Getting Dragged To Santa Pod

Posted on 08 June 2018 by CarTakeBack

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Santa Pod holds the FIA European Drag Racing Championships every year, and some of the CarTakeBack team were lucky enough to experience the high adrenaline weekend for the first time over the May Bank Holiday!

Set over four days, drag teams come from across the continent to compete on the newly renovated quarter-mile track for the title of European Champion. The new strip, which was upgraded for a cool £1million earlier this year, has been a big hit with the racers, with the concrete producing personal best times due to its high tech, laser-levelled surface.

You may be surprised to find out that there isn't just one type of drag race. At the FIA Championship Finals, there were 17 different classes of cars and motorbikes.

The vehicles ranged from Super Street Cars that are modified versions of cars you might see on the road, to 10,000BHP Top Fuel Dragsters that run on Nitro Methane, reaching speeds upwards of 300mph and an acceleration of 0 - 100mph in under one second! They take off at such high speeds that you can see the tyres twist and warp as they leave the start line!

Tyre warp and front wheel lift as the car leaves the start line.

Tyre warp and front wheel lift as the car leaves the start line

Like Formula One cars, these vehicles have to warm up their tyres before racing.  Without a circular track to do a warm-up lap behind a safety car, their alternative is to do an impressive burnout from behind the starting line. Top Fuel cars don't have brakes on the front wheels that will hold their power, so they blast part way down the track and then reverse back into starting position.  Bonus points and cheers for any teams who manage a smoking wheelspin for the length of the grandstand. Some of the other classes of cars which look more like regular vehicles, are able to use their front brakes to spin up their back wheels on the spot. This causes impressive clouds of smoke from burning rubber billowing out behind them.

Top Fuel Dragster, driven by Anita Mäkelä from Finland, Santa Pod 2018

Top Fuel Dragster, driven by Anita Mäkelä from Finland, with smoking tyres from her burnout.

The bikes are a sight to behold. Spectators held their breath as these two wheel machines carry their riders down the strip with a speed that you don't even see in movies! Top Fuel Bikes are often powered by the same stuff as the Dragsters, mostly run on four cylinder motors and are capable of hitting 220mp in around six seconds. These bikes have wheelie bars to stop the bike flipping backwards as they accelerate at tremendous speeds!

Top Fuel Bike sets off down the track. Santa Pod May 2018

Top Fuel Bike sets off down the track.

Super Street Bikes are stretched out bikes with tyres that have tread, but no wheelie bars. The winner of the Super Street Bike class at Santa Pod this year, Steve Venables, who beat his daughter Jem, also a drag racer, reached a whopping 210mph on the quarter-mile race track!

Jem Venables, part of father daughter team Ven Racing, fighting to control her Super Street Bike

Jem Venables, part of father daughter team Ven Racing, fighting to control her Super Street Bike.

You can find out about all the different classes of bikes and cars on the Santa Pod website.

If you fancy a break from the racing, there are monster trucks, stunt shows, air displays from classic planes, and even a human cannonball! But you'll want to make sure you've got a good view of the track when Santa Pod's famous Jet Cars fire up. Just remember to wear your ear defenders. On the Sunday of the FIA Finals weekend, the jet car named FireForce 5 reached a personal best, taking just 5.06 seconds to complete the quarter mile… that's 308mph!

FireForce 5 on the track at Santa Pod

FireForce 5. Yes, those flames are meant to be there!

If jet cars aren't exciting enough, then there was a rocket bike too! Eric Teboul from France rides a motorbike powered by Nitrogen Peroxide. As he sets up for his run Eric is seen focusing intently on the dials on the handlebars of his motorbike, waiting for the optimum mix of chemicals, before speeding down the track. The engine on his bike is actually eerily quiet as he reaches speeds of up to 280mph.

Out team mates who were lucky enough to go, thoroughly enjoyed the high octane entertainment at the Championship. We wonder how many people they will drag with them next year?

All images courtesy of Dan Le Brun

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