National Street Car Challenge (UK)

2015 Round 7 and Power Tour

Last weekend marked the V8 UK Power Tour. This is the second year for the Power Tour, but for one reason and another, this year's was a two-day, two-venue event – Saturday at Santa Pod; Sunday at York, which also happened to coincide with Round 7 of the NSCC.

I told James that plan A was to arrive in daylight on Friday evening; plan B was to arrive before the rain that was forecast to show up around midnight. It started well when I arrived at James's around 7.30pm to find him spray painting his car. At 10.30 we'd just finished refitting the windscreen, so that was plan A well and truly buggered. We set off for Santa Pod, driving along the A45 watching the lightning in the distance, and arriving shortly after midnight to find the gates locked. A security chap walked over, and we told him we were with the Power Tour. He asked a trick question, “OK, where are you going tomorrow?” This completely fooled me, as all I could think was that I was hoping to be at Santa Pod tomorrow but fortunately James was much quicker on the uptake than me, and gave the code that unlocked the gate - “York”. We headed down to the far end of the pits where the Power Tour crew were camped, opened a beer, and literally the second I'd hammered my last tent peg in, the heavens opened. We'd accomplished plan B with less than a minute to spare.

Jesus Christ almighty, the storm that followed was biblical. Howling winds, thunder, lightning flashing every four or five seconds, and torrential rain. I grabbed my beer and ran for the V8UK guys' gazebo which, given the weather, they had sensibly shut up fairly tight. It was about three metres by two metres, and I walked around it twice looking for the door before knocking (on canvas, yes, really) and pleading with them to let me in. In those 20-30 seconds, I was drenched from head to foot. It was at this point that everyone else thought “Bugger this, I'm going to bed” so I then had to run back again. The storm, which had then been joined by a plague of frogs and four blokes on horses, continued for another two hours before finally heading north.

This meant that it was fairly late when we got to sleep, and when I finally got up in the morning, not only was the track dry and open for business, but about four Power Tour cars had already broken! John Sleath and Moose had arrived, and John had already broken too. Steve Neimantas had brought the Charger out on the Power Tour, done his runs and headed off already, but it turned out he'd broken down on the way back.

I queued up to get a run in, and the queues were already Mopar Euronats long. First run into a fair headwind with a very gluey track was a 16.6, with the transmission in D. There's a switch next to the shifter that alters the shift points and such, so I switched it from Normal to Power, queued up for another hour or so, and ran a 16.8. Hmm. One look at the queue told me I wasn't going to bother waiting for another run, and, try as I might, I can't get a feel for Hondas and such, so I began decamping. James had made a balls-up of his first two runs, so queued up for a third, ran a 12, decided that was as good as it was going to get and packed up himself. Most of the other Power Tourers had already buggered off, apart from a few other stragglers, so I flung everything in the boot, poured the rainwater out of my tent and threw that in on top, and we set off.

We had to stop at Tesco on the way, but as our combined shopping list was sticking plasters, milk, a bag of ice and some clean pants, we decided we'd each get our own to prevent Wellingborough thinking we were a couple with some 50 Shades thing going on. The cruise up the M1 was uneventful, though as about half of it is limited to 50mph we were more in danger of nodding off than anything else. The only highlight came on the slip road onto the M18 where the driver of a white van on the hard shoulder was frantically flagging down passing traffic. We stopped to help, but it turned out that he was Hungarian, spoke no English, and thought he was lost although (using my “speaking English slowly and loudly to foreigners” technique) it turned out he actually wasn't and was on the right road. Tit.

We stopped at the Chinese takeaway in Howden on the way, and my accomplishment of the weekend was being able to eat a whole Yung Chow Fried Rice, with a fork, whilst keeping up with James on the 12 miles of B-road from Howden to York Raceway. I didn't even spill any! Tent up, beer out, job's good. That's when we found out that York had decided to run a round of NSCC that day, so we had to go round telling all those who'd taken part that they hadn't earned any points from it.

The evening passed rather rapidly. It was one of those cases where you're standing around talking and suddenly realise that almost everyone else has gone to bed, so I did likewise. Sunday was a rather cool, overcast and breezy day, but it did make for some good racing. After two qualifying sessions, Ian Walley was out on top with a 10.28 at 129mph after some stellar tyre-changing services from Jamie Hughes the previous evening. Russ was next on 10.93, follower by Power Tourer Doug Hague in the Skyline on 11.71. He was followed by James murray getting back towards form with a 12.5, and John Peace not even close to the potential of that Mustang on 14.0. Both of those guys were also Power Tourers. Sandra-Lee Hughes was next with 14.3 from the diesel Land Rover, then Steve Gilmour on 14.55 and a NPB from Andy Errington, 14.83 from the Mustang. Andy Frear with another diesel topped the lower half of the ladder with 15.2, then Terry Morgan's Morris on 15.9, then me on 16.0, having suddenly lost 0.6 of a second from the previous day. Nigel Henderson's Anglia was next on 16.1, then Scott Presland in the fresh-back-out Pop on 16.9. Final Power-Tourer Ryan Chatburn was on 17.2, slightly ahead of Mark Butterworth in the Porsche 944 on 17.5, with Rick Swaine at the wheel of Mark's 100E on 19.4 at the bottom of the ladder.

Round one began with the top and tailers, Ian and Rick, Ian taking the win by a handy nine seconds. The two Andys were next, Andy E's Mustang getting a mighty drop on Andy F's Bronco at the lights and taking the win 14.8 to 15.3, then James ran a no-gas 13.6 to finish Scott's day. John pulled a 13.8 at 106mph out of the hat against Nigel, before Russ showed the Dunkirk spirit, his home-brewed British kit car defeating Mark's mighty German meister-machine 10.9 to 17.9. Steve's 14.4 was enough to head off Terry's rod, and Doug's Jap machine Pearl Harboured Ryan's pseudo-Yank Probe. After the aforementioned stellar tyre changing technique the previous evening, it was slightly ironic that the Hughes dynasty's Land Rover was a no-show with a puncture, leaving me to solo through to the quarter finals.

Round two began with Ian Walley ripping off another 10.5 like it ain't no thang against Andy's 15.1, then James turned the wick back up with a 12.5 against John's NPB 13.6. Russ hammered home his advantage with an 11.0 against Steve's 14.5, then my brief good fortune wilted embarrassingly in the face of Doug's 11.9 to set up the semis.

In the semis, James turned the wick up again to record a sharp light and a 12.4 at 111mph, but Ian was conserving gas with a gentle 11.2 to take the win. Then, once again, the Allied forces of British kit car and American engine conquered the inscrutable far Eastern cunning, Russ's 11.1 seeing off Doug's 12.4. This should have been Victory for Dutton Day, but who wants to see a flag saying “Happy VD Day!”?

Talking of victory for Dutton, there was a real upset about to happen in the final. Russ had already been told that he couldn't take part in the annual Street Racer Championship because his car couldn't be street legal, on account of the rear tyres sticking an inch or two out of the arches. Hmmm. This is in spite of the fact that the car used on the flyers and adverts for the Street Racer Championship was... Russ's Dutton, complete with sticky-out tyres.When we were told this, we all wrinkled out noses at the sudden stench of bullshit, but it wasn't over for Russ. He and Ian staged for the final and Russ got a blinding launch, charging up the track to a 9.972 at 137mph against Ian's slowing 10.7 to take the win. However, the second the scores flashed up on the scoreboard, the voice of the Metatron* came over the radios saying that this run doesn't count, and Russ is hereby disqualified from this round of racing. Ooo-er. Apparently, Russ had already been told that his car doesn't have enough cage to run under 9.99, but he's been careful enough to sandbag it for the past year or so. Today, he slipped up, and The Metatron was waiting to spring the trap. This added something of an EastEnders-style drama-laden cliffhanger ending to the NSCC, but the drama was far from over.

Ian Walley had also been contesting the Street Racer championship, and made it to the final alongside Power Tourer Owen Forrest, all the way up from Kent in a big-block Ford-powered Fox Mustang notch (ex-Nick Gunby). The last race of the day, they lined up, blasted off and ran side-by-side tens, with Ian's turbo power just managing to overcome the massive cubes of Owen's Mustang. As they returned down the track to claim their prizes, the fact that two Fords, each also powered by Ford engines, had made it to the final of Street Racer had caused a massive rip in the fabric of space/time. The Metatron was standing atop the shithouse portacabin, brandishing his mop like Gandalf's staff in an attempt to keep the beasts of the netherworld in their own dimension, while, with lightning flashing to the south, the prizegiving was a somewhat hurried affair. “Here's your trophy, here's your money, now smile at the camera, good, now RUN!” I just about made it to my tent before the rain hit, with hail, gales, cosmic anomalies in the nature of reality and all-sorts hit. Once again, the tent was thrown into the boot but, within 20 seconds, I was piss-wet-through. Again.

Hey-ho, it was a fitting ending to a really good weekend. Some excellent racing, a lot of fun, and Owen picked up the All-Motor trophy for the Power Tour so it was far from a wasted journey. A chap called Martyn with a high-tech Nissan GTR picked up the Power-Adder trophy with a combined average of 9.96... bloody hell, that Yellow Peril is never far away. A top weekend.


* - The highest of the angels, the celestial scribe and chancellor of heaven. Or Steve Murty, as we know him.

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