Storm crew member wanted

If you live the West London / Surrey area, have a passion for motorsport and want to become more involved in a hands-on and practical way we’d like to hear from you.

Following the passing of Barry Eastman in 2019 and with the rest of the team not getting any younger, we need someone for the 2021 season and beyond to help run the UK’s quickest Funnybike deep into the 6s at over 220mph. This is a voluntary role.

Duties will include helping to build and prepare the bike at our workshop in Chertsey, Surrey (approx 1 day or 1 evening per week to suit you). Loading and unloading the bike and equipment into/from our van before and after meetings (6 or 7 times a year). Helping at National and European meetings at Santa Pod, race bike pushing/towing and maintenance between rounds.

You’ll get to learn all about operating one of the quickest and fastest turbo bikes on the planet and, if you want to, the boost, fuel and clutch control systems we use including AMS1000, AMS2000 and Motec M800.

You’ll need energy, some mechanical aptitude, a good sense of humour and endless patience. Maybe you already know one of us and want to help? Or maybe you’re studying motorsport and just need some practical experience. We only race at Santa Pod so this usually means camping overnight during race meetings.

Contact Mick Hand on 07947 802309 or handbell@btinternet.com or

Lorcan Parnell on 07947 569920 or lorcanparnell@gmail.com

NOT the Euro finals 2020

With Covid-19 curtailing most of our on-track fun this year Santa Pod managed somehow to put together a mish-mash National/Euro weekend featuring Top Fuel cars, a historic vs. contemporary Funny Car showdown, an electric dragbike world record attempt and all the usual bike classes.

As far as the Storm team were concerned though, we’ve had better weekends.

A depleted team of Lorcan, Mick H and Fredy set up on Friday morning with Kermit and Sarah unable to make it due to work commitments and newbie Mik B quarantined like a rabid dog by his employer…

On start up the bike sucked one of the half-moon rubber cam cover bungs inwards, ejecting oil into the blow-off valve and from there down into the large turbo compressor housing. This caused us to miss the first qualifying session. With the bung replaced and the oil cleaned up, the bike was pushed out of the awning but felt like it had run over something. We didn’t realise the significance of the this at the time, but at the burnout the clutch had no drive. We later found that a loose airline had got mangled by the drive chain, ripping a fitting out of the pressure regulator.

Team Warpspeed pitted next door came to the rescue with a replacement fitting (thanks Stu!) so we reset for the next try. The next run we managed a burnout, but immediately shut off on the run as the CO2 hose to the clutch had also come loose, again resulting in no drive.

Meanwhile, Stu was having his own problems…

Stu Crane – Sarah pic.

Further inspection also showed a broken bolt on the alternator idler gear mount so the primary drive assembly was stripped down to replace the bolt.

We then noticed a crack around the weld around the clutch cover, so Mick took it away and welded it in the evening.

With Kermit and Sarah joining us for Saturday morning we tried again, running a 10.2 with spring pressure boost only. A switch under the seat, installed to allow programming of the AMS1000 boost controller, had inadvertently been switched off. We were qualified 4th, out of 4, at this point.

The next run launched ok, but the engine hit the turbo speed limiter at the end of 1st and 2nd gear, then the additional fuel rail supplying injectors 9-12 came loose at half track, spitting out an o-ring and spraying a fountain of methanol fuel out the right side of the bike. A time of 8.08 would be the best we would manage all weekend.

Pic from Ian Squeaky Giddings.

With the o-ring replaced and fuel rail secured by a jubilee clip from the Pod Shop, we faced #1 qualifier Mark “Smithy” Smith in round 1 of eliminations.

Pic from Fredy.

At the hit the clutch slipped, allowing the engine to rev to the moon and Smithy to get ahead, but he headed for the wall. The resulting crawl to the finish line by both bikes saw times in the 12s, with Mark crossing the line first to proceed into the final against Louis Davies.

Smithy – Sarah pic

Thanks to all the long suffering Storm team for all their efforts this weekend – we did try, but it was not to be this time. Congratulations to Louis Davies for the event win and a great riding job that did not go unnoticed! We’re finished with events this year but will run a test day soon.

Team Storm.

Green Light Nationals August 2020

The Green Light Nationals was our first race meeting since October 2018 and our first race without Barry Eastman.

Long time friend of Lorcan’s Mick Bisson stepped in to help with clutch duties and we set up our pit on Friday night in strong winds. As the M&W ignition box had failed at the test day in July we elected to run with inductive ignition instead of CDI.

Saturday morning the wind had not eased and was variously reported as a 20-35mph headwind with stronger gusts. There was no scrutineering and limited spectating due to virus restrictions.

We put in 3 runs of 8.4, 7.6 and 6.92 @ 195mph, with a couple of other starts aborted due to rider error. The last run did not count for qualifying due to a previous false start, which left us qualified as #2 with the 7.6 behind Stu Crane’s 7.1.

After the first run we found that some bolts had backed out of the clutch pressure plate and worn their heads away allowing the plate to warp. The two Micks worked on a solution throughout the day, including Mick H taking the plate home for skimming which he completed around midnight on Saturday.

Sunday morning the wind had eased somewhat, but the inlet cam broke on the first burnout, bending two inlet valves and putting us out of the running. The cam was about 30 years old, being one of Brian Johnson’s old ones.

Overall though we were happy with the bike’s progress as the turbo speed sensors are now working properly, their speeds are where we want them to be and we can dial them up each run until we reach our previous performance level.

We are out again at “Not the European Finals” 11th-13th September which in the absence of the Euro Finals is a national meeting, so we will be in the Funnybike class instead of Top Fuel.

Sarah White pic.

Sarah White pic.

Sarah White pic.

7 Reasons Why…

A 5 second turbo bike might be further away than you think.

Five years ago, in 2015, Cycledrag.com posted this article about the possibility of a 5 second turbo bike. Some commentators are now suggesting that this achievement is imminent, and could even happen “this year”. Here are 7 reasons why I personally think it will take longer. These are not intended to belittle anyone’s efforts in this arena, my aim is merely to identify the challenges involved and to stimulate discussion.

1. The timeline. Gary Clarke ran 6.45 in 2000, a record which stood for nearly 10 years. Rikard Gustaffson ran 6.36 in 2013, followed by others into the low 6.3s in the last few years. Now we are at 6.20 but by this measure alone, two more tenths to make a five second pass is some years away, not months. When Top Fuel bikes made this same journey, from 6.20 to 5.99, how long did it take, 10 years?

2. Technical advances. The 6.3Xs funnybikes of a few years ago used standard blocks, mechanical injection and simple boost controllers. Cutting edge ECUs, sophisticated boost controllers and billet engine components have taken, at best, 1.5 tenths off these times. What kind of technical advance will it take to run another two full tenths quicker?

3. The eighth mile time fallacy. An argument has been put forward that bikes running 3.9 second eighth miles just need to continue the full distance to run a 5. I believe this argument originates in the fact that a 5 second quarter mile can indeed have a 3.9 second eighth, just as Larry McBride did when he ran a 5.99 quarter and 3.94 second eighth on the first 5 second pass in history. However, this argument doesn’t work in both directions. Let’s look at why.

Bikes geared for the eighth mile have more rear wheel thrust due to mechanical advantage of the low gearing. When you gear them up for the quarter, that advantage is lost and the 3.9 second bike becomes a 4.0 eighth mile bike again – not fast enough for a 5. 

To convert a 3.9 second eighth into a 5.9 second quarter requires a 2.0 second back half. Simple maths tells us that a 2.0 second back half requires an AVERAGE speed over the second eighth of 225mph – faster than any funnybike has ever gone at the finish, let alone as an average over 220 yards.

4. Power deficiency. This brings us to an obvious truth. The lower the entry speed into the second eighth, the more speed you have to make up in the second half. On McBride’s 5.99, he was at 179mph at the eighth – relatively slow for a fuel bike, and maybe a dubious figure given that the bike usually ran in the 190s, but an achievable speed for a turbo bike. However, he was then able to gain 64mph by using 1207hp (his calculation) to cross the line at 243mph for an average speed of 219.5mph in the second half. The first eighth was 3.94s, second half 2.05s. Turbo bikes do not currently have the luxury of that much power. As drag increases with the cube of the speed it takes 30% more power to go from 220mph to 240mph.

5. Weight. “But turbo bikes can be lighter!”, comes the cry. Well, that’s true, but is it an advantage? Power to weight ratios are chased almost religiously throughout motorsport, but in drag racing weight=traction. In the absence of any meaningful efforts to create downforce aerodynamically, the heaviest bikes are also the fastest bikes because they can transmit more power through the tyre. Building a turbo bike light may not be an advantage at all in terms of traction available.
Also, the faster the speed the less light weight is an advantage. Why? Because the weight of the bike/rider remains constant during the run (apart from using fuel), but aerodynamic drag rises exponentially. At the start, 100% of the energy used is in moving the weight of the bike. This favours a light bike. At the finish, the majority of the energy is being used to overcome drag. You might not need 1200hp like Larry, but a funnybike is not far off in terms of drag. Power is much more important than weight in the second half.

6. Engine strength. It seems then, that any proposed 5 second turbo bike will need to make at least 1000hp, and probably more like 1200hp, to reach the speeds necessary. A 1.5 litre turbo engine can certainly make that much, we saw it in F1 in the eighties, but with most of the efforts revolving around unit construction engines with streetbike origins there are numerous questions around the strength of the driveline at these power levels. The way forward is far from clear.

7. Finally, if you ever need a sobering reminder of how hard it will be to make a turbo bike run a 5, look around the fuel bike pits at all the bikes that have never made that number. Those guys running 6.1s and 6.2s with sometimes decades of development and experience, and often way more power than any turbo bike too, yet still the 5 eludes them. Do you still think the turbo 5 is imminent?

Lorcan.

“Back on Track” test day 5th July 2020

A successful day’s testing for us yesterday at a very windy Santa Pod “Back on Track” day. After nearly 2 years away it was good to see the team again and some of our fellow competitors, blinking in the sunlight as we gradually emerge from virus lockdown, and to get our first runs under our belts since October 2018.

A number of small issues were corrected during the day with the help of Mark Harrison from Horsepower Factory UK.

First run was a launch and 2 seconds of power, the clutch pulled the bike through the beams for a red light and the turbo speeds were reading high.
Second run the bike pulled through the beams again, left hardish with a little hesitation, 1.18 to 60′ and shutoff at 2.5 seconds for a 3.05 at 330′. A hose had come off a wastegate causing a 50psi boost spike. The small turbo was saved by an rpm limiter we have installed to prevent it overspeeding. We fixed the hose and the turbo speed readings.

The third run was more controlled, another red light though, with a low (for us) 38psi launch and run shutoff at 1000′ for a 7.27 @ 171mph, which was a the quickest run of the weekend at that point. Stu Crane later pipped us with 7.24 190mph on his new turbo bike being tuned remotely by someone in America. Donald Trump maybe? Who knows. Anyway good work Stu!

We went to the startline one more time. It was completely empty but the bike would not start so we called it a day. We later found out that the M&W CDI ignition unit had switched the ignition off on the previous run when it failed due to a corrosive substance attacking the circuit board. Most likely this was the fire extinguisher fluid used on the bike in 2018.

Pics from Julian Hunt, Mike “The Crow” Kraaij and our Sarah.

Julian Hunt photo.

Mike Kraaij photo.

Sarah White photo.

A celebration of the life of Barry Eastman

A celebration of Barry’s life will take place at:

South West Middlesex Crematorium, Hounslow Rd., Hounslow, TW13 5JH

on 28th February at 10am.

All who knew Barry are welcome. Refreshments will be available afterwards at a separate venue to be arranged.

Please send any messages or memories you would like to be included to stormdragbike@gmail.com by 21st Feb for forwarding on to Debs.

Dress code: Barry was not one for formality so wear what you like. Funeral attire NOT necessary 🙂

Flowers from close family only please. If anyone would like to make a charity donation in lieu of flowers please use this website to donate online:

https://www.love2donate.co.uk//inmemory/identify_name.php?bc=301

Donations will go to the British Heart Foundation and Lymphoma Research Trust, in memory of Barry.

Alternatively donations by cheque can be sent to: In memory of Barry Eastman, Lodge Brothers, 7 Green Lane, Shepperton, TW17 8DP, and there will be a collection box on the day should anyone prefer to donate then.

Barry Eastman

The Storm team are broken-hearted to announce the loss of team co-owner, Barry Eastman, who passed away in hospital Tuesday afternoon, aged 68. Barry’s friendship with Mick Hand extends back over 50 years to when they completed their apprenticeships at the same company and started going sprinting. After racing their own bikes, Mick helped Barry with his Honda CBX funnybike, “Tokyo Express”, through the 80s and 90s before building Storm together.

Now though our thoughts are with Barry’s family, especially wife Deb and daughter Sarah. Barry met Deb through drag racing and we are sure that the drag racing community will want to join us in sending our love and sincere condolences.

Straightliners 2018

As we did in 2017, we attended this late in the year meeting to get some much-needed track time before the winter lay-off. Unfortunately though, we suffered an incident which did some damage to Storm and me (Lorcan). Both are repairable but will take a little time.

While tuning the turbo speeds a burst panel in the inlet manifold let go at around the eighth mile mark (165mph), sending flame under the seat and into the area that houses most of the wiring, the batteries, sensors and boost controller.

I don’t think I saw the fire immediately but as soon as I saw it on my right side I hit the brakes and scrubbed off as much speed as possible before the fire got too intense and I bailed out on the left side, hitting the ground at a speed we will find out later from the datalog.

My left shoulder blade is broken and there is a small burn on my right leg. My leathers were cut off by the ambulance crew and crash helmet will also be binned.

Storm continued upright after the bailout, clipping the wall on the right side. It has fire damage to the wiring loom and sensors, batteries and boost controller.

I’d like to say a big thank you to the Santa Pod medical team for looking after me so well and getting me to Bedford hospital so efficiently, to the Straightliners crew, the Storm team and especially Sarah for looking after me, running around with cars etc. to enable us to get home last night. You are all awesome! Thanks also to my boss, Chris, for his patience and understanding when it comes to his least risk-averse employee!

Here are some pics from Sarah and Kermit, and a little video. Time for a regroup and repair over the winter and we’ll be back stronger and faster next year.

Lorcan

National Finals 2018

Having secured the national championship at the Redline Rumble double-header event in August we went to the finals with hopes of improving our PBs and going some rounds, but it was not to be.

Rain all day on the Saturday meant a one-shot qualifier on the Sunday morning, but our ice tank leaked on the line, putting us out.

Congrats to Kars Van Den Belt on the Funnybike class win and for running an oh-so-close 7.005 in the semi-final! That little Blackbird will be in the 6s next time! Congrats too to Steve Woollatt on a PB 6.14.

Highlight of the event for us was seeing Storm on the cups in the Santa Pod bar!

Euro Finals 2018

The biggest meeting of the year, and the Friday qualifying sessions didn’t go well for us, or for some others in the class. On our first qualifier the bike didn’t burnout (rider error) and then hit the turbo speed limiter on the launch. After a 7 hour wait our next qualifier was at nearly 9pm, with immediate tyre shake.

We reverted back to our 6.56 settings for boost and clutch but the weather forecast for Saturday was not good.

At close of play Friday we were qualified 6th with Steve Woollatt in #1, Fast Fil struggling and Rene had grenaded his motor. Eric Richard was also struggling a bit, so it was all to play for if we could get a decent run in Saturday.

Saturday brought just one daytime qualifier due to rain, 6.94 @ 201 which put is in third place. The bike double-shifted from first to third gear, and cracked the exhaust headers on the run. We could weld those up in the morning and see where the pairings take us. Fast Fil went into the field at the end of the track on his run – he was ok but there was some damage to the bike. Meanwhile, Rene had rebuilt his engine and was back in the game! We elected not to run the second night time qualifier as it was run very late.

The team tried to patch up the exhaust on Saturday morning but it was impossible to weld without taking it apart and the patch didn’t hold, allowing our nemesis Dale Leeks to take the win in round 1 with a 0.05 margin 7.15 against our 7.25.

Steve Woollatt went on to win the event.