events: ACU Championships Round 6, Extreme Performance Bike Weekend at Santa Pod
Extreme Performance Bike Weekend at Santa Pod
story and photos by Steven Moxley
Although a damp track delayed the start (and cost a session) of the Extreme Performance Bike Weekend at Santa Pod, it was the strong headwind that racers had to fight through both days of Round 6 of the ACU Championships.
There was high rate of Funnybike attrition, with half the field suffering from breakages.
Outgoing ACU Funnybike champion Stuart Crane has been trying a new fuel and nitrous set up and ran a stunning 7.304 in the dark, clicking off at the 1000 foot mark, to lead the field.
Dave Buttery qualified well but slipped out of the show with a worrisome vibration
Dave Buttery has had some problems during the season finding a combination for his new bike. A month earlier he ran a 7.3 at an RWYB meeting. In the first qualifying session here, Buttery ran a career personal best of 7.338 at 180.69. But in the final session he felt a vibration (crankshaft?) and was out of the show.
Bob Brooks found the problem (ignition leads ends too short, arcing out) his bike was having at the National Finals. Brooks qualified this time with a 7.347 at 182.08 mph top speed of the meet.
Like Buttery, Gary Jones also qualified but broke before eliminations
Championship points leader Gary Jones was looking for a clutch set-up to suit his rear tyre and ran 7.690 at 179.93, but found the ignition rotor had broken and was out of the show. He bought the rotor from Barry Eastman (Tokyo Express Funnybike)—but don’t blacklist Eastman, that was back in 1980!
Dale Leeks was still sorting out his new fuel and nitrous combinations and ran 7.771at 177.80.
Stefan Schmidt had a new cylinder head and piston fitted from the damage he had at the National Finals. With help from Eric Jennes, Schmidt had a new fuel system and ran a best of 8.035 at 141.58, but another piston failed and put him out of competition.
Harold Wolfenden is starting to get comfortable with his new bike and ran 8.166 at 161.33. Championship contender Dave Peters had clutch hat problems during the qualifying sessions and had a best of 9.541.
Jiri Lukes' team burnt up the highway as well as the quarter mile
Jiri Lukes had a weekend he will never forget. It started on Friday when he and his brother Jan fired up the motor and water came out of the exhaust. They found a piston and barrel cracked. They went on Ebay and found parts for sale, making a 400 mile round trip to Hull and back to make the purchase. Jan left Santa Pod at 9:00 am Saturday morning and returned at 4.00 pm. The brothers rebuilt the motor and finished at 9.00pm. Jiri qualified in the last session on Sunday morning with a12.048, then found out he had two bye runs in the opening two rounds of the eliminations!
Crane, Leeks and Lukes had first round byes on raceday. Wolfenden also soloed when Jones was a no-show, and ran a best to date of 8.086 at 170.46.
The only race in round 1 was Peters against Brooks. Peters had fitted a new clutch hat, put in a soft set-up, and hoped he had enough to beat Brooks. But Brooks had a better reaction and took the winlight 7.584 at 177.84 to Peters’ losing 7.766-169.15. That made Gary Jones the 2014 ACU Funnybike Champion.
It was an all Warpspeed second round match with Crane putting a huge.288 to .728(?) holeshot over Leeks and took the win 7.551 to 7.983. Wolfenden got close to the centreline and had to ease off against Brooks, who ran 7.443 at 177.85 to reach the semifinals.
Lukes was having his best outing of the year, but that came to an end when he got close to the wall at mid-track while racing against Crane. Crane was also having handling problems, getting very close to the centreline, but managed to keep his bike in the lane for a 7.780-137.38 win to Lukes’ 9.480-143.84.
Stuart Crane wins!
Brooks had a bye to the final, whichwas decided on the start line when Brooks had problem getting off. Crane was gone and ran 7.406 at 168.55 for his first win of the season.
Phil Crossley qualified #1 and broke the clutch
The Comp Bike championship was very close with 110 points between Allan Davies and Phil Crossley coming into this final event. Crossley led the field for most of qualifying and on the last session on Sunday morning ran 7.663 at 168.53 to top the field. But when he got back to the pits there was something wrong with the clutch and he decided not to race in eliminations.
Kevin Osman ran the top speed of the meet
Davies and his team didn’t know about Crossley’s problem and qualified with a 7.722 at 170.44. Kevin Osman once again ran the top speed of the meet with a 189.66, and ran a time of 7.863 for third spot. Paul Hambridge ran his best to-date in Comp Bike with an 8.028 at 174.35. Tony Clark suffered from nitrous issue, which kept happening around the 300ft mark and qualified with an 8.105 at 166.09.
Dave Smart movin' on up
Former NAST ET Bracket Champion and NAST Gas Champion Dave Smart has moved up from 8.50 bike, riding the ex-Gary Drury Super Street Bike. Smart is competing in Comp Bike next year and used this event to get a baseline. But he had handling problems in the first two sessions, changed the rear tyre, and then had a boost leak. He qualified with an 8.573 at 158.53.
Hambridge put a holeshot on Osman, who powered around to take the round 1 win 8.221 at 182.10 to Hambridge’s 8.452 at 159.04. Davies led from start to finish against Clark, winning with a 7.848 at 169.80 to Clark’s 8.340-158.57.
2014 ACU Comp Bike champion Allan Davies
When Smart came to the line on his own, the Davies team noticed no signs of Crossley and knew they were the ACU Comp Bike champions of 2014. Smart broke the beam on both rounds of eliminations to reach his first ACU final in his first race. In the other semi, Davies reached the final when Osman broke at the 300 foot mark.
In the final, Smart pulled a wheelie at 60 feet and Davies was long gone, collecting his third win of the season with a 7.745 to Smart’s 8.691.
Super Street Bike
There was a small field of ten Super Street bikes entered for this event. That went down to nine when Richard Hann warmed up his motor and a valve dropped—his weekend over.
Steve Venables took advantage when the headwind dropped briefly and qualified number 1 with a 7.198at 197.15.
Pete Field had his spare motor in the frame after an inlet valve dropped and bent at the National Finals meeting. Still, he mustered a 7.241 at 197.96.
Title contender Graham Balchin was next with a 7.366 at 193.76. Garry Bowe just edged Dave Holland 7.401 to 7.413. Jemma Venables was in sixth spot with a 7.556 at 185.79.
Running an air clutch caused Danny Cockrill to catch Big Air
Danny Cockerill ran an air clutch in the first two sessions and suffered from wheelies. He then fitted a conventional clutch and ran 7.563 at 188.14.
Chris Reed donned the tutu and qualified on the bump....where's yours Phil Stoll?
Chris Reed was on the bump spot with 7.684-194.61. Outside the show was Mark Wells’ 7.905 at 186.66.
Steve Venables only had to win the opening round of eliminations to collect his sixth ACU Super Street Bike title, and he did with a start-to-finish 7.264 win over Reed’s 8.030. Bowe beat Holland 7.227 to 7.577. Field overcame an early lead from Cockerill to reach the semifinals with a 7.248 to Cockerill’s 8.561. Balchin beat Jemma, who slowed at the finish, 7.635 to 8.626.
Steve Venables shows us his oil pan is sticker-free
The first semi matched Jemma’s dad—the ET record holder—against Bowe, the speed record holder. The race was decided on the start when Venables redlit and then went into a huge wheelie just off the start line to the 100 foot mark. As for Bowe, he broke just off the start line (turbocharger) but took the win.
Graham Balchin's Kawasaki also joined the sunt ranks
In the other semi, Balchin also pulled a huge wheelie and that was the end of his race. He watched Field take the win with a 7.240.
Pete Field wins!
So Field was in his very first Super Street Bike final. With another turbo bolted on, Bowe put a .148 to .310(!) holeshot on Field, but then slowed at mid-track and Field powered by to win his first Super Street Bike event 7.269 to 8.699.
Note: There were two pieces of history made over the weekend in UK drag racing. First, Alex Hope became the first rider in UK drag racing to win two national championships (Pro Stock bike and 9.50 bike) in the same year. Secondly, ACU Comp Bike champion Allan Davies was joined by his son Louis Davies, who won the national junior dragbike championship. It is the first father and son in UK drag racing history to win their championships in the same year.
Congratulations to the following ACU Champions
Top Fuel Bike: Steve Woollatt
Funnybike: Gary Jones
Pro Stock Bike: Alex Hope
Comp Bike: Allan Davies
Super Street Bike: Steve Venables
Congratulations to the following SPRC Champions
Funnybike: Stuart Crane
Pro Stock Bike: Alex Hope
Comp Bike: Allan Davies
Super Street Bike: Steve Venables
Becky Ellis and Lizz McCarthy!
MORE EUROPEAN DRAG RACING