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.

“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.

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.

Redline Rumble 2018

Redline Rumble is a new bike-only event for 2018 at Santa Pod, possibly to capitalise on the demise of the Bulldog Bash but also to provide an event for those not wanting to go to the Hockenheim Nitrolympx which takes place the same weekend.

The format is effectively two one-day events with qualifying and eliminations both days and ACU championship points also awarded on each day. With many of our Funnybike friends at Hockenheim it was an ideal opportunity for us to get some track time and possibly extend our lead in the championship.

Q1 on Saturday we had some issues this morning firstly with the rider getting it wrong, then a crank/cam sync sensor error made the engine cut out at the end of first gear. 1.113 to 60′ was encouraging though. Q2 was a 7.41 @ 151mph shutoff. The front tyre was contacting the fairing landing from the first gear wheelie, pulling the front wheel to one side and causing the front end washout. Barry trimmed the bodywork to resolve it. In the meantime, we were qualified #1 for eliminations in the afternoon.

With only three riders qualified we had a bye run in the semi-finals and posted a PB 6.56 @ 208mph clicking off a little early into the 15-17mph headwind.

In the final Dave Peters was a no-show so we had another bye which got a bit out of shape and was shut off early, but this gave us our first ever event win.

Overnight we found that the steering pivot mount had cracked, so Mick brought his gas welding gear in Sunday morning to repair it. We missed the first qualifying session due to this.

Another out of shape Q2 meant we actually had to beat someone in the other lane to reach the final. Dave Buttery was having battery problems, but a 0.05 RT and a 6.75 ET made sure of the win.

In the final Dave Peters was also having problems, easing our path to a second win in two days.


Photo Gallery © Ivan Sansom and Rose Hughes:

Summernationals 2018

Q1, a broken wire stops us from running. Q2, the small turbo is hitting the speed limiter and the bike moves towards the centre line, but a 7.01 makes us #1 qualifier. Q3, we run 6.67 @ 218.24mph but hit the turbo speed limiter again (which cuts the ignition) 3 times in 1st gear. Overnight we diagnose the turbo speed issue as a split diaphragm in the wastegate, so replace it. E1 we lose traction at the end of first gear and the bike gets sideways, then tries to tuck the front under. Getting back on it just before the finish nets a 6.70 @ 206mph. Before E2 though, we find cylinder #4 is down on compression and so elect to retire. After the event we discover that the cam chain has jumped a tooth. No damage, and an easy fix.

We were very happy though to increase our funnybike record speed, and break the ET record which had been held at 6.70 seconds for 10 years by Neil Midgley. Congrats to Funnybike class winner Dale and all the other class winners, thanks to our sponsors Owen Developments, UWTSD, PR Fleet, Mr Sticker, and to the whole team and our fellow competitors for a hard, hot, but enjoyable weekend.


Photo gallery copyright Blackett Photography:

European Finals 2017

Over the summer break we realised that the clutch pressure sensors had been calibrated wrongly and set about putting them right. This meant abandoning the settings we had previously used to score our best 60′ time of 1.08 and starting again with the settings. We tried some tests remotely before the event and all looked good. However, the weather had other plans for us….

While we were waiting though this gentleman swung by and introduced himself as David Cooper from UWTSD (University of Wales Trinity St David). More on this later.

So after 48 hours of intermittent rain and heroic efforts by the Santa Pod crew in trying to dry the track we finally made it to the burnout box on the Saturday afternoon only for Eric Richard to fall off in front of us, followed within 5 minutes by another downpour. Thankfully Eric was fine and his bike sustained little damage. The crew were a little shaken but thankfully everyone was ok. Those sixes will have to wait til next year Eric! All the best from us, we hope we see you again soon.

When business resumed a couple of hours later we managed a decent burnout on the second attempt only for the bike to run weak and stall on the line. On investigation the drive belt off which drives the fuel pump and oil pump had given up under the strain. Graham noticed that one of the primary drive gears was cracked too, so that put us out of the event as we couldn’t risk using it and didn’t have a spare.

Congrats to Dale Leeks for his first event win, Stu Crane for an impressive 6.81 – unfortunately with a catastrophic looking fireball, great runs from Fast Fil and the SSB boys put on a great show as always.

We’re going to be out of action for the National Finals in 2 weeks but hope to make the bike event in October with new oil pumps and drive gears.