Festival of Power 2022

The winter break was not uneventful. Kermit got married. We mourned the loss of our racer friend Tina Hambidge. US racer Bill Vose shocked us all with a string of 6.0s on his Busa-based funnybike, destroying rear tyres in the process. Our friend Fast Fil retired, for now, striking a deal for his bike with the Cannon Racing team.

Mick, Dave and Simon got to work repairing and remaking some parts to make us more reliable in 2022. A rear facing, as opposed to side facing, exhaust should help the bike go straighter. New injector mounts, ice tank, clutch plates and gearbox hubs. Work was still in progress when the traditional Easter meeting sprung.

We had already tested the weekend before, which revealed that the “unchanged” clutch had, in fact, changed significantly. We checked the bottles, lines, solenoids and controller, all of which were in perfect working order, which left the clutch itself. It seems new flat plates and a new drive plate mounting method meant new settings would be required, and the only way to arrive at them would be trial and error.

The first runs saw the engine bog badly, barely getting away from the startline, and acting jerkily driving forward to the burnout area. Patiently altering the settings with educated guesses, we progressed to a 9 second run, then a 8.0, but then a pop at the end of that run bent the single throttle butterfly 45 degrees, revving the engine with the throttle closed. Mick hammered it flat on the towbar of the van and we were good to go again, but the next day the bike was misfiring and popping in the burnout and launch, and a number of sensors had given up the ghost too, so we packed up and came home.

Later examination of the remaining datalogged sensors showed a ref/sync error, which means the cam and crank sensors are not in agreement about position. We’ll look at these with our tame ECU man Mark Harrison at Horsepower Factory soon. In the meantime, we’ve pulled out of the Springspeed Nationals as we don’t have time to fix the bike by then.

Congrats go to the Warpspeed Racing team for the event went and a STORMING 6.32 @ 213mph European record by Stu Crane in the final. Very well done sir!!

A huge THANK YOU to our new sponsor, Keith at Auto Electrical Parts UK, who has paid for our fuel for the year. Be sure to check them out here:


Thanks also to Michael Lines and Per @ Bentec for their help and support with parts over the winter.

Pics from Fredy, Sarah, Simon and Mick.

Euro Finals Shootout 2021

With travel to the UK for most European competitors out of the question (although some incredibly determined racers did actually make it), the Euro Finals was downgraded to a national event, albeit with a good turnout of fuel cars and bikes. For us this meant running in the Funnybike class as usual, and not in Top Fuel bike as we usually do at European rounds.

After the unsettled year we have had we chose to run the Thursday test day immediately prior to the event to make sure everything, including the rider, was working as it should. The first test run gave a promising 1.08 to 60′ with a little tyre shake and 2.88 to 330′, but the front wheel bobbled then washed out on landing. We decided to try lowering the wheelie bars a little and adjusting the handlebars for the next run.

After a break for some rain we went to the start but the bike would not shift gear – wires to the gearchange button had broken off.

Around 4pm we tested again with a PB 60′ of 1.079, but I extra shifted from 3rd back to first gear (a software protection we had to prevent this has got lost along the way), which doesn’t do any damage to the engine but does ruin any chance of a decent run. Also the small turbo oil drain line came off, giving me shiny legs and making quite a mess. No damage was done but we retired for the day to clean up and take stock.

Friday was the first qualifying day for the event, but after the first session burnout the engine refused to idle. Back in the pits we adjusted the idle screw and all seemed well. After a good amount of rain the second qualifying session happened at 5.45pm. Again the engine tried to die after the burnout. Simon and Santa Pod chief starter Ian Marshall pulled the bike back to the start line while I tried to keep the throttle partially open but the bike was pointing heavily to the right. Setting off with a brisk 1.09 to 60′ we just about missed the right wall with a shutoff 7.6 to qualify 5th, but a small fire occurred in the shutdown area when the cam cover breather hose and some wires got close to the hot exhaust. On top of that, a sprung bolt used in the clutch pressure plate had snapped off, leaving Mick with an overnight repair job!

By Saturday morning Mick had fixed the clutch, but by then Fredy had found a loose injector while cleaning. Inspection revealed that an injector pocket welded into the inlet manifold had broken off inside, which almost certainly was the cause of the idling problem. Mick went back home again to fix the manifold, and Simon collected it from him later. The team then worked til 11pm to rebuild the manifold and surrounding parts, with no chance of any further qualifying runs. Thanks to Kermit who came to watch, but ended up getting his hands dirty! We couldn’t have got it all done without you.

Sunday then, we met #3 qualifier Dave Peters in round 1 of eliminations. Dave and his team had faced their own challenges over the weekend, piecing together one good engine out of three overnight and almost beating his PB in the process. Our burnout and staging procedure went fine, but 0.5 seconds into the run we lost all boost and Dave took the win.

We’ll be looking into the loss of boost, and the fuel fumes which have been getting worse all year, before the next event at the end of September, the National Finals.

Congratulations to Mark Smith for the event win and his first six second run. Now you know what arm-stretching turbo power feels like! Nice dance moves too!

Commiserations to Tony Clark and others who suffered engine damage after some great performances.

Thanks to our hard working team who all pulled together to get us to the eliminations; Mick H, Simon, Dave, Mik B, Fredy and Sarah, and to the Santa Pod crew who let us do what we do and keep us as safe as possible.


Pics from Sarah White, Santa Pod, Pudgey’s Pics and Blackett Photography.

Green Light Nationals 2021

We were in optimistic mood heading for this event, but a test day immediately prior to the first day soon dampened our spirits. A test launch netted a very lazy 1.16 to 60′ and 3 seconds to 330′. The data log revealed low boost. After checking all the pipes, clamps, and the exhaust for leaks, Mike found that the wastegate housing had gone slightly out of round and wasn’t sealing properly. He took it home for machining that evening, but the next morning a quick test on anti-lag showed the problem persisted.

Further checks for leaks turned up a loose exhaust clamp in a rather inaccessible position. By the time this was fixed, we had missed the first round of qualifying, and subsequent rounds were rained off so we didn’t qualify at all!

With rain also forecast for eliminations day we hung around for a while hoping to make at least a demo pass but by lunchtime decided to pack up and go home. That’s drag racing (or not)!

Summernationals 2021

The Summernats is an event we always look forward to and occasionally do well at. This year brought challenges, but was not without its rewards.

We elected to run the RWYB Friday test day before the event, to test the new clutch spigot and make sure there were no other problems before Saturday qualifying. We anticipated putting in 3 test passes, weather was hot and sunny with a slight tailwind.

Test 1: Bike drifted left so backed off to 40% throttle at 330′ then a squirt of power before the finish. 1.13′ to 60′ and 7.04 @ 192.

Test 2: shutoff for no boost (programmer error) and we also had an oil leak from a pump fitting, both easily fixed.

Test 3: 1.10 to 60′ and 6.67 @ 210mph. We put in a little more clutch for this run, which improved the 60′, and a little more boost brought us close to our “normal” run pace, but after the finish line the bike turned scarily hard left (from the right lane) and almost hit the left wall with the bike flopping from right to left, damaging the ancillary drive pulley.

Investigation revealed that the front tyre had contacted the inner fairing, wearing a hole in it and causing the front wheel to lock up on the brakes. Over the winter we’d reduced the steering rake and now there wasn’t enough clearance for the suspension to move fully. Mick H tidied up the pulley Friday night and Saturday morning the team cut the centre of the fairing piece away. The two remaining outer pieces were then bonded to the rest of the fairing. We checked clearance by pulling the forks down with a ratchet strap. More on this later…

Saturday morning dawned hot and sunny and we elected to make a banker pass to make sure we qualified.

Q1: 1.11 to 60′, 4.36 at the eighth and 7.65 @ 123mph at the finish, shut off at 500′. Straight and easy, no dramas.

Q2: Match up with UK Funnybike record holder Stu Crane. Craney slightly ahead all the way until Lorcan went for 4th gear at the eighth (we only have 3 gears) which put the bike back into 1st gear. Unlike most bikes this doesn’t do any damage due to our planetary transmission, but it was a shame not to finish the run under power as it would have been close with Stu. Until fairly recently we had a software protection built in which ignores any attempted gearshifts after 3rd is selected, but somehow we’ve lost this along the way. 1.10 to 60′, 4.31 @ 165mph eighth and 7.22 at the stripe made us #2 qualifier.

Q3: with more boost and more clutch we saw our hardest launch yet, 1.085 to 60′ and our quickest 330′ ever, 2.78, with the bike carrying the front wheel through the first two gears but again heading left. On landing the front wheel tucked under, slid and the bike hit the wall side on. Lorcan kept the bike upright but banged his arm against the wall. There was no damage to the bike, but although a quick check at the Santa Pod medical centre showed nothing was broken Lorcan was unable to continue to eliminations the next day.

We’re still looking into what happened on this run but a photo by Sarah shows the front wheel locked up on landing from the wheelie, so we suspect it could have contacted the fairing edge with the handlebars turned and the forks compressed. For the next meeting we’ll be cutting the fairing edges back further, replacing the 3 year old rear tyre and also replacing the ancient and ineffective Kawasaki-style steering dampers that are fitted.

Needless to say we were disappointed with the end result, but encouraged by the short times which would have put the bike comfortably in the 6.4 second zone. Stu who went on to win with a string of 6.4s and 6.5s – maybe next time we’ll be able to make him work a bit harder for it.

Thanks go to our sponsors Owen Developments, Horsepower Factory UK and ARP Fasteners, to the many well wishers who visited our pit over the weekend, and of course to the Santa Pod medical team and track crew who looked after us so well.

Until next time, keep storming!

Festival of Power 2021

After the Springspeed Nationals in May we looked closely for the source of the misfire and found that the fuel pump was severely worn and unable to supply the pressure we run. With a good used spare in place we looked forward to putting in a decent performance at the three day Festival of Power meeting, postponed from its usual Easter date, but it was not to be.

A water leak from the ice tank, fuel leak, and an unintentional lane change in front of Jiri Lukes (sorry Jiri!) took care of three of our six qualifying chances. We missed one due to working on the bike, and pulled a red light when hot methanol fumes from the earlier fuel leak forced Lorcan to leave early. Which left us with one chance, at the final qualifying session of Saturday evening.

A decent burnout, wait for the green and get to the end of the track would see us in the eliminations, right? Wrong. On the launch a clutch component came loose (actually stripped the bolts holding it in place) depriving the clutch of CO2 pressure which holds the clutch pack together. Lorcan eventually limped the bike slowly over the finish line, but the Santa Pod timing gear had already timed out at 30 seconds and the run didn’t count.

It wasn’t all bad though, despite not making the eliminations. The red light run was something in the 6.7-6.9 range at 200+mph with turbo speeds encouragingly well under control and on only 45psi boost (compared to 60psi on our PB 6.56 run). Clutch slip was evident at the end of each gear too, due to the loose/leaking clutch component, so it would have been even quicker if everything had been functioning correctly.

Stu Crane was fast and consistent all weekend, a winning combination and a worthy winner! Congrats to Stu and Team Warpspeed! We know the Warpspeed team supported by Dan Wagner in the USA will be tough to beat in the Funnybike class this year, but we also know what we need to do for next time and look forward to it. Until then, keep storming!

Springspeed Nationals 2021

Over the winter and during lockdown Mick and Dave tackled many jobs on Storm including replacing a damaged sprag in the gearbox, making a new flat undertray for the fairing and also making a distinctive front mudguard to further improve the aerodynamics based on recommendations from our friends at UWTSD. New recruit Simon Campbell joined us as soon as virus restrictions allowed, and the bike paid a visit to Mark Harrison at Horsepower Factory UK to check a few things over. Finally ARP Bolts stepped up as sponsor for our fasteners for the new engine which Mick is building. Thanks to Nigel Atkinson from ARP UK for arranging this.

A test day quickly revealed that one of the sprags was in back to front (oops, hard to tell apparently) so our first proper outing of 2021 was the Springspeed Nationals, which usually takes place in April but had been postponed until May due to the obvious. Dale Leeks of Warpspeed Racing and Leeks Landscapes had put up £200 contingency to the funnybike class winner at the event in lieu of entering the meeting as his bike was not ready, so we were doubly enthusiastic to win and take his money!

A few days before the event, Race Engine Technology magazine published an article by renowned American Tuner Shane Tecklenburg about a 4 cylinder compound turbo, EFI, methanol drag car he had been tuning. In the article Shane describes how he had been struggling to control the turbo speeds on the dyno (sound familiar) until he realised that the low pressure wastegate should be linked not to the inlet manifold, but to the pipe exiting the low pressure turbo. According to Shane, this simple change made the compound system much easier to control, so Mick immediately copied it, as we had been struggling with this same issue for some time.

We opted to try the test day immediately prior to the event on Friday 21st May, but it rained and no runs were made. Saturday was forecast by the Met Office to be dry all day, but it wasn’t to be. Between the showers and with “educated guess” settings in the boost controller we did get one test launch. The Pod crew sprayed the start area of the track for us with traction compound and the bike launched surprisingly hard, close to our best ever 60′ according to our datalog and making 45psi boost at the hit. Unfortunately we received a red light and no time, possibly due to full staging before Stu Crane in the other lane (who went on to knock a whopping 3 tenths off his PB, congrats Stu!) had pre-staged.

Encouraged by the limited data gathered we elected to make no changes at all overnight, but due to yet more rain it was not until the following afternoon that we could try again. Releasing the anti-lag button for the burnout the bike engine coughed back, but seemed to be ok apart from a very low idle. On the launch though a misfire was immediately apparent, so the bike was nursed to a 7.9 quarter. Soon after it rained again and the meeting was brought to a close.

3 days of effort for one and a bit runs doesn’t sound like much, but you have to accept some rainy days to enjoy the sunshine. Mick and Dave are now looking at the cause of the engine cough ans subsequent misfire, but a leakdown and compression test showed no damage to the engine so we are looking forward to the Festival of Power Unlocked on 25th-27th June. If the new wastegate strategy works as well as we hope, it could be a game changer for us.

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?