event: 2017 ACU Championships Round 1, Festival of Power
where: Santa Pod Raceway, UK

Santa Pod's Festival of Power!

story and photos by Steven Moxley


The 2017 European drag racing season kicked off at Santa Pod Raceway with the Festival of Power meeting. Strong headwinds greeted the competitors on the first day of qualifying and then a stiff crosswind for the two remaining days of the meeting.

Top Fuel Bike

Steve Woollatt

Reigning ACU Top Fuel Bike Champion Steve Woollatt has done some mods to his cylinder head and clutch and did check out passes during qualifying, clicking off early with a best time of 6.782 at 155 mph. 

Neil Midgley

Neil Midgley was using this meeting as a test session and ran 8.282/100. 

Rene Van Den Berg

Rene Van Den Berg was overpowering the track during qualifying and ran 8.348/100.

When eliminations started, Woollatt had a bye run to the final and ran low ET of 6.264 at 206.04.

Midgley got out ahead of Van Den Berg  .273 to .437, but the teeth on Midgley’s drive belt started to break at mid-track so he clicked off. Van Den Berg drifted to the wall and managed to take the winlight 7.322 at 133 to 8.329/111. 

The final was decided at 100 feet when Van Den Berg lit the rear tyre and watched Woollatt take the win with a 6.360 and top speed of 215.89.

Funny Bike

This could be a close, tight championship in Funny Bike.  Two hundredths of a second separated the top three qualifiers. 

Allan Davies has fitted a second stage nitrous system and ran a personal best of 7.311 for number one qualifier. Reigning ACU Funny Bike Champion Phil Crossley was next with a 7.321 at 179.23. Former Champion Dave Peters had Kevin Charman crewing for him and ran back-to-back 7.3’s,  qualifying with a 7.330-173.69. Eric Richard was having fun riding against the crosswind and ran 7.556-169.19.

Eric Richard

Dave Peters

Jiri Lukes

Jiri Lukes had the former owner of his bike, Top Fuel Bike rider Otto Knebl, crewing for him over the weekend. Lukes was looking for a new baseline for his clutch set-up and ran 8.763-152.60. 

Thomas Joswig had gearshift problems over the weekend and ran a best of 9.468-136. Lorcan Parnell has fitted an air clutch, which has no arms on the clutch assembly, and ran a best of 18.327. Dave Buttery never got down the track and suffered launch problems off the start line.

Davies had a bye run in the opening round of eliminations and ran another p/b 7.212 at 178.51. Richard beat Lukes 7.658 to 9.004. Crossley ran low ET and top speed 7.181-182.09 to trailer Parnell’s best run of the weekend—8.301.  Joswig broke on the start line against Peters. 

Davies led from start to finish to beat Richard in the semis 7.311 to 7.542. Peters broke on the start line against Crossley in the other semi-final.  

Phil Crossley

The final turned out to be the best race of the day. Crossley put a .152 to .190 holeshot on Davies and held on to take the winlight with a 7.205 at 181.40 to another p/b by Davies—7.199 at 178.51.
Pro Stock Bike

Len Paget

Len Paget was the number one qualifier Pro Stock with a 7.582 at 171.10, but at the expense of a damaged transmission on his four-valve motor. So he fitted his two-valve motor for the eliminations. 

Ian Burns

Making a welcome return to drag racing was Ian Burns who last competed in the ACU Championships back in 2003. Burns has self-built a new chassis and wheelie bars and fitted a vac pump and datalogger. During qualifying he had gear selector issues and ran a best of 8.746-153.15. 

Alex Hope

Reigning ACU Pro Stock Bike Champion Alex Hope has bought Dave Beck’s championship-winning rolling chassis.  Hope had handling issues during qualifying and hit the timing block, damaging a shift fork in the process and running 10.091.

It was a bizarre final when both finalists broke off the start line. Burns had a transmission lock-up and Paget’s motor cut out. A re-run was called for and Burns broke during his burnout so Paget soloed to the winner’s circle.

Comp Bike

Sean Mills

Sean Mills was sorting out his handling problem and ran a best of 7.827 at 176.46 to top the Comp Bike field. 

Tony Clark

Tony Clark damaged his clutch basket. Dale Leeks was crewing for Clark and went back to Warpspeed HQ to borrow Stuart Crane’s clutch basket. Clark ran 7.860-179.96 in the final qualifier (but broke fifth gear) to pip Paul Hambridge’s 7.868-149.56 for number two spot. Hambridge blew a cylinder head gasket and was out of the show. 

Eddy Smiley

Reigning ACU Comp Bike Champion Eddy Smiley has fitted a Garrett GT35 turbocharger and was re-mapping to find a baseline and ran 7.914-168.54. 

Mick Winyard did a pre-season test at Santa Pod and recorded a personal best speed of 184 mph. At this event the motor was down on power at the top end and qualified with an 8.191-176.45. 

Martin Walker

Martin Walker has had his engine rebuilt by Chris Reed over the winter and had a soft set up during the meeting, qualifying with an 8.261-170.44. Margot Schmidt has fitted a datalogger and a new swingarm, and ran 8.529-163.11. 

Mark Hope was riding the ex-Danny Cockerill Super Street bike. He’s fitted his own clutch and used this event to test, running 8.594 with a top speed of the meet 180.58. 

Outside the show was Phil Leamon, who had a couple of issues and ran 8.743 at 151.58.  Newcomer to Comp Bike Scott Collier, riding the ex-Stephen French bike, suffered gear shift problems and ran 8.802-137.69.  Dave Batcheler has fitted a new 3 speed auto box and had a fuel issue during qualifying, posting a 9.196-108.30.

Hope left on Mills .137 to .187in E1, but slowed at three quarter track and Mills took the winlight with an 8.030. Smiley came from behind to win a close race against Winyard, 7.801 to 7.969. Collier came in as an alternate for Clark and pushed Schmidt to a close finish, 8.481 to 8.884.  Leamon was second alternate and came in for Hambridge and put a .108 to .224 holeshot over Walker, who powered around to take the winlight 8.493 to 8.862. 

The first semi-final was a close race and Smiley beat Mills 7.922 to 8.004.  In the other semi Walker led from start to finish to knock out Schmidt 8.112 to 8.542.
The final was decided at the 60ft mark, when Walker pulled a wheelie and Smiley was gone 7.950 to 10.610.

Super Street Bike

Rick Stubbins

With both Garry Bowe and Steve Venables developing new parts, Richard Stubbins took the advantage and led the field with a 7.128-196.28. 

Bowe damaged one engine in testing and his spare motor in the first day of qualifying, running 7.207 at 197.16. Bowe missed the second day of qualifying due to building one motor out of two damaged ones.

Pete Field

Pete Field had traction issues and ran 7.208-198.03. Venables was struggling in the first half of the track and ran 7.318-199.88. Daniel Lencses has fitted a Garrett GT 35 Turbo and has done some mods to the cylinder head, running 7.409-193.05. Rudolfo Maduro has a Gen 2 clutch and was finding a baseline, posting a 7.467-191.24. Graham Balchin had gear shift problems and ran 7.628-166.68. Peter Granica debuted his new self made bike with a Garrett GT 35 Turbo fitted, recorded his best 60 foot of 1.29, and qualified with a p/b of 7.655 at 175.74. 

Peter Granica

Granica’s lap was just ahead of Graham Dance, who has fitted bigger injectors and was setting the fuel system to suit, running 7.659-189.75.  Chris Reed broke fourth gear and was out of the competition after running 7.712- 158.58. Dave Thomas was next with an 8.191-177.84, ahead of Mark Wells who had an electronic problem and ran 8.320-167.29. 

Steve Wood

Steve Wood was another rider who has fitted a Garrett GT 35 Turbo with a boost controller, but had a faulty switch and was on the bump spot with a 9.046-152.60.

Stubbins, Venables, Lencses and Maduro all had byes in round 1 of eliminations. There was a shock result when Bowe wheelied at the start and slowed, leaving Wood to take the winlight with an 8.911-157. Wells also pulled a wheelie at 40 feet, and lost to Field. Balchin eased past Granica 7.300 to 8.066.  

There were more shocks in E2 when Lencses beat Venables 7.370 to 7.458. Wood had a bye to the semi-finals. Maduro put a huge .063 to .225 holeshot over Field, who powered around to take the win 7.204-200.63 to Maduro’s 7.691-188.21. Balchin drifted to the centreline and had to shutoff against Stubbins. 

Stubbins eased past Lencses in the semis and Wood’s great day came to an end when he lost power due to the turbo, Field took that win with a 7.235.

The final was decided at mid-track when Stubbins pulled a wheelie and Field powered to the winner’s circle 7.251 to 7.793.
8.50 Bike

Jake Mechaell showing a whole lotta turbo for an 8.50 bike

Jake Mechaell qualified in number 1 spot with an 8.528 in 8.50 index and won the event when reigning 8.50 champion Jay Roe broke out with an 8.479.

9.50 Bike

Adam Burns (near lane) vs Richard Sawatzki in the 9.50 final

Lewis Burgess was the number 1 9.50 qualifier with a 9.537. But it was reigning 9.50 champion Richard Sawatzki who won the event, beating newcomer Adam Burns in the final when Burns broke out 9.429 to Sawatzki’s 9.501.

ET Bike

Phil Pratt

Siobhan Moor topped the big field in ET Bike with a 10.562 on a 10.560 dial-in, just ahead of Joe Elliott and her mum Fiona Moor. But it was Phil Pratt who won the event, beating Gary Hester.

Pro Modified

Andy Robinson

Reigning MSA Pro Modified Champion Andy Robinson made a great start to defend his title by qualifying number 1 with a 6.100 at 238.62 mph. Kevin Slyfield was Robinson’s nearest challenger with 6.499 at a p/b speed of 224.51. 

Bobby Wallace

Slyfield ran a personal best in round 1 of eliminations with a 6.195.  Bobby Wallace, driving his ‘41 Willys Coupe, ran personal best figures of 6.305-219.04 to trailer Rick Garrett.  

In the semifinals, Robinson ran low ET of 6.020 to advance to the final.  In the other semi, Wallace beat Slyfield, who did another p/b speed of 225.52. 

Robinson got very close to the centreline in the final and took the win 6.050 to Wallace’s p/b of 6.292.

Top Fuel

Liam Jones

Liam Jones did some testing at the event and ran a best of 4.080.  Duncan Micallef had a few problems over the weekend testing his Top Fueller.

Nostalgia Funny Car

Tony Betts debuted his new Funny Car—the ex-Richard Hartman Z28 Camaro—with Hartman crewing for Betts at the meeting. Tim Garlick had his Pontiac Firebird in the house and the two teams put a show on for the spectators. 

Tim Garlick

Garlick ran low ET 6.073 on a redlight, while Betts got better with every run and ended with best figures of 7.824-119. Final run of the meeting and Garlick soloed and stopped the clocks at 6.149-232.57.

Jet Bus

Gerd Habermann's kids LOVE going to school

Gerd Habermann did some exhibition runs in his jet-powered school bus, running best figures of 10.571-151.10.