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That's all for today, then. Meet up with us again tomorrow for all the latest from the pits and then we're into full swing on qualifying.
Good evening, thanks for coming back. We got going at about four o'clock and managed one complete cycle of qualifying including Top Methanol and Andy Carter's Top Fuel familiarisation pass. It's been a great session with some amazingly close qualifying.
No-one has taken our Perfect Light money yet, but Jon Webster (Super Pro, 0.506) and Steve Nash (Custom Car Street Eliminator, 0.506) have come closest. We've had a few red lights as well, in a couple of cases another thousandth or two would have made that racer fifty pounds richer.
The first qualifying highlight was a great 175.58 terminal speed by Tony Clark on his Super Street Bike. His time in the 8.3s (it disappeared off the finish line display before we'd finished writing it down) has him at number one qualifier so far. The next closest is Graham Dance in the 8.4s.
Lee Huxley was next to on the highlight list with a perfect 10.900 in Super Street, well done to Lee. Al Golding got wheelie of the day award on both height and distance, Super Stock style. Rob Stone in his Outlaw Anglia came a close second though.
Top Methanol qualifying saw Dave Wilson, Rob Turner and Andy Frost competing and Derek Annable putting in another observed run. Rob Turner started proceedings with a bye, a very long burnout over the concrete/asphalt transition and then a great launch before tyre shake kicked in and Rob got off it, recording 1.006 to sixty feet and 7.931/110.02 at the finish line. Next up was a qualifying pairing between Dave Wilson and Andy Frost. Dave pulled a huge burnout, easily 150-200 feet, whilst Andy appeared to have trouble getting the tyres to light up. There was a lot of consternation around Dave's car, the startline crew going twice to the car for a look at what we guess was a fluid leak, and then Dave was told to shut off. Andy left the line quite slowly but then got harder on the throttle to record 7.805/115.38 and is currently number one qualifier.
Derek Annable almost had the startline crew running for cover when did what is best described as a dry hop on the way back from his burnout. Even your reporter, who is used to racers gunning for him and usually maintains a stoic mien, took a step back. Derek took it gently on the run, recording a time in the tens.
Gordon Appleton showed no sign of the layoff in his Pro Mod, pulling a spectacular burnout. He then put in a pass of 7.235/193.13, the car sounding as is it had a misfire towards the top end, and the chute taking a frightening amount of time to open. Bill Weston's engine went bang in the burnout box, hopefully nothing serious wrong.
Pro Stock Bike is very close indeed, three thousandths separating number one qualifier Chris Hope at 7.680/167.91 and Dave Beck at number two, 7.683/178.57. We were pleased to see Ceri Visick back in the ranks of Pro Stock Bike at this race, welcome back Ceri.
Funny Bike is similarly close, with Ken Cooper number one at 7.564, Chris Hall number two at 7.568 and Steve French number three at 7.598.
Another returnee this weekend is Steve Pateman in Custom Car Street Eliminator and he got straight back on form with a time of 9.564, although John Sleath outgunned him at 9.517. Congratulations to Ian Hook on yet another Personal Best, at 9.666. Jeff Meads is currently number four at 9.692.
Andy Carter closed the day with his familiarisation pass, on the throttle to about one hundred feet. The car hooked up very well and the header flames looked great in the early evening light. The team looked satisfied with the pass, a sixty foot time of 0.96 was respectable enough and a time of 10.605 at 75.58 mph was not bad for just over a second's throttle.
So that's the end of qualifying action for today. The weather forecast is much better for tomorrow so you know what to do - get in your car and head down here. Stay tuned as we are working on today's pictures.
Hello there and welcome back. Still raining here, I'm afraid, the track is under a lot of water. But there is still a buzz in the pits, the contestants are all in place now, and you can see for yourself just how huge the entry is.
Another birthday greeting, this time to Gerry Cookson, still racing on his seventieth birthday. Congratulations and very many more years' racing to you, Gerry.
Showtime Fuel FC Crew Chief Bob Jarrett had some unexpected work here this weekend. "It's been eight weeks since the Cannonball", he said, "all that needed doing was that some floaters needed to be reground. They turned out to be warped so we had to get some more. Then last night we found that the linkage to the oil pump from the mag drive had twisted". The Showtime FC is carrying a new sponsorship this weekend, from King Engine Bearings. "They are the bearing to use for nitro cars", said Bob.
Barry Sheavills is pleased to be back with his Top Fuel Dragster. "We're here to bring Nitro back to Shakespeare County Raceway", he said. "We're also trying to get the car set for the European Finals after some problems at Hockenheim last week". Barry had the car sideways, lost a blower belt and then had traction problems in Germany. "We didn't learn a lot really", said Barry.
Andy Carter is confident about his return to the seat of a Top Fueller. "I have no worries about driving the car", he said, "I've been around too long to get excited about it though. I just want to beat Barry! I've got two of my old crew guys, Eddie Corr and Stuart McDonald, here with me this weeknd - they're both great guys whom I know I can trust with my life". Andy is here this weekend with sponsorship from Interoute Telecom Services, and he is also grateful to Terry Gibbs for his help. Andy's wife Sarah told us that she was a little nervous about Andy getting into the Top Fueller. "I'm a bit scared, but he's done it before", she said.
An interesting sight in the pits has been Super Pro ET racer Fay Fischer's fingernails, which she has varnished in the Speedflow colours of blue and red. We've despatched Sharkman to get a picture.
The good news is that whilst we have been typing this update the rain has stopped and that the track crew and marshals are out drying the track. Stay tuned and we'll bring you the latest.
Good morning and welcome to Shakespeare County Raceway on the first morning of our coverage from Super Series 4, brought to you in association with E-Manumit.com and High Performance Heaven.
We would like to dedicate this weekend's reports to the memory of Super Gas racer Dave Grady, who died earlier this week.
Right now it's a sorry sight out there. A spectacular (but dry) thunderstorm last night gave way to steady rain which is still with us. Now ain't that just typical after the mini-heatwave we've had all week. However the ladies and gentlemen of the Met Office tell us that once this rain has passed the rest of the weekend will be dry, bright and warm.
We must apologise for the non-appearance of last night's update, which we promised on our news page "all being equal". Unfortunately everything wasn't equal: the keyboard on our trusty laptop chose last night to fail, and started to generate what IBM like to call "unpredictable results" before locking the machine up altogether. The first big Thank You of the weekend goes to Nick Davies and his girlfriend Jo for inviting Tog into their camper and keeping him plied with tea whilst he sorted out the errant laptop.
The pits are absolutely heaving with cars and bikes. They started to arrive at lunchtime yesterday and there was a steady stream all through the afternoon and into the night. The Fuel and Methanol pits are densely-populated: the North Herts Engineering Fuel FC, which is to be driven by Allan Bates, immediately drew admirers; a very nice-looking car indeed, finished to high standard and appearing to have a lot of very trick parts on board. We will be having a word with Allan and the car's owners later on today.
Dave Wilson, driver of the Nemesis Top Methanol Dragster and the current leader in the MSA Top Methanol Championship, told us that the engine is in exactly the same state as it was when they stopped the race at Gardermoen. "We were next up after the Pro Stocks, but then of course the race was called and so we put it back in the trailer and we haven't changed a thing since", he said. "We'll run it as it is, and then if anything goes wrong then we'll work out what to do about it!". The only work necessary was to build a new windscreen, since the team found out by the empirical method that cleaning a Lexan windscreen with Scandinavian petrol causes the Lexan to melt. For those interested in such things, and we understand that there are some of you out there who are, that the current engine in the car is Billy, with Harry on standby.
Fuel FC pilot Tony Betts took his Jungle.com FC to the Jungle HQ at Coleshill on Thursday, and started it up. "It went really well", said Tony. "It brought everyone out of the office!". Northants TV have been following Tony around making a fly-on-the-wall documentary; they will be back on Monday to see him race. On the FC front, Tony and the team have rebuilt the engine since the Cannonball, bought some new rear slicks, and blasted and repainted the chassis. A new crank and other spares arrived at Stansted yesterday, Tony's wife was despatched to bring them along to the track.
Ian King has brought his Top Fuel Bike here this weekend, to test before the European Finals. Ian had a fine weekend at Hockenheim, where he ran several sixes and reset his personal best. "It was one of those weekends where everything goes right", said Ian, "that is right up until the final where a kevlar fuel pipe sprung a leak as soon as we started the engine". Ian told us that he didn't feel too bad about losing out in this manner, at least until people started commiserating with him. "I felt OK on Sunday night", he said, "but the more people who said to me 'You must feel really bad about it', the worse I felt! I never actually mind losing, but it was my crew I felt sorry for. They'd done such a great job all weekend and everything was just getting better and better".
Nick Davies, who is racing in Jon Webster's roadster in Super Gas this weekend, tells us that Jon's wife Jeanette was going to produce him some t-shirts bearing the legend "I used to be a Pro Mod racer, but now I'm happy". Nick looked as if he didn't know what to do with himself yesterday, the Super Gasser needing scarcely any maintenance compared to his usual ride. Jon Webster told us that he had no worries about someone else driving his car. "It's not as if there's a novice in the car", he said. "Nick isn't going to do anything silly like thrashing the engine so I'm quite content to leave it in his hands". Jeanette said that their daughter Shelby also approved of Nick driving the car once she had established that Nick was a good friend of her dad's.
Super Pro ET racer Steve Johnson arrived yesterday with a dial-in of 6.95 on his dragster. He assured us that it's not an attempt at psychology, he has every intention of running a six - even it it's a 6.999 he'll be happy, he said.
Birthday greetings to Wild Bunch racer Crazy Chris Hartnell, whose birthday it was yesterday, and to Tim Adam whose birthday it is in a couple of days' time.
We're now going to have breakfast and then do a spot of trailer-hopping, to see who we can find to talk to. Stay tuned.