National Street Car Challenge (UK)

2012 Round 7 and 8 report

Many folk were looking forward to the NSRA Hot Rod Reunion over the Sunday and Monday of August bank holiday weekend, and none more so than the NSCC. Our enthusiasm was rewarded with some truly torrential rain on the Saturday, but, as we found out, when you're p*ss wet through within ten seconds of arriving, at least you know it couldn't really get any worse.

Best Effort award must go to James Murray who decided to test the Armco on the M25 four weeks previously. After somehow managing to source a solid replacement rear quarter for a MkII Cortina estate within a couple of days, he managed to get it fitted and all the new sheet metal work let in in time for the York double header. We say in time; he was actually in his garage welding until some unearthly hour of the Sunday morning (his neighbours must be very understanding, or stone deaf), set off right away and arrived at York at 8.15am where he managed to get an hour and a half's kip before being woken up for scrutineering. Oh, and did I mention that he'd also brought the repaired scoreboard with him? An eight-foot-long scoreboard that he had to remove from the car before he could sleep in it? And doesn't it make a difference, having a big scoreboard on the startline?

Anyway, on to the racing, and with only seven NSCC cars in contention it would not be a laborious day's racing. Heading the stack in qualifying was Russ Pursley's Dutton, followed by James's Cortina in low-12 second form again. Shaun Wilson had fixed the transmission on the stealthy GMC Syclone, but was having issues with the CV boot on the forward propshaft – it seems that CV may stand for 'Completely Vanished'. Ian Armitage was out with John Peace's championship-leading Fox Mustang, and the awful news that John himself was laid up in hospital after falling rather seriously ill whilst on holiday in Malta, but if you are going to fall ill would you rather be stuck in Valleta or in Castleford and Normanton District Hospital? We've since heard that the outlook is much brighter, so get well soon, John! Stephen Gilmour was back with the rapid Pinto-powered MkI Cortina, Dave Smith was testing the caravan-towing abilities of his Fox Mustang, and Rich Swaine was bringi … erm, rounding out the field with the Viva.

Things didn't start well when Russ's son Shaun lost the Dutton off the line and headed into the barrier. Fortunately, he was fine, and though duct tape sorted out most of the fibreglass Dutton's bodywork issues, the offside front suspension issues were a little more labour-intensive. But Russ still made round one, where he was on a bye. James saved his nitrous against Rich, Shaun easily saw off Dave, but the closest call came between Gilly's lightweight 'Tina and Ian in the Mustang, Steve taking the win by about 0.15 of a second.

The second round (also the semi-finals – where is everybody?) provided no surprises. Shaun picked up over half a second but that wasn't enough to beat James on a 12.5, and the Dutton was more than a match for the clean Cortina. Then there was a serious accident at the top of the track when two big B-body Mopars in Super Stock had a 100mph-plus coming-together which required some clean-up but fortunately no-one was injured. Before long, the rain came down and effectively wound up the day's racing. The NSRA cruise buggered off early, so the NSCC hung around for the KC Dixon-Grainger Memorial parade and cacklefest, then Shaun and Flick set off early to the Barnes Wallis in the daily. All three of the NSCC cruisers – James, Dave and Rich – were just about to set off themselves when they got a call from Shaun: the daily had broken down. Dave gave Shaun a lift back to the pits to collect the van and trailer, loaded the daily onto it and then the NSCCers set off to the Barnes Wallis while he strapped it down. The dining room was half empty so we were hopeful when we asked for a table for eight. “Sorry, we're full.” Apparently, the room was being kept half empty because they were having a Buddy Holly tribute act on later that evening. Perhaps we were the only ones to see the irony of Buddy Holly appearing at a pub named after an aircraft designer... We called Shaun and told him not to bother, then we all went back to the track and joined the massive BBQ at the Dixon-Grainger pits, and the live rock band outside the bar.

On the Monday, the forecast warned that there'd be rain moving in early afternoon, so the strip was alive from 9.30am, starting with the NSCC finals held over from the day before which Russ won in fine style. Then it was one-shot qualifying for all classes, with Russ again taking the top of the tree, followed by James, Shaun and Ian. The only surprise came with Stephen launching at the wrong RPM allowing Dave to climb one spot up the ladder, and Rich at the tail end.

In eliminations, Russ clocked off an 11.0 on his bye, then Ian comfortably saw off the other red Fox. Shaun ran a 13.7 to top Stephen's back-on-form 14.5, while James backed off at the eighth to cross the line at 70mph, still a fair way ahead of Rich's Viva. In the semis, Russ ended Ian's day by a clear three and a half seconds, and James put the boot into the boot-less Syclone 12.4 to 13.7. This took us up to lunchtime, and just before we were ready to run the final, along came the rain – earlier than predicted – and after an hour of sitting around watching the “invaders from the planet cloud” (c. Graham) the day was called off.

Shaun and Flick waited a good long while to listen to some extraordinary excuses from the RAC about why they wouldn't recover the daily, and Dave and Nancy made sure that, even though the meeting had ended two hours early, they were still somehow the last to leave. Aside from the weather, it had been a strange weekend as, despite it being pretty much all we'd want from a racing weekend, the atmos had been … odd.

This was the last round of racing before the finals. September is pretty chock-a, with Bomber County Cruisers' show (is this event still on? Their website's disappeared), Steel City Cruisers and the NSRA Hot Rod Drags all over the next three weekends, plus the remaining handful of cruises for those who have scored NSCC points this year to make sure they actually qualify. So far, only eight entrants have qualified, out of the 19 who have scored any points at all... John Peace has a commanding 3000-point lead at this moment, but that doesn't make him uncatchable as there are 5250 points up for grabs during the course of September. Will John decide that a Maltese hospital full of young nurses is preferable to soggy British drag strips? Will James decide to paint the rest of the Cortina satin black? Will Dave ever fit those new front wings? Will Rich ever realise that that throttle pedal goes all the way to the floor? Will Shaun ever find out where those bloody CV boots are going? What the hell are we all playing at? All these questions and more may or may not be answered over the coming month. Stay tuned!

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