Racing History

History

I was originally introduced to Drag Racing as a small boy by my Father, whilst leaving in Vancouver, Canada; I was only about 4 years of age. I was taken to a couple of events to watch. 

My next encounter with Drag Racing was being invited to go to Santa Pod with my brother-in-law, Steve Wareham in 1989. Santa Pod in those days was a drag strip, with few amenities, the racing was great and the evening parties with new friends we made were brilliant. We always had a great time. After being a spectator for some 20 years and attending most international and national events I was completely hooked on the sport, my wife Sue was also completely taken with the sport.

On many occasions we sat on the spectator bank and I said “one day I will race a car here” it sounds so easy when you’re with friends having a few beers and the sun is beating down. I would be so cool to race…….

In 2004, I had an opportunity to purchase a  “Jack Brewster’s Just Mustard” 1978 Camaro. Jack decided to build himself a new  full tube chassis new race car and 78 was available as a ”roller”  Following a few discussions with Jack to work out a build cost (approximate – which was miles out) and with consent from my wife. I purchased the car from Jack with his agreement and help to re-build the car to accept a Big Block Chevy engine. The car previously being fitted with Jack’s Pontiac engine. Jack completed the majority of the work, as I did not really have a clue what needed to be done.

Jack was, and still is a Pontiac Engine fan, however he advised me to buy a Big Block Chevy because parts are cheaper and easier to source. So one evening we sat down with pen and paper a draw up a list of parts needed. I decided to purchase a new crate engine from the states, the biggest I could afford at the time was World Products 540ci (just a little over 9.0lt), lots of other items were needed to complete the build.

With shopping list in hand and following lots of telephone calls to Andy Robinson and Kate Robinson, I visited Andy’s workshop, his advice to me was simple “once you have driven your race car, you will be hooked for life and broke” I must say his advice was true and accurate….

No more than 6 weeks later all of the parts arrived and the build process was started. Jack spent many hours in my garage with me putting the car back together. During the build process one of Jacks friends Nick Griffin popped round to give a hand. The car soon took shape and was started for the first time. It was a strange sensation hearing the car start for the first time…..it was actually quite scary…the noise was emense in the enclosed garage.

Picture of Jack Brewsters new Super Pro ET Firebird

Picture taken at Santa Pod – Super Street pits

The car was built; I purchased an ex-recovery lorry from Castle Recovery to transport it to events. John and Matt Coupland both made sure the lorry was fully prepared and ready to go, the only thing left that I needed to go racing was accommodation. I caravan was sourced, and that’s it, we were set.

Below: Picture of Nick & Val Griffin – with big smiles

We entered our first race meeting in Pro ET; I was advised that this would be a good starting point. On arrival at the race track for the first, many fellow competitors thought that it was Jack Brewster arriving, they soon realised that it was Jack’s ex-race car. Apparently more people were even more surprised when they found out that I have never even been down the track in any type of car before.

Well, the first race day soon arrived, god, I was scared with nerves but excited in the prospect of racing. I had to complete the mandatory observed runs, 1st burnout and launch, 2nd burnout launch and half pass and finally full pass run.  Even my full pass run was little bit on and off the throttle, I seem to remember that it was around 16 seconds, from my seat in the car it seemed quick to me although it was on and off. After a few more passes my confidence grew and I was soon running the car as quick as the chassis would allow.

After one season in Pro ET, I decided that I would prefer to race in another class, this decision was based upon the fact that I kept red lighting during qualifying and eliminations, I just could not get use to the Sportsman tree.

The decision was made to enter Super Street, which run to an index time 10.90. We arrived at the first meeting with a car which we were not completely sure if it was up to the job. No throttle stop, no gadgets, just seat of the pants racing and guessing when to take your foot off the accelerator. The engine proved to be completely reliable and consistent, which meant that I was able competitive. I felt straight away more at home on the Pro Tree. We were made very welcome by everyone in the class. We raced in super street for a couple of seasons, and became runners up in the SPRC, and like most racers a point in time arrives when you decide that you would like to go a little faster and have some more power. The engine that I purchased through ARRC had a 9.5:1 compression ration and was a street/strip build. I contacted World Products directly and explained that I would like to increase my horse-power, they had a off the shelf up-grade kit to 13.5:1 which would increase the engine to 825hp. This engine set-up then allowed me to compete in Super Gas 9.90, although the car could make the numbers, I could not get the car to launch effectively. This was down to car having the modified but original front clip. We tried to over come this by fitting extra front tubes and braces and also fitting a front T6 motor plate. This helped and improved the launch, but the chassis was just not up to the job. A decision was made to sell the 1978 Camaro and look around for a pre-owned and tested race car, as our funds did not allow us to have one built at ARRC. After much searching we found Mark O’halloran’s 1969 Camaro for-sale. A quick decision was made to purchase the car, and I thought that it was just a case of moving 2 tubes and fitting my engine – how wrong I was – Once the car was home, we decided to completely strip the car and re-build and update and necessary, many thousand’s of pounds later the car was ready to test and race

Picture of finished Camaro racing in Super Comp at the Euro Finals 2010