Easter Thunderball 2006 Report
Friday 14th - Monday 17th April
The Easter Thunderball is now over! But what a great start it was to Santa Pod's 40th season of drag racing. With hundreds of race teams entered from all over Europe, the four-day format of the Thunderball was all set to be the most packed Motorsport event in the UK. As usual, the Thunderball welcomed racers with new cars, new set ups, and records were broken both personal and national, with stunning racing in all classes. Unfortunately, rain affected the last part of the day on Monday, and some of eliminations did not reach their conclusions.
Alongside the national and invitational racers, Santa Pod play host to an amazing line-up of jet powered, rocket powered and stunt vehicles on the track. The impressive sites and sounds of the Dragsters and Funny cars in the Pro Fuel Shootout where joined by the Pro Mods and a superb field of Fuel Altereds.
Despite the relentless action on track, there was a full programme of off-track action, with Freestyle Motocross stunt shows, Monster Truck action, Wall of Death and loads of kids entertainment too. On Saturday fans got the chance to meet some of their favourite Drag Racing superheroes past and present at signing sessions. The Santa Pod site was packed to the gunnels all four days, and a shining example off the health of British Drag Racing.
The wining number in the "Sign of the Times" prize draw was 4782, if you have this number on the front of your programme then please phone 01234 782828 or complete our contact form to claim your prize.
To see more photos of the Easter Thunderball 2006 view the Daily Galleries.
Pro Fuel Shootout: Micke Kågered 5.185/230.74 def. John Spuffard 5.633/190.69
MSA Top Methanol: Rob Turner 5.831/215.35 def. Dave Wilson staged
Pro Modified: Mats Eriksson staged
Top Fuel Bike: Roel Koedam 6.146/224.79 def. Lorenz Stauble 9.147/96.57
The national race classes were rained off before they were concluded, and the points are currently be calculated.
The following national records were set at the Thunderball:
Street Eliminator: 8.073 seconds, John Sleath
ACU Top Fuel Bike: 6.208 seconds and 219.70 mph, Roel Koedam
ACU Funny Bike: 195.66 mph, Neil Midgley
Extended Race Report
This Easter Thunderball Bank Holiday event was something just a little bit special, not because it was a four day event and the seasons kick off for Santa Pod, nor the fact that entries were so numerous that a halt had to be called because no more competitors could be dealt with or the fact that queues to get in stretched a long way but purely for the fact that this was the 40th Anniversary of the opening of Santa Pod Raceway's famed quarter mile. Europe premiered its first permanent Drag Strip over the Easter weekend of 1966, and although the biggest car then was a 5976cc Cadillac powered Dragster owned by the late Allan Herridge, probably measuring well below 1000 bhp it started a trend that has grown into the professional, state of the art, well oiled 7000 plus bhp machine that is today's Drag Racing.
Attending the prestigious affair as VIP's were many names from past racing years including Dennis Priddle, Peter Crane, Roz Prior, Dave Stone, Gerry Andrews, and Russ Carpenter in the car classes and John Hobbs, Ian Messenger, Derek Chinn and Brian Johnson from the two wheel brigade and others the likes of former commentator Brian Taylor, Pro Stock racer and race official John Ledster and Liz Ledster, veteran Chief Starter Stu Bradbury, former race Director Syd McDonald and team owner Dave Prior. Inducted into the Drag Racing Hall of Fame in a start line ceremony were Dennis Priddle, Roz Prior the late Dennis Stone (picked up by son Dave Stone) and John Ledster.
Pro Fuel Shootout: Pro Fuel, an Easter speciality was made up of three Top Fuel machines and three Funny Cars contesting the event with the latter getting a 0.35 head start in an effort to equalize the pairings. The qualifying was testing in more ways than one as teams not only contested the race, they were testing as well this being their first time on track this year. Each team had to make three passes and the cumulative times of each added up to find the quickest so that the final pitted a Funny Car against a Top Fueller. On hand but not competing were Tommy Möller and the Pennzoil fueller as well as Top Fuel rookies, ex Top Methanol Funny Car Champion Urs Erbacher in the Midland Oil car plus Möller teammate and former Pro Mod racer, Håken Fällström in an almost identical Pennzoil machine.
The times were calculated and it put John Spuffard in the 'Showtime' Funny Car who finally overcame a long period of woes to run a best of an early shut off 5.586/204 along with a couple of pedalling runs of 6.673 and a 7.449 that gave him a time of 18.658 seconds taking into account the 0.35 from each pass. Facing him was the Bahco Tools/3M backed Top Fueller of Sweden's Micke Kågered whose tally was 22.165 that included a best of an early click off 5.487/187 and a couple of tests, a 7.869 and a chute dropping 8.809.
Third in the time totals was Sweden 's Leif Helander who put his 'Starkotter' Saab 9-3 flopper to a time of 25.293 with the best being an 8.436. Holland 's Lex Joon the current FIA Top Fuel Champion was next with a 28.28 and a 5.453 top number but missed one pass as he could not reverse the car after the burnout. Andy Carter put the B&Q Power Tools machine in at five with a 29.02 and a best of an 8.974 tyre spinner. Gordon Smith managed a 35.996 but suffered troubles en route.
The final came in the late afternoon after many small frustrating rain showers and numerous track drying sessions. Spuffard took his last round lucky right lane but then suffered a clutch disintegration, trailing a shower of sparks all down the track to record a fine but losing 5.633/190 as Kågered powered past to produce the best times of the event with a winning 5.185/230 just as another rain shower came down.
MSA Top Methanol: A small but good field of two Dragsters and one Funny Car made up the Top Methanol class that was led from the start by the 2005 FIA Top Methanol Dragster Champion Dave Wilson in the old 'Nemesis' car with the current engine combination in between the frame rails. A 5.597/251 on Saturday was bettered on Sunday with a 5.560/253 that kept him on pole position. The MSA British Top Methanol Champion, Rob Turner couldn't quite match Wilson's numbers but squared away a 5.679/250 best for the second spot followed by Stephanie Milam's Dodge Avenger Funny Car with a 6.287/204 but at the expense of a broken crank that holed the block and rotated the Lenco hurting one of Steph's legs in the process, a culmination of troubles that put her out of any further competition.
Round one consisted of two solo showings as Rob Turner took the long route up his lane weaving side to side to return a time ticket of 5.680/245, he should have faced Milam who did not show due to the breakages. Dave Wilson managed to stage under his own power leaving everyone thinking he was just staging to gain his points and next round place but the final showed another reason.
Both old adversaries came to the line and staged but Dave Wilson made no attempt to do the burnout and once again just staged the car giving the clue that not all was well. In fact the Wilson machine had suffered rear axle problems but was able to stage but not run. Rob Turner staged and shot off to take an eased up 5.831/215 win knowing that Wilson was not alongside him.
Pro Modified: A five car class saw Danny Cockerill's early pole position of 6.604/207 fall to the might of Sweden's Mats Eriksson who in round two took over with a great 6.348/227.23.
Breakages to Danny Cockerill and Andy Robinson took its toll on the eliminations putting the rain delayed final down to a bye run as Mats Eriksson was left the lone survivor. As he began to stage his stunning new painted 'Green Goblin' Crown Victoria down came yet another rain shower that eventually killed off the whole race in a sad end to a fabulous celebration of forty years of Drag Racing.
Race Report by Roger Gorringe. © April 2006.
To see more photos of the Easter Thunderball 2006 view the Daily Galleries below.
For more coverage of the Drag Racing at Easter Thunderball visit Eurodragster.com.
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