It’s hard to believe but I was at the very first race at Santa Pod, Britain’s only remaining permanent drag strip, on Easter 1966. It was cold, foggy, wet and miserable—it was England after all—but my buds and I were at the drags and that’s all that mattered. For the next 20 years I regularly attended events there before emigrating to the U.S. I didn’t go back to ‘The Pod’ for 30 years and the difference was night and day.
I remember a muddy old abandoned airfield that was built in 1940 and became USAAF station 109 for the 8th Airforce from 1942. It was eventually home to the 92nd Bomb Group and remains a great memorial to those brave combatants.
Over the ensuing years, Santa Pod has been constantly improved to become one of Europe's premier drag strips and home to a number of top-flight events including the annual Dragstalgia. Usually held in the middle of July, Dragstalgia is Europe’s number one nostalgia drag racing event attracting more than 300 racecars, motorcycles and attractions.
In the past, I’ve attended with Ron Hope’s Rat Trap AA/FA but this year I was the guest of Nick Davis of ICEAutomotive.co.uk who normally drives the Havoc AA/FA but this year was just walking the pits and keeping an eye on his customers including Andy Bond and his street legal, patinated ’56 Chevy who ran a 6.99 at 210.92.
The big news this year was the arrival of Roland “The Hawaiian” Leong to tune Tony Betts’ Venom Funny Car. Unfortunately, Venom suffered mechanical problems, as did most of the Funny Cars, that allowed only one 6.98-second pass. Sadly, none of the nitro cars that I saw performed particularly well. However, Robin Read managed a 6.88 second run at 197 mph in his diminutive 2.6-liter, yes, 2.6-liter Daimler powered RED.
What for me ‘Dadstalgia’, as some joker named it, is all about is the Outlaw Anglias, the Gasser Circus and the Super Stocks. They all put on a fantastic show. Because I grew up in England, the Anglias hold a special place in my heart. They’ve been racing heads-up for 27 years and this year there were around 30 of them many running in the low 7s. The winner this year was Scott Crookson. There are half as many Gassers but the group is growing and Nick Barnett got the chicken dinner. Winner in the Super Stock class was Kiwi driving his ’71 Plymouth Duster.
Sadly, I didn’t get to see everything Dragstalgia had to offer, everything from jet cars, wheel standers, a cacklefest, fire burn outs, vintage drags bikes galore, to a vintage fair with rides, stalls and a vintage marketplace. It’s a weekend of fun for all the family with three days of cool, vintage style quarter-mile drag racing thrown in for good measure. For more information about future events visit www.dragstalgia.co.uk