National Street Car Challenge (UK)

2013 Rounds 7 and 8

NSCC 2013 rounds 7 and 8

It had been a massive break since the last rounds of racing on May bank holiday weekend, so everyone had been looking forward to this event for three months. The August bank holiday weekender at York is always a biggie, officially the Hot Rod Reunion and Street Racer Shootout; unofficially the KC D-G Memorial weekend.

It didn't start well, after a good deal of pissing rain on Saturday afternoon and well into the evening. We actually arrived later than James Murray, who managed to arrive exactly one car-length in front of us, and he helped me reverse the caravan into a space in the already quite full pits. I'm sure the fact that the caravan ended up with a 2”-deep puddle immediately in front of the door was not intentional.

Sunday itself saw 14 NSCC cars waiting to qualify. And waiting. And waiting. Although the rain had stopped and the weather was quite fine, the dampness was reluctant to leave and, with water seeping up through the tarmac on the track, it was very late in the afternoon before we even got a qualifier run. Top of the pil was Russ Pursley in the Dutton with a 10.47 at 128mph, followed by Jamie Hughes in the twin-turbo Land Rover on 11.57 at 129mph with Derek close behind on 11.79. Billy Cattell in the candy Austin was giving it 13-second hell, while Biff Bailey had stepped up to 14.7 in the SN95 Mustang, a taster of what was to come. Howard Fletcher was back with the Bugatti-looking Minor-based special, and Phil Winstanley was bringing up the rear in the Minor. He was suffering ignition gremlins and had abandoned the MSD in favour of points and condenser, but was struggling for any drive at all.

With the Street Racer champs being run in among everything else, meaning that most competitors were qualified in two or three classes, we were still waiting to run the first round of eliminations at 5pm – every class had to run all its eliminations in an hour. When we finally did run at around 5.20, the first pairing was James and Howard. We thought Howard had abandoned the day by this point, but York's results show him running a 26.2 at 695mph... James still won. Next, Biff opened the gas tap to run a 13.8 at 103mph to sneak past John Peace's Fox on a strong 14.1. Mark Presland's Anglia got a free pass to the second round as Jamie's Land Rover had grenaded its diff, but Scott's Pop had no such luck against Derek's TVR. Dave Smith's Mustang was efficiently seen off by Billy's Austin, while Steve Gilmour had also brought the laughing gas to shut Shaun's Syclone down 14.1 to 14.5. The first round was polished off by Russ beating a still-struggling Phil by a clear 12 seconds.

With the minimum of turn-around time, we headed into the quarter final round with Steve's Cortina unable to keep up with Derek, then Mark Presland's luck running out against Biff's 14.0. James ended Billy's run with a close 13.0 to 13.5, then Russ tore off an 11.5 on his bye.

In the semis, Biff was clearly saving his gas on a 14.8 against Derek's 11.9999 (yes, really), and James managed a 12.8 but couldn't touch Russ's 11.1 to set up an all-fibreglass final. It was very late in the evening before that rolled around – we were worried about missing our 7.30 dinner reservation! - but they lined up and Derek rattled off a valiant 11.1 at 125mph. Russ spent over a second on the line, but then belted out a 10.1 at 130mph to take the win and another full dose of points for round 7.

As soon as the finals had wound up, the track was opened for the KC Cackle, a tribute to the fallen NSCCer. Race cars lined up seven abreast and seven deep, and on the signal, instead of a minute's silence, we had a minute's engine revving – a fitting tribute. After that, it was time to head off on a lovely, sunny cruise.

Having asked for numbers for the traditional Barnes Wallis nosh-up 10 days previously, it took Drakie to remind me on the Friday that I really should actually book a table. He phoned them and found that they were booked solid. In the end, he managed to get us a table for 21 at Ye Olde Red Lion in Spalding on the Moor. It was a cool cruise along some unfamiliar roads, and we caused quite a stir among the patrons of the Red Lion who were, to a man, as pissed as a nursing home mattress. Dinner was fun – when it finally arrived – and after a leisurely cruise back to site it was time for some beers and live rock music. A good night was had by all, and a late night was had by many.

Monday started early, which caught me out a treat, and with Jamie and Howard whores de combat, 12 of us qualified. Most people qualified in the same position, although Biff had gone up a ladder with a terrific 13.4 at 105mph on a big burst of gas, while Shaun had gone down a snake with a 14.7 amid mystery boost problems. Phil had crept a little closer to his usual slot with an 18.8, but that's still way off-form.

In round one, John Peace started proceedings with a 14.1 to stop Steve Gilmour on 14.8, while Derek took no chances on red-lighting against Scott, a dozy 1.6-second reaction preceding a 12.8 to Scott's 19.8. Phil had chucked the towel in, leaving James to solo with a 14.2, then Russ shut Mark down 10.9 to 19.0. Biff had evacuated all his gas (no change there, then) but his 14.0 was still enough to stop Gasket on a 14.8, and Billy ran a stout 13.2 against Dave's 15.2.

In the quarter finals, Billy's run was finished by James, 13.0 to 13.7, Derek ran 11.8 to Biff's 14.4, and Russ ran 10.8 against a slowing John Peace to sort the semis. Russ lucked into a bye into the final, taking it relatively easy on a 12.0, while Derek sneaked ahead of James on a closer-than-expected 12.6 to 13.1.

The finals were a repeat of Sunday's pairing, but would the outcome change? No, as it happens, Derek's superb 11.7 no match for another 10.1 at 131mph from the flying Dutton for maximum points from the two-day meeting. Overall, an excellent weekend's racing, enjoyed to the full by everyone. Man of the match award must go to Derek for an abandoned run, an emergency shut-off in the left-hand lane making us all panic. Surely his run of bad luck couldn't still be hanging around? No – turns out his floor mats had rucked up and wedged his throttle pedal down, so he killed the motor and stopped to sort it out. Superstar.

We're now into the last month of the season, with only the Hot Rod Drags and the finals left to go, plus a couple of cruises. John Peace is still hanging onto his points lead in the championship, but James is hot on his heels and Derek's even hotter on James' heels. It's still all to play for, and it's not over yet... September should be a blinder.

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