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MSA British Drag Racing Championship

Championship Rounds Race Reports

Round 1:  Auto Trader Festival Of Power 30 March - 01 April 2013

The Pro Modified introduction in the Festival Of Power programme was prophetic: “If one or two proven heavyweights don’t make it to the start this weekend, perhaps a less-fancied contender will step up to steal the show and set the championship chase alight with an early-season lead”.

The less-fancied contender was Rick Garrett, and his weekend saw disaster turn to triumph. Crewed only by his three sons, the Epsom racer sustained engine damage in a pre-qualifying warm-up which appeared to be terminal, at least for this event.

This was only Garrett’s second Pro Mod appearance since stepping up from Super Pro ET. The team had debuted a multi-coloured, nitrous-boosted, 1941 Willys Coupe at last year’s National Finals, where Garrett had completed licensing and qualified before the event was rained off.

For 2013, the promise is for perhaps a dozen British-based cars to make it into competition. That remains to be seen. Here at Easter – the coldest drag race anyone can recall in Santa Pod’s 47 years of continuous operation – just six entered, including ‘honorary Brit’ Jean Dulamon from France. With Kevin Slyfield crashing on his first qualifying pass – he was unhurt, and his car seemingly less damaged than at first feared – and Dulamon continuing with last season’s ‘nitrous burp’ problems, blowing off the hood scoop even before staging, the news of Garrett’s breakage threatened that only three cars might make it through qualifying.

Andy and Jean spacer Wayne spacer Graham and Jean

However, Dulamon solved his immediate problem by the simple expedient of leaving off the scoop, though he continued to exude fiery eruptions from both the carbs and the exhausts as he sought to motor down the track. Garrett too managed to overcome his engine problem by some fortuitous means, so five cars eventually entered eliminations.

Yorkshire’s Wayne Nicholson was low qualifier at 6.692sec, good for Low ET of the Meet, and his terminal speed of 214.85mph was a personal best by all of .03 of a mile per hour. Triple MSA champion Andy Robinson made an auspicious return to the track after a season out to debut his brand new, supercharged ’69 Camaro, running just two qualifying passes. The car’s first run was a comfortable 7.70/149, its second a dip into the sixes, 6.90 at 217.97mph, Top Speed of the Meet. Graham Ellis qualified third in his turbo Superbird, looking lower-slung and meaner than ever and now densely black, the antithesis of Garrett’s eye-poppingly colourful conveyance.

Andy spacer Rick spacer Rick and Andy

And it was Garrett who won the opening-round meeting of the two contrasting machines when Ellis clipped the centre line and was disqualified. Garrett’s luck held in the semi-final as low qualifier Nicholson snatched a red light, but there was no luck about his final-round victory over Robinson. Garrett ran straight and true to the quickest, fastest pass of eliminations while Robinson spun the tyres and shut off.

Garrett now has eight weeks to enjoy the limelight as British championship leader before his next call to arms. Spring Bank Holiday at the end of May brings the cream of Europe’s Pro Mod stars to Santa Pod when MSA Round 2 is combined with the opening round of the FIA European Championship. A stern test awaits, but that’s no discouragement for Garrett and Sons.

RESULTS:

Qualifiers:

Po. Driver Home Town Time Speed
1 Wayne Nicholson Ossett 6.692 214.85
2 Andy Robinson Turgis Green 6.905 217.97
3 Graham Ellis Westcliff-on-Sea 7.138 213.79
4 Rick Garrett Epsom 7.725 179.23
5 Jean Dulamon Tarnos, France 7.969  161.89

Non-qualifier: Kevin Slyfield - crashed

Eliminations:
Round 1:
Rick Garrett 8.041sec, 139.40mph def. Graham Ellis 7.141, 167.35 DQ crossed C/L
Andy Robinson 8.439, 164.25 def. Jean Dulamon 16.025, 50.63
Wayne Nicholson 8.925, 100.07 bye

Semi-Final:
Rick Garrett 7.661, 179.21 def. Wayne Nicholson 15.720, 50.58 DQ redlight
Andy Robinson 8.622, 149.12 bye

Final:
Rick Garrett 6.981, 196.24 def. Andy Robinson 14.260, 60.96

Low Elapsed Time of the Event:  6.692sec. – Wayne Nicholson
Top Speed of the Event:  217.97mph – Andy Robinson

Career-best performances set during event:
Rick Garrett, 6.981, 196.24
Wayne Nicholson, 214.85

The 2013 points table is on the Rounds & Points page.