National Street Car Challenge (UK)

2016 Rounds 8 and 9

It seems like there's been a huge gulf of time between round six at York and rounds eight and nine at York. And that's because there has been. Eight weeks. Two thirteenths of a year. Most of the summer.


It's hardly been slack time, though – the weekend immediately following round six was a busy one, opening with a new event on the calendar for the Saturday. There was a big Steampunk get-together at no less a venue than the Doncaster hangar that is home to the last flying Vulcan bomber. In fact, they'd laid out all the trade stands and whatnot underneath the Vulcan's tremendous wingspan, and there was a stage with various odd things going on throughout the day. They'd suggested there could be a bit of a car show outside, and asking a gang of hot rodders whether they'd like to visit a huge, powerful piece of classic machinery is akin to asking a wasp if it might like some jam. It was a cool idea, and turned out to be a popular event despite the fact that it pished all morning.




The following day, round seven took place up at Kirkbride. Some made a bit of a 'Power Tour' of it, leaving Doncaster, taking in the Leeds cruise (getting there fashionably early; in fact, they were there some fashionable hours before everyone else) before making the long cross-country trek to Kirkbride. There was some camping, then some racing. I wasn't there, so that's all I know...


The following weekend was Dragstalgia. I've never been to Dragstalgia before. This is a terrible oversight, as it turns out, because it was a bloody tremendous event. There was sunshine, there were Fuel Altereds, there was beer... Imagine if the NSRA Nostalgia Nationals had been organised by a paid staff with a large budget and a stab at Teutonic efficiency. Brilliant. I'll definitely be going again, although atmosphere-wise I still prefer the Shakey events. It was a bit of a downer for Keith Freeman, mind you, who decided to take a really close look at the advert hoardings on the retaining wall. Fortunately, Keith was fine; the same can't be said of his '32.


The following weekend was the Total Retro show up in Cumbria, then the weekend after was the Mopar Euronationals, still my favourite event on the calendar, and a mighty muscle car party. I thought this sign made an excellent gathering area for the NSCC cruise...


After a swift half at the pub, a few of us headed to the shop in Wellingborough. In the car park was another vessel that shared an almost identical paint code to Ian's Cortina. Ian did manage to pick the correct vehicle upon his return, having remembered that his had a parachute attached to the back.



After that, I treated myself to a couple of weekends off to work on the Mustang, while others went along to the NSRA Supernats and Blackpool classic and custom show, then it was August bank holiday weekend. There were two events on the calendar – the Retro Rides Gathering and NSCC rounds eight and nine at York, a real shame as the RRG is always an event worth attending.


Heading to York was a trial, with some heavy rain most of the way on the Saturday evening, but the pits was crammed. Sunday was a little brighter but the cool track with a strong crosswind that was failing to dry it out meant that some of the heavier hitters were leaving 'em on the trailer. Still, 13 NSCCers managed to make it out for qualifying. Russ Pursley led the way, a 10.9 second charge at 124mph belying the crap conditions, with Derek Beck next on a still-no-gas 12.4 followed by James Murray at 12.9. A closely-grouped clump of Ford-powered Fords followed, Pete Smith struggling to put the Shelby's power down on 14.1, Steve Gilmour wringing 14.2 from the Pinto Cortina, then Andrew Errington with an ever-improving 14.3. Dave Mears put the red Firebird in the middle of the ladder with a 15.2, then another bundle of old Brit Fords, Shaun Cockroft's Escort and Nigel Henderson's Anglia, both ran 15.3. Dave Smith put the big Lexus in tenth spot with a 16.2, Rick Swaine was close behind on 16.3, Scott Presland in the V8 Pop managed 16.5 and Mark Presland held the ladder with a 19.3.


Round one opened with Dave Smith running a solo, his opponent, Gilly, having done in his head gasket in qualifying and electing to stick the Cortina back on the trailer. As the track dried, Pete recovered form to a 12.9 showing against Rick's 16.3, before James ran a no-gas 13.8 to end Scott's day. There was an upset in the middle of the ladder when Dave Mears ran a 15.2 to Shaun's 15.4, a 0.194 second margin, but Shaun's reaction was 0.216 quicker than Dave's, giving Shaun the win by a difference that could be measured in fractions of a gnat's knacker. Rather more convincing was Derek's seven second margin over Mark, before Andrew took a big gamble, allowing Nigel a half-second head start before beating him with a 0.6 second quicker run. That's the gnat's other knacker. He likes to live dangerously, does Andrew, as does Russ who ran his bye to the tune of 10.9 seconds.


Come the quarter finals, after another mercifully brief shower of rain had added an extra level of frustration to the event, and there were seven men on a mission. James used his Rover power to finish Andrew's charge 12.8 to 14.5, then Dave tried a little too hard on the lights, redlighting away the Rizla-paper-thin chances he had against a charging Pete. Russ was giving no quarter, his 10.7 handily covering Shaun's 15.3, while Derek took it easy on a 14.2-second bye into the semis.


The semis went to form, and although James had been slowly improving since discovering a mystery nitrous fault the week preceding the race, his 12.6 couldn't quite match Derek's 12.1. Another improver, Pete had been picking up a tenth every round, and did so once again, but his 12.8 couldn't touch Russ's 10.01 at 133mph...


Once again, the final came down to the two plastic-fantastics, Russ's Dutton and Derek's TVR. It should have been a race, but Derek still hadn't turned the gas on – his power of self-restraint is almost monastic – and Russ had chucked out all the sandbags, the not-so-mellow yellow Dutton firing off a 9.9 to handily cover Derek's 12.7.


That evening saw the usual on-track Cackle For KC, followed by a swift exit Barneswards for the sort of nosebag that TV adverts claim would feed a village of Biafrans for just £2 a month. Despite the financial disparity, I still didn't mind coughing up the extra to eat it in a pub with good beer and fewer flies. After that it was back to the track where the bar was playing host to a pretty damn decent rock band followed by a burlesque turn that seemed to be popular. There was also video evidence of the Cookie Monster having it large to some banging tunes, though I'm not sure if that was part of the burlesque turn or not.


Bank holiday Monday was a better day all round, weather wise, perfect racing weather. Late the previous night, Ian and Adam turned up after another mammoth thrash to get the Cortina back together. Other new arrivals for the day included Andy Turner in his smart V8 TVR Taimar, and the improved weather meant that Simon dragged the Bootlegger Camaro out of the truck to stretch its considerable legs. Three new arrivals, plus one drop-out from the previous day made... hold on, let me get my shoes and socks off … 15 qualifiers.


Ian made it worth the trip straight away, grabbing pole with a 10.3 at 136mph, with Russ right behind on a 10.4. Simon replied with an 11.0 at a rapid 133mph, then a one second gap to Derek on 12.0, with James hot on his heels at 12.1, getting closer to previous form. Pete was back down to 12.9, then there was a whopping gap to a close clump beginning with Andrew Errington on 14.9, then Red Nose Dave on 15.0, Nigel Henderson on 15.11 and Shaun a whisker behind on 15.15. Rick carded a 15.9, Dave managed a 16.0, Scott next with a 16.5. Andy Turner was suffering with engine gremlins that turned his V8 into a V6 and struggled to a 17.5, with Mark filling out the table with a 18.9.


Round one opened with Derek rattling off a 12.7 against Scott, Derek presumably being in a hurry to get back to winning the Hot Rod class. The mid-table match-up of Dave Mears and Nigel Henderson went the way of the red Firebird by a short margin augmented by a pretty big reaction time bonus. Andy Turner managed to squeeze a 15.5 out of the TVR, but Simon in the opposite lane ripped off a 10.9 to seal that deal, followed by Pete's 12.9 covering Rick's 16.5 with time to spare. Andrew Errington was way off his new pace, his 15.4 gifting Shaun a trip to the quarters with a sharp 14.8, before James's 13.6 sent Dave off to play in the other classes. Russ and Mark's match-up was only likely to go one way and did just that, Russ ripping off a 9.7 to Mark's 19.1, then Ian took advantage of his bye to batter the track with a 10.2 at 134mph.


The quarter finals gave plenty of cause for celebration, starting with the Derek v James pairing, both leaving on similar reactions, Derek to an 11.7 and James to an 11.9. The win-light went to Derek, but James was delighted to be back in the 11s after such a long absence, and his first 11 at York to boot. Pete Smith likewise stepped up his game, leaving on a 0.502 reaction and tearing off a 12.2, though again the win went to the opposite lane and Simon's terrific 10.6. Dave Mears and Ian Walley both dithered on the line for over a second, but Ian's 11.6 more than covered Dave's 15.0, then Russ showed Shaun who was boss, another 9.7 seeing his through easily.


The ladder was back to form, with the top four qualifiers meeting in the semi finals, but there was about to be an upset or two – number one and number two both ran quicker times than their opponents, but both lost on reaction times! Ian ran 11.2 to Derek's 11.6 but lost on the startline 0.9 to 0.6, while Russ and Simon played the same game, Russ running 10.0 to Simon's 10.3 but losing it by another 0.9 to 0.6 reaction! That's a brace of bloody close races, but proves that even the nine-second-capable guys can't afford not to be sharp on the tree.


So Derek and the TVR made it to another final, to face the blown Pro Street might of Simon's Bootlegger Camaro. This time they were both away with 0.5 reactions, and both loaded for bear. Derek seemed to have turned the wick up yet again with a scorching 11.1, but Simon got there first, a 10.4 giving him plenty more than a car-length cushion at the finishing stripe.


That wrapped up another weekend of tremendous racing. It had been more fun than a barrel containing several monkeys and a leaky nitrous bottle, plus Derek taking a finals win in Hot Rod, James taking the win over runner-up Dave Mears in Sportsman ET, and Dave Smith taking one win and one runner-up place in JDM. That's quite a haul of trophies for the NSCC brigade.



Since then, Derek has opened up an uncatchable lead in NSCC, so as we head towards this Sunday's final round, Derek Beck and his ol' reliable (?) TVR have already got the title of NSCC 2016 Champion in the bag. For many years it's been the case that if piss was lucky, Derek would have kidney stones; this year, though, he's fought the good fight and finally gets the title that's been so long in coming to him. It seems the charm is wearing off, though, as since his lead became unconquerable, he's gone arse over tit and sprained his ankle. Ah, back to the normal order of things then, it seems. Still, there's plenty to fight for in the top 10, with third, fourth and fifth hotly contested... It's not quite down to the wire, but it's certainly chafing at the PVC sheathing. Join us on Sunday to see how it goes...



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