National Street Car Challenge (UK)

2012 Round 2 and 3 report

Rounds 2 & 3, May 6th and 7th

Another bank holiday weekend, and once again us Brits celebrated the wettest drought in history by spending it in a field in the middle of nowhere. Plenty of people made the effort to get along to York on the Saturday evening, even though they had to huddle together for warmth in Fadster's caravan or the bar, both of which happily had alcohol available. Hurrah! Suitably anaesthetised against the cold, everyone wobbled back to their tents and caravans to find a layer of frost on them – overnight temperatures dropped to minus six...

Sunday would be cold but clear, and with a fair old crosswind, and qualifying went pretty much according to plan for most. Andy Hadfield came out on top with a top-effort 9.69 at 141mph, and second was Russ in the Chevy-powered Dutton, running a self-imposed handicap on 11.23/119mph. Next, the ever-improving TVR of Derek Beck on 11.5, then James a second and a half behind at 12.9. Fresh out and in fifth spot was Gasket with the new shop Syclone, four-wheel drive helping him score a 13.9 on a drive he described as “dull”. Next was John Peace's Fox, though the go-faster stripes weren't helping today, on a 14.6, followed by Steve Gilmour's super-clean Pinto-powered early MkI Cortina on a 14.9 and Dave Smith getting ever-closer to that elusive 14 on a 15.01. Rounding out the field was Scott Presland's crossflow Pop on 19.1, and relation-without-resemblance Mark Presland's similarly powered fresh-out 107E running 21.2, with Rich Swaine's Viva bringing up the rear.

It was bad news for the pole position man, though. On that early nine-second run, Andy thought he'd melted a piston but, after being towed back to the pits, it turned out that a nitrous pop had blown out the intake manifold gaskets. Craig set off for Sleathy's at top speed while Andy, Chris and Oz removed the blower and intake, an event that warranted the playing of the A-team theme tune. It seemed that B.A. Dixon wouldn't be quick enough as he arrived back at the track just as we were being called for first round eliminations, but then, proving that Fadster definitely has connections up above (or possibly below) we had a short, sharp shower of hail, which set things back a bit. And as we were paired up and heading down the fire-up lane, who should tag onto the back of the queue but Mr “More Jam Than Fucking Hartley's” Hadfield.

Derek took it easy against Mark's Prefect, 12.8 to a 20.9, then James dispatched Scott by a similar margin. John and Steve had a close-run race, John coming out just ahead 14.3 to 14.9, before Shaun shut Dave down 13.7 to 15.2. Russ took the spuds out of his tailpipes and ran 10.9 to beat Rich by a clear 13 seconds, before Andy trundled up the track in a leisurely 17 seconds on his bye.

With minimal chuffing about, we turned around for the quarter finals. Andy did just what was necessary to beat John, 12.1 to a NPB 14.02, while Shaun's day was ended by Russ, 11.2 to 14.0, and Derek pulled an 11.4 out of the bag to conquer James's 12.6.

In the Semis, Russ got the bye and, taking no chances, waited three and a half seconds after the green to tear off a 10.9 at 121mph. Andy, meanwhile, was on a mission and clicked off a 9.5 at 155mph to finish Derek's day. Surely it couldn't get any crazier on a cold day and a marginal track? Wrong. With the day drawing to a close, Russ and Andy lined up and gave it the lot. Russ stopped the clock in 12.0 seconds with a day's best terminal of 123mph, but in the other lane, Andy had rattled off a 9.36 at 156.9mph to take round two, and well deserved it was too.

Seeing as this was a two-dayer, we were all ready for a cruise-out to the Barnes Wallis but, at 5.30pm, the track called a drivers' meeting where they told us that the weather forecast for the Monday was dire, with rain expected to come in by 2pm and stay for the rest of the day. Would we be ready to go first thing, and be prepared to get the rounds turned around as quickly as possible? Hell yeah we would, although at that point the siren song of the pub was calling us and we were generally thinking with our stomachs, so we'd probably have said Hell Yeah if he'd asked us to crap in our own crash helmets.

Unusually, the cruise was a cruise, not the usual Gumball, and the Barnes Wallis was a pleasant little pub that many of us have driven past hundreds of times but never actually been into. Tim Taylor's Landlord, tremendous, and do we want a large or small portion? What? Look at your clientele, here - are you trying to call us poofs or something?! Large! Oh Christ. That sorted the men from the boys, as bin lids masquerading as dinner plates turned up piled with food. And some salad. It was a question of honour, and many of us managed to clean our plates; even James, who, by rights, after eating that much food, should have looked like a snake that had just swallowed a toaster.

Then it was all back to camp, and all down to the bar where pouring beer onto a gut full of food was hard work but we all tried our damnedest. Much fun was had, especially being kicked out of the after-party (Fadster's caravan) at 2am and writing rude words in the frost on the windows of the first car we found. Sorry, Oz. At least it was only minus three that night, which felt positively tropical compared with the previous night...

Monday morning had an air of purpose about it, as we knew we had to get into eliminations quickly, but as it turned out, it was a surprisingly quick day. Gasket's Syclone was whores du combat (which is French for 'fucked after a fight') with some gears in the auto 'box AWOL, but Phil Winstanley had made a welcome return in the A-series powered mighty Minor. One-shot qualifying saw Andy back on top with a 10.1 at 154, and Russ one step behind 11.1 at 118. Derek coaxed 11.5 at 120 from the TVR, ahead of James on 13.0. John was tantalisingly close once again with a 14.08, then Steve on a solid 14.7, with Dave behind dancing the funky chicken having finally run a 14.95 in the crusty Fox. Phil, meanwhile, had a drama of his own. After trying to get a quick RWYB run in before qualifying, he had managed to snap his gearlever, leaving an inch or two of stub. Having tried everything possible to lash something up – with the A-Team music playing in the background again – he managed to just squeak into the last slot in qualifying, running an off-form 16.7 just to get on the ladder with a pair of mole grips for a shifter. Next was Scott on an 18.9, then Mark, 21.6, then Rich on a 25.7 for an 11-car field. Now that's quite a spread!

Once again, James had drawn Scott and the result was similar too, 13.0 to 19.7. The closest race of the day was Dave versus Steve, Steve being 0.1 quicker off the line and 0.1 quicker over the quarter to finish with Dave's front bumper level with his back bumper... The next race wasn't quite so close, Russ's 383ci Dutton being more than a match for Rich's 1256cc Viva 11.0 to 25.3, while the ever-bonkers Fadster ran 9.6 at a monster 163mph on a bye. Derek again drew Mark, Derek rattling off an 11.3 at 126 to finish Mark's day, while John ended the struggling Phil's chances 14.4 to 17.6.

Without the benefit of faffing time, it was straight into the quarters with Derek shutting James down 11.4 to 12.6, and Russ closing John down 11.0 to 14.1. Steve tried his hardest with a 15.2, but to no avail whn the loon in the next lane is Fadster going for broke on a 9.21 at 169mph.

As the sky got darker, three cars lined up for the semis, Russ getting a bye but still running 11.30. Derek managed a valiant 11.2, but once again, was up against Fadster on a mission – would you believe 8.93 at 173mph. Again, the final was Russ versus Andy, the fibreglass flyers, and at 1.30pm, they faced off with Russ managing 11.99 at 121 against Andy's 9.50 at 144mph.

Full marks and congratulations to Andy for a brace of back-to-back round wins, and full marks too to Al, Des and the guys at PDRC for managing to get an entire day's eliminations done before lunch. It just shows how efficient the whole show can be, and to celebrate, they announced an all-comers big bracket race immediately after the last final. But, as those of us who were taking part lined up behind the Supercup final, down came the rain, bang on cue. After 10 minutes of watching the hatchbacks run laps with their wipers on it was clear that the day was done, so we all trooped off to our welcome soft beds and central heating, happy with another excellent weekend of NSCC competition. John's now out in front on the points, but it's only early May with everything to play for! And it's Mallory in a week or so...  

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