Sept 10-13
FIA Euro Finals
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Sept 12-13
Beaulieu Int'l Autojumble
National Motor Museum

Sept 18-20
Goodwood Revival Meeting
Goodwood circuit

Sept 18-20
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Shakespeare County Raceway

October 16-18

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NEC Int'l Classic Car Show

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Tribute to Graham Jones

Graham Jones, journalist, PR professional, business partner, regular contributor to DRCReview and long time friend, passed away on Friday September 9 after a battle with cancer.  I first met Graham in 1979, we worked together on motoring titles, later in PR and then set up our own PR agency in 2002.  In over a 30 year friendship I got to know Graham as a warm, compassionate, understanding and caring person, a friend who offered great advice, was down to earth and totally genuine. 

His love of motorsport, incredible subject knowledge and professionalism netted him some of the most coveted jobs in the industry, working as communications manager for  many major companies and racing outfits including Tyrell, BAR and Minardi F1.

Throughout his career, Graham’s interest in all things automotive was apparent in the modified cars in his garage.   At one stage there was a full race SCCA Triumph Vitesse locked away and a wide arched MGB, but in conversation he mentioned he always had a hankering for a hot rod, fuelled by his teenage recollections of drag racing on Vancouver Island, which he had frequented as a young Canadian.

He was able to tap into that hot rod interest in the mid 1980s when, while working as road test editor at Autocar magazine, he got the chance to put the ZZ Top Eliminator '33 Coupe through its paces at the test track.  The car made the front cover and his report took the form of an extensive and exclusive feature within the magazine.  Back then, seeing a hot rod on the cover of a mainstream automotive magazine was something of a coup.

Graham with notepad at the Chobham test track

It was some 20 odd years later before Graham was finally able to fulfil his hot rodding ambitions when he purchased a Ford Model A Tudor Sedan project from Texas, which he imported to the UK with the desire of turning into a state of the art hot rod.  With the help of hot rod builder Jon Golding, he was able to realise that dream and between them they produced arguably the nicest Model A this side of the Atlantic.  Graham documented the progress of the car in DRCReview here

Graham and Jon with the Model A nearing completion

After Graham retired this year as editor of Racecar Engineering, he was able to spend time relaxing and in all the years I have known him, he never sounded happier or at ease with life.  He was able to enjoy his beloved Model A and spend more time at home with his long time partner Sheila.  It is somewhat ironic that Graham should fall ill during this period, but in truth he had been suffering (quietly) with cancer for 12 months and getting on with life (as Graham did) as if nothing had happened.  The last time we met about a month ago he was optimistic that the chemotherapy  had done its job.  It was a huge, huge shock to find this was not the case and to hear Graham had passed away peacefully, just a few weeks after our last meeting.

There is so much to say about Graham, and there is so much to remember him by.  He knew so many people, was a friend to all, had some great stories to tell and did a really fantastic job at whatever he set his mind to do. On top of that he was a genuinely great guy who I feel very proud and privileged to have known.  He will be sorely missed, not only by me, but Sheila and Trevor his brother and the many, many other people whose lives he touched.




Dave's '32 Roadster

Quite a few new hot rods have hit the scene this year and  Dave Sturgess’s subtle ’32 Roadster is one that surfaced late summer  - last month in fact.  It’s not finished yet, as the interior has to be completed, but that didn’t stop Dave from organising a beer and nibbles hot rod reveal for his flatty powered steel roadster a few weeks ago.  And you can tell by the smile on Dave and passenger Dan Boone’s faces that all of the effort has been worth the wait.  We hope to bring you a full feature on this car as soon as it’s finished.



 Hot Rod & Classic Engineering Launched

Hot rodder Phil Perry, who was until recently the proud owner of the lovely purple '37 Ford Sedan seen at many a hot rod event, has set up Hot Rod and Classic Engineering, located just outside Maidstone, Kent.  Phil has been working with rods and classics for over 30 years and with such a wealth of experience to draw from, is able to offer everything from mundane but necessary servicing to full on restorations of classic and even hot rod builds from scratch to turn key.  Phil acquired his 2,200 sq ft premises last month and would be very pleased to hear from owners of classics and hot rods seeking regular maintenance or restoration work.  More to the point, you couldn’t wish to meet a nicer guy.  Phil is the UK dealer for Wescott’s American made hot rod bodies too. Tel: 01622 632609 or email   

Phil's former '37 Ford, which was fully re-engineered by him with a new chassis set up front and rear


Rodline International back on the map – with new owner

Rodline International has, under various phases of ownership, sold high-quality, fibreglass replicas of early Ford bodies to hot rodders for over 20 years.  As UK enthusiasts may know, the original owner of the business was Chris Boyle and now, enthusiast Robert Porter has stepped into the frame.

Robert recently purchased the busines, moved it a few miles down the road in South Gloucestershire and set up shop with many of the former Rodline employees involved with laminating bodies and mechanical work.  Robert’s main business is producing leisure rides for amusement parks, swimming pools and springboards, all laminated items made from fibreglass, so purchasing Rodline was a natural  fit.

Although Robert says there is not enough business as yet to enable Rodline to stand on its own two feet, he is encouraged by the amount of interest shown in their products, especially from overseas customers, where 70 per cent of their bodies are currently sold.

They are able to produce ’32 Ford Coupe three-window full height and chopped, ’32 five-window, ’32 Roadster, ’34 Roadster and Coupe, ’34 Sports Saloon/Sedan Delivery and ’37 Ford Cabriolet.  In addition, they recently acquired the ex-Pop Brown 27T moulds and are currently working on a brand new Model A pick-up project.

Since purchasing the business, Robert says he’s spent an awful lot of time with customers trying, sympathetically, to sort out the problems inherited from the previous owner.  And judging by some conversations heard at hot rod events this year, there is still some way to go in restoring confidence to UK buyers.

If you want to know more, check out the web site at or call Robert on 97826 846437


Four Lane Drag Racing spectacle to feature at NHRA event this month 

For the first time in NHRA history, modern Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars will race four-lanes, four-wide, unleashing an assault of 28,000 horsepower on spectators at the final round of the NHRA Carolinas Nationals, on Sunday, Sept. 20.

In what is sure to be a must-see demonstration of the ultimate in high-horsepower performance, four NHRA Top Fuel dragsters and four NHRA Funny Cars will race in a four-wide configuration during separate races in a special exhibition event.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, four-lane drag racing was occasionally conducted at non-NHRA dragstrips, primarily throughout the Midwest, with a few exhibitions held at tracks in California and Maryland. The fastest cars of that era were just breaking the 230 mph barrier.

Today’s modern Top Fuel dragsters cover the 1,000-foot race distance in 3.8 seconds at more than 315 mph. Funny Cars travel the same distance in 4.0 seconds at 310 mph. 

The drivers for each four-wide exhibition races will be determined that day among those drivers who lose in the first round of eliminations at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event. Those who have the higher standing in the NHRA championship points order will be given the first opportunity to participate in the unique exhibition.

Tickets for the NHRA Carolinas Nationals are available by calling (800) 455-3267 or by visiting on the Web.


Project Zed

Talking of drag racing, and this time on home soil, a very special Nissan Z-Car is ready to rumble at the Santa Pod European Finals this weekend . The new door slammer will race in Comp Eliminator and is claimed to be the only Japanese engined car competing against more traditional American V8 machinery in mainstream drag racing this year.


Great to see a mainstream manufacturer geting behind drag racing - Nissan in this case

Project Zed is powered by a Nissan 350Z 3.5-litre V6 engine producing nearly 1,900bhp. Owner and driver John Bradshaw says  It’s incredible to finally have the car ready to test and we are all very excited by its potential. It really is a car that is capable of setting records around the world and just shows what  a Nissan engine is capable of producing.”

As for the FIA European Finals itself, with eight Top Fuel cars and 20 Pro Mods scheduled to be there amongst a massive field of cars and bikes, it promises to be the event of the year for UK drag racing fans.


Get ready for another Bumper Beaulieu Autojumble 

Coinciding with the weekend’s major drag racing event is this year’s International Autojumble, which takes place on the 12th and 13th September at Beaulieu. With over 2,000 trade stands to choose from – the largest gathering of its kind outside the US - there is something for everyone and undoubtedly bargains to be had.

On Saturday, Bonhams will be holding a sale of over 140 collectors’ cars, and motorcycles plus over 300 lots of Automobilia. 

The Automart will have over 200 cars on offer, ranging from a 1931 Sunbeam Coupé, a Rolls Royce Silver Wraith ll and an Austin Mini Moke to a 1978 Daimler Sovereign a 1966 Mustang Fastback and a Westfield Cosworth. The DealerMart will have a selection of classic cars for sale.  On Sunday, the popular Trunk Traders, will see amateur autojumblers selling their surplus motoring bits from the back of their cars.

Don’t miss the opportunity to ‘Ask the Experts’, in show sponsors, Classics Monthly’s Restoration Village where a group of experts will be busy with hammers, spanners and welding gear, demonstrating restoration skills.  They will also be on hand to answer all your restoration questions. Take time to admire the magazine’s readers’ classic cars, including a very special Triumph Herald prototype hatchback, which has been lovingly restored after its owner spent 20 years looking for the car.

The Autojumble is open at 10am on Saturday and 9.30am Sunday.  Ticket prices are 1-day adult, £13.00 (Sat), £11.50 (Sun), child £7.50 (Sat), £7.25 (Sun), including admission to the National Motor Museum and ‘World of Top Gear’. 


15.6.09. We had been looking forward to attending last weekend’s Billing Fun Run for some time.  In spite of the fact that a few friends had decided to give the weekend a miss this year due to theft problems at the event in 2008, the glorious weather and the promise of a healthy turnout of hot rods was enough to lure us out for an early start to Billing on the Sunday.  For us, the added bonus was meeting up with John Emery, Gary Chester and Tony Nash en route in their early Fords for the relatively short cruise up from Buckinghamshire to Northamptonshire.


John Emery's quad-carb powered roadster made some very nice noises


Sadly, this trip didn’t go quite according to plan for the DRCReview Deuce.  The car had been cleaned and checked over the night before, a squeaking fan belt had been correctly adjusted, but other than that, the car was running a treat.  However, something obviously wasn’t right in the alternator department because the billet aluminium bracket holding it in place decided to snap as we exited the motorway, causing alarming under bonnet noises audible inside the car.  Fortunately the motorway services were just around the corner, so we were able to limp into the car park to assess the damage.  It was relatively minor – the fan belt was shredded and the aforementioned bracket had snapped clean in two, no doubt the result of fatigue that I guess could have been brought on through excessive vibration.  In three years of ownership, this is the first time the car had let us down, but that thought was far from comforting as we suggested the rest of our posse head off for Billing while we awaited an AA technician.


Tony Nash's '34 and Gary Chester's Five window looked great cruising down the motorway


Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve only ever called out the AA once or twice in the past twenty years.  On each occasion, it seemed to take ages for them to arrive and I didn’t remember the experiences being particularly pleasant either.  Well, this time it was just thirty minutes before the bright yellow Transit arrived, and the whole experience was actually very positive.  With no chance of welding the bracket back together and knowing that the fan belt was particularly long and unlikely to be stocked, we’d resigned ourselves to being transported back home on a low loader.  However, our ever helpful technician Denzil Beale had other ideas and reckoned he could make repairs to the bracket to get us back on the road and on our way – I was impressed.


The repaired bracket in place.  It's not pretty but it did the job and got us back home too. According to some other rodders who have fitted this component, breakage in this spot is not uncommon


Using the Transit as a makeshift workshop, he drilled holes on either side of the broken bracket, fashioned strengthening plates either side, and bolted it all together to make a repair as strong as, if not stronger than the original.  Okay, it didn’t look pretty, but it would get us on our way – well, it would do if only we could find a fan belt to fit.  “If one of these doesn’t fit, don’t worry, I’ll pop back and get you one that does,” said Denzil helpfully.  However, much to our collective surprise, one of them did fit perfectly and with it adjusted we were back on the road and heading up to Billing again within around 90 minutes – but not before he’d given us a new AA road atlas to ensure we knew exactly where we were headed. What absolutely brilliant service by a guy who genuinely wanted to help and clearly loved his job. Suddenly, it made paying all of those membership fees year on year seem really worthwhile. 


We got to Billing in time to see a great line-up of cars, soak up the sunshine and meet old friends and acquaintances.  In spite of our mishap, it was a great day out – and thanks to our AA technician, we made it home without a hitch, too.  Watch out for a full Billing report coming soon.


A welcome to Dave Molloy

On a different matter, we welcome US contributor Dave Molloy to this week.  Dave is a keen photographer who spent a day at the Sacramento Autorama in February of this year. Thanks to Keith Harman, Dave has been coaxed into sending us a few words and a selection of photos from the event for you to enjoy in Top Stories.  Thanks for the contribution Dave.



As you may have read elsewhere, famed customiser John  D’Agostino and  American Graffiti movie star Cindy Williams were recent visitors to the Ace Café last month.  It was all a bit last minute, and there was a big footy match talking place at nearby Wembley, which is probably why there was a pretty mediocre turnout for their visit.  However, regular DRCReview contributor Keith Harman was there to capture their visit on camera.  John has vowed to return and who knows, we may even get to see one of his knockout customs in the UK.


John D'Agostino and Cindy Williams at the Ace Cafe (photo: Keith Harman)


Talking of the Ace Cafe, we were there for the Hot Rod night on April 1st which saw the debut of Dave Belcher’s ’32 Roadster.  It was the first time we’d seen the car completed and it looked great with its peaked grille, sculptured engine side panels and custom bonnet spear, all expertly created by fabricator and custom painter Keith Baker.  As you might imagine, the pearlescent dark blue paintwork and unique graphics have been flawlessly executed too.


Dave Belcher's freshly built roadster was perhaps the highlight of the Hot Rod night at the Ace



Sas’s big solution

Hot rodder and bike aficionado Sas Hunter has been developing his custom Harley Davidson over the past couple of years.  First there was neat pinstriping by Herb Martinez, new 65mm front forks and later various engine tweaks including single fire ignition, an Arlen Ness air filter, Mikuni carburettor and a high lift cam - all bolted into place by greasy Tony of Camberley by all accounts.  Sas reckons there’s about 20 more ponies on the twist grip. 


He always had a vision of something a little more radical for the bike and with this in mind dropped it off with specialist fabricator Neil O’Shea in far flung Lincolnshire for some major frame modifications.  Regular readers may remember that Neil is building himself a radical one-off roadster with inspiration from Steve Moal’s outstanding Liquorice Streak hot rod – more about that in a later edition. 


Check out that custom LED light strip built into the edge of the fender and the clean uncluttered back wheel 


Neil modified and fitted Sas’s new swing arm he’d purchased, to accept a massive 17 inch x 12 inch wide custom alloy wheel fitted with a 330 section tyre. In addition he slotted in a new six-speed, right-side-drive gearbox, changed the drive from belt to chain and then added air-ride suspension.  The rear brake is now incorporated within the transmission, adding to the clean uncluttered appearance of that wide rear wheel.  Further jobs included fabricating a custom Supetrapp exhaust system and unique single seat and fender with a neat led light strip built in.  This highly innovative touch is even more impressive when you see the central section light up red and the outer sections flash yellow at the touch of a button.   Sas is now looking to change the front wheel to a 21 inch diameter item with a smaller tyre to create a more traditional looking chop.  In case you were wondering, the original 3.5 gallon gas tank has been ditched in favour of a new six gallon unit which comes in two halves, and there’s the biggest Beach Bar handlebars Sas could find on there too.


That's one wide rear tyre


Radical truck build

John Martinez is probably best known for his knockout ’37 Ford sedan, but he’s been quietly creating a radical ‘49/51 Chevy truck for a year or so within his ample garage.  Whereas you or I might feel capable of undertaking specific jobs to see the project through to completion, John is a bit more ambitious than that that – well that’s probably a major understatement as he is building the truck from the grounds up, virtually all by himself.  John says he is grateful for the advice he’s received from various individuals along the way,  but even so, what he has set himself is a mammoth undertaking.  When we last visited John a few weeks ago he was mid-way through wiring the truck – a major job in itself when you consider there will be an electronic dash, air ride suspension, air conditioning and lots more.   Along the way, John has already fabricated and fitted the twin turbocharger and intercooler system for the decompressed 350 Chevy motor and found a way of packaging it all under the stock bonnet.  He’s painted the truck and will be trimming it himself too.  When you consider how well his sedan turned out, you can imagine how thorough a job John is likely to make of his latest ride.


There's an aweful lot going on under that bench seat.  Fortunately there's a solid base going over the top of this little lot 

The truck has now been painted since our last visit in a traditional 50s shade



Barnstormer with laundry

We love old front engined dragsters and when you get to see one recreate a classic scene from the 60s then that really does it for us.  So you can imagine the excitement when we received an email from Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum executive director Tony Thacker of a photo by Bob Brown of the recreated Tommy Ivo Barnstormer dragster with 'chute billowing out behind.  



“Going to the drags is always fun and exciting, but once in a while you get to witness something more than that," says Bob Brown. "My chance for this came over the weekend at DragFest, when 1320 member Marc McCormick drove the Tommy Ivo Barnstormer (owned by Ron Johnson) down the fire-up road, made the turnaround, staged, and then put the loud pedal down." 


I was positioned at the 1320 stripe, and using a 100-400mm lens, was able to capture this special moment as the car approached while the red, white and blue ring-slot parachute was deployed and came to full bloom.  For me, this was a dramatic moment, sort of like my first CHRR where the memories all came back.  I hadn't seen one of these 'chutes since about '63 or so, and certainly not this close.  Thanks to Ron, Marc, Kol and Richard for making this all happen.  Don Ewald too!” 


Radical Volvo Coupe

Although we seem to major on hot rods, we do appreciate the work of customisers around the globe and our recent story on John D’Agostino is testament to this.  However, in addition to American customs, we can also appreciate  certain European offerings such as the radical redesign of the Volvo P1800 (The Saint car) which has recently emerged on the web.  The illustrations have been expertly generated in a computer programme and look almost real.  Funnily enough, former Street Machine contributor Steve Kirk penned some radical designs for the Volvo sports coupe back in the 90s not dissimilar to those here, and it’s interesting to see that the full potential of this two-seater sports coupe has now been realised. Check out



13.4.09. Make a date for the Ace Café, this Saturday, April 18, from 4 – 8pm  if you’d like to meet US visitors Cindy Williams, (who starred as Laurie Henderson in the 1973 hot rod movie American Graffiti), and world renowned kustom car builder John D'agostino, whose swoopy creations have captured numerous awards at car shows throughout the US.

John D'agostino will be at the Ace Cafe this weekend


John and Cindy will be visiting the Ace Café to meet fans and sign autographs and prints following their appearance at the recent Bilsport Motor Custom Show in Sweden.  After their brief UK visit, they then head back to Scandinavia for another automotive event in Finland where John is showing off his latest creation – Aladdin, a stunning 1961 Oldsmobile custom.


Close friend Paul Le Mat (aka John Milner from American Graffiti), urged them to visit the Ace after his appearance about three years ago with legendary guitarist Jeff Beck.


Watch out for our full interview with John in the not too distant future. 


Moon Bay Drag Strip 50th Reunion

The Champion Speed Shop in association with Miramar Events is heavily involved with this year’s Pacific Coast Dream Machines show in the US, which will host the 50th Reunion of the Half Moon Bay Drag Strip on April 26th, 2009.


Bob McLennan along with Andy "Rodfather" Brizio, son Roy Brizio, and the entire Champion Speed Shop team would like to extend an invitation to anyone whoever worked, raced, or simply enjoyed the spectacle of drag racing by-the-sea.


The latest Champion Speed Shop top fuel streamliner will be on display, along with a replica of the Kent Fuller built dragster that belonged to Champion Speed Shop founder Jim McLennan. There will also be plenty of memorabilia and memories at the very place where a bread van loaded with speakers, timing equipment, fences, and a generator made its way down from Champion Speed Shop South San Francisco headquarters and transformed the Half Moon Bay Airport into a drag strip where records were broken.


The Pacific Coast Dream Machines show is not just geared towards drag racers with a display of warbirds, classic cars, hot rods, monster trucks and even unicycle drag race machines  scheduled to put in an appearance on the day.
For more information about the event itself as well as the 50th
Reunion of the Half Moon Bay Drag Strip, check of  the out or


Pinstriping Demos

Custom painter Keith Baker is showing off his pinstriping skills at Harley Davidson dealerships in the south of England and by the time you have read this, will have already visited Thames Valley Harley Davidson for their new premises official opening day on March 28 and Black Bear Harley Davidson in Newmarket a few weeks later. 


Keith at work in a Harley dealership.  If you've not checked out his web site, have a look at


Keith prepared and painted sample panels in different effects and colours and striped in advance and took others to do on the day.  Leaflets prepared by Karen, Keith’s wife, were handed out and the pair ran a slideshow of Keith’s work. Several mobile phones and crash helmets were striped over the two events and Keith also sold a panel of artwork.


Two more demos are planned for the future, so if you’d like to take a closer look at Keith’s work, he’ll be at Battistinis open weekend on June 27/28 in Bournemouth and at Earls Court in London later in the year – date to be advised. 


Aka's Sedan nears completion

Keith Atkinson has decided on a lacquered metal finish for his '32 Tudor Sedan which is rapidly nearing completion.  The only exception is the painted firewall to match the orange chassis.  "I wanted to do something different and this way I can get the car on the road quicker and enjoy it," says Keith. "I can always paint it if i change my mind," he adds.



News from Bob Keith

Bob Keith has sent some photos of his Kent Fuller chassis under construction and  some shots of the master himself  - Kent Fuller. “Things are progressing well and I hope to have the chassis ready to ship to Australia later this year,” says Bob.  In actual fact, it seems that Kent Fuller may be joining Bob in Australia to help put the car together.  Bob will be meeting up with old friends in England next month at Santa Pod for the Main Event which takes place over the weekend of  May 22nd - 25th.


Kent Fuller worked his magic on the chassis (above) and the man himself - below



Scale Topolino-bodied dragster

We’ve always been big fans of the Fiat Topolino-bodied dragsters such as Frank Pedregon’s US-built  coupe, and in the UK, Mike Treutlein and Pat Cuss’s examples  which appeared sometime later.   The repositioned wheel arch opening, chopped roof and swoopy rear end styling really do it for us.  Inspired by the aforementioned examples, and having discovered that Competition Resins ( now stock a 1/16th scale Topolino bodyshell, we decided to create our own scale version of a Topo coupe dragster.  In addition to the resin body, we acquired (when the dollar rate was more favourable) Tommy Ivo’s Barnstormer slingshot dragster in 1/18th scale as the basis for the transformation. This highly detailed GMP metal dragster will provide the high detail we are looking for in the finished model.  The CR Topolino body is a nice quality one piece moulding with the door lines cut in that required reworking to get it to fit atop the dragster.  So far, we have chopped the bodyshell, repositioned the wheel arches, sliced off the nose, added a new firewall and painted the body in primer. It’s the first step, but it’s looking promising as you can see from the photos.  We’ll keep you posted as the project continues.


Semi-chopped, the original wheel openings filled and the new ones roughly cut in

Roofline has been extended and the wheel openings smoothed

Chop completed and new firewall in place


20.3.09. Crisis?  What crisis?  While the economy is turned upside down as a result of the current financial upheavals, it seems hot rodding enthusiasts are refusing to accept the media line and are bucking the trend. Recent visits to three hot rod establishments revealed busy workshops with more cars under construction and work booked in than ever.


While a number of these could be described as long-term projects that were probably budgeted for a long time ago, it doesn’t account for the steady stream of individuals who continue to beat a path to the doors of hot rod establishments to have work done, despite all of the doom and gloom.


The net result is that 2009 could well be a bumper year in terms of the number of new hot rods likely to debut on the UK scene – let’s hope so.


Historic achievement

February marked a significant month in the history of UK drag racing, with three-time FIA Top Fuel Champion, Andy Carter, flying the British flag at Pomona during the Winternationals, which mark the start of the 2009 NHRA 2009 season.  He is the first Briton to race stateside in Top Fuel since the legendary Clive Skilton, in 1973.  Using a car provided for him by sponsor, Lucas Oil, Andy put in a sterling performance in eliminations to beat Brandon Bernstein with a low 4 second et. Unfortunately, however, he was deemed to have crossed the centre line at the top end of the strip and was thus eliminated from competition.  However, we’re sure Andy would have taken heart from turning in a performance that saw him beat an American drag racing icon.  Let’s hope we see more such gutsy performances from him on US drag strips in the future.


Talking of UK drag racing, we have recently been in touch with US resident, Bob Keith, one of the members of the infamous US Drag Team that visited England during the 1960s.  Bob brought over the Dos Palmos rail in 1964 and a new blown Chevy-motored dragster the year after when he captained the US team. Along with the likes of Tommy Ivo and Don Garlits, Bob introduced the sport to thousands of spectators.  As most will already know, this American invasion sowed the seeds for future drag racing development in the UK. 

Bob Keith's great looking '65 dragster is set to come back to life. The car ran with a Hemi (top) and later with BB Chevy power


Bob’s 1965 car has been in mothballs for about 40 years, but he has now decided to put it back together with the help of chassis builder and drag racing legend, Kent Fuller.  That’s great news for nostalgia drag fans, and even better news for readers of, as Bob has given us permission to detail the build-up of the car through to completion – we can hardly wait.


Again, on the subject of British drag racing, one unsung hero of the sport is undoubtedly John Bennett, who joined the British Hot Rod Association in 1962.  In 1965, with the aid of other club members, he was responsible for securing a permanent drag strip in the UK – Santa Pod Raceway.  Fittingly, John was recently inducted into the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame along with other individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport, including Dave Grady, Alf Hagon, the Murty family and Rune Fjeld.  Congratulations to all of them. 


Book Winners

We really enjoyed reading about Cole Foster’s exploits in Cole Foster and the Salinas Boys, our book review last week.  Judging by the strong number of entries to our book competition, it seems a lot of you are also keen to get hold of a copy.  You may remember we had two to give away as prizes and I’m pleased to say that the lucky readers drawn out of the hat this week are Noel Hyde from Ruislip and Paul Wilkinson from Stourbridge.  Congratulations to you both.  Your copies will be winging their way to you over the next week or so.  The correct answer to the question posed was C. a five window coupe.


Thank you to our advertisers and welcome on-board Keith

This is a special note of thanks to companies and individuals who have supported, and continue to support – we are grateful to you all, as your involvement has enabled us to keep the web site going, and will allow us to develop the site further in 2009, and beyond.


With this in mind, I’m pleased to announce that Keith Harman, a regular freelance contributor to various motoring magazines (including Custom Car and Classic American), has joined the editorial team and will also be spreading the word about to possible new advertisers.  With Keith on board, you should notice an increased number of feature stories.  This is great news for us and should mean even better coverage of your favourite hobby. 


Finally, it’s worth pointing out to anyone who may be considering advertising with that our readership increased from 54,000 to 89,000 unique users in 2008 – an increase of some 65 per cent.  It makes a strong and cost-effective platform to get your company’s message across, so please bear us in mind. 


10.2.09. This week’s overdue update should hopefully include something for everyone.  We take a look at a couple of great hot rods taking shape which are likely to appear sometime this year, and have a report on a Model A rescued from the grave.  Only this time the car in question has been put back to stock condition - it’s one for our classic car fans (see Top Stories).  One interesting aspect about this Model A though is that it was built in Manchester, England back in the 1920s.  It was news to me to learn that Henry Ford set up a manufacturing plant in the UK as early as this and that the plant produced as many as 300,000 cars.

One of GMP's new Deuces.  Check out Models Zone for more news of these.


For diecast collectors check out our Models Zone section for news about a couple of neat new Deuce coupes from GMP in 1:18th scale and an equally tasty Camaro.


We’d like to say thank you to all of our readers (88,725 unique users in 2008) for regularly tuning into the site.  We’d also like to pass on a very belated Happy New Year to you all and would also like to thank various individuals who have offered words of encouragement over the past twelve months with regards to the web site.


We have some great ideas for this year as to how we can move the web site forward, but as usual, it’s a juggling act devoting time to this hobby and a paying job.   In the meantime, if you have any ideas for features, competitions or whatever then please do get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.

Andy Kirk


18.12.08. Imagine what it must be like having a workshop with proper tools with which to build the car of your dreams, and the engineering skill to pull it off – or even just to tinker.  Well, past readers of may remember back in June of this year we took a look at the progress Neil O’Shea was making with his one-off, BMW V8-powered roadster.  Neil has a great workshop and the technical expertise to build the car of his dreams and he’s also using the latest technology, such as AutoCAD software to get the desired results.  It’s still early days, but he’s making progress, particularly with regards to machined aluminium. Read our report in Top Stories and you’ll see what we mean. 


Long-awaited book winners announced

This month’s book competition to win The Art of the Hot Rod by Ken Gross was our most popular one yet, and we are sorry to all of our regular readers for keeping you in suspense for so long. Let’s just say, there have been too many nights on the tiles of late!  This great title, which is more akin to a thicker, hard-backed version of The Rodder’s Journal will undoubtedly make a fine Christmas present, and for two lucky readers that’s exactly what it will be.  The two winning names drawn out of the hat were, wait for it - Dan Boone and Dave Sturgess, who both correctly identified Ken Gross as a former director of the Peterson Automotive Museum.  Congratulations to you both.  Your prizes will be on Santa’s sleigh for early Christmas delivery.  Commiserations to all of our other readers who missed out – I wish we’d had a dozen or so copies of this one to give away.


Our next book competition, which we will be announcing shortly, will be something of a bumper edition with three great new titles up for grab.  In the meantime, we have a review of the Lions drag strip part 1 DVD announced earlier this year.  Check out the review in New to You.


Bloodhound on the loose

It’s a very brave man in our estimation that is prepared to drive on land at 200mph let alone over 700mph.  Of course Andy Green OBE (the world’s fastest man) took Thrust SSC past the magic Mach 1 barrier in 1997, crossing what to many was an unimaginable speed milestone. Amazingly, Green wasn’t the first man to go Mach 1 on land, though some would dispute this.  That honour apparently went to stuntman Stan Barrett driving the Budweiser rocket car. However, their achievements were never officially ratified as there was no accurate method in place of recording the speed and the team didn’t back up the run on the same day in proper FIA fashion.  There is also some doubt as to the Mach 1 claim, as no sonic boom was heard, so we’ll never really know for sure.  What you can’t take away, however, is that this car did go over 700mph back in 1979, and that’s a major achievement in itself. 


It took Thrust SSC about 18 years to get to where Barrett left off, and now there’s another race looming, only this time the goal is 1000mph.  The unique British-built, missile-like projectile that’s attempting to cross this threshold is Bloodhound SSC, another Noble and Green production, which takes its name from the Surface to Air Bloodhound missile that was a feature of our defensive weapons system throughout the 1960s.  If you’ve been reading the news you’ll know that this Bloodhound is set to go on the offensive very shortly.  The project was launched to the press a few weeks ago with backing from STP, one of the pioneering names in land speed record attempts, but Bloodhound SSC is not the only contender in the 1000 mph land speed race, which is why we guess there has been a massive push to get this project off the ground and up and running as quickly as possible. 


In the US, there is the North American Eagle project, which aims to go 800mph. This vehicle resembles a USAF Starfighter with wheels.  To us it seems odd that the Americans should base the project around such an ill-fated aircraft  which has already claimed the lives of 37 pilots. Let's hope they have more success on the ground.  Further around the globe, the Aussie Invader, a sleek rocket powered projectile not dissimilar to Bloodhound SSC is taking shape and is likely to be the closest contender in the 1000 mph race.


The main difference between Noble’s old project and this one, besides the obvious anticipated speed differential, is that Bloodhound SSC is being developed in the full public spotlight. As much an engineering adventure as the ultimate speed record challenge, the four-year project, is designed to re-ignite interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics amongst the youth, and raise the numbers entering technology careers. Students are being positively encouraged to take an inside look at the technology required to go 1000 mph.  What a great incentive this must be to raise awareness in such subjects.  Wouldn’t it be great if there was something along similar lines for budding hot rodders?


Time for cosy indoor events

It’s that time of year again when the UK automotive scene shuts down in favour of more cosy indoor events such as the forthcoming Classic Car Show at the NEC on November 14,15,16 which is always worth a visit. Further a field, well across the Atlantic to be precise, the Speciality Equipment Market Association or SEMA show kicked off this week and one of the undoubted stars is the latest  muscle car masterpiece from Chip Foose called Terracuda.  As you can see, it’s based upon the classic Mopar E-body shape from the 70s and features a modern 392 cu in Hemi, and Tremec 5-speed transmission stuffed in to a Barracuda shell.  It rolls on a custom Art Carr chassis equipped with 9-inch Ford rear axle.  The car has been built to show off a new line of paint finishes Foose has created with refinisher BASF – which includes Terracuda Brown.  



Hybrid Hype
Technology is a wonderful thing.  We’ve been hyped to death about saving the planet and how we should all drive hybrid new cars to do so.  You can join the gravy train by purchasing a Toyota Prius with its duel fuel capability and there’s no shortage of volts in the rapidly growing electric car market either.   But what really baffles me is that Volkswagen have taken a Polo, now badged  Bluemotion, equipped with the lowly internal combustion engine, changes a few gear ratios, added some aerodynamic aids and made it a bit lighter to produce a car with the lowest carbon footprint currently available for sale in the UK according to What Car?


Now you have to wonder what Toyota and other manufacturers have been doing in recent years if they can’t crack 1.4 litre diesel engine performance with all of the science and know how of their mighty research and development facilities at their disposal  This is a major embarrassment for the so-called cutting edge of hybrid technology and goes to show that we haven’t  really moved on one bit since Nickolaus Otto produced the first four-stroke engine back in 1876.


September is rapidly drawing to a close and many events of interest to American automotive enthusiasts have now been and gone.  Somehow, though, we can’t help but feel somewhat cheated by the dismal weather that has been the dominant feature of yet another so-called British summer.  Although it’s been bad for many hot rod events, however, it’s been much worse for the drag racing fraternity, who are entirely at the mercy of Mother Nature - in particular, the competitors, officials, spectators and hard-working crew from Santa Pod Raceway who encountered a near washout of all major events this year.  You have to wonder how much of a financial hit Santa Pod can take on events such as this before commercial concerns start to become a major issue. 


By comparison, the recent Hot Rod Drags at Shakespeare County Raceway, a few weeks ago, were lucky enough to be bathed in sunshine and the event was busier than ever.   Read our report on this meeting in Top Stories this week. 


CHRR coming up in October


For those who are looking for more hot rod action over the coming months, then the favourable pound versus dollar exchange rate might be enough to tempt you to book a last-minute flight to California, where the NSRA Nationals are taking place during the first week of October in Sacramento.  The following week, it’s the CHRR in Bakersfield, which would round off a perfect short holiday as far as we’re concerned. Closer to home, there’s the National Custom & Sports Car Show at Doncaster on October 18/19 to look forward to - and we hear there may be one or two hot rods new to the UK scene making an appearance.


Street rods in Sacramento early next month


Book winners

We had a good response to our latest book competition based around the new Gene Winfield title.  The answer we were looking for to the question posed was, of course, Jade idol, Gene’s amazingly complex, fully customised ’56 Mercury.  Congratulations to Phil Elby of Rayleigh, Essex, and Simon Philips, from Southampton, whose entries were the first out of the DRC Review hat with the correct answer - in fact, everyone got this one right.  Copies of this latest hardback title will be winging their way to the two winners over the next week or so. 


For news contributions please contact:  

Andy Kirk - 01628 530323

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