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9th November 2002 - 5th Annual Wild Bunch Prize presentation Evening

Well, as predicted, this was a brilliant evening yet again, in the Tower Ballroom at Drayton Manor Park. This was a new room, at the same venue as the previous 3 years, and it was even better than before, with more space and a better layout for socialising, and the meal was very nice as usual.

There were loads of awards presented to Wild Bunch and Supercharged Outlaws winners, in addition to all the Series trophies, and I was lucky enough to take home 3rd Place in Wild Bunch Series, 3rd Place in Real Steel Series and 4th Place in Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars Series. I was also really pleasantly surprised to win "Best Slingshot" for 2002 - the second year in a row, a great honour considering the high class of slingshots in the Wild Bunch! I was really chuffed with this award!

Claire received a lovely crystal vase with a brass plaque reading "For Dedication to the Wild Bunch" and some nice flowers, which she was really pleased with, along with receiving one of the ladies gifts given to ladies supporting their race teams.

Lee also surprised us with a thank you for our help in getting his "Dazed and Confused" altered out racing, and he hopes to be running at several events next year.

There were special presentations to others supporting the Wild Bunch and drag racing in general, and APIRA and FAST marshals and officials received silver salvers for all their hard work and dedication to drag racing throughout the season. Many thanks once again to all of them for all their efforts!!

There were many happy winners on the night, not least Dick Sharp and Bunt Willcox and the whole of Team "Dorset Horn", who won the Don Garlits "Spirit of Drag Racing Shield". Many congratulations to all of them, a well-deserved win!

Congratulations to all the winners for 2002 and Best Wishes for Christmas and New Year 2003!

We're now looking forward to being WB 3 next season when I hope to run some more Personal Bests!!!

2nd - 3rd November 2002 - End of Season Bash

This weekend was Wild Bunch Series Round 6 (Final) and Real Steel Series Round 9 (Final). I was one of 8 slingshots in a field of 14 Wild Bunch cars taking part in the event.

Saturday was unfortunately a washout and no runs took place at all, apart from a couple of hovercraft!! Sunday started off wet, but dried out a bit, and running started at 1:00 in the afternoon for treaded-tyred vehicles only. At about quarter to 2, the marshals and officials had asked if an experienced dragster driver running slick tyres would test the track to see what the traction was like. They had asked yours truly, and I was only too happy to volunteer, to see what the conditions were like, as we were all eager to get on the track!! I did a burnout and launched, but found that there still was not much grip to be had due to the previous weather conditions, so I backed off and ran a 12.433 second pass @ 81.08 mph! (I had been running at 85 mph at the eighth!) At the top end, the marshals asked me how it was, and I gestured meaning that there was not much traction on the cold track, so there was a mutual decision not to run slick-tyred vehicles for the rest of the day. The other vehicles still carried on, but the rain was back about half an hour later, and only the hovercraft had a few more runs then! So unfortunately we didn't have any rounds at this last event of the year, to decide the Wild Bunch and Real Steel Series.

Things did come right down to the wire this season, and even though no Wild Bunch cars ran at this last event, there were a few changes to the Top 10 in Wild Bunch Series. The Real Steel Series remained as it had been before this event, and below is how I finished in all the Series.

Wild Bunch Series
1stJoe Stevens"Back in Black"WB 434 pts
2ndTeam Cunning Plan"The Cunning Plan"WB 9632 pts
3rdChris Hartnell"Backdraft"WB 228 pts
4thDarryl Howells"Wheels of fortune"WB 6727 pts

Real Steel Series
1stTom Coe"Psycho"WB 3341 pts
2ndTeam Cunning Plan"The Cunning Plan"WB 9638 pts
3rdChris Hartnell"Backdraft"WB 233 pts
4thTeam "Dog's B***S""Ram Raider"WB 133 pts

Super Series
1stWB 20Mark Coulsell"Limited Funz"1550 pts
2ndWB 33Tom Coe"Psycho"1480 pts
3rdWB 1Team Dog's B***s"Ram Raider"1310 pts
4thWB 3Team B-Sting"B-Sting"1070 pts
7thWB 2Chris Hartnell"Backdraft"780 pts

Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars Series
1stWB 4Joe Stevens"Back in Black"14 pts
2ndWB 96Team Cunning Plan"Cunning Plan"12 pts
3rdWB 33Tom Coe"Psycho"11 pts
4thWB 2Chris Hartnell"Backdraft"11 pts


We're now all looking forward to the 5th Annual Wild Bunch Prize Presentation evening on 9th November at Drayton Manor, when we will be celebrating the winners. And I will be receiving trophies in the Top 4 for three of the Series!! It'll be another great night as usual, so can't wait for that! And then we will be looking forward to racing again in 2003!!!

28th - 29th September 2002 - Santa Pod Fall Shootout

This event was the Wild Bunch "Fall Shootout", an MSA event, the "Sportsman Finals", and it was the first time ever that the Wild Bunch had competed at Santa Pod as a class. We had been at the 30th Anniversary Main Event in 1996 as a demo class, and had only put in one run each, due to poor weather. I had been one of 6 Wild Bunch cars participating at the event, along with Nick Pettitt, Paul Dale, Dave Grabham, Calvin Evans and Martin Holgate. My one run at that event was an 11.9, at a time when I had been running regular low 11's, in only my second season of racing! Now this event the weather was luckily great all weekend, and the late summer appeared just at the right time! We had 7 runs altogether over the event, so we were pretty lucky! We were one of 2 slingshots in a field of 6 Wild Bunch cars competing at this event.

Saturday
This was a qualifying day and there were FOUR rounds available!! We got signed on and scrutineered early, eagerly anticipating the action!

In the 1st round of qualifying, only me and Paul Croston took part, racing each other heads up. Paul ran a 12.552 on a 12.50 Dial-in in the other lane in the "B-Sting" altered, and I ran a completely off-pace 10.981 pass on a 9.50 Dial-in in "Backdraft", at 123.96 mph. But at least it had improved on my previous Pod showing by a second!!! After this round, I changed one of the settings and hoped to cure the problem.

In the 2nd round of qualifying, I ran against Ed Yates who posted a good time with a 10.167 on a 10.20 Dial in the "Ram Raider" slingshot. I improved dramatically over my first pass with a 9.909 on a 9.50 Dial-in, at a much better 136.37 mph! I also pulled a small wheelie with this run and I thought I had cured the problem, and was chuffed to take a second off!! [At this rate, the next run could have been looking like an 8.90!! - I wish!!]

For the 3rd qualifying round, all 6 of us ran, and I faced Ed again. He ran a great 10.110 on a 10.10 Dial-in, taking #1 Qualifier for the weekend. I ran a 10.463 on a 9.50 Dial-in, so realised I hadn't cured the mystery problem! Was it just the new tyres??

As the time approached 6:00 pm, the 4th qualifying round started for the first of the classes, so by about 6:30 when they called us down, we were hoping to make a run before it got too dark to see. One of my wishes came true, when the round was held at about 7:20 pm, in very near darkness - my first ever experience of night racing!! I had hoped to do this for some years now, and had bought a rear cycle light just in case! I ran against Paul who dialled in at 12.40 and ran a 12.465. I put in a 10.401 on a 9.90 Dial-in but this was not the story!! "Backdraft" put on a great flame show with the methanol flames out the zoomies and it was really great to see. Claire was real excited watching from the stands, and enjoyed the spectacle! All four drivers really enjoyed the night-race experience and it was great to finally get to do it!

Sunday
In the quarter-finals I was matched up with Ed, who was again running well. We didn't run the round until about quarter to 2:00, so the tension really built up! Once more Ed ran really close to his Dial-in, with a 10.112 on the 10.10. Luckily I had a quicker reaction time, and this was enough to give me the win with a 10.432 on a 10.20 Dial-in. It was close at the top end, Ed only losing by .103! This was my first race win since Super Series 2 in May, so I was really encouraged by this, even though the car was still not running as well as usual.

In the Semi-Finals I was lucky enough to have a bye (as I had beaten Ed who'd been number one qualifier)! I Dialled in at 9.50 again, hoping to go flat out and get the performance back. I ran a 10.321 @ 129.26 mph, a bit quicker, but still off the usual pace. I did however cut a .612 light, to take "Best Reaction" Spot Prize for the day.

This was my first final of the year, and I had to Dial in with a 10.50 due to the performance of the car. I ran a 10.861 @ 121.04 mph, and took the victory over Paul who brokeout with a great 12.343 on a 12.40 Dial-in, his best run of the weekend. [It's always been great racing the "B-Sting" team, and this looks like it might be their last event with the car, as Paul is selling up and moving to sunnier climes! It's been great to have them with 'the Bunch' and they will be much missed, as will their appearance at the tracks, which earned them many a "Best Appearing Team" trophy! Hope to see the rest of the team round and about drag racing regularly in the future!]

The win at this event makes up for going out in the first round last Super Series, and I was really thrilled to win the "Inaugural" Wild Bunch competition at the Pod! (This is also my first win of Real Steel contingency money this year, so many thanks to them for their support of the Wild Bunch!!) I also won the "Best Slingshot" Spot Prize, and the whole "Backdraft" team won the "Best Appearing Team" Spot Prize to boot, so we were all really chuffed about that! We also received a Wild Bunch class first place trophy from the SPRC, so we were really pleased with that too! What a great weekend!!

Once again a big thanks to Lee and Mark for crewing, and to Wendy Baker for towing us all weekend. And as always, many thanks to the track crew, officials, Santa Pod Racers Club and promoters for their hard work! It was a really good event. We really enjoyed it and hope to be back at the Pod next year!!

[PS. I have now diagnosed and cured the problem, and the car sounds like its old self again, so hope to have a really good weekend at the "Night of Fire" back at Shakespeare County on 2nd & 3rd November!!]

24th - 26th August 2002 - Super Series 3

We left home early Friday for this event and arrived at Shakespeare County Raceway about midday and set up down at "Wild Bunch village" (past the fence), only the pits had been extended even further than usual, so we were in fact about almost in the middle of the pits! I had just installed a pair of rear slicks on "Backdraft"- brand new Hoosiers, which are 1" taller in diameter. So I was hoping for a drop in E.T., maybe 9.1's or 9.0's, and a rise in the mph, hopefully over the 140 mph mark for the first time.

Super Series Round 3, the "Fall Nationals", was also Real Steel Series Round 8. We were one of 6 slingshots in a field of 16 Wild Bunch cars competing at this event. The weather was cloudy on Saturday, but luckily stayed dry. We were out on track early, by 10:00 am, and in the first round of qualifying I had set the tyre pressures quite high, not knowing the optimum pressure to run at, starting from scratch. I had Dialled in at 9.10, to get a banker in, expecting a quicker time than usual. I ran a 10.055!! This was against Sarah Howells in the "Nutcracker" slingshot. She had ran a 13.463 breakout on a 13.60 Dial-in.

In the 2nd round of qualifying, I Dialled in at 9.50, lowering the tyre pressures and hoping for a quicker time. I ran a better 9.772 @ 136.36 mph. Quite a good speed, but still way down on the E.T. This was against Andy Murphy in the "B-Sting" altered, who ran a good 12.544 on a 12.50 Dial, and finished as number two qualifier behind Sarah. That was it for the day, and we had time for some spectating.

On Saturday evening, the Wild Bunch had the "Wacky Racers" party, with me dressing up as the "Red Max" (who else!!) and Claire becoming "Penelope Pitstop" in full character! Little Zak from the Dog Squad was a very good "Blubber Bear" with mask, helmet and goggles, while Dad Scottie and Mark Turton were the Slagg brothers cavemen and Sarah and Darryl Howells were the Sergeant and Private from the Army Surplus Special. We had cake, snacks and drinks, and Zak won the prize for the "Wackiest Racer". We all walked round the pits and the clubhouse, amused a few people and had a great time!

Sunday (Qualifying and Race Day!)
Sunday was my birthday! And the morning was the third and final qualifying round. We were on track early again, and it was still quite cool. I Dialled in at 9.40, still expecting an improvement, and ran a 10.247 @ 131.20 mph! This was against Mark Coulsell in the "Limited Funz" slingshot, who had Dialled in at 10.50 and ran 10.742, with a .418 reaction. I qualified 11th overall, which was not that great, but alright considering the difference running in the new tyres. (Which we now realise takes a bit more time than we thought! Hope to get a handle on them soon!).

Round One
The first round of eliminations started on Sunday afternoon, and I was paired with Tom Coe in the "Psycho" slingshot. He had been running well, and had good reactions, so it was going to be a tough one. I ran a 9.776 on a 9.70 Dial-in, the closest I had been all weekend. Tom ran an 11.525 on an 11.40 Dial-in, not as close but he won the race on his reaction time, a tenth quicker than mine. This is the first time I've ever been knocked out in the first round at Super Series, and on a Sunday of a 3-day event to boot!! Oh well, we've had a good run of three Super Series Championships in a row, so not too disappointed. And thanks to Eddie for pointing out, that at least it was another 'first' in my list of 'achievements'!!! Cheers Ed!

That night we had another party for my birthday, and Wendy Baker and the crew brought the barbie to us! There were loads of people around (almost like my 40th!) and I got a lot of cards and presents (including a brilliant painted breeze block (from Paul and Wendy - it's a long story!)). I wore a few silly hats, including the red glittery one with the Redwood caps that Claire made me!! We had another great night!

Monday
On Monday there was a very unfortunate event where Gary Malin and a friend of mine, John Parkinson, had a coming together at the top end of the track, while both on full passes in their Super Pro dragsters. Both cars were wrecked, but thankfully the drivers were okay. Gary was up and about at the track, but John spent a couple of days in hospital under observation, and I'm really glad to say that he is now well on the mend, and both are talking about rebuilding!! Good luck with the rebuilds guys! And once again great praise to the safety crews for all their expertise and careful recovery at the scene, and care and attention towards both drivers. They are brilliant!

The eliminations went well, and there was loads to watch, with some great track records being set. Although I was knocked out in the first round, I did win the "Best Slingshot" Spot Prize in Wild Bunch, so I was really pleased with that!! Congratulations to Mark Coulsell for winning the event (and the Super Series Championship!) and to Tom Coe for coming second in the event and the Championship! (Decided between them in the final!). Well done to both of you! It was also great to see the Fuel Altereds at Super Series, "The Mob" and "Harry the Spider", and they put on a really good show! I think we all know who won!! Once again big thanks to Lee and Mark for crewing, and to Scottie for towing us all weekend. And as always, many thanks to the track crew, officials, club and promoter for all their hard work again! They really outdid themselves once more and it really was a superb event!! Hope to be back next year!!

10th- 11th August 2002 - Summer Showdown at York Raceway

This event was Wild Bunch Series Round 5, Real Steel Series Round 7 and Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars Series Round 3 (Final round!). We left on the Friday morning at 9 am for the track. Five hours later we arrived at a very wet Pennine Raceway and had a nice welcome by Cath and Tig Napier. We set up for the weekend and chilled out.

I was one of 4 slingshots in a field of 12 Wild Bunch cars taking part in the event. Saturday was a practice/test and tune day. We had 3 runs altogether, 3 more than I thought we would judging by the weather in the morning!! The first run was a 10.883 @ 115.60 mph. This run was against Darryl Howells in the "Wheels of fortune" slingshot, who ran a 13.261. I then ran a 10.699 @ 130.98 mph, also against Darryl, who had gearbox problems with a 20-second pass. The third run of the day I was again paired with Darryl who ran a 14.009. I ran 10.452 @ 132.57 mph. Still no nine's!! The second two runs were second gear only passes and even then the slicks were spinning off the line.

On the evening, 15 of us piled into a couple of vehicles and went and had a lovely steak meal at the "Steer Inn", and later finished the evening off in the marquee, so it was a good night.

On Sunday, it was a question of what to Dial in as we didn't have a clue. We were going to post a 10.00 even but decided to Dial in at 9.99, hoping for some better times. In the first round, I was matched up against Joe Stevens in the "Back in Black" altered, running a 12.351, and ran a 10.662 at 132.85 mph, over 6 tenths off my Dial-in!! In the second round, I paired with Darryl once again, who ran a 12.951. I ran a quicker 10.242 at 134.52 mph, going the right way. We decided to try the left lane for the next run, against Tony Smith in "The Cunning Plan" altered who ran a 12.836, and added a dry hop after the burnout to try and heat the tyres more. In the dry hop, the front wheels were in the air. I tried a first gear launch again this time. The front wheels were up in the air again and we ran a solid 9.531 @ 134.54 mph. Well chuffed with that one, as it beat my time of 9.673 (@133.24 mph) at York 2 years ago! For the fourth round I was paired against Paul Croston in the "B-Sting" altered. Paul had forgone his burnout as he had had some harness trouble, and I had already gone through my pre-run routine, so thanks to him! I did the same thing as the third round, a burnout followed by a dry hop, but this time had some wheelspin off the line and ran a 9.824 @ 134.81 mph, my best speed of the weekend. We came 4th overall [and have now finished 4th in the Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars Series for 2002, so I am chuffed about that!]. I also won the "Best Slingshot" trophy for the weekend, and a nice remark from commentator Graham Beckwith that it had brought back good memories for him!! It was a good time had by all, and I think some of the newcomers thoroughly enjoyed their trip up north for the experience and hospitality shown by all at York, so many thanks to all the marshals, officials, promoter and organisers!!

Thanks to Claire, Lee and Mark for crewing and Sarah and Darryl for the tow vehicle all weekend, and a big thanks to Mark Coulsell for getting in everybody's way! Ha ha, only joking - he towed us great all weekend!! Cheers Mark!

Wild Bunch Series (5 of 6)
1stWB 4Joe StevensBack in Black28
2ndWB 96Tony SmithThe Cunning Plan26
=3rdWB 2Chris HartnellBackdraft22
4thWB 67Darryl HowellsWheels of Fortune21

Real Steel Series (7 of 9)
1stWB 96Tony SmithRam Raider34
2ndWB 33Tom CoePsycho32
=3rdWB 2Chris HartnellBackdraft30
=3rdWB 1Team Dog's B******sRamRaider30

Super Series (2 of 3)
1stWB 1Team Dog's B******sRamRaider1160
2ndWB 33Tom CoePsycho840
=3rdWB 3Team B-StingB-Sting720
=3rdWB 20Mark CoulsellLimited Funz720
6thWB 2Chris HartnellBackdraft520

Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars Series (3 of 3)
1stWB 4Joe StevensBack in Black14
2ndWB 96Tony SmithThe Cunning Plan12
3rdWB 33Tom CoePsycho11
4thWB 2Chris HartnellBackdraft11


Our next race event is the 'Fall Nationals' at Super Series 3 on August 24th -26th, and once again my birthday weekend! Should be a really big field for that one, and we're really looking forward to it!!

29th- 30th June 2002 - Nostalgia Nationals

This event was Wild Bunch Series Round 4, Real Steel Series Round 6 and Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars Series Round 2. I was one of 12 slingshots in a field of 21 Wild Bunch cars taking part in the event, and it was the first half of a two-part round, the second to be run by the Rear-engine dragsters at the Mini Weekend in a fortnight.

Saturday was a practice/test and tune day. I was still playing with the settings on the injection system, and this time changed the high speed. I ran a 9.422 @ 136.78 mph. This run was against Nick Connor, who ran a 10.469. I then changed the high speed again and ran good 9.372 @ 135.95 mph, also against Nick, who ran quicker with a 10.384. The third run of the day was again with Nick who ran even faster with a 10.277 and topped the 130 mph mark. I recorded a 9.341 @ 135.54 mph with a great .479 reaction time - my best in recent memory!! (First .400 for years!). Also, the speed at the 1/8th mile was my best ever, with a 119.05 mph, which I was very pleased with!

On Sunday, I Dialled in at 9.35, as a rough average of Saturday's times. In the first round, I was matched up against "The Cunning Plan" (minus body) and ran a 9.345 at 137.20 mph, just 5 thousandths off my Dial-in, and winning the "Closest to Dial-in" Spot Prize for the day. In the second round, I paired with Simon Williams in the "Spirit" slingshot, and ran quicker with a 9.328 at 135.14 mph. Time was going on, and we were only queued up for the third round at about 4:00 pm. I and a few other Wild Bunch had a run, but there was an oil down followed by rain stopping play, before all the Bunch had run again. I had ran a good 9.393 on this round on a bye run, getting closer to my average, but unfortunately it didn't count, as the results will only be based on the two rounds completed by the majority of the racers. But I have still ended up in 4th place of all the participants at this half of the round. But we will have to wait until the Mini Weekend to see the results for this round of the three Series.

Lee was main crew man this weekend with Mark helping with the oil, etc, and Scottie was again tow driver, so a big thanks to them once again! Scottie was doing triple duty with towing Nick and crewing for Mark Turton, who had worked so hard with help from a few friends to get the all new "Growler, Once bitten twice smitten" altered out on the track. They got there and he made his first half pass, so fair play to him and looking forward to racing him next time we're out!! Also, congratulations to Wendy Baker for running a 7.666 @ 199 mph in "The Mob" fuel altered, and to Ollie and all the crew.

Our next race event is the York Summer Showdown on August 10th and 11th at Pennine Raceway. Really looking forward to that one with Wild Bunch on Tour 2002!!

Also, "Backdraft" will be part of the static display of historic dragsters at the "Goodwood Festival of Speed" on July 13th/14th! That should be a great event!

15th - 16th June 2002 - Super Series 2 - Midsummer Nationals

Super Series Round 2, the "Midsummer Nationals", was also Real Steel Series Round 5.

We arrived at about 6:00 pm on Friday and unloaded and set up down the far end of the pits (affectionately dubbed "Wild Bunch village"!). Lee and Jade were in Mallorca, so Mark had brought his friend Mark Galpin to watch drag racing for the first time. I had asked Paul Stubbings and Wendy Baker to crew this weekend, and they arrived early Saturday morning.

We were one 6 slingshots in a field of 11 Wild Bunch cars competing at this event. The weather was cloudy on Saturday, but stayed pretty dry, apart from 10 minutes in the afternoon. In the first round of qualifying I had Dialled in at 9.25. I ran a 9.278 pass in "Backdraft" at 134.73 mph and it was a good banker for qualifying. This was against Mark Coulsell in the "Limited Funz" slingshot. He had one of his characteristic good reactions, at .467, and ran an 11.071 on his 10.70 Dial-in.

I then went back to the pits and took more fuel out of the injection system, to try and improve the performance. I also changed the spark plugs. In the 2nd round of qualifying, I had Dialled in at 9.15, hoping for a quicker time. I ran a 9.283 @ 135.95 mph. In this round I had a solo pass, as I was nearly staged before anyone else was waved round for their run.

After this run, me and Paul read the plugs, and they still showed the engine running fat, so I took more fuel out of it again. Paul was playing with the fuel system, so he was happy. There was a slight rain delay while we queued for the third qualifying run. I Dialled in at 9.15 again, and ran a 9.319 @ 135.15 mph. This was against Ed in the "Ram Raider" slingshot, who had Dialled in at 10.14 and brokeout with a 10.062, so I had won this one, making it 2 all at Super Series events this year!! I had qualified 4th overall on Saturday, so was quite happy with this.

Sunday (Race Day) - Round One
The first round I was paired with Alec Coe in the "Shy Torque" slingshot and he had been having problems and ran a 12.735 on an 11.25 Dial, so I took the win with a 9.443 on a 9.25 Dial-in, and advanced to the quarter-finals.

Quarter-Finals
This race was going to be a tough one with me up against Andy Murphy in the "B-Sting" altered, the number 1 qualifier. He had Dialled in at 12.40, and I had Dialled in at 9.25, so it was a 3-second wait on the tree, but I was quite pleased with a .557 reaction. This time I was in the spectator-side lane. Well, I went up with a wheelie and my left front wheel came down, and I veered right towards the guard rail, had to turn hard left at track, swerving left towards the centre line and had to correct again to get the car straight. We went the long way round on that one and ended up running a 9.581 @ 134.33 mph. I still only just missed the win by .012, getting a "Closest runner-up" Spot Prize for that! I also won the "Wildest Ride" Spot Prize for that one, and it sure was! I did finish 4th for the event on the "tot-back" system, by virtue of being closest to Dial-in of the runners up in that round.

A big thanks to Paul and Wendy for crewing, towing and advice. And cheers to Mark and Mark Galpin, they must have had a good weekend, because we didn't see them much in the pits [and I had to change the oil myself every time!! I'll let you off this time, Mark! He he!].

And fair play to Dick, Bunt, Carol and Dinah and crew of the "Dorset Horn" team for running Personal Best 9's all weekend with the new gearbox. Congrats!! Well deserved and long overdue!! Congratulations to Tom Coe and Eddie for coming first and second respectively! And many thanks to the track crew and officials for all their hard work again! And always a big thanks to Claire!

2nd - 3rd June 2002 - June Jubilee

This event was Wild Bunch Series Round 3, Real Steel Series Round 4 and Roy Wilding Nostalgia Race Cars Series Round 1. I was one of 8 slingshots in a field of 16 Wild Bunch cars taking part in the event.

We had driven up on Saturday for this event and were the first race team to arrive at the track, at about 12:00 noon, so we parked right up by the front end of the pits. The weather was lovely and warm and after setting up, we just chilled right out and watched everyone else arrive.

Sunday was a practice/test and tune day, as well as the Peugeot event. I had decided to have a play with the settings on the injection system, so I changed the pill to lean the engine out; and Lee painted the tyres with traction compound. The track crew sprayed grip juice on the track at about midday, and I went out at about 1:00, and ran a 9.287 @ 134.33 mph, which was quite a good run, considering the air wasn't as good as it had been at the last event (according to many reliable sources)!! My reaction time had been a good .517. This run was against Tig Napier's Mopar, and he ran a 10.516 @ 130 mph. It was good to race next to him, after seeing his car so often at the track. After this first run, I noticed that my left front wheel was running out of true, so when we came back to the pits, I looked at it, and was ready to start adjusting the spokes to true it back up. Tony Wynne-Jones happened to be passing, and said he'd had a lot of experience with this, and kindly offered to straighten the wheel back up, so many thanks to him!

I then took out the spark plugs, in order to read them, and had some advice off of Phil Cornish and ended up changing the pill again, as the engine was still running rich. The second run was a solid 9.295, again @ 134.33 mph, against John Byng in the purple "Oddball" slingshot, who ran an 11.864. This gave us a good idea for the next day's Dial-in, as the two runs had been within 7 thousandths of each other!

From the two runs on Sunday, we were going to Dial-in at 9.29 and hope for some similar consistency. Monday had dawned cloudy, but we were still hopeful of some racing, until mid-morning when a large downpour fell on the track. The officials sadly had to rain off the event at about 12:00 noon, and it was very much 'rain stopped play'. We were all very disappointed, as the racing had looked promising and there would have been loads of track time, with the amount of vehicles that were at the track on the Monday. We were hoping for some good times as well, with the changes to the injection system, but guess we'll just have to wait til next time!

Lee was main crew man this weekend with Mark helping with the oil, etc, and Scottie was again tow driver, so a big thanks to them once again!

Next event is Super Series Round 2, the Midsummer Nationals. There should be more close competition again at that one, so hope the weather's good!!

18th - 19th May 2002 - Spring Shootout

This event was Wild Bunch Series Round 2 and Real Steel Series Round 3 and I was one of 9 slingshots in a field of 21 Wild Bunch cars taking part in the event.

Saturday dawned very wet and misty and this continued during the day. Bill Sly had come along and had several cups of tea in the bus, and by 3 o'clock in the afternoon, I thought we were not going to get a run in that day; then the clouds went and the sun came out. The marshals worked really hard to get the track in a go condition by 4 o'clock for street cars, and by half past four it had come around more and they put grip juice on the track. I had my first run at 4:45, which was a 9.451 @134.33 mph against Nick Connor in the "Barking Mad" altered who ran a Personal Best 10.247. The second run was a solo pass at 5:45, and this was a solid 9.296 @ 135.14 mph, so this gave us a base line for the next day. One highlight of the day was Johnny Hall running his first 8-second pass, at 8.962. I paid up 5 on a bet we'd had at the Wild Bunch Prize Presentation on which one of us would be first in the 8's!! Fair play Johnny!!

From the two runs on Saturday, we guessed at a Dial-in of 9.32 for the following day. Sunday had dawned sunny and warm and we were being filmed by the Men and Motors cable channel for a programme called "Motor Maniacs", a 16-programme series due to be shown beginning in August. They filmed a before, during and after the run shot, which is always a good opportunity to show off (just joking!) and further our beloved sport of Drag Racing.

In the first round, I ran a 9.343, just .023 off the Dial-in, so a good solid start to the day. This was against Joe Stevens, who ran an 11.970 on an 11.90 Dial-in, on his way to winning the event for the first time! Well done, Joe!! The second round saw me paired up with Johnny Hall, and the tv crew were filming this one! We both had good reactions, but Johnny cut a .468 light so I couldn't beat that! I was up on him at the 60 ft mark, but he went on to run a great 8.838, which meant he's beat me on telly!! Anyway, I didn't mind as I actually ran a new Personal Best E.T. on that run with a 9.236!! Just 1 thousandths of a second quicker than my previous best!! I also recorded my best 60 ft time on this run, 1.297, best 1/8th mile time, 5.789 and best 990 ft, 7.557, so it had been a pretty amazing pass for "Backdraft"! And a good race against Johnny. Hope to join him in the 8-second club one of these days!!

In the third round, I was matched up with Tony Smith for the first time in quite a while, and although there was no risk of elimination, we both cut a good light, and I ran another 9.2 with a 9.267 @ 134.73 mph. For the fourth round, I raced with Pete Loveridge. He carded a great 10.609 on his 10.60 Dial-in, and I posted a 9.292, only .028 off mine. All four of my runs had been within one tenth of a second of my Dial-in, so I was pretty happy with this consistency!

I was really pleased with my reaction times over the weekend, which had all been in the .500's, which is good for me anyway! This included a best of a .505 in the fourth round, so I'm nearly in the .400's! We finished in 5th place overall in Wild Bunch, just one tenth of a percent behind 4th place Johnny Hall. My figure of 99.619% would have been good enough for first place at the Season Opener, so it shows the increasing level of consistency by all the racers. Thanks as always to all the FAST team and marshals and officials for all their hard work throughout the event. Lee was main crew man again with Mark helping with the oil, etc, and we had Scottie as tow driver, so a big thanks to them once again for all their hard work and to Claire for making it brill!

We're really looking forward to the June Jubilee in 2 weeks time - a great Sunday and Monday event with a bonus day off after!! Should be even more exciting and close competition again.

4th - 6th May 2002 - Super Series 1 - Spring Nationals

The first Super Series event of 2002, the "Spring Nationals", was also Real Steel Series Round 2. We were one of a field of 12 Wild Bunch cars competing at this 3-day Bank Holiday weekend.

There were two rounds of qualifying on Saturday and the weather was colder than it had been at the first event. In the first round I had Dialled in at 9.15, hoping to get in a definite qualifier to start off with, after running all those 9.2's at the Season Opener. I ran a good 9.473 pass in "Backdraft" at 133.14 mph (Top MPH of "the Bunch" for the weekend!). And it was a sure qualifying run. This was against Mark Turton in the "Growler" altered, who unfortunately crashed at the top end after something broke on the altered. He rolled about 3 times and the safety crew were soon on the scene and thankfully Mark emerged safely from the cockpit with only bruising to his knee. The car was very much the worse for wear, with body, chassis and engine damage, but we were all just grateful Mark had come out of it uninjured. He is hoping to rebuild and be out again soon. Best of luck, Mark! Look forward to racing you again!

In the 2nd round of qualifying, I improved over my first pass with a 9.370 on a 9.20 Dial-in, again at 133.14 mph! In this round I was matched up with Ed who ran a good 10.182 @ 128 mph in the "Ram Raider" slingshot, and I got to the finish line just .139 ahead of him.

Overall on Saturday, there had been two crashes and six oildowns, and the safety crew and marshals worked hard to get the track ready again each time and allow the qualifying rounds and the eliminations to all be completed. Many thanks to them for all their hard work over the whole weekend and for maintaining a good safe track! And to everyone else who works hard behind the scenes - great event!!!

There were two more qualifying rounds on Sunday. In the 3rd qualifying round, I improved my mark again with a 9.495 @ 132 mph, on a 9.35 Dial-in, just .145 off, and I finished #8 qualifier. This run was again against Ed, who ran a great 10.147 on a 10.05 Dial-in. This time it was Ed who got to the line first, by .041 seconds, so some more close racing!

In the 4th qualifying round, 9 Wild Bunch cars made runs, but I had decided to sit this one out and check out what everyone else looked like running, as you never get to see the overall show from close up! I had also given the crew the rest of the day off, for all their hard work! So thanks again to Lee and Scottie for crewing and towing!

Monday (Race Day) - Round One
I faced Darryl Howells in this round and he had been running very consistently to this point. We both broke out, but I broke out the least with a 9.397 ("Closest to Dial-in") on a 9.40, against Darryl's 12.209 on a 12.40 Dial, so I advanced to the quarter-finals. I also took "Best Reaction" of the day on this run, with a .557.

Quarter-Finals
This race was another tough one with me up against Ed (who was really on form and running well). Ed ran a 10.134 on a 10.14, breaking out by only 6 thousandths to my 9.319 on a 9.35 Dial-in. I did actually take "Closest runner-up" for this race, only losing by .014! [So the score for this event was 2-1 to Ed and "Ram Raider", and Ed went on to win the event for the first time, so congratulations to him!]. I finished 4th for the event on the "tot-back" system, by virtue of being closest to Dial-in of the runners up in that round. I was also very pleased with the run I'd made, as it was "Backdraft"'s best ever 60 ft time, a 1.299, and best ever 330 ft time, a 3.717, and only a thousandth off the best ever 1/8th mile time, with a 5.804 at half track. I think there's still more in the car yet to come, and I'm going to lean the fuel system out some more....!!

20th - 21st April 2002 - Season Opener

Well, the long anticipated season has finally arrived and we were really glad to be on our way back to the track on Friday night, and not even a tyre blowout on the bus en route could dampen our enthusiasm! We were looking forward to racing as WB 2, having been second in the Wild Bunch Series in 2001, and to the start of our 8th season of racing "Backdraft"! We had also acquired some comfy aircraft seats for the bus, and I'd just finished fabricating a new "hassle-free" awning! So wanted to check that out as well as get back in the hotseat again!!

I hadn't made any modifications to "Backdraft" during the winter. I just changed the oil filter and painted the rear slicks with tyre compound at the track, and installed a new set of spark plugs in the engine, which is now in its fourth season! That was all we did, apart from changing the oil, but we do that every two runs anyway! And off the trailer on Saturday, we ran a 9.283 at 139.32 mph!!! Personal Best E.T. and MPH! Not bad for starters! It had been a really small wheelie, a matter of a couple of inches, and the car didn't quit pulling all the way to the finish line! On the second run on Saturday, I pulled a big wheelie once again and ran a good 9.315 at 137 mph! (These are the first runs that we've been able to get over 135 mph in about 3 years!)

On Sunday, we were running in Wild Bunch Series Round 1 and Real Steel Series Round 1, as one of a field of 20 Wild Bunch cars. The weather turned out really good in the end, what you would call a "good air" day! Lee was once again the main crew man, and we had a little help from our friends, including Scottie who towed us a few times, and Steve Dale, who took a turn with the towing duties. The track was great and we dialled in at 9.35. [And ran 9.2's all day!] Who'd have thought that?!

In the first round, I ran a 9.237 @ 137 mph, even better than Saturday!! Wow!! Didn't mind going under the Dial-in for that one! Another Personal Best E.T.! This run was against Mark Flavell, who ran a 9.106 - might get him next time! The second run of the day was a 9.276 @ 135 mph and the third was a 9.261 @ 136 mph, pretty consistent to start the season off, but being in the 9.2's surprised us!

We took 3rd place in Wild Bunch, and won the "Best Slingshot" Spot Prize to boot, so we were really chuffed with the weekend! Thanks again to my crew, Lee and Claire, and Scottie for his help and loan of a tow vehicle! [Our new tow vehicle is still under construction, but look out for something unusual which is red and has flames!!]

It sure was great to be back out on the track racing again and to see everybody at Shakespeare County Raceway and hang out with friends after the long off-season. Also thanks once again to all the FAST team and marshals and officials for all their hard work throughout the event.

We're really looking forward to Super Series 1 Spring Nationals in 2 weeks time!! A nice long 3-day event, which should be exciting and close competition once again! But what to Dial-in?!!

That was the News