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“Joggers AND a pair of jeans, a tee shirt, shirt, hoody, jacket, AND woolly hat and I’m still freezing cold!! It’s the end of April God damn it not mid-December!”

Pretty sure Big Bang should be renamed Big Freeze for 2016, which was even more devastating given the glorious sunshine we’d had all week leading up to it.

Regular readers will know that we have covered this event for a few years now, but this year was extra special. In the face of adversity, with it first looking like we were unable to attend, to finally being granted Press Passes after hassling the poor Santa Pod staff relentlessly, has meant we can really up our game by providing strip side photos from ‘The Pod’ for the first time yet!

Even if it did mean 2 nights under canvass as the beloved ’60 split screen panel decided to jettison its oil mid-week, we would not have missed this show for the world!

The recipe which really makes “Big Bang” is the fact that there really is enough of everything going on for everyone to enjoy. Be it kids riding on the Monster Trucks to even bigger kids watching in awe as the Fire Force Jet car runs in sub 6 second passes!

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From the Friday we made our first priority the chilling out bit, it’s always great to have a catch up with mates, and partake in the annual ritual which is the “Cheese and Wine Party” in our camp! This took some setting up mind, as the ground did its usual trick of being unpredictable and featured a mix of hard, cracked ground to boggy swamp in the space of a few feet! (Something Paul would find out later that night when he toddled back on his own only to fall face first in the biggest, muddiest puddle ever, without even bracing to stop himself! Luckily John managed to track down Paul’s Ray Ban’s in the daylight of Saturday!)

The Friday is always full of anticipation awaiting a full day of action, with just a few test passes on the strip to tease you into the drag racing season after a sleepy winter. The ensuing shenanigans of the night are never to be forgotten, with Darren and John partaking in probably the maddest thing of their lives by actually going on the Bungee Ball in the funfair. This is no half-hearted effort this fair, with Dodgems, Waltzers and arcade games to boot; but oh no! They had to go for the big boy didn’t they? Unbelievably, Darren somehow managed to capture the best nighttime aerial photo of Santa Pod, from the peak of the bungee without losing his phone. Best bit is he never realised he’d even taken it until next day!

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So, with sore heads, Saturday was upon us and what a step-change from the drizzle and misery of the weather it was! A gorgeous sunshine greeted the swelling campsites and set the tone for a fantastic day ahead!  Well stocked up with food in our bellies from the impressive array of food outlets available, (even featuring an oversized split screen samba of the Cornwall Pasty Company), we were well on our way!

We made full use of the day wandering the enormous swap meets and show ‘n’ shine, checking out traders’ stalls and even being treated to a Cool Flo half-pipe BMX and skate display.

The swap meets are always a great way of gauging “which way the scene’s heading” as it were, and it was definitely noted that there are now a large array of early, original, water-cooled parts available from these auto jumbles, and that the vintage bicycle and BMX craze shows no signs of halting yet! It does have to be said that getting round Santa Pod on a BMX is the way forward.

The Show and Shine never fails to amaze me with the contrast and quality of vehicles on display. Everything from superbly preserved, original paint vehicles such as the awesome split window Beetle, slammed narrowed and sat on Fuchs, and Craig Petty’s stunning stock Standard Model ’56 Oval, or Toby Hoath’s awesome ‘Abbott Cleaners’ split screen panel van, to out and out customs such as the chop top Volksrod and simply cool-oozing vehicles like the late bay on what are actually Vauxhall Carlton GSi alloys – a nice nod the Fuchs style of alloy but just that little bit different!

The racing can either bring out the best or the worst of luck, with many Personal Best times being set here, but also an expensive breakage or two. One such incident arose from the CH3 N2O Top Fuel Dragster, with a suspected broken Crank sending the Supercharger into over-pressure, which triggers the Pressure Relief Valve. At the instant this happens, a sensor cuts the ignition and deploys the ‘chutes instantaneously, which as an added insult, snapped the Super Charger belt and ejected it during the incident, too. To say this happens in the blink of an eye is an understatement to say the least!

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Perhaps even more expensive was the decision taken not to run Fireforce on the Saturday evening, to conclude the racing. Something just wasn’t right on fire up, with the crew looking anxiously toward the rear of the jet engine, and after 2 attempts at fire up, took the decision to ‘push it back’ and not risk an incident on the strip.

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But, it has to be said, when the going’s good, it is really good! There were some incredible passes put down by the air-cooled VW guys, including Phil Jarvis putting in an 11.447s pass in The Fire Bus split screen panel van! Steve Pugh set a new personal best with a 13.57s @ 98MPH pass in his Herbie inspired Beetle, with the cool, still air and picturesque sunset making for perfect conditions for the flat 4 racers. More personal bests came from Phil West, with the Natural High gasser coming in at 10.96 @122mph, and an impressive 11.90s pass put down by Nigel Hull with his awesome Outlaw Flat Four Oval O/FF 30.

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It has to be said that the crew at Santa Pod are incredible when it comes to the ‘strip, running an incredibly tight ship. Their quick thinking being put especially to the test during an incident on the Sunday, when David Nichols’ awesome Type 1 engine’d Fiat 600 flipped clean on its side during a hard launch! Luckily David got out unscathed.

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This is only the beginning of trackside photography from us at Santa Pod, as you can expect to see us at the upcoming Cal Look Drag Day, and VW Action too. I’d very much like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for allowing us access to the strip. We hope you all enjoy these pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Words: Edd Thorpe.

Photos: Chloe Lemmon and Edd Thorpe.