European Drag Racing News
NSRA SOUTHERN SWAPMEET - SUNDAY 20TH MARCH - Arena Essex Raceway Our rodding events calendar opens with our huge outdoor swapmeet. Speedgroup is grateful to have these representatives on board to meet future . In the car was rebuilt and back on the strip, back into the elevens. .. at The Cathedral Primary School, Victoria Road, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1PA. from the Saturday of the NSRA Hot Rod Drags at Shakespeare County Raceway. I just wished we could swap, but the proof of the pudding is in the .. the weather forecast for race day (in the event the meeting was rained off on race day) . Gardermoen Raceway, Tierp Arena, Pite Dragway and Malmö Raceway and all of the Gasser Circus Showdown, which took place at the NSRA Hot Rod.
Joe qualified fourth of thirty four with a 7. Colin Millar, carrying the Scottish and American flags on the Flyin' Fyfer Anglia, told us he has been delighted with the reception he has had at Bakersfield. Paul Wright has also been helping with the tuning and the car has been running problem-free, he will be with us at Las Vegas before he travels to Arizona for the Hot Rod Drag Weekend.
Colin was honoured to be able to spread from his parachute the ashes of local race fan and desert racer Bill Morris, a friend of John Howard. These cars are hard to control and I was pleased to be quickest in the first session with a 5.
Smax enters NHRA fray. Credit has to go to the Leverich family, Gary and Bob dad who work tirelessly to keep this deal alive. Taking out a loan to finally buy an NHRA-legal chassis was a huge step for the team. We had plans to do some races with other guys paying to try to get some money back, but a string of poor fortune set us back - one thing being a stupid O-ring fell out of the fuel funnel and ended up going through the motor!
This had dire consequences as, apart from tiny bits of rubber compromising check valves etc, we had two gigs not performing nor getting paid.
At that point I thought we were done but Gary wanted to turn all this misfortune around and as I had just acquired my NHRA Top Fuel licence my other was IHRA he single-mindedly took this as a sign to pull off the biggest gamble of his racing life and go to Pennsylvania!
The mission was simply to qualify and get some of the huge investment back so we have a team for next year; if we didn't then Gary was in debt and done racing.
The upgrades and costs were phenomenal: All this in just three weeks. Then I had to have the inflatable helmet lifter fitted and recertify my R3 neck restraint etc. Then we found that Aidan's passport had expired so panic to get that sorted as it was not an option not to have him there as he does clutch for us, but more importantly oversees the team and gets me feeling great in the car and stages the car correctly - he's just a natural all-rounder!
So Gary and Bob drove down Wednesday, and Aidan and Jake who does a perfect job of the bottom end wnt Friday, so I went with team-mate Dan and his girlfriend in his new Chevy truck early on Thursday morning.NSRA Billing "Fun Run" 1998 with the "Outlaws Rod & Drag Club"
It was a great drive through the mountains and good brekky cooked by the only person there, but then it started raining! It rained all of Thursday and all of Friday so we were down to two chances on Saturday. Gary tuned the car but we decided that I would shut off and just qualify sixteenth to get the money and try to save the motor for raceday as we have no spare block and hardly any other spares.
What transpired was quite extraordinary. What I didn't expect was that most of the Pro teams failed to figure out the track and it was most likely the worst field in history - with me qualifying tenth at 69 mph!
Then it rained again and the last session was cancelled. We had a good car for raceday so not wanting to redlight I had a poor reaction time, but then we rocketed away on a great run but suddenly the car shut off - I was ahead as Ritchie blew his motor big time so I was yelling into the radio to Aidan as I knew a belth hadn't come off.
NHRA that said we did a great job and that they would be happy to have us back. So on reflection if we had run the car as normal we would have still qualified third with the snapring coming out and who knows what would have happened on raceday! Then I was asked to be interviewed for ESPN on the big Jumbotron screens mounted at finish line in both lanes which was cool! I was sitting kids in the cockpit for pictures and chatting all weekend, they even bought us beers after we were done racing when Aidan and I were wandering around the pits.
Such a great experience so we decidied we will watch the car counts and go to as many NHRA races as we can with eighteen teams or less, so watch this space. Then we seemed to go through a whole lot of qualifying and no eliminations due to rain. It seemed to be a year of being bitten by 0. We knew the pressure was on, as Bob and Leigh had won many Championships between them, but Karen seemed relaxed and confident.
Qualifying went to plan, and in the second round Bob and Leigh were paired together and Karen was on a bye. Whoever lost, Karen would win that Championship and the winner would meet Karen in the final to race for the other Championship.
Leigh lost and Karen won the National Championship. Celebrations were hard, as we still had a final to run and Leigh has become a very good friend. Karen had lost the final to Bob at the European Finals and we were not going to let it happen again.
A tear in my eye and two Championships in her first full season. I'm so proud of Karen, the best partner anyone could ask for. I would like to add my thanks to Adam Shuttleworth and Mike Braney for being the best crew guys in the world. Roll on next year: Just the quarter left to beat. After a disappointing season which concluded with unresolved issues with the motor lubrication system and clutch, UK Top Fuel Bike racer Steve Woollatt and the Dealer team approached the their first outing of with some trepidation.
We managed to smash our previously best sixty foot times, running a pair of 1. On to the Festival of Power at Easter where we managed 1 qualifier despite ongoing wheelspin problems, but race day was rained off. Much to the team's disappointment our bottom end damage issues continued. The bottom end was refurbished and rebuilt. In addition, we fitted a new rear tyre with thanks to Mickey Thompson for their continuing support.
An Error Has Occurred!
To try to overcome our traction issues the team decided to take a more structured and controlled approach to the clutch air assist system tuning. We lost the first day of qualifying to rain, despite the valiant efforts of the track crew. We finally got onto the track early afternoon Sunday.
As we hadn't managed to get to the eighth mile without some degree of loss of traction, the Dealer was set up with 'soft' clutch settings, running just the primary system in first gear and applying the clutch air assist on the gear shift to second. A good launch and the Dealer carried the front wheel for the furthest I have ever seen it.
I've got to admit that I was a little disappointed when the eighth mile time was announced over the PA as 4. The incrementals were 1. Unfortunately, Steve reported low oil pressure at shut down. We pulled the sump and made a brief assessment of the big ends. Two of them were clearly shot. After a team discussion it was decided not to rebuild there and then based on parts availability, time and the weather forecast for race day in the event the meeting was rained off on race day and to focus on building a complete new bottom end for the next time out.
An Error Has Occurred!
We missed Hockenheim due to the motor bottom end problems. After further modifications to the oil system we ran at a RWYB in August instead, but continued to take out big end shells. After many discussions and lots of helpful advice we decided to change the oil supplier and grade and increased the big end bearing clearances to suit. In the first qualifyign session of the European Finals the bike started, but lost fire as Steve pulled away.
Steve let the commentator explain to the crowd that nitro motors cannot be restarted after losing fire, and then promptly restarted the motor! Hardly any burnout, then into stage. Back in the pits Steve reported that the oil pressure was OK phew! Stripped the top end to find part of the top ring land had broken off 2 piston. Steve had got off the throttle in 0. We honed the bore as best we could - it still wasn't pretty - and installed a new piston with enormous ring gaps and new valves in 2.
Fired up and all seemed to be fine. By the time we finished we had missed the second qualifying slot. Up to the third qualifying session we hadn't been using the clutch air assist in first gear, so we decided to apply a few PSI and also made a few adjustments to improve throttle response and stop the motor losing fire.
Another sedate launch 1. The final qualifier was lost to bad weather. We ended up qualified fourth; it could have been worse, at least it meant that we wouldn't meet the hot favourite, Ian King, until the final should we progress that far. For the first round of eliminations we made a few adjustments to the clutch to improve the launch and to apply a little more air assist.
Similar sixty foot times but Steve was catching up as he approached feet where Fil changed lanes and sideswiped Steve. Miraculously Fil was catapulted onto Steve's wheelie bars and rode pillion into the shutdown area.
Thankfully both riders were OK. The Dealer only suffered superficial damage, good job I build them to lastmiles. I spoke with Steve, who was stirred but not shaken, who confirmed that he wanted to run in the semi-final.
The team prepped the bike and as we still hadn't completed a full pass we left all the settings the same. In the semi against Rikard Gustafsson on his quick Funny Bike Steve pulled another good light and disappeared into the distance, shutting down just after a thousand feet when the motor dropped 3 cylinder.
Some good numbers at last! In the final we were racing Otto Knebl who had taken out Ian King in the first round, and with the chance of an all too rare event win we decided to leave all the clutch settings the same and just refined the fuel system to get the motor to run clean at the top end. Otto didn't show for the final and Steve ran a clean 6.
It was great to get the event win and go home with an intact motor, bottom end problems apparently cured. Although we didn't reset any of our overall Personal Bests the bike ran consistently close to our PB times, rather than just one-offs. After the event win at the European Finals, and having finally overcome our bottom end damage issues, the Dealer team arrived at the UK National Finals confident of resetting our quarter mile PB.
The bike was prepped and ready for the first qualifying session. The weather was overcast with a bit of moisture in the air, but not too cold. The fuel and clutch systems were set up pretty much the same as the previous run, with small adjustments to try and improve the second half. Steve launched and the Dealer ran straight and true to an early shutoff 6. Always pays to shut the throttle when you can't see where you are going!
The timing ticket showed that we had reset our incrementals off a 1. Our season was over. Although the season has been difficult for us, with the bottom end problems severely curtailing the amount of progress the team could achieve - we only managed one complete throttle open all the way pass - we ended the season satisfied and confident for the season.
We started the season with a complete new fuel and clutch system configuration and this has all worked really well as we have reset all our incremental PBs, if not the quarter mile time. Although the last two runs of the season were within a few thousandths of our PB, we are running around 0. The indications are that there is still some improvement possible in the first eighth, as we're still in the early stages of learning how to set up the new fuel and clutch systems, and we intend to focus on modifications to improve the second half of the run over the closed season.
Steve has, as always, done a great job of riding the Dealer and the crew have worked hard and kept positive, even through the dark days - changing big end shells every pass starts to get you down eventually.
See you in Now, who drives in ? After a successful first outing in the Freddy's Revenge altered at the Festival of Power, Robbie Grabham and team went to Dragstalgia to continue his licencing in the blown-alcohol machine: Dragstalgia was a very testing meeting for us as we had had gearbox issues which meant we missed a run. After help from various different people we managed to source new parts and fix the gearbox ready for Sunday.
With one full pass under my belt I needed to make one more run to gain my licence. We towed down Sunday morning only for the starter batteries to let us down.
So back to the pits to charge up the batteries ready for the afternoon run. After waiting all day the time finally came, on the penultimate run of the day I ran an 8. I was over the moon! To top it off I was presented with the runner-up trophy for the event.
Next up was the UK National Finals. We had high hopes and I was excited to race someone for the first time. This would be the first time I would launch in first gear, and it resulted in a 7.
I was so happy with my first seven-second pass and judging by the pictures so were all the crew. I thought this was a good baseline to work from and was looking forward to the next run.
Unfortunately this wasn't to be: We thought the repair would last the weekend but unfortunately it only lasted the one run. Still we hadn't lost anything we just needed a new set of rods and pistons over the winter.
Our trip home was just as eventful as one of the stub axles snapped on the trailer on the A Luckily the wheel stayed in place and we managed to pull over with no disasters.
The plan was made to unload Freddy on the side of the road and wait for another trailer. As usual with drag racing, offers of help flooded in. Big thanks to anyone who stopped to see if we were OK or offered us help in any way. With our season over until next Easter the winter freshen up starts.
Now the big debate starts of who will be driving next year; with the old man chomping at the bit to get back in the hot seat I feel I will have to give it up for next year. Thanks to everyone who has helped us out over the season, but the biggest thanks go to the team for providing me with a great race car, and credit to my dad and to Crew Chief TC for building a fantastic car. See you all in ! So at least I made a decent last run and drove the car one last time before it was time to hide it away for the winter.
Some fun information from this season I released the clutch and made fifty starts this year. We consumed litres of diesel on kilometres in the bus, four rear tires, sixteen connecting rods, litres of engine oil, six blower belts, about thirty rod bearingsone third member, a couple of exhaust valves, some rocker arms, a bunch of pushrods, a bunch of floaters and clutch discs, about meals, a couple of hundred liters of water and Coca-Cola, etc.
We spend fifty five days travelling to and from the track to consume litres of methanol on about kilometres and three minutes' driving with the Chevelle! We went been away nine times and there was a little rain at each event.
Six races were in the Top Doorslammer Series and four of them were never completed due to rain outs. We finished fifth in the series of a total of thirty participating cars.
We were aiming higher but then the weather destroyed so much that we never really got the chance to do better. There were forty eight points from our fifth place up to first place so I must say that I still feel pretty happy with it.