event: 2016 ACU Championships Round 5—The National Finals
where: Santa Pod Raceway, UK

National Finals at Santa Pod

story and photos by Steven Moxley


After a full day of qualifying sessions, rain in the early hours of the morning delayed the start of eliminations on raceday. Strong winds in the afternoon shortened racing to the 1/8 mile for the bike classes.  There were a few personal bests and a national ET record set over the weekend.

Top Fuel Bike

Rene Van Den Berg

Reigning ACU Top Fuel Bike Champion Rene Van Den Berg and Steve Woollatt got the meeting off to a great start in the first qualifying session with side-by-side 6.3s—Woollatt with a 6.306 at 185.84 mph and Berg with a 6.332-188.20. Berg damaged a piston and had oil pressure problems. He rebuilt the motor, finishing at 2:00 am Sunday morning. 

Woollatt ran a 6.192 personal best in the final qualifying session on Sunday, under the ACU ET record of 6.208. 

Chris “Cannon” Hannam entered the event on his blown V-Twin. Neil Midgley was testing the day before the event to get his licence, and on the final pass a crankshaft oil seal failed. Hannam did not race. This was his final race of his career....maybe.

“I'm crew chief and team manager for Midgley on my blower bike, as I want to see it go fast,” Cannon told Eatmyink’s Tim Hailey. Midgley tips the scales considerably less than Cannon. “Midgo has wanted to ride for a few years now, so as we are a team the time was right to step aside.

“Am I done? Well, who knows, as it all depends on how things go with Neil really. The main issue is my crew is now a rider, so that's how it is for now.

“I did speak with (former American racer) Tom Perry about his PMFR bike (5-second blown inline built by Larry and Steve McBride), but it's not for sale at this time. But I think I like the Harley class more now anyhow.

“So for next year, yes, I'm done. But never say never and the desire is still there to build a bigger, better, bike with Hawaya Racing.”

Steve Woollatt

Woollatt was hoping to run quarter mile to back up his 6.192, but the final was going to be eighth mile. The winner of this event would be crowned the 2016 ACU Top Fuel Bike Champion. Van Den Berg went into tyre shake at 20 feet, then smoked the rear tyre and watched Woollatt win the event 4.029 to 5.798.

Funny Bike

Kars Van Den Belt

Kars Van Den Belt last competed at Santa Pod four years ago. He showed up with a new unique Funny Bike—the front half is a Super Street bike, the rear half a Funny Bike chassis. The Honda motor is on a soft set up and Belt ran a personal best 7.137 at 193.06 to edge championship points leader Phil Crossley’s personal best of 7.139-181.38.

Dale Leeks

Dale Leeks damaged a piston after running a personal best of 7.265 at 179.97 and finished rebuilding the motor at 2:00 am Sunday morning. Eric Richard was in fourth spot with a 7.539-175.77. 

Allan Davies

The previous weekend, Allan Davies was racing at Drachten and ran a p/b of 7.47. Here Davies qualified in fifth with a 7.557-173.72. 

Bob Brooks

Stefan Hagenstein was having clutch issues and ran a best of 7.600-175.08, just ahead of Bob Brooks’ 7.617-169.18. Pete Le Gros made it an all seven-second field, with a bump spot time of 7.931-161.89. Shaun Branch had a set-up issue and ran 8.430-159.59. 

Shaun Branch

Pete Le Gros

Reigning ACU Funny Bike Champion Dave Peters had a weekend to forget. After a troubled first pass, the motor was changed and then the cylinder head had to be changed. Sunday’s test pass resulted in a misfire. 

Lorcan Parnell had a chain break, which damaged the alternator and he was out of the show.

Eric Richard

Van Den Belt beat Le Gros in round one of eliminations with a 7.913 to Le Gros’ 8.139. Richard powered around Davies 7.384 at 171.11 to 7.677-168.54 to go into round two. Crossley put a .126 to .418(!)  holeshot on Brooks and held on for the win, 7.761 to a quicker but losing 7.578. Hagenstein broke on the start line against Leeks.


Coming to the start line and Belt wasn’t happy with his motor. But he put a .043 to .139 holeshot over Richard and took the winlight 4.749 to Richard’s quicker but losing 4.725.

Phil Crossley

In the other semi, Leeks had trouble at mid-track and Crossley went on to another final, where Belt was a no show so Crossley extended his lead in the championship and has almost won the championship.

Pro Stock Bike

ACU Pro Stock Bike Champion Alex Hope

Alex Hope still had a fuel issue over the weekend but that didn’t stop him from being number one qualifier with a 7.352 at 172.38. Len Paget ran 7.401 with a top speed of 174.41. Mark Smith ran close to his personal best with a 7.638 at 170.44.

Mark Smith

Len Paget

Paget redlit against Smith in eliminations, then Hope beat Smith in the final to claim his third ACU Pro Stock Bike Championship.

Comp Bike

Sean Mills

Sean Mills led the field at the end of qualifying with a 7.721-189.72—low ET of the meet.

Paul Hambridge

Paul Hambridge was back on form, after help from Brad O’Connor and Sean Mills on the turbocharger and boost controller set-up and ran 7.808 at 179.97. 

Kevin Osman ran 7.905 with a top-speed-of-the-meet 190.60. Martin Walker was trying to find a clutch set-up for the track and ran 8.215-177.13. Mick Winyard had a new motor and suffered various problems, running 8.283-175.09, just ahead of Dave Batcheler’s personal best 8.297-155.78. 

Eddy Smiley

Championship points leader Eddy Smiley damaged a con-rod in testing the day before the event. ET racer Ian Chrichlow loaned his bike to Smiley so he could compete and ran a best of 8.526.

In round 1 of eliminations, Mills had a bye to the semis. Winyard put a holeshot over Walker and won 8.147 to 8.609. Hambridge beat Smiley and Osman had a bye but hit the finishline timing block.

Mills got a slight advantage off the start line but broke at 150 feet and Winyard took the winlight. Osman was a no-show against Hambridge, who ran a personal best of 7.734.

Mick Winyard

The final was run over the eighth and Winyard led from start to finish—5.395 to Hambridge’s 5.520.

Super Street Bike

Steve Venables

Steve Venables set a new ACU ET record of 6.998 during qualifying. He now holds ET records in ACU and FIM Championships. 

Rick Stubbins

Garry Bowe ran top speed of the meet 206.27 and was the number two qualifier with a 7.091. Graham Balchin ran a personal best of 7.116, just edging Rick Stubbins’ 7.119. Pete Field was next with a 7.223 followed by Daniel Lencses’ 7.260. Stephen Mead ran his best of the season, a 7.369.

Rudolfo Maduro did some chassis testing on Friday, posting a 7.52, and qualified with personal best figures of 7.414 at 189.01 to be on the bump spot of the quickest eight-bike field in Super Street Bike. 

Outside the show were Richard Hann with a 7.450, Chris Reed at 7,764 and Steve Wood’s 9.112. Charly Anasgasti had handling issues over the weekend.

Rudolfo Maduro

Maduro pulled a redlight in round 1 of elliminations and had a huge wheelie off the start line to the 60 foot mark against Venables. Stubbins redlit against Field, Bowe put Mead back on the trailer, and Balchin beat Lencses.

Field pulled a wheelie at 100 feet until 300 feet mark in round 2 and watched Venables take the winlight.

Garry Bowe and Graham Balchin in the semis

Bowe drifted to the wall at the eighth mile mark and eased off as Balchin ran another p/b 7.106 on the world’s quickest Kawasaki. 

The final betwee Steve Venables and Graham Balchin

The final was decided at the 60 foot mark when Venables wheelied and Balchin powered to the finishline with a 4.682 to Venables’ 4.816.

Nigel Barker announced days before the event he was retiring and had sold his bike. This was his best ever season.

8.50 Bike

Jay Roe

Jake Mechaell

Championship points leader Jay Roe led the seven-bike field in qualifying with a near perfect time of 8.501, but lost in the final to Jake Mechaell, who ran 8.616 to Roe’s 8.646.

9.50 Bike

Richard Sawatzki vs Janne Koskinen

Brendan Young got his first ever number one qualifier spot with a 9.523, but got knocked out in the semifinal by Richard Sawatzki, who went on to win the event, beating Finland’s Janne Koskinen 9.628 to 9.649.

MSA Pro Modified

Steve Rawlings

Marco Maurischat’s stunning ‘53 Chevy Corvette ran a personal best of 6.136 to be the number one qualifier. Steve Rawlings is setting up his new ‘63 Corvette and did a couple of big wheelies off the start line during qualifying. There were personal bests for Reigning MSA Pro Mod Champion Kevin Slyfield with a 6.284 and Phil Englefield’s 6.192.

Kevin Slyfield

Slyfield ran another p/b 6.267 in the semifinals to beat Maurischat. In the other semi, Englefield beat Andy Robinson but his fuel tank exploded, which stopped Englefield running in the final giving Slyfield a bye run. 

2016 MSA Pro Mod Champion Andy Robinson

Robinson is the 2016 MSA Pro Mod Champion.

Match Race

Martyn Jones

Tim Garlick

Martyn Jones’ Super Pro ET blown dragster beat the Nostalgia Funny Car of Tim Garlick 5.892 at 237.45 to 6.129-236.53.