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Diamond Anniversary is Not all That Dragstalgia has to Offer

Santa Pod Raceway photos

Now 60 years since 1964’s 1st International Drag Festival kick-started the motorsport known as drag racing in Britain, the diamond anniversary of this archetypal event will be a focal point when Dragstalgia takes place at Santa Pod early next month. Yet that’s not all that Dragstalgia has to offer. Europe’s biggest historic drag race celebration embraces many ingredients harking back to the sport’s ‘golden age’ – vintage racing machinery in abundance, of course, on two wheels as well as on four, but vintage music, fashion and style too. It’s a party weekend for all – you don’t have to be of ‘a certain age’ to enjoy the full flavour.

The arrival of two dragsters from America – Mooneyes and Dos Palmas, reflecting the drag race tradition of naming rather than numbering cars – will be an anniversary focus, but they are not the only vehicles crossing the Atlantic.

Nick Davies in Havoc

Fuel Altereds – rather like Can-Am cars in circuit racing – enjoyed a brief 1960s flowering before the mainstream moved on but are nowadays a popular and revered staple of the historic racing scene. A rematch between two latter-day FAs, powered by supercharged, nitromethane-burning V8s, will be a Dragstalgia highlight as Randy Bradford’s Fiat Topolino-bodied machine from America takes on Britain’s Nick Davies and his Austin Bantam, Havoc. Bradford last competed at Santa Pod in 2016. In 2017, Davies shipped Havoc to the USA and beat the Americans at their own game, bringing home the season trophy.

Bradford vs. Davies

Pre-1980 is Dragstalgia’s order of the day. There’ll be a loud and lairy concoction of Nostalgia Funny Cars, Fuel Altereds and Front-Engined Dragsters, on methanol and nitro, mixing it up in a ‘cannonball’ format, while throwback racing groups such as Outlaw Anglias, the Gasser Circus, Supercharged Outlaws, the Wild Bunch and the Willys Wars enjoy their weekend in the limelight. While entries continue to roll in, the list already boasts 68 Nostalgia Superstockers. Who knew the UK had so much vintage American iron race-ready and raring to go?

On two wheels, expect a healthy turnout as the National Sprint Association corrals its finest and fastest old-school bikers, while the legendary US machine Hogslayer – the twin-Norton mount of TC Christenson famous for scourging the Harley-Davidson ‘hogs’ on dragstrips across America in the 1970s – will emerge from its latter-day retirement home, Solihull’s National Motorcycle Museum, to bark down the strip once more some half a century after its formidable heyday.

Also of rarity value, Martin Hill brings out his seldom-seen FireForce 2 Jet Funny Car to light up the show.

Alongside the track will be an array of distinguished drag race machinery on static display – CommuterTudor RoseMotovation: names calculated to bring a tear to the eye of anyone old enough to have watched them in their prime (and not just from the nitro fumes) – together with some ‘cracklefest’ fire-ups.

Of particular note will be the three known surviving Allard dragsters. The Allard Chrysler, the machine credited as Britain’s first dragster constructed by Sydney Allard in 1961, will be on weekend leave from its home at Beaulieu’s National Motor Museum, flanked by the last remaining pair of Allard Dragons, the machines built by the Allard Motor Company in the mid-1960s and each now privately owned.

The British Drag Racing Hall of Fame’s annual Grand Auction brings a host of rare artefacts and memorabilia from Europe and America into the public eye. There are club displays, and the Autoglym Show & Shine competition burnishes the pinnacle of automotive finery. If more thrills are called for, seek out the classic Ken Fox Wall of Death motorcycle show.

Come for a day and you’ll get an outstanding programme of events on and off the track, with live music in the Vintage Hub featuring bands and DJs. Come for two or even all three days and you’ll experience the full festive atmosphere. Bring your tent, your van or your motorhome and your overnight stays are free with multi-day tickets, with The Ultimate Classic Rock Show and the Dragstalgia Beer & Cider Festival all part of the bargain among the attractions vying for your attention.

Dragstalgia 2024 takes place at Santa Pod Raceway, near Wellingborough NN29 7XA, from Friday 5th to Sunday 7th July. For full event information and to book tickets, visit  www.santapod.co.uk/dragstalgia.php or telephone 01234 782828. As always, access to the pits is free for a close-up view of Dragstalgia’s unparalleled array of historic racing machinery.

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This story was originally published on June 6, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.