. Our earlier run was without nitrous and we had to put new piston rings in after smoke in session one. The engine is now running better'.

Pro Modified racer Rick Garrett ran a new PB of 6.300/218 in session two. He said 'The air is good and the car is running well. We will be looking at making a change to the carbs as they were leaning out in session three and causing a backfire'. The National Finals shows son Ryan (pictured left) as driver. He said 'I have done a burnout and 60ft and aim to get my license signed off and race in two weekends' time'. The aim is to source another car over the winter and field a two car team next year'.

Top Fuel Bike racer Bob Brooks with the Yellow Metal bike has run several 7.3s this event however as a Funny Bike needs to run below 7.00 to qualify against the nitro fuelled machines. He said 'We ran a best 60ft of 1.08 but the tuning is pretty much maxed out and we are into fine tuning it and nibbling away at the time. It plateaus after a new PB and improvements are more marginal now'. As if to contradct himself, he improved to a new PB 7.17/186 in the final session.

Top Fuel Bike racer Glenn Borg is racing here for the first time from Malta, joined by team members Joe 'Big Hands' amd Gabriel from tuners Racetech by Tzanidakis. He said 'I have owned this funny bike for six months and have run a best of 6.89. But staying in the sixes for each pass is difficult. We are looking at the data hard and tuning the turbo methanol engine'. Best time so far this event is 7.62.

Top Fuel Bike racer Filippos Papafilippou has a similar looking bike to Glenn Borg but is actually nitrous boosted rather than turbo. He has run a best this event of 6.69/194. He said 'In the 2014 race I ran 6.55/206 which is the fastest nitrous funny bike pass in Europe but no-one remembers that because I went for a ride with Steve Woollatt'. Although based in Greece, Fil's programme is based on SPR and Hockenheim as the bike is stored in the UK. Plans for 2016 are similar and include testing a new bike. He is joined by machinist John Managiotou.

Top Fuel Bike racer Ian King, who is in a championship points chase with Rikard Gustafsson, suffered tyre smoke on each of the first three sessions. Team member Martin Brookman said 'With the cold conditions it has been difficult to tune and we are in the same position that we wanted to be in at the start of the race. We will have to tame it and work our way round it.' Ian appeared at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the bike recorded the highest decibel level of all the vehicles taking part. In session four he went 5.900/242, the first half of a new speed record.

Top Fuel Bike racer Stuart Crane's team members Martin (seated) and John were pleased to run a 7.06/185 personal best. Martin said 'On the second pass the tyre spun at 1000ft and it slowed to a 7.1. We are running the same setup this run and hope for no wheelspin and a six'.

Top Fuel Bike racer Rene van der Berg had to repair two valves after Hockenheim. He said 'Everything is now good and thanks to Ian King also for his help on a clutch bearing. Rene's approach is to make half passes in the second and third sessions and a full pass in the final one. He also thanks his sponsors Eurol and Tijger Leathers. His times today in both session three and four were 6.65.

Top Fuel Bike racer Steve Woollatt has a freshly machined crank after damage at the NitrOlympX. He said 'On my first pass I got out of the groove and had to lift. But the short numbers looked good and it went 4.13 at half track after lifting'. In session three he ran a new PB of 6.23 at only 200mph.

Super Twin Bike racer Ronny Aasen's team owner Ton Pels talked about what changes led to a new quickest pass in Europe of 6.374. 'We made some big changes to the engine since last meeting to overcome the problems with engine explosions and make it safer for the rider. We were also getting through a set of pistons on every pass. So we machined the cylinders to make them suitable for cast iron liners and this addition seems to have worked. We tested at Gardermoen and ran soft settings at Hockenheim. The thicker bore of our engine has helped, but we are working on another engine that is even stronger'.

Pro Stock Bike racer Alex Hope ran a new PB of 7.23/181 and is qualified fifth out of fourteen, making for a sixteen bike ladder tomorrow.

Pro Stock Bike racer Len Paget ran his best times with his new 1640cc for valve engine, a 7.38/176. He said 'We look forward to eliminations but this will be the last race for this season as I do motocross and beach racing as well'.

Mandy Wiseman, representing Sue Ryder charity shops, held a raffle to raise funds for the charity. The prizes were rides in the Topspeed Automotive Street Eliminator, which went to Dave Massey (riding with Mark Todd) and Ian Plant (riding with Jon Webster). She said 'Many thanks to Matthew Seamarks for helping to organise the raffle and Ben Barwell of Street Eliminator for organising the rides.

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