Features: R&CC goes to European Finals at Santa Pod

It’s 6am in the morning, and I’m the only one up. After some persuasion to get myself up, I remember I’m going to Santa Pod.

I manage to wander downstairs, have a drink and wake up the cats. I’m sure they appreciated the early wakening, I wouldn’t. Suddenly aware of the time, I made for the front door and headed off down the road so I didn’t miss my transport for the day, a VW LT46. Okay, I was being taken up there in a minibus but that isn’t the point.

After a hair-raising three hour journey in the minibus, we finally arrive at drag racing mecca, only to face queues at the entrance. I was aware of its popularity, but I wasn’t expecting such a surge of traffic. As the driver took us in, I was on the look out for cars, in particular the rarities and American muscle.  We continued to where we were guided into the car park by Scouts and marshals. If you ask me, those young Scouts have it easy compared to what I used to do when I was their age.

After finding somewhere to park R&CC Triumph-lover Pete thought it would be wise to take a diversion. It was at this point that I noticed a two tone Ford Fairline 500 parked with its back to the fence hiding behind a Mitsubishi wagon of sorts. Mm American muscle at its finest, with the perfect backing tune, small block and big block V8s revving at will.

We headed to the quarter mile to find out the action had begun. Due to our excitement the day’s guide was forgotten about for the new few hours while we heard the top fuels and methanol dragsters cover the quarter mile in 5 seconds. Yes, five seconds. They’re loud enough to disengage your ear drums from your ears, and separate you from reality. We were then glued to the bank for the next few hours glazed by the immense action.  As Triumph-lover Pete and I been before, we knew the cars to expect but as preparation was the last thing on our minds it became a guessing game as to what class the dragsters were racing in.

I’m a fan of guessing as much as the next person, but it wasn’t until I had a brainwave we realized what was what.  You see, we’re forgetful old lot at R&CC. The drag racing qualifying in this case runs the races in classes, so as an example the lower classes always go out before the top fuels. There are usually at least two lots of qualifying and then the best times results in the two quickest drag cars in each class go against each other.

As the morning proceeded the afternoon appeared, with the Street Eliminator classes setting times around the seven second mark, and the petrol burning doorslammers (Pro Stock) hitting six point two seconds,  and the Pro Modified Cars setting times in the mid 6 second boundary, it was stupidly close racing. I’ve been to many racing events, but this was an all new level of closeness with the differences been as small as a tenth.

Due to R&CC’s lack of organisation earlier in the day, we weren’t aware of when lunch was, not that we were hugely bothered. So we took ourselves off to the paddock as the Pro Stock bike began their runs. As we worked our way round the paddock the rumbling of the V8’s made their voices heard, while the mechanics went about looking at the data from the last run. Was it quick enough? Was their run fast enough for the finals? There’s a fair amount of pressure on each team to get into the finals, so if the dragster doesn’t make its mark on the run it could well see them miss out.

While we were wandering round the paddock we caught up with the wife of the owner of the Vauxhall Ventora in the Sportsman class. The Vauxhall had previously run nine point five seconds on the quarter mile. As bad luck would have it, her husband wasn’t around so we didn’t take a look at the small block which powers this ‘Stockport Doorslammer’. Still, it was nice to have a chat and catch up.

Time was ticking on so we worked our way back to the spectator banking, taking another diversion due to Triumph-lover Pete. Don’t ask! For a change, luck was on our side as we managed to get back in time to watch the Fuel Funny Cars, Super Modified, and Competition Eliminators.

A few exhilarating hours had whizzed past so had to head back to our transport for the day, the trusty old LT46.  It had been a superb day, with the odd bit of confusion, and a day that will not be forgotten.

To some drag racing is quite a boring motorsport, especially to those who disregard it due to the lack of corners and absence of a full ‘grid’ at the start line.

Motorsport has formed its backbone in many ways, and from what I’ve seen of the action at the Pod, drag racing is one of the most electrifying and best to watch and to meet drivers.

I’ll come clean; before I had seen drag racing I did doubt those who spoke highly of the 8,000 horsepower top fuel dragsters that shatter the ground at an astonishing rate before they reach the end of the quarter mile at a stonking 300mph in four point seven seconds. The Top Fuel Dragster drivers have to cope with up to 6G (negative force); bear in mind the average road car is a couple of G. That’s quite a difference, and one I can’t explain as I wasn’t in the back seat of one of the top fuels was offering rides.

As much as the top fuel and methanol dragsters were impressive and mind-blowing, my favourite of the day went to the Sportsman class Vauxhall Ventora ‘Stockport Doorslammer’ with a Chevy small block 355ci, covering the quarter mile in just over nine seconds.

As well as the Ventora, there lurks a Morris Minor Traveller known as ‘Minor Alterations’ with a big block 468ci that covered the quarter mile in 12.450 seconds. It may appear stock; but it certainly goes like a train!

There are many difference classes on offer, from the Top Fuels to the Pro ET. If you’re interested and want to get involved take a look on EuroDragster.com or santapod.co.uk

In essence, drag racing captures what all motorsports should have, an enjoyable atmosphere for both the driver and the spectator where you aren’t charged hundreds to access the paddock.

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