Santa Pod Raceway
Drag Racing

The Auto Trader Easter Thunderball

Friday 10th to Monday 13th April 2009
Auto Trader

The Easter Thunderball opened the 2009 Drag Racing season and with some fantastic racing. After a rain affected first two days the track was open till 9pm on Sunday and Monday to get racing in all classes finished.

Off track the monster trucks and stunt displays were enthralling the crowds in the Live Action Arena.

TV Show: The Auto Trader Easter Thunderball was filmed for TV and the show will be broadcast on Motors TV on Wednesday 16th September at 7pm and repeated 8 times that week.

Friday & Saturday Rain Off: Please view the Rain Off Values page for details of credit values.

Drag Racing:

National Drag Racing Championships:

The weekends winners and runners up were:

John Spuffard   John Spuffard  

Pro Fuel Shootout: John Spuffard def Anita Mäkelä

Derek Flynn   Derek Flynn  

Top Methanol: Derek Flynn def. Rob Turner

Henri Joosten   Roger Moore  

MSA Pro Modified: Henri Joosten def Roger Moore
(photo roger)

Nigel Payne   Tim Garlick  

Super Modified: Nigel Payne def Tim Garlick
(photo tim)

Bob Doyle   Bob Doyle  

Super Pro ET: Bob Doyle def Steve Taylor

Keith Herbert   Bob Doyle  

Pro ET: Keith Herbert def Jon Turner

Nick Gay   Nick Gay  

Sportsman ET: Nick Gay def Lawrie Drysdale

Brian Pateman   Brian Pateman  

Super Comp: Brian Pateman def Jon Morton

Jon Morton   Jon Morton  

Super Gas: Jon Morton def Stu Doignie

John Grant   spacer  

Super Street: John Grant def Leigh Morris

Rosie Hunt   Rosie Hunt  

Junior Dragster: Rosie Hunt def Joe Kellett

Frank Bennet   spacer  

NFAA: Frank Bennett def Tony Betts

Colin Lazenby   spacer  

Street Eliminator: Colin Lazenby def Jeff Meads

Chris Hartnell   Chris Hartnell  

Wild Bunch: Chris Hartnell def David Rowlands

Richard Merriman   Richard Merriman  

VW Pro: Richard Merriman def James Hodson

Russ Weir   Russ Weir  

VW Sportsman: Russ Weir def Mark Malone

Leon Green   Leon Green  

HKS Pro: Leon Green def Chris Impey

Steve Woollatt   spacer  

Top Fuel Bike: Steve Woollatt bye

Ray Debben   Ray Debben  

Pro Stock Bike: Ray Debben def Len Paget

Gary Jones   Gary Jones  

Funny Bike: Gary Jones bye

Stu Crane   Stu Crane  

Comp Bike: Stu Crane def Ivan Birch

Garry Bowe   Garry Bowe  

Super Street Bike: Garry Bowe def Rich Stubbins

Steve Coombs   Steve Coombs  

9.50 Bike: Steve Coombs def Richard Sawatzki

Race Report

The English weather was almost a continuation from last year’s disastrously wet season, as after several fine weeks of Spring-like sunshine the Easter race event turned cold and very wet. Of the four race days, two and a half suffered the dreaded wet stuff but qualifying was completed by early Monday morning and the rest of the Bank Holiday Monday was consumed by eliminations culminating with the last final right on the 21:00 hours curfew. The cold track and damp air caused Crew Chiefs and teams many problems in getting the power to the track.

The Pro Fuel Shootout is always synonymous with Easter and pits Top Fuel Dragsters against Funny Cars to start the season and give race starved fans their first taste of nitro. The floppers get a 0.35 second head start over the fuellers and the two quickest machines after three accumulated qualifiers run the final. Each team had many problems on the cold track with cars shaking or smoking the slicks, only a returning Anita Mäkelä made any inroad into the numbers with a shaking and early click-off best of 5.375/211. England’s John Spuffard in the Showtime Mustang, an ex Robert Hight machine was the other car to almost make a full pass collecting the next best accumulated numbers. It was these two that faced off, Mäkelä, a former FIA European Top Fuel Champion returning to the hot-seat after six years raising a family and Spuffard who had to change back to last years body as the new one was found to be chaffing parts. John Spuffard in the ATI Showtime left first as is the case having a better reaction time (0.1204 to Anita’s 0.2267) but just past the tree shake started and the car moved around to the left as he lifted off the throttle. Anita Mäkelä charged hard in pursuit but at half track she drifted right just clipping the reflector cone at 990 feet and shutting off. Although the Finn crossed the stripe first her Atomic Chicken fueller was disqualified handing a third win to the Bob Jarrett and John Spuffard owned fuel coupe, 7.894/107 win to the 5.185/208 lose.

Rob Turner in the newly vinyl wrapped and beautifully coloured Top Methanol Dragster headed the mixed Top Methanol class with a 5.856/224 top qualifier, well ahead of nearest rival, Germany’s Timo Habermann on a 6.207/237 in the seven car eliminator. Turner ran a bye of 6.173/203 in the opening round. Meeting Turner in the final was to be another Brit, Derek Flynn in an A/Fuel car who had despatched Stephanie Milam’s flopper in round one then saw off Timo Habermann in the second, 5.613/243 to a 5.715/250 lose. Turner soundly beat Dennis Habermann with a 5.484/255 to a crossed up and centre-line crossing 12.094/64. All looked good for Rob Turner in the Lucas Oil/Deep Stage backed dragster in the final up until just after the two hundred foot mark when smoke indicated engine woes slowing him to a 13.884/54. Meanwhile, Derek Flynn in the Gold RV nitro injected rail passed Rob’s leave and with a rough sounding and smoky motor Flynn got the all important win with a 5.723/247.

It was a pass into the darkened gloom of Sunday night that put Holland’s Robert Joosten into pole position in the MSA Pro Modified ranks; a stunning 6.206/230 was well ahead in the eight car field. Andy Robinson managed an off par 6.714/208 to be second and on the bubble was Graham Ellis in the stunning Plymouth Superbird with an 8.627/176. Once again the track conditions caught racers out and some usually big names did not feature past round one allowing a couple of surprises to gain the finals. England’s Roger Moore had another couple of sideswipes at the Christmas tree, thankfully missing each time and getting past Sweden’s Mats Eriksson in one then Andy Robinson in two. Robert Joosten’s power deserted him and he lost to Ellis in the opening round but then Henri Joosten (no relation) beat Bert Englefield in one then took out Ellis in two. This left a battle between England and Holland as Roger Moore in the good looking Shakespeare Engineering Dodge Viper took on Henri Joosten in the Rijsbergen Garage ’55 Chevy Bel Air. Joosten was out first but Moore was suffering a misfire then plumed smoke slowing to a 9.979/89 as Henri Joosten took the money with a 6.895/204 win.

The Nostalgia Fuel Altered Association run a class points/low ET system with the top two meeting for the final and it was an alcohol car that got the honours beating a fuel car. Frank Bennett took his Relentless Topolino to a best of 6.635/181 as Tony Betts lost power in the re-vinyled flamed Venom machine just coasting through.

There were twelve competitors in the Super Comp class led by Jon Morton in his Camaro with an 8.902/150 just ahead of Brian Pateman’s 8.926/154. It was this pair that met in the final. Morton managed to despatch Dave Day in round one, a returning Shaun Lathan in two and a bye in the semi as Pateman ditched the hopes of Norway’s Trond Wanvik, then Paul Letchford in the second and Pete Cresswell in three. Despite a better leave by Jon Morton and an 8.962/147 it was Brian Pateman in his Firebird who lit the win with a catching 8.921/154.

The Super Gas category fielded eleven runners led by defending Champion, Conrad Stanley in his repainted Firebird on a 9.925/153 pass. Jon Morton lay in tenth place in his Camaro but managed to improve throughout taking out Paul Foote in one, Jon Giles in two, a bye in three and faced Stuart Doignie in the money run. Doignie pushed his BMW past Stuart Morrice then Conrad Stanley and Frank Mason in the semis. It was all over on the startline as Stuart Doignie red lit and knowingly slowed to an 11.202/102 as Jon Morton held his nerve on the tree, carding a .077 light and coupling it with an allowed first or worst breakout time of 9.862/140 to win.

Martyn Sanger pushed his Mustang to lead qualifying in Super Street with a 10.902/121 in a nine car class but lasted until the semis when John Grant, after a bye in round one and a defeat of Nick Griffin beat the number one qualifier. On the other side of the ladder was Leigh Morris who ended Dave Cherrett’s weekend, then beat Neil Grant before taking a bye into the final. Two British bodied machines left the line on the trophy run with Leigh Morris in the E Type Jaguar getting a great light but slowing to a 13.800/65 lose as John Grant’s diminutive looking Ford 100E slid by to record the 11.547/103 win.

Super Modified had eight runners led by Andy Hone with a 7.550/179. With no result sheets in the Media pack it is back to to name round winners. Craig Gibbs, Tim Garlick, Nigel Payne, Belinda Bull and Andy Hone all made it through round one. In the second stanza it was Nigel Payne, Tim Garlick and Andy Hone with Andy carding a 7.490/179 best ever but beyond the chassis tag figures disqualifying him from the semis. Payne and Garlick made it through to the final and it was Nigel Payne and his ’62 Corvette that took the easy 12.050/81 win as Tim Garlick in his Cortina left before the tree ran down.

Mark Bishop made all the Super Pro ET headlines with his almost up and over wheelie on Sunday’s qualifier, the car is damaged but Mark was fine. Mark Flavell held pole with a fine 7.215/188 from his good looking Saab bodied flopper in the twenty-one car field. The battle came down to a run off between Bob Doyle’s Datsun 260Z and rookie, Steve Taylor in the Black Magic dragster named after his Dad’s Pro Comp Funny Car. Doyle had taken out Karl Harrison, Pat Talbot and John Everitt whilst Taylor had seen off the likes of Ashley Bell and Rick Cooke after a round one bye due to the no show of Mark Bishop. The final was taken by Bob Doyle with a 9.016/150 and a good leave to Steve Taylor’s 8.419/151 in his first event.

There were twenty-nine cars entered in this popular Pro ET class with Phil Toppin in his altered taking the top qualifier of 9.010/140. The final round though was a battle between doorslammers, that of Keith Herbert and Jon Turner. It was Turner’s ‘Cuda who came from ninth in qualifying to see off the likes of Carl Burton in one, Phil Toppin, Dutch driver Eddy van den Bos in three and Nigel Green in the semi. Herbert meanwhile got the best of Charlie Chivers, a bye in round two, Rick McCann then Neil Hunter in the semi final. It was the number sixteen qualifier Keith Herbert in his vintage Sports Fury that lit the win light in the final his 11.0191/101 beat the 11.397/119 from Jon Turner.

In the Sportsman ET category Spencer Tramm was there leading the pack with a 15.977/83 from his VW Polo. Tramm though, this time did not make it past the semis as Nick Gay beat him after a first round win over Tethys that put Gay into the final. Lawrie Drysdale made his way past Ralph Young’s Corvette then Geoff Cowley’s Camaro. On the money run Nick Gay’s now black Metro GTI left with a better light and caught and passed the Camaro of Lawrie Drysdale with a 13.809/93 to the losing 15.681/86.

A full sixteen car field fought it out in Junior Dragster with Ireland’s Gabrielle McDonald taking the number one qualifier with a 0.0086 light and an 8.110/81 ticket but after beating Norway’s Grete Arntzen Ing in round one McDonald was beaten by event winner Rosie Hunt in round two. Hunt left behind Charlotte Watts in one, Annalieze Gibb in three to face Joe Kellett in the final. Kellett had taken his toll on others in the pack, Clare Giles in one, Rebecca Evans in two and Rhiannon Bellenie in the semi. So it was two seasoned racers in the final as Joe Kellett’s Drummin Man took on Rosie Hunt’s Vinnie Racing machine; a good light from Joe Kellett together with an 8.977/77 was not enough as Rosie Hunt charged past to take the win with an 8.032/80.

The Street Eliminator class was led by Colin Lazenby with an 8.540/185 and it was his monstrous Chevy 210 Sedan that made it to the final to run against Jeff Meads in the yellow Pop. A good light in the final from Lazenby coupled with an 8.278/184 beat the 8.563/163 from Jeff Meads.

VW Pro had a small field of runners led by current Champion James Hodson on a 10.974/131 pass. Hodson met Richard Merriman for the trophy run and with identical reaction times the race was on with Richard Merriman in his Beetle getting the nod with a 13.076/103 as James Hodson slowed to a 10.943/120 lose.

A full elimination class of eight VW Sportsman racers were on hand and led by Russell Weir with a 16.371/80 top qualifier and it was Weir that made his way through to the finals beating Luke Stevenson in round two after a first round bye, then Lucy Mathews in the semis. Mark Malone meanwhile put away the likes of Dean Clatworthy then Martin Ayton before a bye run put him in the final. Russell Weir left first in his Karman Ghia and stayed ahead as Mark Malone chased in his Transporter, Weir’s 16.402/80 won the day as Malone’s 18.158/69 became runner up.

Just a small Wild Bunch field with Peter Yates leading with a 9.331/142 from his Ramraider slingshot rail and he had a bye into round two where he lost to Dave Rowlands who managed to get to the final after taking out a returning Dick Sharp in the Dorset Horn altered. Meeting Rowlands in the final was Chris Hartnell who beat Mark Richardson in round one then a bye in round two. It was a solo 8.996/145 for the Backdraft dragster of Chris Hartnell as Dave Rowlands Destinys Angel altered did not start.

The HKS Pro round running at its first UK National Championship round proved hard as frontrunner John Bradshaw’s machine broke in testing the weekend before leaving just two cars entered, those of Chris Impey and Leon Green with Green picking up top qualifier on a 9.621/159 pass. The run off for the trophy saw Leon Green’s Toyota take the win with an 8.342/153 as Chris Impey limped home with problems on a 22.818/55 lap.

Top Fuel Bike had a small field of six entered for this event including a couple of big Super Twin Bikes and they were all led by Holland’s Rene van den Berg with an off par 7.323/190 but still almost a second ahead of the pack. It was however, a plethora of mechanical attrition during the eliminations with van den Berg getting into round two via a broken Chris Hannam only to not make it to the line after a burnout. Number two qualifier, Steve Woollatt made a tyre smoking cylinder losing solo as Roel Koedam was shut off with a leak and Ian Turboville beat Job Heezen who was unable to make round two. This left Steve Woollatt to perform another solo for the win with a tyre shaking 7.974/122.

The Funny Bike class was down on normal entries but was led by current Champion Chris Hall on a great 6.922/187 charge well ahead of the other four bikes. Hall ran another six in round one, a 6.937/189 as Dutchman Mike Olie no showed then took a bye in two but failed to stage. Gary Jones meanwhile, ran an 8.049/166 as Dave Bailey failed to arrive at the line. Jones managed a 7.873/167 win as Kev Charman red lit away a 7.356/175. Gary Jones just staged his bike to take the win as it was a bye.

It was Len Paget that set the pace in Pro Stock Bike with a fine 7.394/177 in a league of his own and he had a bye in round one and staged only in two as Mark Smith in his first attempt in the class no showed after a bang and smoke in round one obviously took its toll. Ray Debben was doing well on his side of the ladder with a 7.896/165 round one win as a broken Jerry Collier failed to show then a 7.846/160 as current Champion Dave Beck broke. This pitted Ray Debben and Len Paget in the final with all odds on Paget but a late leave by the Suzuki rider coupled with an off par 7.739/143 saw Ray Debben on his Kawasaki take a deserved win with a 7.809/169 ticket.

In the Comp Bike category Stuart Crane led the frame with a 7.766/174 on his Suzuki in the eight bike eliminator.  But in round one Richard Gipp came off his ride at the top end suffering some non life threatening injuries on a winning 8.209/152 pass against Phil Leamon – swift recovery Richard. Stuart Crane made his way forward with a win over Alan Young in round one, a stage only in two and faced current Champion Ivan Birch for the money run off. Birch made his way past Sandra Chaplain in round one a shutting off Dave Peters in two. It was a close race in the final as Stuart Crane left behind Ivan Birch but managed to chase him down winning with a 7.997/171 as Birch runner upped with an 8.026/170.

There was a full sixteen Super Street Bike eliminator led by Richard Stubbins on a 7.580/192 stormer. Not all the usual front runners featured high this season opener as Richard Stubbins continued his way up to the final beating the likes of Swiss rider Stefan Schnarwile in one, Mark Watkins and Brad O’Connor in two and three respectively and came up against Garry Bowe for the trophy. Bowe managed wins over Stephen Mead then Scott Baldwin and Steve Venables in the semi. A better leave in a close race had Garry Bowe’s Suzuki Hayabusa trip the win light with a 7.881/181 as Richard Subbins chased with a runner up 7.834/184.

A lot of riders made the 9.50 Bike class a good race with the leader being Phil Pratt on his Suzuki GSXR on a 9.501/124, however, Pratt lost in round two to Aaron Sparks. Mark Winder took a tumble in qualifying when his wheelie somersaulted the bike and gave him a hard fall just off the line. The final came down to a race between current Champion Richard Sawatzki and Steve Coombs, and Sawatzki made his way past Steve Whiting, Fred Furlong, Wayne Saunders and Richard Beck as Steve Coombs battled past brother Paul Coombs, Shaun Spiers, Aaron Sparks and a bye into the final.  Richard Sawatski left first but his 9.766/140 on his Suzuki Hayabusa was not enough as Steve Coombs passed him in the lights with a winning 9.623/139.

© Roger Gorringe. April 2009. &

View photos from each day of the Auto Trader Easter Thunderball on the our Daily Gallery pages.

Festival of Power Menu

Festival of Power 2016: Preview / Photo Entry List / Facebook Photo Gallery
Festival of Power 2015: Report / Video / Photo Entry List / Facebook Photo Gallery
Festival of Power 2014: Report / Video / Photo Entry List / Facebook Photo Gallery
Festival of Power 2013: Report / Photo Entry List / Photo Gallery
Prior to 2013 the Easter event was known as Easter Thunderball
Easter Thunderball 2012: Report / Photo Entry List / Photo Gallery / Photo Competition
Easter Thunderball 2011: Report / Photo Entry List / Galleries: Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon / Photo Comp
Easter Thunderball 2010: Report / Photo Entry List / Galleries: Frid | Sat | Sun | Mon
Easter Thunderball 2009: Report / Photo Entry List / Galleries: Frid | Sat | Sun | Mon
Easter Thunderball 2008: Report / Photo Entry List / Galleries: Frid | Sat | Sun | Mon
Easter Thunderball 2007: Report / Photo Entry List / Galleries: Thur | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Easter Thunderball 2006: Report / Gallery
Easter Thunderball 2005: Report / Gallery
Easter Thunderball 2004: Report

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