The National Finals 2008
Sat 27th to Sun 28th September
The always popular end of year Sportsman showdown was enhanced this year with a touch of Fuel, introduced by Santa Pod Raceway’s CEO Keith Bartlett as an added bit of spice to nitro starved race fans who, this year have been so deprived of the sense of exhilarating action due to the copious amounts of rain outs we have had to endure. The Sportsman classes all had to provide National Champions with many running almost to the wire providing nail biting climaxes in many rounds.
View photos from the 2008 National Finals in the Daily Galleries.
The National Finals 2008 Report
Nitro Fuel Shootout
There were three Top Fuel Dragsters and an equal number of Funny Cars all vying for good numbers in three qualifiers, with the numbers added up and the top two facing off. The floppers had a 0.40 advantage off the tree to even things up somewhat. Norway’s Thomas Nataas in his first year in a Funny Car set the overall pace in round one, a 5.227/280 opened a few eyes, no-one was even close with Finland’s Risto Poutiainen carding a 7.549/122 shaker and Barry Sheavills back in the hot seat a 7.808/100. John Spuffard had an alarming first outing when the car got well crossed up tagging a reflector block and kissing the guard wall on correction.
In round two Sheavills led the charge with an early click off 5.897/168, Poutiainen pedalled to a 5.956/175 whilst the remainder were shaking and no shows as Linda Thun Tønseth had zinged the motor and Gary Page an early click off 7.667/120.
Nataas’ early 5.2 must have rattled the Showtime team as they zapped out a best ever 5.155/299 behind Sheavills 5.118/271 and leading was Poutiainen’s 5.036/272. Nataas delivered another 5.2 and Tønseth failed to get reverse whilst Page no showed.
The final came down to Risto Poutiainen against Barry Sheavills, Finland against England but Sheavills had earlier blackened the crank and damaged the block and failed to show leaving the Finn to record the only four of the event a winning 4.916/301. Special mention must go to Spuffard as he lowered the figures temptingly toward that elusive four second FC pass, a 5.091 at 301mph gave him third spot.
Three British entries and one from Belgium made up the small but quality field and the points were available to any of the home teams to win the Championship providing they qualified well and won the event. Despite Derek Flynn taking his new A/Fuel machine to pole position of 5.472 it was Rob Turner who shone with personal bests starting with a 5.474 qualifier. Turner beat Belgium’s Danny Bellio in round one whilst Flynn dealt out Stephanie Milams’ try. The final was run as the sun was disappearing making for some header flames from the nitro burner as Flynn’s Gold RV car left first but suffered some shake allowing Turner in the Black Lane Asphalt backed machine past turning in a 5.526/246 that got the event win and Championship as Flynn followed with a 5.607/255.
MSA Pro Modified
Roger Moore recorded his first six, a 6.815/205 on a superb straight pass on Saturday to initially lead the field but Graham Ellis in the stunning Superbird wrestled that away with a 6.768/213 later. Bert Englefield entered the event with a clear point lead and despite breaking in the last qualifier Englefield took his ’38 Ford Coupe to the Championship. The event win went to Graham Ellis who ran an easy 8.291/149 but close to the wall solo as Roger Moore mysteriously could not make the start line.
Nigel Payne in the great wheelie pulling early Corvette entered the event the Champion after his Saturday qualifier and leaving others fighting for second place. Tim Mugridge however, secured the top qualifier with a stunning 7.596/181. A second round loss to Andy Hone saw Payne go out as Hone took his Scorpio to the event win by beating Craig Gibbs in the final with a 7.538/177 to a losing 8.021/169.
Dave Catton driving the PMR dragster (a ride he does not like) held a healthy lead coming into the Finals and he led the field in qualifying with an 8.909/157 but was taken out in round three by event runner up Paul Letchford but Catton did secure the Championship. Letchford’s Camaro came from third qualifier to take on the neat newly painted Mustang of Pete Cresswell in the final, a legal 8.890/172 claimed the victory as Letchford bowed out with a breakout 8.858/159.
Conrad Stanley led the charge in qualifying and had a good lead over Frank Mason and Jon Morton. It was in the third round that Morton went out to Stanley, 9.905/154 to 9.906/135 and Mason broke in round two leaving Stanley to enter the final as Champion. It was Stuart Morrice’s Camaro that faced Conrad Stanley for the money run and with a holeshot Morrice held on to take the win, 9.917/129 win to the 9.926/152 lose.
The E-Type Jaguar of Leigh Morris hung on to a comfortable point lead and managed to get past round one before being taken out in two by 2007 Champ Bob Lees. The big Mustang of Lees went into the final to face the diminutive Ford 100E of John Grant, grant got a nice leave and held on to wrap up the event win with a 10.980/128 as Bob Lees runner upped with a 10.925/129.
Super Pro ET
Chris Isaacs in Spencer Tramm’s Corrado took pole with an 8.746/152 and with point leader Simon Rowland out of the frame it was anyone’s race. It was however a race won by Rick Cooke who outlasted his main adversary Nigel Turner, Turner going out in round two before Cooke succumbed to Barry Giles in three. Chris Isaacs though ploughed his way through all comers and took the event win with an 8.770/143 as Dave Ward took the Monza econo Funny Car to a runner up 8.866/151.
Paul Baynton managed a back to back Championship in this huge class despite losing in round one to Vic Amato. It was Neil Hunter in his Ford Capri that faced Carla Pittau in the Heaven & Hell Camaro for the end of day trophy. A good light by Hunter had him hang on in there to secure the win light in his lane with a 9.714/134 as Pittau followed with a runner up 9.812/135.
The 2006 rookie winner Geoff Cowley led the way in the point chase again this year and went on to lock up the Championship again even though losing to Chevy Llewellyn in round two. It was the Mustang of Brian Huxley though that got the event win with a 15.393/89 win over the Metro of Nick Gay who gained the runner up with a red light 14.581/92.
Scott Hauser led the points chase into the event but it was Matthew Seamarks that was on a run all weekend qualifying top with a 0.0022 R/T coupled with a 7.993/75 then making his way to the final. Seamarks victims were Vicky Molden then Charlotte Watts before meeting Rosie Hunt for the money run. Hunt had earlier seen off Rhiannon Bellenie, Becky Evans then Scott Hauser who by that time had amassed enough to take the Championship. The saw Matthew Seamarks card a great light then take the win with an 8.009/74 to Rosie Hunt’s 8.127/78.
Top Fuel Bike
Steve Woollatt was way ahead in the points and on his way to gain another ACU TFB Championship as he not surprisingly led qualifying with a 6.537/195 and hot on his heels was Dutch rider Rene van den Berg who had finally found the numbers 6.597/206. It was an all Woollatt affair as he saw off Ian Turburville in round one then faced van den Berg in the final. The Dutch rider never surpassed his qualifying number but stayed ahead of Steve Carey then came up against Woollatt. It was a twelfth Championship for Steve Woollatt as his 6.342/211 trounced the 6.969/193 from Rene van den Berg.
Tim Blakemore just led the points but had to outlast Chris Hall for the Championship and Hall took pole position with a 7.013/179 to Blakemore’s 7.195/163 then it was into the rounds and Blakemore’s chances went away when he was beaten by Neil Midgley in one. Hall beat Dutch rider Maarten Zijlstra in round one then had a lucky break with a bye in two before facing Dave Bailey in the final. Dave Bailey had taken out Kev Charman in one and Neil Midgley in two then charged after Chris Hall in the final but his 7.184/161 was beaten by Champion, Chris Hall’s 7.099/189.
Pro Stock Bike
It was a Dave Beck weekend as he led the point totals, qualified top with a 7.348/183, took the event win and wound up with a back to back Championship. In the run offs it was to become a familiar battle of the two main adversaries, Beck and Len Paget, with Paget taking out Richard Gipp in one and Beck seeing off Ray Debben in one. The final saw Dave Beck gain a great holeshot then run a great 7.250 at 186.48mph a new record as Len Paget tried in vain to catch up losing with a given up 7.776/144.
Ivan Birch debuted his stunning new bike this year and has rarely looked back coming into the event with the most points then qualifying number one with a 7.693/175 then went on to clinch the event win and the Championship after round one. Main rival would have been last years Champ Phil Leamon whom Birch met in the final, Leamon had wins over Rob Brooks then Sandra Chaplain and Birch had a bye in one and just staged in two. Phil Leamon was hot on the lights in the final but his slowed up 9.619/94 was no match for Ivan Birch’s slowing 8.638/124.
Super Street Bike
Steve Venables and team mate Graham Balchin led the plot in the point chase but were beaten to number one qualifier by Richard Stubbins on a 7.503/190 pass. The pair made their way forward with Venables seeing off the likes of Richard Hann, Bradley O’Connor before saving his best to outdo Balchin in the semis with a 7.428/197 to the 7.545/191 try giving Steve Venables the Championship. Stubbins also made good and beat Dave Warren, Ady Lockley and Scott Baldwin to enter the final against Venables. A small holeshot combined with a 7.550/188 got Steve Venables the evnt win to cap it all as Richard Stubbins tried to catch up with a 7.641/188 lose.
The Championship went deservedly to Richard Sawatzki who led the points coming into the event well ahead of Martin Walker. The final was won by Fred Furlong with a 9.593/123 over Wayne Saunders 9.650/139 try.
© Roger Gorringe September 2008. www.eurodragster.com & www.nitroexposure.co.uk.
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