Santa Pod Raceway’s Junior Drag Racing Fun Day was a bright new idea that exceeded all expectations when it became exciting reality during the recent school holidays. The innovative event drew a family audience to the popular motorsport venue near Wellingborough on a sunny midweek Wednesday in August and helped raise funds for a local children’s charity.
Some 2,000 visitors took advantage of the Fun Day’s free admission to spend the day at Santa Pod, many visiting the venue for the first time. A charity collection which had begun during the previous month’s Bug Jam weekend raised nearly £1,700 for the Earls Barton-based charity, the NCTLC Trust (National Children’s Tumour Leukaemia Cancer Trust). Twenty families with children affected by cancer-related diseases attended the event.
The Junior Drag Racing Fun Day was the brainchild of Wellingborough businessman Andy Wheeler, whose daughters Paige, 15, and Belle, 9, are keen racers. The Junior Dragster class is open to young racers aged from 8 to 17. In Britain and Europe, Juniors compete at full-scale senior events on the same programme as their adult counterparts, sharing the bill with everything from street cars to 300mph Top Fuel Dragsters and their track time is necessarily limited. In America, the Juniors have their own events. For three summers now, the Wheeler family has travelled to Tennessee for Paige, and now Belle, to join more than 600 young racers from across the USA and Canada in a week-long Junior Dragster championship series.
Inspired by this event and supported by Alamo Rent A Car, Andy Wheeler devised the Fun Day to allow Britain’s Junior Drag Racers – on two wheels as well as four – an exclusive day-out on the Santa Pod track with informal races designed to provide enjoyment for the young competitors and some lively action for the spectators as well as show interested youngsters how easily and inexpensively they too can get involved. Grown-ups were not left out entirely – there was a pit-vehicle race laid on for parents and supervisors – but the day belonged to the young ones. Away from the track there was plenty of family entertainment too, with a fun-fair, bouncy castle, trampolines and face-painting along with static displays by a Monster Truck, Disney-style Lightning McQueen cars and Santa Pod’s own Fireforce jet car, plus passenger rides in the Red Dragon Monster truck.
When the idea was originally conceived for the Junior Drag Racing Fun Day, no one really knew how it would take off. Its success in 2013 suggests Santa Pod will be hosting Fun Days, no doubt bigger and better, for years to come.