The summer months always create a full schedule for Santa Pod as it’s a chance to take advantage of what should be the best weather of the year. With the European Championships away travelling around the continent, Santa Pod puts together various events for all kinds of motor racing fans and car enthusiasts.
Most of the meets that I attended this summer had a nostalgic feel that centred on the passion for vehicles from past eras, which I certainly have – I love old cars! These events were made even more notable as 2016 is Santa Pod’s 50th year. The milestone was celebrated with some huge entry numbers, especially at my first visit in July – Dragstalgia.
Dragstalgia is a weekend dedicated to historical dragsters and classic cars and hot rods. It has been going for a few years at the Pod but this was my first one, due to my kinships with Dragstalgia’s spirit it was about time! It was even better than I thought it would be due to the vast amount of things to look at. In the pits there was the “Show & Shine” area where you could walk amongst a large number of beautiful machines. The variety always strikes me at these events; all sorts of old sports car, hot rods, pickups and custom stuff with every style and colour represented.
There was a brilliant selection of classes racing on the track. From supercharged slingshots and outlaws to the doorslammers in classes like Superstock, plus the “Willys Wars” exclusively for anyone who wanted to race their Willys. It was all really enjoyable to watch with some great racing. Many historic drag bikes were also in attendance; I found it really interesting to see famous names like “The Hobbit” and “Pegasus” in the pits and it was a pleasure to see them run down the strip.
The highlights were the runs by the Fuel Altereds and Nostalgia Funny Cars. In America they often have large fields of these at meets and it would be great to see more and more of them in the UK. Two teams from the USA came over for Dragstalgia and were pitted against teams from Europe. In the first pairing American Randy Bradford in the family Fiat Topolino ran a 6.40 at 234mph to beat Holland’s Ramon Van Der Weurf in his 1971 Charger-bodied Funny Car, which went through the finish line in 6.48 at 208mph. The next side-by-side race was between two Altereds, Nick Davies from the UK in “Havoc” won on a holeshot against America’s Ron Hope in “Rat Trap”; 6.59 at 220mph beat 6.53 at 231mph. Both of these races were really close and excellent spectacles.
Throughout the day the teams returned for some more exhibition passes. Another Nostalgia Funny Car that I loved was Bob Glassup driving a newly built red Capri-bodied car. There was also a bit of history when the first Dragster ever built in Britain, the Allard Chrysler, did a slow run down the track for the first time since being restored.
Two weeks later I was back to Santa Pod Raceway for the Mopar Euro Nationals. I have always loved going to this event as this is the Pod’s traditional muscle car meeting and I have a passion for muscle cars.
As with previous years and just like Dragstalgia, there was plenty to look at. Not only are there some amazing sights, but the awesome sounds of rumbling and cackling engines add to the atmosphere. Away from the display area, I always enjoy finding more nice stuff dotted around the rest of the pits and in the car parks and at the Mopars there was further variety, and I did notice how many Dodge Coronets were present; I don’t think I have ever seen so many in one place, definitely the car of the weekend!
It is always nice to see more unusual and unique cars and despite the Mopars being a meeting for a particular era there was a really good mix. All the classics were represented too like mid-60s Mustangs, ’57 Chevys, ’68 Chargers. They were all there and in such good condition.
On the track there was a special bit of nostalgia for me as Graham Beckwith was commentating. I grew up with Beckwith’s voice calling the action when I was visiting Santa Pod as a younger fan, so hearing him after all these years was really cool and all day he entertained.
The Mopars have added to the show on-track in recent years by including both Pro Modified and Top Sportman entrants. As a big doorslammer fan, it was great to see these two classes put on some excellent racing both in eliminations and the added test sessions they were allowed to take part in.
During both events it was impressive to see the sheer volume and range of the vehicles that attended. It’s nice to come away from them and not find it possible to single out a favourite car. These nostalgia events at the Pod are brilliant every time and long may they continue.