The Yanks Weekend event, incorporating Gary’s Picnic is one show I’d move hell and high water to attend no matter what the odds.
The final week of my 3-week Radiography training was done and dusted and only the looming exams of the Bank Holiday Monday awaited me. So what better way to relax and give myself a revision break than to head down to Shakespeare County Raceway, for a heady mix of V8 and flat 4 racing?
Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned commitments and exams, this was to be a one-day event for me, the Saturday. However, what an amazing day it was and even the weather played ball, allowing racing right through to 6pm. Well, that is of course negating the numerous stoppages due to oil down incidents, of which there were plenty! Special mention I feel must go at this time to one Donald Harvey for his creation of the superbly engineered stainless steel catch trays seen in place of many if not all of the VW flat 4 racers of that weekend, playing a major part in reducing some down time due to mopping up spillages! Unfortunately however nothing can be done to stop that devastating blue smog, which results in the best part of an hour’s re-prep of the entire lane, on this occasion caused by O/FF 999 – The Fire Bus of Phil Jarvis, who otherwise put down some blistering passes and shows signs of only improving with his ex-fire service panelvan. The resulting extended tea break did see a great opportunity for a chat with Kenneth Ammo, of the Brother Maddness team of Belgian VW nuts, who’s brother Melvin was in full force with the Wolfsburg Performance Beetle, as well as bringing the simply stunning Lime Juice gasser along too!
There was indeed somewhat of a European flavour to proceedings with some excellent VW’s coming from Belgium, such as the stunning Diamond Green Cal Looker of Frederick Coere on polished Fuchs, and regular Shakey attendee Marc Goberecht in his awesome slick-wrapped, Fuch equipped yellow late Cal Looker. A sight to truly cherish for me, was witnessing Hans Biesemans piloting BBT’s Teutel Heb gasser, lining up against Stephane Speelman’s Muppet Racer oval window bug, both of these cars tick all the right boxes for me as VW race cars!
The Geko Tuning bug treated the crowd to some wild launches, one of which did happen to get rather out of hand which result in a collision with the Tree, hence the newly branded nickname of “The Lumberjack”. Yep each and every light on the Tree was smashed, but the team at SCR were incredible in re-instating the tree with a fresh set of bulbs. Luckily the driver got out totally unhurt and surprisingly with very little damage to the car.
The same however, can not be said of the some the V8 fraternity in attendance, with severe mechanical damage caused in incidents involving Andy Faster’s Twister Supercharged Outlaw, and at the end of the day from Gary Bird’s awesome Outlaw Anglia shooting a rod clean through the block, resulting in a fireball. Incredibly no injuries were sustained in either incident.
There were, it has to be said, some truly stunning V8 runners, from guys such as the Supercharged Outlaws, Gasser Circus, Wild Bunch and more. It was fantastic to see Honky Tonkin’ II out again, the stunning metal flake blue ’66 Chevy Nova that I can’t get enough of! The Mighty Mouse Pop is a sure fire favourite of mine from that camp, too however I was pleasantly surprised to see Gold Rush, a Willys Coupe gasser for the first time, something about it just made me keep walking round and around it in the pits – and I can assure you its no slouch out on the strip, either!
Despite a challenging day of incidents on track, the UK contingent of VW racers held their own in an incredible display of flat 4 racing, from the SAS Rennwagens and The Outlaw Flat Four guys. The O/FF were running strong, with David Nicholls swiping to his O/FF 58 Beetle having had that incident at Big Bang with his Fiat 600 which resulted in it turning on its side on launch. An impressive 12.31 pass on Dots with what David described as a ‘motorway friendly’ gearbox show’s his natural gift for ¼-mile drag racing. O/FF 662, better known as Stitch Up, with Bernard Newbury-Smith at the helm, ran an astonishing 9.954s pass, simply one of my not-so-secret favourite gasser Beetles this has to be seen (and heard!) to be believed. Another secret favourite of mine is Danny Pike’s O/FF 60 – “Lil Lizzy”. I have loved watching this car evolve from its plain blue decor into the elaborate gasser as it stands today. Unfortunately Danny only made it as far as the fire up lanes despite repeated attempted to get Lil Lizzy to go from A to B. Really hope to see this out again soon, so best of luck to Danny in resolving those gremlins.
The day, for me was a fantastic opportunity to catch up with friends both UK based and from mainland Europe. It was awesome to have a good old chin wag with Dick Lewis, who’s gorgeous Karmann Ghia Convertible graced our cover from it’s Mallory Park shoot. However Dick was in attendance with his V8 weapon, a Ford F150 pickup. Despite fuel pressure issues, the truck ran solid 15s passes, which is truly to be respected in a full street truck. Dick promises a full tear down and a blower install over the off-season!
Another great opportunity arose to meet Hans Van Hengel, whose white ’67 2276cc equipped cal look bug I truly adore! The word inspirational simply cannot be done justice here. What is truly amazing is just how humble Hans is about it, too! Truly wanting the numbers to do the talking Hans drove the ’67 from The Netherlands, to try and put a 12s pass down, on street tyres, before making the return trip home in it. Yep no trailer. No slicks! Bearing in mind this bug is a full street car, with complete interior that was a phenomenal challenge to say the least. Using all 250 dyno-proven horsepower through that Berg 5 speed bus box, Hans came away with a 14.4s pass that day straight off the bat and apparently laid down a 13.8s run the next day! Truly incredible.
Again extended thanks must go to the crew at Shakespeare County Raceway, for facing a challenging day as incredibly as ever – and thanks for the new Media Platform wall-side – love it!