Easter Thunderball - Santa Pod

Well here we are again, new year, new main sponsor, with of course new livery, etc, etc.  Of course we still have some of our (old) sponsors without whose help we would find life very difficult.  Kiki and the boys at Euro American Car Services did a great job on the race car paint job.  Darren of Power Race Graphics did a great job on the design work for paint and graphics.  We can still run round the pits on our scooter courtesy of 1st Line Motorcycles and of course IronCad software allows me to draw and design new parts (if only I could find the time to make them!).
Aims and objectives?  Well first aim this year was to secure sufficient funding to allow us to compete, via the support of Silverline and Playstation this was achieved a couple of months back.  This lead to the first of our objectives to represent our sponsors in the best possible manner which meant appearing at the Easter Thunderball in as professional a manner as possible.  Well we had favourable comments all weekend on the colour scheme and signage and I don’t think you can mistake our new major sponsor when the car is on the track .  Richard from Silverline marketing was very happy on Saturday with our on track and off track achievements so we guess we succeeded with that objective.
Second objective for the weekend?  We were training the “Islanders” Drag Race Team from Norway in order for them to step up from their current Super Comp car to Top Methanol Dragster with our previous Nemesis car.  That’s a very big step and they are rising to the challenge exceptionally well to the extent that they almost turned the car around by themselves by the end of the weekend, and started reminding me of things I had not done!! Once their driver licensing is complete they could be a force to be reckoned with at the Main Event.
The last objective, and the most important, is to win this years FIA Championship.  Of course that is everybody's objective and so it's never easy.  This year there will be more cars and they will be running faster than last year so we will have to pick up our game, run quicker and more consistently, try harder, and most of all BE LUCKY.



Set up day for us was Friday.  We paired off the Norwegian crew with their English counterparts in order for them to learn their individual jobs first hand, checked the car all over, finished a few little jobs and then warmed up the car to check all was well for Saturday.  Most importantly we christened the new BBQ.  (We had worn out the old one finally last year after five years of transporting it around Europe and the USA).  I think like the race car the Barbie can actually suffer more from being transported than being used!!


First run of the year, always a good thing to get over with.  Once you have completed that successfully I always feel that the bits have all dropped back into place and now we can carry on from the previous year.  Well I guess a 5.51/249 early shut off fits the bill quite well.  This put us at No.1 qualifier and therefore we decided to spend the rest of day turning the car around and explaining the intricacies of operating and maintaining the car to our Norwegian friends.


Objective for Sunday, to make two more runs partly to check out the other lane on the track, partly to check out a new fuel pump, and partly to give us and the Norwegians more practice at running and turning the car around.
We were also visited for the day by our grandson, 2 year old David, who caused some amusement by declaring that this was not Grandpa’s car as it did not look the same, but once we warmed up and sounded the same he decided it was alright.  So with his approval we made our 2nd qualifier, 5.57/250.   The new fuel pump needs some fuel system adjustments judging by the slower ET.  So back to the pit, more practice at turning the car around, some small fuel system adjustments and then back out for our 3rd qualifier in the other lane this time.  The car runs 5.53/255; not an early shut off this time!!   the ET responded to the fuel system adjustments and we finish qualifying as No.1


After Sundays final qualifier it was agreed that there would be an extra qualifying session the next morning at 11.00 am but we felt that we would rather not take part in order to be ready for the 1st round at 2.00 pm.  The likeliest change in that qualifier was Steve Turner who was going quicker and quicker as he got used to his car, if he ran fast enough to take over 3rd place from Steph Millam who had unfortunately destroyed her engine big time,  we would  be paired with Steph in the first round and as she was unable to show we effectively would get a bye into the final and that is exactly what happened.  We elected to run first (our choice as number one qualifier) in order to have more time to turn the car around between rounds.  A good choice as it turns out.  When we warmed up for the final David spotted a worrying fluctuation in our oil pressure that resulted in a change of oil pressure gauge and then the oil pump and at that stage the improved pressure looked good enough (in any case we had been called for the final so we had no more time).  After some delay in the fire up road due to a clean up on track we were ready to go.  We knew it would be a tough race, after Freddie’s R/T in the previous round we knew we couldn’t give him an inch.  Oil pressure on start up looked good enough and David and I had agreed to do the burnout and then recheck it, if it didn’t make an acceptable figure we would shut off.  Well it was 5 lb short and fluctuating again, so he shut me off.  As the  engine note died I noticed I could not hear ANY engines running, unknown to us Freddy had exactly the same problem and also shut off.  What an anticlimax, but another first, I have never had a side by side shut off before, and to be honest I don’t want one again!!
It’s always a difficult decision to shut off on the start line, you feel like you’ve failed to achieve the objective, but anytime you have to weigh up the probable damage to a £10,000 engine against a £400 winners cheque, my limited maths can deal with that equation.  So we packed up happy that the engine is in one piece, happy to have run in the 5.50’s four times out of four and happy that we will be back for the Main Event where the real contest will begin,
See you there.
Dave Wilson