Flame & Thunder 2004 Review
The weekend started on Friday night as racers, cars and campers arrived to watch the last big event of the season, and catch their final fix of the fastest motorsport on earth. The line-up for Saturday was one of the most packed Flame & Thunder events ever seen, with jet cars and trucks galore, two top-fuel dragsters, two fuel-altereds, a massive VWDRC entry, big fields of competitors for the car and bike ET racing, and a great line-up of stunt drivers and riders.
Saturday started off with a big push by the track crew to get the cold, wet track up to racing standard, and by 11am, the track was dry and prepped, and the first cars took to the strip. There were some great performances by the VWDRC and bracket racers, but things were brought to a halt by an heart-stopping incident for VW Pro racer, Conor La Grue, when his Type 181 VW Trekka had a very heavy impact with the guardrail at over 100mph. Fortunately, Conor was unharmed by the crash, and amazingly, his VW will race again after surviving the crash in surprisingly good shape.
Racing continued, but the cold track claimed another victim, when Shaun Lathan got his Calibre sideways and swiped the wall, damaging a body-panel and the light cluster, but otherwise unhurt and the car was still perfectly driveable. By this time however, the weather was getting a bit misty, and some of this moisture was settling on the track, but not before Andy Carter and Thomas Nataas fired up their top fuel cars for a bash at the first round of the Top Fuel match race. After a great burnout and incredible launch, both drivers had to shut off early in conditions that were far from ideal.
A massive effort was made by the track crew to get the track up to racing standard once more, but it was a thankless task, with persistent moisture forming in the cold-damp conditions. This didn't stop a whole host of great shows by Rocket Ronnie and his jet trucks and jet Beetle, and flame shows from Fireforce 1 & 2. Jason Finn and co did a series of stunt shows on his trials bike, again risking all in the slippery conditions with massive wheelies, jumps and stoppies. The slippery track didn't stop Terry Grant from putting on several full performances in his TVR and Legend, displaying his trade-mark precision driving to an admiring crowd.
There were also startline demonstrations by Desperate Dan's four-engined tractor-puller, and the nostalgic sight and smell of the Fuel Altered cars.
Michael Kooy had the massive crowd in fits of laughter and amazement as he entertained in his unique way with the jet quad. Michael demonstrated how slippery the track was with his show, and helped people to appreciate why we were struggling with the conditions so much, and fortunately left it until the end of the day before bumping lightly into the guard rail and damaging his quad!
The evening finished with a superb side-by-side flame show by Fireforce 1 the recently re-bodied Fireforce 2, but as the cars paraded up the track, Fireforce 1 went into a graceful pirouette and bumped the wall, as if to prove a point about the conditions for the day. Fireworks and a massive bonfire finished the night off with a few more flames, and a bit more thunder, and we'd like to take this opportunity to thank all who attended as either a spectator or a racer, and we hope you were able to enjoy the sights and sounds of these great race machines despite the inclement conditions.
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Flame & Thunder 2004 Report