VHRA Vintage Nationals


Santa Pod Raceway, Northants, May 6TH 2018, Words & Photography: Jonny Wilson (www.jonnywilsonphotography.com)

The second VHRA Vintage Nationals returned to Santa Pod race way for what was promised to be another year of rubber burning drag racing action from the UK’s best selection of vintage hot rods. 

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With my tent set up it was time to have a quick look around and catch up with old friends.  A good selection of flatheads, four bangers and overheads had already started to fill the pits outside the track ready for the racing on Sunday, which I had a quick browse around.  Back at the bar evening entertainment was provided by the Doel Brothers, playing their unique brand of Rockabilly fused with blues and hillbilly, which kept the crowd dancing for the rest of the night.  With the sun down I took the opportunity to get out my tripod and torch and partake in some night photography back in the pits, then grab an early night ready for the next days wheel squealing action!

Next morning it was an early start to grab the action from the get go; the pits had filled up more by early morning already and with the East Coast Sidewinders taking care of the duties for the day again it was time to hit the track.  The sun was blazing down this year, which made it ideal conditions for racing, and provided some atmospheric lighting down the strip.  With the first two cars lined up ready to wheel spin towards the shimmering horizon it was time race! 

As with last year the initial runs before lunch served as practice runs to get some good times and make sure everyone’s vehicles were running at their peak, unfortunately disaster struck after only a few runs in.  Kelvin Helsdown’s blown flathead roadster bolted down the track only to dump its oil towards the finish line.  This stopped all the action for a good hour and a half whilst the track team tried work out the best way to get said substance of the new track after their normal methods failed to cut through the grease.

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The break was a good opportunity to grab some more pics of the pit action and for racers and spectators to grab some shade and refreshment as the temperature increased for what turned out to be one of the hottest May bank holidays on record.  With the track now all cleaned and re-opened it was back to the action with car after car rocketing down the strip to the sound of some classic Fifties car inspired music, trying to get their best time to put them in good standing for the afternoons class head to heads.  The attendance in the stands was down a bit from last year, but this didn’t stop the racers, they were here to be fastest down the track and they didn’t care who was watching.  No other major incidents took place apart from Jon Foster blowing his roaster pick-up’s clutch again putting him out of action for the afternoon.

At lunch time race ladders were constructed for the class head-to-heads in the afternoon, but with everyone spread out in the pits some announcements were missed and not everyone was able to get lined up in the correct order to race.  It was then decided to just let everyone run again and award trophies for best times like last year.  With this only being the second Vintage Nationals teething problems are inevitable and hopefully next year a smoother system for running the head-to-heads can be put together to provide even more thrills and spills.

As the racing continued some of the stand out cars were David Sollis’s Model A sedan built by the legendary Steve ‘Stinger’ Read and John Grant’s black full fendered model A Roadster roaring down the track at an impressive 119.63mph to give a run time of 11.99 seconds!  With the heat blazing down it was decided that prizes would be awarded after the event and a full list of all class and sponsor winners can be found elsewhere in this feature. The VHRA Vintage Nationals will be back at Santa Pod next year, so keep an eye out on their website for dates and times.  Big thanks to Neil Fretwell, the VHRA, East Coast Sidewinders, Santa Pod and all others that make the event what it is.

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