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NSRA Supernationals 2008: Head Hunter claims first scalp
Head Hunter bags the big one
According to the BBC Weather Centre, temperatures edged up to 31C in parts of the country last weekend - hot by anyone’s standards. Hot was also the only way to describe many of the new cars making their public debuts at the NSRA Supernationals at Old Warden this year, notably the Willys coupes of Frenchman, Max Agus, and Essex man, Tony Osborne. Between the two of them, they had around 2000 horsepower to play with, courtesy of “blown” Hemi and Chevy motors under the hoods of their respective rides.
Contrasting engine styles but both brutally powerful - around 2000hp by our reckoning
Sadly, for our welcome French visitor, “blown” was also the word that applied to a head gasket on the Hemi when the engine was first fired up. Quite reasonably, you might have thought that was going to be the last time you’d hear the amazing cacophony emanating from the combustion chambers of the massive Keith Black blown motor that had somehow been shoehorned between the rails of the bright red Willys. In fact, it didn’t stop the owner from occasionally whirring the Hemi motor into life over the weekend – notably at around 1 o’clock on Sunday morning, by all accounts, which undoubtedly emptied the beer tent pretty quickly.
Sadly, the car was parked up for the weekend, but was fired up periodically to wake up campers!
We also heard that the Willys sedan of Bristol rodder, Merv Barnett, was due to be at Old Warden, but unfortunately succumbed to overheating problems en route to the show. Nonetheless, the 2008 edition of the NSRA Supernationals was still something of a Willys-themed event, with Tony’s ground-shaking coupe walking off with the Participants’ Choice Trophy and Max collecting a Top 10 trophy too on Sunday afternoon – well he would have, had he not been on his way back to France.
A Top 10 trophy first time out for the DRCReview Model A - Graham was delighted
Talking of trophies, it was also a pretty successful day for DRCReview and the Model A Tudor owned by regular contributor, Graham Jones, which was featured in the Back to the Future series of build articles. It was the first show appearance for the car since it was completed late last year, and thanks to a bit of fine tuning, it’s now running exactly as it should. Graham was genuinely surprised to receive a Top-10 award, and tickled pink to find that the Model A had been so well received by the judges.
Tony was happy to drive the car, but with fixed windows he suffered in the heat
There could be little argument, however, that it was the much anticipated appearance of “Head Hunter”, Tony’s metalflake blue ‘41 Willys coupe, that was the talk of Old Warden last weekend. The stunning-looking machine seems to have been a very long time in the making and owes much to the considerable talents of race car constructor, Chris Isaacs. The big-flake paint job leapt out from the lacquer, and the beautiful lettering and pinstriping by Neil Melliard just added to the professional appearance of this radical rod. The 540 cube blown Chevy was dynoed at just under 900 horsepower by ICE, and the coupe was understandably driven in a somewhat restrained and respectful manner during the course of the weekend, having been completed only the night before the Supernationals.
As far as the event itself was concerned, Saturday’s cruise out to Santa Pod Raceway to take in the Mopar Nationals appears to have been well received by those who participated. Here, the Risky Trip Ford Anglia, another Chris Isaac’s race car and a former DRCReview feature car, driven by Matt and crewed by brother Russ Eley, put in a personal best performance of 9.26sec @ 154mph with a new progressive nitro system atop the 468 cube Chevy - well done guys. While the majority of rodders were taking in the drags, the usual downside was that the traders on the showground at Old Warden were left twiddling their thumbs after the mass exodus. For those few rodders who decided to remain at the showground, however, there was always the welcome distraction of the beer marquee to enjoy during the afternoon.
Mild custom Mercury - a real work of art
It made a change to be able to enoy the evening without rain
It’s always great to unwind with good company and in sunny, warm weather, and this year’s Supernationals really did excel in both departments. The usual tried-and-tested format was in place for Saturday evening, with the main marquee providing the focal point for the evening’s entertainment. Adding to the festivities, it never fails to impress how much gear hospitable Dutch hot rodder and Brackpacker, Perry Van Den Eertwegh, brings over to the event each year - an event, incidentally, that he’s attended with his son Patrick and trusty assistant Stevie, for more years than he’d care to remember. This one was no exception, with a selection of road movies to enjoy on the big projector screen he’d erected, and later in the evening, when alcohol had taken full effect, the dulcet tones of revellers could be heard over the PA system as participants attempted to out-do Elvis, and other singing stars, in Perry’s karaoke competition. It was a great evening – from what I can remember!
Dee Young (left) and friends in karaoke mode
An appreciative audience
Hot rod buyer/trader Perry and his team were the perfect hosts. In conversation he told us the Willys sedan which recently fireballed in Holland has now been shredded, complete with many intact parts such as the rear Halibrands. Perry set off back to Holland with geordie Paul's truck in tow - now apparently sold to a German customer
Sunday also provided perfect conditions for a class hot rod event, but the show field seemed just a little empty to our eyes - perhaps due to the fact the Mopar Nationals and the Rally of the Giants were both in full swing that same weekend.
The showground begins to fill up
The rush to line up for the show ‘n’ shine ensued, and after judging had taken place, the winners were called and cars assembled for owners to receive their prizes. It was no real surprise to learn that Tony Osborne had taken the big one – Participant’s Choice - and we found ourselves agreeing with most of the other decisions, as well. It was also interesting to note the special attention Hans Peter Wurmli’s one-off ’32 coupe received from special show guest, and President and founder of Fatman Fabrications, Brent Van Dervort. He remarked that he thought Hans Peter’s car was truly inspirational, with lots of innovative ideas. As a Jaguar owner, he could also appreciate the cross-over in the design elements incorporated in the finished rod.
Special award for Hans Peter Wurmli's amazing coupe from US guest Brent Van Dervort
So that was the Supernationals over for another year, with awards handed out to deserving owners and the NSRA committee given a tremendous ovation for their efforts. That aspect was even more relevant than usual this time, as virtually all (bar five) of the long-standing committee members are standing down in October, including NSRA Chairman, David Biggadyke. John Price again did a wonderful job of commentating on the event, although, uncharacteristically, he did get just a little carried away on Sunday.
The winners line-up for a photo call
In conversation with ESRA representative Steve Marley after the event, he explained how after eight years he would also be standing down. "A lot of people just don’t realise how much effort and free time goes into an event like this,” said Steve. “I arrived at Old Warden on Tuesday and got away on Monday afternoon - that’s a whole week for one event.”
In light of this, DRC Review would like to extend its sincere thanks to the NSRA crew for all of their hard work at this and numerous other events throughout the years.
Story: Andy Kirk & Graham Jones
Photos: Andy Kirk & Keith Harman/Atkinson
Tony Osborne - '41 Willys coupe
UK Customs Award
Calvin Evans - '58 Chevy El Camino & custom bike
Best Model T
Russ Grieve - Fad T
Top 10 - in no order
Graham Jones - '29 Model A Tudor
Richard Parker - '39 Ford Coupe
Stuart Revill - Chevy Feetside
Max Agus - '40 Willys Coupe
Dave Holmes - Ford F100
Bob Pike - Triumph Renown
Mark Hanley - '36 Nash
Barry Friend - Model A Coupe
Andrew Thurley - '34 Ford Sorts Coupe
Andrew Chaddock - '48 Anglia
The ex-Terry Lea Fad T (see news item in May 2007) made it to the winner's circle. It's new owner Russ Grieve had been tracking the car for years and was delighted to have been able to buy it. He drove all the way down from Scotland to collect it.
Apparently this lovely Model A was completed in record time to participate in the Euronats where it performed brilliantly and returned exceptional economy from its four-banger motor
Richard Parker's '39 Coupe was a worthy winner
Part of the impressive line-up
Paul Hobby's five-window has been sold and now runs fenderless
Melissa Gee's Chevy with period-style flames and custom treatment was another award winner
This lovely Impala is for sale - £13k seems not unreasonable
We loved the rear view of this very different T in the making
Recently completed HGHR '32 Roadster for Paul Rogers - beautifully built and finished as always
We liked the simple execution of this Pop/Anglia and especially those trad hot rod wheels
Still probably the finest Nova SS in the country - Gary Layton's two-door looks better every year
One of our favourites was this retro-style roadster owned by Tony Malloy - a winner at this year's NASC Springnationals