Exclusive interview with Bill Sherratt
UK Fuel Funny Car racer Bill Sherratt is to return to the seat of an FC for the first time since 1999 when he drives the Showtime Avenger at the 2003 Easter Thunderball at Santa Pod Raceway. Bill has been racing since the 1970s with a large part of that career in Fuel cars, and when not racing he is Assistant Crew Chief on the Showtime team. We spoke to Bill by phone in the week before the Thunderball, and started out by asking him about his return.
Eurodragster: How did your return come about?
Bill Sherratt: I work closely with Bob Jarrett and John Spuffard, and it was always intended that I should have a go again. In the British Championship the points go with the driver and so this was the only race which I could contest this year. It's a very high-key event for me, it has been a short while since I last drove and of course I am very much looking forward to it. I would like to thank Bob and John for the opportunity and for their confidence in allowing me to drive the car. My licence is current, so I can get straight in and play!
Eurodragster: Are you viewing the Easter Thunderball as a competition or as a test session?
Bill Sherratt: I would say that we will be testing things within competition. We have made changes to the clutch, fuel system and timing which we will be trying, but the fact is that the competitive attitude is always there anyway.
Eurodragster: You have a personal best of 5.68, and there is the matter of Spuff's top speed of 286 mph being beaten by Allan Dobson in Australia. What are the chances of these being broken this weekend?
Bill Sherratt: There's a pretty slim chance that the speed will go this weekend. I would imagine that John would want to take it back. I hope that he regains it as early as possible, but I am in the car for this race and if I do it then I won't be complaining although it might mean a mistake was made somewhere!
Eurodragster: Is it difficult to concentrate on your crew duties when you are also driving?
Bill Sherratt: Yes, it is hard. But the effort that John, Lee and Paul have put into the preparation of the car is second to none. They give up their weekends, and I know that when I get there it will be like a brand new car.
Eurodragster: Right now we don't know the final details of the Pro Fuel Shootout, but you are familiar with the concept. What do you think about racing a Top Fuel Dragster?
Bill Sherratt: A good driver with a good team behind him can beat a Top Fueller. I'm not one for prediction but to win the Shootout would be the icing on the cake. I'm also not taking Gordon Smith for granted, they've got a lot of new stuff on that car and they are a very good team.
Eurodragster: Every year we ask any driver to whom we speak about the handicap between the Top Fuellers and Funny Cars. What's your view?
Bill Sherratt: My principle is that any time that any two classes run together, I would put the handicap at the difference between the best runs of the two classes. I think that's a fair way of determining it.
Eurodragster: So you won't be expecting any favours!
Bill Sherratt: Well, I am the oldest person in the Shootout this year so if all of the younger racers want to give an old man a chance, any help they can give me in the shape of bad reactions would be appreciated!
Eurodragster: We understand that you have some special guests in your pit this weekend.
Bill Sherratt: That's right. Tom Hoover and his wife Betten will be there from the USA. Tom has been a firm personal friend for years and years. He likes to come along and to have some input into things. I will also have my whole family there: my wife Alexia, who has always given a great deal of support to my racing efforts, my son Will - who works on the crew - with his wife and my three grandchildren, my daughter Paula with her husband and more grandchildren, and my daughter Kerry and her boyfriend.
Eurodragster: That's a lot of support.
Bill Sherratt: It certainly is, and I would like to thank everyone: Bob, John and the team, my family, Tom and Betten, and all of the fans for supporting me.
Eurodragster: We'll be there, Bill. Thanks for your time and we look forward to seeing you at the Easter Thunderball.
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