Sooooo Close...

...but no cigar

What a Championship it has been this year.  With this A-Fuel car anything is possible, even consistent results.  Once you have a handle on matching the car’s performance to the track conditions.

Our ability to do this showed a marked improvement as the year proceeded.  The new track Tierp in Sweden showed us that!  With a track capable of taking the power we can make, the result was a new European record 5.29 et “first into the 5.20s”.  Hockenheim demonstrated a further advance in our ability to get one of these cars down  a tricky track (ask Derek Flynn).  We managed No.1 qualifier fastest time of the weekend and set the second quickest time as well by tuning our way around the “very” difficult right lane.

All this time Fred Hansenn and his tuner Will Hanna had been matching our performance run by run and building a championship points lead.  As we increased our ability to tune our car this ding dong battle went down to the final race of the championship at Santa Pod with the Silverline dragster holding a narrow 9 point lead over Fred.

Pro-Test Day

As there was an opportunity to test at Santa Pod the Wednesday before the race we took advantage of that to try to refine our tune up for the track conditions there.  Well what a good job we did, as on arrival at the track  we got a real shock to find the track up to the startline had been relaid and was really just virgin asphalt.  As our rear tyres are some 20 feet back behind the startline this looked like it would be really difficult until the new asphalt could get enough rubber on it to match the existing track.  Unfortunately despite the heroic efforts of the track crew during the whole race they never did manage to get the two different surfaces to match. 

The result with our car on our first test run was instant tyre shake which we initially thought was a result of the track’s condition, but once the data was analysed after the run a problem in the ignition system was found to be a contributing factor also.  As fixing the problem took up most of the day that had to be our one and only test run.  Not a very successful start!!  But better to find a problem testing than on qualifying or race day.

Qualifying Friday

We expected qualifying to be difficult given the situation with the track and sure enough, on our first qualifier, the car made it across the new asphalt to the existing track where it started to grip hard which then distorted the tyres and started them smoking, and that was that.

2nd Qualifier

After two unsuccessful tries at getting down the track, one in  testing and one in qualifying, we had to make adjustments which were way outside our normal set up, but it did at least result in a full run 5.69 et @ 261.16 mph which qualified us in 6th position and the terminal speed showed we had the power and could use it at the far end of the track but having to take so much power out in order to tiptoe across the startline just ruined our elapsed time.

Saturday 3rd Qualifier

Now that we were qualified we felt a little more comfortable but we were a long way from being normal in terms of performance, so we changed the setup completely to see if we could achieve a better time by some other route!!  Well it worked but only ran 5.64, still not good enough.

For the fourth qualifier we reverted to our more familiar setup and just made adjustments to it to try to compensate more for the track conditions.  Due to some light rain in the afternoon delaying qualifying for about two hours by the time we were ready to run it was quite dark and cold which was not what we wanted at all.  Then crew chief David reported to me over the radio that the track had just been sprayed in both lanes with traction compound.  I think that that was what gave us our best run of the weekend.  The extra grip it afforded produced a 5.52 et @ 261 mph.  Not a great time but over 1 tenth quicker than we had previously managed.

Race Day

All the testing and qualifying now over it was time for the final showdown.  Fred Hanssen had already equalled our points score by qualifying better so we start race day, and whoever wins today wins the championship.

It has to be said the odds are not with us right now!!  Our A-fuel car really struggles to compete in marginal track conditions.  Although we have the weekends quickest time for the A-fuel cars the blown cars seem to be able to deal with the conditions better.

In the first round of eliminations we race the other half of the “Islanders Drag Race Team” Paul Ingar who has our previous car.  Paul struggled quite a lot in the early part of the year but returned in Germany and has since run very well.

Our tune up is unchanged from the night before, we should be safe to run 5.50 or better as compared to the previous run the air quality should be worse and the  track should be better preventing us from overpowering it.  Well it wasn’t to be!  I won the battle for reaction time .079-.119 but then the tyres started to smoke, I gave it one quick pedal to recover in case Paul had a problem but he made a good run 5.48 close to his best . 


Fred Hanssen Champion for 2011

I have to say it has been a real fun year!!

To be able to compete against the other TMD teams employing US tuners (Will Hanna, Howard Main, Randy Anderson and Jim Rizzoli) without having to cross the Atlantic has given the whole team a sense of major achievement in coming second.

It only remains for me to thank all our friends, fans and supporters  who came by our pit during the weekend for their support in the past and best wishes for the future.

My thanks also have to go to all the people and companies who have given us their support and friendship over the years.

Our longest running sponsor/supporter Ray Maguire / PlayStation , James and Darrell  / Silverline Tools, Tony Cohen  / American Car Imports, Malcolm Francis / Air Sea Logistics, Barry Miller / BMRS, Chase Knight / Crane Cams, Kiki / Euro American Cars.  Whatever we have achieved over the years would not have been possible without their support both moral and financial.

 A special mention should go to Gary Burgin whose service in tracking down elusive parts and even more elusive information has made racing so much easier.

And last, but by no means least, all the crew who have made their own invaluable contributions over the years.  Andy Bissett, Ricki Packham, Harry Palmer, Fred Wilbanks, Mike Nichols, Phil James, Darren Gould, Pete Walton, Nick and Jim Chandler

Linda, David and I will be back at the track in the future!

Doing what ?   With who ?   Who knows ????    We Don’t !!!!!

See you there

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