What can I say, a dream ending to our first season of top-fuel
Supertwin with a surprise win at the national Finals. Although not
as hard fought as we would have liked, the class here in the UK
should be better subscribed next year and we will be ready for them.
Comiserations to the teams of Bernie Hepworth and Chris Stebbings,
who both suffered catastrophic engine failures at the weekend but we
know they will both be back bigger and stronger in 2004. The season
was a frantic one for us as we started at the speedfreaks ball with
our own mechanical meyhem which put us out of the first round of the
championship. We then proceeded to get as much track time as
possible to learn the black art of racing with Nitromethane and it
was indeed a steep curve, but great fun never the less. A lot of
advice was given by guru's like Rob Geffen, Bernie, Tony Ruggerio,
Dale Nungesser, Willem Been, Krusi, Ronny Aasen, Svein Gottenberg,
Al Smith, Frank Brachtvogel, Vincent Pels etc. and we heeded it all,
then applied the relevant parts to our set-up. The goal was simple,
like Steve Clutterbuck's, to race a nitro Harley on the cheap and
survive to race next season.
We took it all very cautiously in small steps and aimed for
consistency while resisting the overwhelming urge to tip the can in
search of power. The 'S&S Sure-Shot' is a small capacity, single
cam, street motor, in a heavy mild steel chassis with a small back
tire so we were going to have to work out our own settings to make
this bike work.A lot of people couldn't understand what we were
doing and just presumed that any Nitro Harley would instantly run
into the low sevens and I spent a lot of time trying to explain the
reality of the game. The rule for us was 66% nitro max if the cast
engine cases were to survive so we kept to that and chiseled away at
the tune-up bit by bit until we had a 9.9 bracket bike. By that time
we had a better understanding of what was doing what and why with a
good database of runs to refer to. It was this consistency that saw
us through the finals at Santa Pod this fall as each run gained us a
tenth improvement on the last finishig up with an arrow straight
9.36 @ 146mph in our final ride into the sunset that Sunday.
It was a great event for the sportsman racers and a fitting end
to one of the best years of drag racing I have ever seen in the UK.
The tracks and facilities were superb all year and we were blessed
with great weather all season. I don't think I have ever seen the
Santa Pod track so well prepped all year, even at test and tunes.
Kjell just worked his magic and the staff were incredibly helpful at
all times, as were the Shakespeare County staff. It just made it so
much easier for a rookie like me so big thanks to all! Massive
thanks must go to Ian 'RUSH' Carruthers who supported me all year,
made all the parts for the bike, crewed for me, advised me, kept me
safe and sane, all for the price of an occasional cup of tea, the
man is a star and no way could I have done this without him. Also
big thanks to Dave Witts, Leo, Gareth, Ben, Mark, Paul, Jos, and
Barry Sheavills, and all the others that got roped into helping all
year, I owe you. Thanks also to my fellow papperazzi for some great
shots, it felt strange being on the receiving end of the lens. Must
say a special thanks to Sharkman and Tog who work so hard for the
case of European Drag Racing, we all owe you two a lot!
I can honestly say I have never enjoyed myself so much as I have
this year racing top-fuel and will endeavour to improve next year,
funds permitting. The bike would never have existed without the
continuing support of my fantastic sponsors:- S&S Cycle, Red
Line Oil, Rivera Engineering, Pro-Mod Engineering, Custom Chrome
Europe, Zodiac, Milwaukee Sprayer, Jims Machining, Jim McClure,
Aasen Racing, Sprint Dampers, Braided Steel Aerotek, King Racing and
Rune Fjeld Motorsports.
photo of final sunset run courtesy Sharkman.