Saturday, 18 May 2019

120. Nostalgia Nationals 2019

A huge amount of work had gone into getting the car to the Nostalgia Nationals and a fair bit of cussing and plan changing, we had a set in stone plan for this year which went straight out of the window when the tow truck broke and used up all the budget so it was a a case of " we will just have to make do" with what we have, and try and optimise the motor to get the most of out of it. And of course the biggest `omission from this meeting was myself, this was the teams first outing without me, I have to admit it was really weird watching my car go down the track on the PC here in Spain. Bearing in mind all the stress leading up to t his meeting they did very well. The trailer was picked up Thursday morning and camp was set up at the Pod there were a few jobs to complete before the car was ready for the track most of which were completed without any problem, The team was made up of Steve and Dave of course and my  other son Phil and one of Steve's friends,

pit set up

Phil's accommodation for the weekend

On Friday the car was warmed up this is the first time the motor has run since the Hot Rod Drags last year and considering the length of time it's been idle in the back of the trailer she sounded sweet.

To be fair this engine has always sounded great. but while going through the gears on the stands Steve heard something he wasn't happy about he shut the motor down and turned the wheels and there it was a noise coming form the recently rebuilt axle, did this deter them, put them off nooo (probably yes) out came the tools and the odd naughty word I bet and the car was stripped down again,  and axle removed and stripped and the problem was found, a loose lock nut that had shaken loose because the lock tab had worn, problem soon fixed with a centre punch and thread lock, then the long job of putting everything back together and in the car again, they even managed to get the car on the track late Friday afternoon...

.. as  you can see things didn't go according to plan, in the burnout (not shown) Steve started to spin the wheels is first then pulled it into second and lost drive??? on the run he rolled the beams, when putting everything together after the rebuild earlier in the day the team got the gear linkage back to front so second gear wasn't where it should be and on the run it was finger/ glove trouble Steve just didn't push the trans brake button hard enough..well it has been over 6 months. The team got in three runs on Saturday with a best of 8.8 seconds, still down a bit on top speed but Steve knows why, I wasn't there to take the videos so please bear with me I'm not of the order of these but what the hell.

A great picture of Steve launching the car by Paul Evans

Up against Mark

Sunday morning saw the team out with a dial n of 8.6 which ended up being a little optimistic as the car slowed to a 9 flat but worse than that it was to be the last run from the car that weekend as a blown crankshaft seal ended play, replacing the seal is no biggie but the cause was a problem and  a shim kit is required so the team loaded up and headed home. The meeting itself was brilliant so many PB's set it was unreal and as usual The Wild Bunch put on a great show. It was a shame the car broke as Steve was after points, but the car did run the engine sounded awesome and the team did feature in the Nostalgia Nationals official highlight Video quite heavily...

Video courtesy of Santa Pod raceway for more great videos check out Santa Pods YouTube page at

Never seen Dave jump so high!!! So now its time to sort the couple of small problems out and try to get the car back to it's best ready for Dragstalgia and of course my turn behind the wheel ..looking forward to it..maybe we should re-paint the axle black!!!!!

Monday, 29 April 2019

119. Festival of Power, Dodge Rams and torrential rain....!

It's taken me over a week to get down and write all this up mainly due to a visit form a family member to our place here in the Valencia region of Spain. Lets start with the FOP I was sat in front of my PC in my office from the test and tune day till the final race on Sunday. There was a reason for this as Spain became victims to the worst storms seen in the last 75 years, on the Costa Blanca alone we managed to get 24 inches of rain in five days that's nigh on monsoon levels of wet stuff falling on my already dodgy roof, there are plenty of videos on YouTube of this deluge local towns flooded including Benidorm and Denia, we are lucky as our place is set higher u in the village than a lot of the houses, I wont complain about the walk up that hill ever again. SO there I am in the middle of this biblical size extinction event watching racing at Santa Pod at Easter bathed in sunshine, something very  wrong with that picture? But what an event PB's all over the place, Rebel in the 8.3's now listen up Brown boys if you want to go faster here is a little tip....paint your axle red shhhh! You backed off after that I can only presume that you either went out of your chassis tag or were saving parts, but what a belter of a weekend for you and some decent driving jobs, and ( I wont say this too loud" you beat Mark to the 160 mph well done. Mark tried to get his pilots licence even I jumped up out of my seat and winced at that one, glad you're OK mark and good to see the car back out the next day. Bob! what can I say an amazing run then disaster hope you get it fixed in time for Dragstalgia.. Great to see Bitchcraft running and turning all gears and to prove you don't need the fastest car to win congratulations to Keith. Getting itchy feet now. Such a great show put on by the Wild Bunch.

Back to our problem with the tow car the Dodge Ram  I can see why so few people use Dodge engines in drag racing the parts are so dam expensive, a new set of pushrods, new set of lifters a few bolts and gaskets cost nearly as much as the last full rebuild on our Chevy motor, Steve ordered the parts and while he was waiting got on the with cleaning the heads and intake etc up and reseating the valves after de-coking them.

As you can see the 160,000 miles this engine has done has taken it's toll on parts it was a bit of a mess to be honest and to make matters worse this engine has LPG conversion on it, Steve tells me the wrong plugs were in it to start with and that the correct plugs are the same as the ones we use in the dragster and are a lot cheaper too,, good news for a change! As usual Steve got round to fixing all the problems and making good a lot of the repairs needed and the parts duly arrived in the post, the lifters went straight into a bucket of oil as Steve put the heads back on.

Less than two weeks ago it looked very much like we were going to have to sit out the Nostalgia Nationals as we wouldn't have a vehicle to tow the trailer with race car in it to the track it has taken a monumental effort by Steve to get the Dodge stripped, cleaned and back together again bearing in mind he has a full tie job and a family to look after and all his other commitments, well done son you shall go to the track!.

It's alive!

Steve and Dave will now have to finish off the odd jobs on the dragster at the track but at least they will get there now, back tot he dragster, as most of you know we have been struggling since day one to get he car down the track in a time and at a speed that should represent the engine we have but we have never got there. Over the last few weeks Steve has been doing some investigation and it would appear that first we have the wrong heads on, apparently off the shelf ally racing heads are fine for SBC's up to about 390ci but ours is 441ci and we need much larger heads to alleviate this problem a little bit we can fit and adapter plate between the hat and the tunnel ram to atomise the fuel better. Secondly Steve has been investigation the cam shaft he got onto Comp Cams and gave them our engine build sheet, what came back told us what we probably knew but was frightened to accept, Our cam shaft is no good for drag racing it is far too small, it is high lift short duration and is good for a stall converter of 3500 max, ours is 5,500 now that explains a lot, so Comp Cams have designed us a cam shaft for our engine to "wake it up a bit" it's a wonder we have managed to get the car to run as well as it has? none of this will be ready for the Nostalgia Nationals as Steve has been to busy sorting out the above problems so he is looking for consistency that weekend and no more damage please!!! Race safe see you at the track soon.

Monday, 8 April 2019

118. Axles and Tow Vehicles..??

Here we are in April 2019 the season is about to kick off with the Festival of Power in a couple of weeks times with a very healthy 10 car entry from the Wild Bunch...well done guys and girls, the weekend just gone saw some of the teams at the Pod doing some test and tuning well done to the Pete Brown for licensing in the new car  and good to see that Bitchcraft now has all three gears.So the team were getting all excited abut the season and what we might be able to achieve this year once we get full throttle control??? 

As previously mentioned this years project was getting the axle sorted. Steve wanted to make sure he got it right so even went and bought a book...yes a real book with words and everything, so he could get all the right set-up information. After sourcing all the correct bearings.some for the second time and the arrival of the terminator kit to replace the crush gasket the axle was put together again.

With it all back together complete with new ring and pinion Steve cleaned the axle up rubbed it down and pointed it hmmm yes it is very red Steve didn't have any black hammerite only red, so red it is. This weekends plan was to refit the axle sort out one or two other little problems and then button it all up ready for the Nostalgia nationals as Steve's licence hasn't turned up yet.

Before Steve set off for sunny Luton he cleaned the Dodge up and checked her over and filled up with gas and fuel.

On the way to Luton the Dodge developed a bit of amiss-fire which Steve was a bit concerned about ,on Saturday evening he rang me tot ell me that the problem might be a bit worse than he first thought and he then sent me a photo of a spark plug.....Oh dear!!

No tip and a part f the ceramic is missing, Somehow Steve and Dave found somewhere open in Luton on a Sunday that carried the correct plugs for the Dodge but it made no difference so it looks like a bent push rod or  a bit of the plug stuck behind the valve or maybe worse..Something to sort out a bit later. So the axle was re-fitted.

 And yes it is very red! the problem with not getting full throttle was found. one of the  linkages was a tad too short and that was about it as Steve needed to get home somehow, I have to point out at this point in time Dave's car suddenly went into limp mode with the engine light flashing away on his dash so he couldn't give Steve a lift back, Living in Spain counted me out, and as Steve had all his tools with him so no chance of getting a train or bus so he limped the Dodge back at 30mph and praying all the way that no more damage was being done. We will find out when he strips the heads down in the coming week but depending on how bad the damage is will dictate when we or I should say the team can go racing.

Good luck to all the Wild Bunch at the festival of Power fingers crossed we may see you at some point at the track this year you never know?

Thursday, 17 January 2019

117. I thought I was finished with all this LOL ???

Here we are in 2019 wow where did last year go? this is a quick update first of all I am going to have to say this I am really disappointed that there are only 3 non msa events this year, I can only thing that either the Pod want to get rid of the Outlaw classes or there just isn't enough race days free on the calendar? time will tell on that one. Luckily the dragster is still tagged and i have just found out that the race suit has another year to go, the only thing that the team have had to get is a new race helmet as the current one is too damaged to get through scrutineering. Luckily Steve has found one and it's on its way to Swindon.

This means that we should be able to enter a couple of MSA events this year budget allowing that is. We have another problem early this year we found the gearbox was damaged because it had come out of line with the axle in fact it was beyond repair we found another box but what we didn't think of was, could it have damaged the axle as well? the answer to that is yes. Steve took the axle off the car to check it out as he wasn't happy with it when he turned it over something went "jangle jangle" there shouldn't be any noise from the saxle so back to base and strip down time, what Steve found wasn't good....

Bearings collapsed  shafts scored etc, its a wonder it didn't cause a bigger problem. So rebuild on the way and hopefully all will e well for the first meeting of the year.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

116. The off season is also very busy

So as I am freeing here in the UK waiting for completion on my house sale so I can go join my wife in Spain I may as well do another update, seeing as the TV is already halfway to Valencia. We racer types don't just park our race cars up for the winter and put our feet up oh no! There is always lots to do usually bound with  trying to go faster. We had a reasonable year this year we got the car back into the 8 second zone and we got some sort of reliability and later in the year with Steve in the hot seat we even won some points!!! and Steve got the car down to 8.7 seconds which was brilliant. But not fast or quick enough oh no.

First things first the team had to return the borrowed flex plate back to its original owner, Mike Oates and here was some investigation required in the drive train so last weekend Steve and Dave and all made the trip on a rather wet weekend up to the storage unit near Bedford.

After a quick call to yours truly for the combination of one of the padlocks they were at it big time and  very quickly the body panels were off and all sorts of bit and pieces were laying on the floor of the trailer, now having mentioned the trailer there is not a lot of room in it but some how three guys got the car stripped in that confined space.

In no time the flex plates were swapped over and the axle was lying on the floor, he axle had grown a leak or two and needed some TLC so Steve is going to take it home with him and sort it out.

Then it was off to see a man about a camshaft, the cam shaft we have been running for the last 4 years has a very short duration so time for a better one after some serious Steve type research we now have a longer duration cam and a lighter flex plate which should help no end will be even better once the trans brake is sorted out, which All rewired for us while Steve and Dave ripped the mechanical stuff apart, Some other research b Steve has found that we should be running in the top end of the 7's with our set up but it looks like we need bigger heads we will see in the mean time we should be catching up with Mark the Ball-beaker team depending on how much work they have done over the close season of course...bring it on!!!

Monday, 17 September 2018

115. Hot Rod Drags

I honestly didn't think I would still be in the Country at this time but house sales are intrinsically  fickle things so we are now on our second offer on our home, the upshot is I get to attend the 2018 offering of the NSRA's hot Rod Drags which is at Santa Pod raceway for the first time.  So once more I was up with the Larks on Friday morning (around 3:30am) and on the road around 5 am trying to get over the Dartford Crossing before they start charging at 6am

On arrival it was time to unload and sort out the trailer, the car needed a little fettling which was carried out by Steve, re-adjusting the back lash and checking the timing, the valve clearances were all over the place and the timing had slipped back to 30 degrees so after sorting that little problem out Steve and I went over to Family Camping to put up his tent which was to be his accommodation for the weekend, this was not easy as one might suspect due to rather windy day. but after just a little swearing and bending of tent pegs we got her up.

We took the car for a couple of runs but to be honest the track was far too cold and even though it had been glued it still wasn't at its best and on both runs Steve spun the tyres up when shifting gear, so apart from some  60 foot numbers it really wasn't worth persevering for the rest of the day so we packed up, tidied up had a few drinks and then went to the entertainment tent to watch a rather decent band, were we had a few more drinks I will admit to being a wee bit tipsy but not as "Broken" as a newest member of the team our wonderful back up girl Diana I don't think I can remember anyone dancing for so long without collapsing!

Saturday morning eventually arrived I was up early and managed to see the sunrise! not something I get to see very often.

After finding some much needed coffee and waiting for an appropriate time to turn on our very noisy generator we noticed that Steve  hadn't turned up for work so a walk round to the camping area and a few loud "Mornings" and we were back in business, even with some serious delays and a lot of waiting around in the paring lanes we managed to get 4 runs in which may be a record for us and on top of that Diana turned up on time with seemingly little or no after effects of the night before, a real pro that one. All runs were between 9.3 and 9.1 which isn't bad but nowhere near where we wanted to be so some serious head scratching was called for.

So after another night of merriment race day dawned, now this was to be a day of frustration and joy, first of all my video camera's memory card threw a wobbly so I only managed to save one video of the day and fortunately that was the one when Diana decided to wear a colour matching Basque, but not only that but we had problems before every run, first run the throttle stuck wide open while in the pairing lanes good job the engine wasn't running but what a sight to see Steve and Dave trying to fix the problem while being towed down to the start line, next run we found a dropped cylinder with 15 minutes to go before we were supposed to be towed down fortunately we found the problem and it wasn't as bad as it could have been it was a blocked injector.

During this time the team managed to set fire to a battery charger and get the brake cleaner and petrol muddled up so for the last two runs the car was started on brake cleaner, Second run was against Craig Larman in the Ferret, And as Colin on commentary said "both second generation racers"  he then mentioned myself and asked me to stand up and wave in the grandstand hmmm red face moment, Steve pulled to the line staged hit the trans brake and the car lurched forward crossed the beams before the tree ran down I knew instantly what had happened problems with the trans brake again, so no time or speed recorded but he floored it all the same Craig PB'd and Steve stormed after him the car pulled like a train, before that run Steve adjusted the main fuel pil by 0,5 and that made the difference. So now it was all hands to the decks,

We only had 30 mins to turn the car around and also try and sort out yet another trans brake switch as we had burnt out another one, that was three for the weekend. Lee Hartnel to the rescue with a high amp switch which was fitted in super quick time and tested seconds before we were called. This time no problems for Steve the car ran great, the time and speed came up on the boards he had done it..8.7 at 152 mph smiles all round.

Last run of the year and we had managed to achieve what we had set out to do, such a great feeling of achievement but with a lot of help from a lot of people including my Brother Dave, our friend Mike Oates our   great back up girl Diana and loads of others including most of The Wild Bunch, as I have already mentioned this was probably my last time at the Pod but what a way to go out thanks to everyone who made it possible it's been a  blast. I got home Sunday evening only to be told by Lorni that our second purchasers have now withdrawn their offer..oh well!

Monday, 20 August 2018

114. Redline Rumble

Well our first house purchasers had the sale of their place fall through.....etc etc. so I'm still here in sunny what can I do? I know go drag racing! But before that we had a problem to solve, I did mention in the last post that we may have a gearbox problem as we seem to be having trouble with the transbrake and also a small leak. A couple of weeks back Steve went up to the trailer along with Dave and one of Steve's friends an they took the gearbox out which is a big job that requires the back axle to be removed and the under-tray, all in the confines of the trailer so not much room to work in.

Steve took the gearbox apart and found..well lots of problems, the tail piece has a bronze bush in it but for some reason the exit of the tail had elongated gone egg shaped and the bush had broken up and bits had got in everywhere including the pump the front bush wasn't looking too good either.

This was why we were having problems not enough line pressure, replacement parts are not cheap and it was looking like the team would be sitting out the rest of the season then Steve got a call informing him of a complete gearbox for sale that had all the right bits in it, So Steve purchased the item from Paul Marston, I had to collect it for Steve as Paul lived around 35 miles from me a lot nearer to me than Swindon. So as arranged I turned up at Paul's place on a miserable English summers day in Romford, Essex. Gearbox was then transported to my place until Dave picked it up the Thursday before the Redline Rumble.

Dave took the newly acquired Powerglide to the trailer where he and Steve set about installing the box the day before the event.

Once the gearbox was installed another problem reared it's head the drive train was out of alignment when the slicks were turned the prop shaft was turning in an elliptical motion which is what probably caused the initial problem, this was going to take some time to sort out so we were not going to the Rumble, then a little while later I got a call from Steve to let me know that he had managed to shim the gearbox up and that has sorted out the problem and we would be going to the Rumble! Ten minutes after that I got another call telling me that the Flex Plate (fly wheel) was bent and there was nothing we could do about it so we would not be going to the Rumble. Half an hour later another phone call, Steve had phoned Mike Oates our temporary / full time team member who said we could borrow the one from his engine for the time being so we would be going to the Rumble. A little while later Steve rang me to tell me that while putting the transmission shield on he had caught the gearbox inhibitor switch and broken it, this switch stops the engine from being started while in gear, so now we were not going to the Rumble.

I had a little think about it and phoned Steve back and managed to explain to him that we could in fact do without the switch for one meeting if we were careful so we were now defiantly going to the rumble. Thank god all that was sorted but!!!!! he then phoned me back to let me know that the oil pressure gauge wasn't working and nor was the transbrake and that he had just about had enough for the day and wanted to set fire to the car and we were now not going to the Rumble....again. Around about ten to eight passed and he phoned me back to say "Sod it" we were going and he would sort out the wiring at the Pod in the morning so the Rumble was back on and I was getting giddy. I then got another call to let me know that he couldn't get out of the storage depot as all the gates were now locked so I had to make a couple of calls to get him released.

A quick bath and some clothes packed and the alarm set for 4:30am I managed to get to bed for some well earned sleep. We met up at the storage depot to find the place was still locked up at 7:30am so we waited and then more people turned up and the gates were still locked so I phoned Graham the owner who was on Holiday!! he had to give me the codes over the phone so I could open the place up, we got to the Pod a little later than we had hoped for, Mike was already at the gates waiting for us, we unloaded the trailer and the team got to work sorting out the electrical gremlins. They found out the transbrake switch on the steering wheel was broken and so Steve borrowed one from the Brown twins, It was a good job our first run was not till lunchtime.

This was Steve's first meeting as a driver he took to it like he had been doing it all his life, we had four runs booked in for the Wild Bunch on Saturday the first run wasn't brilliant but it was Steve's first full pass in the car it got better from there on in. More fettling from Mike on the fuel system and Steve was getting the hang of it I was getting worried he would break into the 8's straight away and with the lovely Diana backing him up he got close, real close.

Saturdays Runs

We found another small problem, Steve was managing to get the car into Neutral on the burnout and on the run. There is supposed to be a "gate" to stop this but when the gearbox was installed and the linkage adjusted it moved the gear selector position, So on Sunday morning this was solved by Dave and then the backlash was checked and an oil change done and we were ready for the days competition.

Sundays Runs

To say I was impressed or even proud would be an understatement not only did Steve not get beat once but he even managed to pull a red light and his reaction times were more than impressive. beat me hands down, he ended up with a best time of 9.05 seconds on a 9.1 dial in on the last run but he also managed a best of 0.07 reaction time, he only went and finished 4th out of 22 original starters and got a trophy and...another trophy for best reaction time of the event...bloody nora.

Trophy boy

So all of this on his first meeting as a driver on a borrowed flex plate a borrowed transbrake switch no gearbox inhibitor switch, problems with the gear selector and reaching the throttle peddle properly, Two trophy's and unbeaten, that will do to start with!