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30 years of Alcohol addiction!

If you've attended an English Drag Race meeting over the past 30 years, the chances are you will have seen Dave 'Grumpy' Wilson, fueled by alcohol! Before questioning just what drives a man to 30 years of addiction, a look back over his incredible career as a multi-championship-winner in the Top Alcohol class of the quarter mile sport, may just give us some insight.
It's fair to say that 'What Dave Wilson doesn't know about racing in the alcohol class, isn't worth knowing'! He's a five-time FIA European Top Alcohol winner, with various British Championships and race wins to his name.
Since his first experience of a Dragster in the late 70's to the present day, Wilson has been through the high's and lows of a self funded team, to a hugely successful sponsorship programme, that has enabled him to achieve success not only in Europe, but also in the back yard of the American pro's!

During the 70's, Dave was making a name for himself as something of a transmission specialist. Around 1977, he met Rod George who wanted some help with the transmission on his dragster. Dave was invited to attend a race meeting at Radlett and despite rain dictating an early close to proceedings; the fearless rookie decided that he still fancied a blast in the car. Rod agreed and the following 'drifting' demo was enough to hook Wilson on the quarter mile sport.

The car, known as 'The Creeper' was driven by both Dave and Rod at various UK meetings but it was only a matter of time before aspirations would exceed the current car and the search for a new car begun.
The search resulted in the purchase of the legendary 'Stormbringer', the first Top Fuel Dragster to run a 5 second ¼ mile, outside the USA. The car was bought as a rolling chassis by Dave and Rod, and a S&W Racecars 426ci, methanol burning Keith Black motor was added shortly afterwards. Now renamed 'Krypton', the car would go on to run the teams first 6 second passes, before its untimely demise at York Raceway. After a stout 7.26 - 196mph charge, Dave went through the timing beams upside down, beating Jim Read but breaking his neck in the process!
Less than a month later Rod and the rest of the team managed to piece together the remains and with a chassis borrowed from the late Alan Ritmiester, Rod contested the remaining championship round at Long Marsden! It was at this point that Rod George called it a day, with both parties selling their stake in the shattered remains of the car. Dave’s sale lasted for only half an hour as he just couldn't stay away!

Despite his serious injuries that included other broken bones, a new chassis was built in Dave’s back garden with the help of Steve Martyn and Dave Fletcher. What could be salvaged from the wreck was put together to form the new ride. The new car race fans would come to recognise over the years as the blue and white 'Krypton' Pro Comp dragster. The build process had taken just 11 weeks and with his wrist still broken, Dave would hand the 1981 season driving chores over to Steve Martyn. It was a successful time for the new team with Martyn claiming number one qualifier at the Santa Pod 'World Finals'and narrowly losing to Gerry Andrews in the final.
In 1982, Dave was back behind the butterfly wheel. He enjoyed much success in the seat until 1986, when he took his first trip to witness an American Drag Race at Indianapolis. It was here that Dave learned much about how to really run hard on alcohol! Armed with his newly found knowledge, he returned to the track with new tune-up ideas. On his first pass, he scrapped everything within the first 20 feet! Maybe he felt guilty but his next move was to buy out his partner and retire to his garden once more with a box of spares!

Three years would pass before 'Grumpy' would grace the UK quarter mile once more. He'd purchased a 'busted block' form the Frontline Video car, yet his knowledge and skill was enough to guide this rebuilt motor through a number of seasons before it was eventually sold to the Gleadow Brothers team. A new Fat Head, Keith Black then sat proudly between Krypton's chassis rails and by 1997, six-second-flat quarters were the order of the day for Wilson.

In 99, Krypton was parked and Dave’s services were called upon by the Gleadow and Redstone alcohol team. Their new 'Nemesis' car had been purchased from Finland the year before and Dave would now drive and tune the car for them. It was in this car that he ran his first 5 second ET's, enjoying success all over Europe. Sponsorship begun to play its part too, with Lucas Oil proudly backing the teams efforts.

Dave bought out the 'Redstone' share at the end of 2000 and for a brief period, Dave Wilson Racing ran a two car team with Wendy Baker driving the Krypton car. Dave had recognised the increased value of sponsorship and had successfully assembled 76 Racing Fuels, American Car Imports, Air Sea Logistics and Sony PlayStation to help back this dual car venture.
The relationship with ACI and PlayStation continued to grow to such a level that meant Wilson was able to purchase a new, complete 'Meyer' car from Bob Haffner in Canada. The ride was transported to its new owner in Pomona, where Dave contested his first USA race. Having qualified, he would go out in round one but the car had proved to be a major contender and once back on European soil, its first race resulted in a new European ET and speed record! 'Grumpy' claimed 2nd spot in the European Championship, after a hotly contested year of racing in 2002.
For 03, a brand new car sat in the ACI racing stable, this time a 'Hadman' built machine. More US races were contested, including another Pomona appearance where Dave ran an incredible 5.38 ET. In Europe, he had finally claimed his first FIA European alcohol crown as a period of dominance begun.
American Car Imports were fully behind Dave in 2004 and further American races resulted in his first NHRA Divisional title in Tucson, a major achievement for a European team and a 'Wally' trophy now sat proudly in the Wilson family’s  trophy collection. As the European circus drew to its conclusion, a second FIA title had been won and the teams dominance continued to grow.
2005 and 06 saw more of the same, as Dave Wilson and ACI Racing claimed two further FIA European titles. The black and red dragster was now the most successful alcohol car in European history!
2007 bought along increased sponsorship from Somerset based tool brand - Silverline Tools. Dave and the car, now in its new colours continued to dominate by adding fifth FIA title to the list of honours.

Maybe Wilson felt it was becoming less of a challenge but rather than continue in the same vein, he decided that a new direction was needed. It was time to go A/Fuel racing!
An A/Fuel dragster is as close as you can get to Top Fuel Drag Racing but with a slightly lesser budget required. They run on Nitromethane but unlike their supercharged cousins, run an injected motor rather than a supercharger. Despite the change of fuel, the similar power output allows them to compete in the alcohol class against the blown methanol cars.
Dave would fully admit that the whole process has been like starting from scratch and that three seasons in, there are still gremlins in the car that need resolving before the combinations full potential is realised. In spite of the learning curve, he finished a strong second in the 2009 FIA European Championship and holds the European ET record - 5.301, which he set in that year.

As we move into the 2011, Dave Wilson has announced that it will be his last in competition. He has unfinished business with the A/Fuel combination and believes that he can take one more FIA title in his final year. To monitor progress, please visit the 'Race Reports' section of the site.

For full reports, race-by-race for 2007- 2010, please visit the 'Race Reports' section.