British Drag Festival

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

The British Drag Racing Association started their festival of accelerative speed at Blackbushe aerodrome in Surrey, on September 19th, and assembled a fine cross-section of the best in American exponents of the standing-start ¼-mile, ranging from out-and-out Dragsters to motorcycles. Naturally there was nothing forthcoming from British circles that could challenge the big Americans, but in the motorcycle class there was a good battle, British motorcyclists more than holding their own against the two American entries.

Conditions at Blackbushe were good, with a headwind blowing directly along the runway, and the Americans put on a show of sprinting that was perfection itself. After doing single runs to get the feel of the course, the two really fast cars ran together to provide a sight and sound unequalled in British sporting motoring. These big “slingshot” Dragsters were pushed by service vehicles up the course, turned round and push-started on the way back, whereupon the drivers neatly did 180-degree turns in the starting area and came up to the line together. A few seconds’ pause to get the engines running on full noise, a nod to the starter, the flag went up and away went the two big cars, with smoke billowing from the huge rear tyres. Side by side they raced up the ¼-mile, wheels spinning all the way, and past the timing beams at the end, and then they both let out their braking parachutes and came to rest. That was American Drag racing and, in case anyone thought it was just showmanship, the times were 8.28 sec. for Don Garlits, with a terminal speed of 191 m.p.h. and 8.58 sec. for Tommy Ivo, with a terminal speed of 184 m.p.h.

Garlits drove a supercharged 6-litre Dodge V8-engined car, and Ivo a supercharged 6-litre Chrysler V8-engined car, both using alcohol fuel mixtures and developing a lot of horsepower. Estimates of power output range from 700 b.h.p. to a claimed 1,320 b.h.p., but the technically-minded will know that 200 b.h.p./ litre, even with special fuels and 20 lb. boost, is a lot. Those two men are masters at the art of ¼-mile sprinting and worth going a long way to see in action. Other runners were Tony Nancy with a new layout of Dragster, with the driver sitting in front of the engine, in his Cate a supercharged 8-litre Plymouth V8 running on petrol, and Bob Keith with an orthodox “slingshot” using a supercharged 6-litre Chevrolet V8 engine, also running on petrol. All these four run a direct drive from engine to rear axle, with no gearbox, and judge their wheelspin from a maximum at the start to a minimum at the finish, in order to keep the engine running at peak revs all the time. In fact, they use the spinning rear wheels as an infinitely variable gear ratio, and Garlits is the undoubted master at this sort of thing, and well worth seeing.

Ronnie Sox drove a factory experimental saloon, with a 7-litre Mercury V8 engine, and Dave Strickler a similar car with 7-litre Dodge engine, while George Montgomery drove a “special” with a 1933 Willys coupe body/chassis powered by a supercharged 6-litre Chevrolet engine, this car being an absolute riot and doing 10.65 sec. over the standing ¼-mile, with a terminal speed of 144 m.p.h. More understandable to European eyes was the Porsche-engined sprint car of Doug Church, with bored-out 1,600-c.c. Super engine, that clocked 11.57 sec., but in the knock-out Competition he was beaten by Allan Allard with the blown Ford Cortina-engined Allard Dragon, who clocked 11.42 sec., and upheld British hopes in this Drag Festival.

In the Motorcycle class fastest time went to George Brown on his supercharged 1,000-c.c. Vincent. followed by the American Don Hyland on a special machine using Tyco 650-c.c. Triumph twin engines in tandem, with 11.34 sec., and third was Ian Ashwell with his supercharged 1,000-c,c. Vincent with 11.47 sec. The only other American competitor was Bill Wood with a 1,100-c.c. Harley Davidson sprint bike, who clocked 11.87 sec.

On Sunday, September 20th, the “Drag Circus” moved up to Chelveston aerodrome, near Wellingborough, but a strong cross-wind prevented the big cars from using all their performance; even so Garlits and Ivo gave another superb demonstration of professionals at work, and clocked 8.74 sec. and 8.98 sec. respectively, on a double run, and on a single run Garlits did 8.63 sec., with a terminal speed of 187 m.p.h, Allan Allard again upheld British honours with his Allard Dragon; and his fastest time was his best ever, with 11.26 sec., and a terminal speed of 130 m.p.h. However, fastest British time overall went to Westbury with the Ferguson P99, who clocked 11.02 sec., with a terminal speed of 127 m.p.h. Among the motorcycles the British won again, this time Neville Higgins clocking 11.11 sec. on his supercharged 1,060-c.c. Vincent, to the American Don Hyland’s 11.19 sec. on the Triumph Twin-twin.

As Motor Sport goes to press two more similar meetings are taking place in the North of England, and for anyone who missed the remarkable sight of two American Dragsters running off side-by-side, there are meetings at R.A.F. Station, Kemble, near Gloucester on October 3rd, and at Blackbushe Aerodrome, again on October 4th. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed by Garhts and Ivo in action. – D.S.J.