Rat Trap Racing Continues 50th Anniversary Celebration
Franklin, TN — The 50th Anniversary World Tour of the legendary AA/Fuel Altered Rat Trap was such a success; more dates around the world have been added for 2017, with additional appearances now scheduled for New Zealand and England.
“We had a fantastic time racing at Saskatoon, Canada, at Santa Pod in England and Hockenheim, Germany,” said team owner/driver Ron Hope. “However, I’m excited to be going back to New Zealand where we always receive a warm welcome. Fan reaction has been so strong that we’re also planning on returning to England for the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2017. And, of course, we’ve booked a full schedule of races in the U.S. too.”
The 2016 Tour wraps up with a prestigious display of the Rat Trap race car at the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame Gala, November 19, 2016, at the Sheraton Skyline Hotel at London’s Heathrow Airport, England.
Rat Trap events currently scheduled for New Zealand and England in 2017 include:
Feb. 4-5: Leadfoot Festival Hahei, New Zealand
March 22-26: Beach Hop, Whangamata, New Zealand
April 2: Nostalgia Drags, Meremere Dragway, New Zealand
June 22-25: Goodwood Festival of Speed, Goodwood, England
“This is a terrific opportunity to continue celebrating the history of Rat Trap Racing, and to give even more fans a chance to experience the excitement of a bad-to-the bone fuel-altered,” added Hope. “Racing in front of the fans is what drives us to continue, and we’re grateful to all our sponsors for helping make this tour possible.”
There have been many influences and events that have raised the awareness of drag racing and hot rodding as sports and pastimes. Automotive shows and films like American Graffiti and Grease, feature articles, displays, TV coverage and festivals – all have played their part, particularly on a national basis. The popular music culture has always been a primary source of what is considered cool or not –by young people especially – but as far as drag racing and hot rodding is concerned only one band can be described as the masters of the music that promotes our sport internationally.
The British Drag Racing Hall of Fame (BDRHoF) in association with the National Street Rod Association (NSRA) is proud to announce that The Beach Boys will be the recipients of a special Global Impact Award being presented at the BDRHoF Gala Awards Dinner being held at the Sheraton Skyline Hotel, London Heathrow on November 19th. And the big news is that one of the original Beach Boys, David Lee Marks, will be there to accept the award on behalf of the band. They have been behind the music that inspired more than a generation of hot rodders and drag racing enthusiasts and via their concerts they have continued to raise awareness of these unique sports throughout the world for over 50 years.
Rat Trap Racing Sponsors 2017 U.S. Tour of famed AA/Fuel Altered “HavocFranklin, TN
Ron Hope, owner/driver of the historic and popular Rat Trap AA/Fuel Altered, has announced that Rat Trap Racing will sponsor the 2017 U.S. Tour of the British AA/Fuel Altered Havoc, owned by Nick Davies.
“We raced Havoc several times in England during our recent 50th Anniversary World Tour,” said Hope. “We got to know driver Davies, his partner Loaring, and their team very well during Dragstalgia and the Euro Finals at Santa Pod, England. What we learned was, they don’t really have anybody to race. We’re taking care of that by bringing them to the U.S. and inviting them to come race out of our shop in Franklin, Tennessee.”
Four other sponsors have also stepped up to help make the tour happen: Geoff Stilwell of Beech Underwriting Agencies, Lucas Oil, Stuart Bassett of USAutomotive and Lawrie Gatehouse of the U.K.’s Nostalgia Fuel Altered Association.
Havoc and Rat Trap will both be displayed at this year’s British Drag Racing Hall of Fame Gala at the Sheraton Skyline, Heathrow, England, on November 19, after which the cars will be shipped to Tennessee where they will be prepared for the 2017 season.
To date, Havoc has been scheduled for three races, and more are anticipated:
• March Meet, Auto Club Famoso Raceway, McFarland, CA
• 15th Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion, Bowling Green, KY
• 26th California Hot Rod Reunion, Auto Club Famoso Raceway, McFarland, CA
“This is a terrific opportunity to race against our heroes,” said Davies. We’ve attended the CHRR several times, but to be able to race at that historic track, as well as Beech Bend, is a drag racer’s’ dream come true. We’re extremely grateful to Ron, his son Brian, and all the sponsors for making this happen.”
More Exciting by the Dozen.
Franklin, TN — The California Hot Rod Reunion will showcase twelve legendary AA/Fuel Altereds at its 25th annual event later this month. The gathering will provide a unique opportunity to see these iconic cars, some with histories going back decades, race head-to-head.
“Not for a long time have so many Fuel Altereds competed at one event,” said Ron Hope, owner/driver of the Rat Trap AA/Fuel Altered, and organizer of this showdown. “Fuel Altereds have been a big part of my racing career since I crewed on the infamous Fuel Altered tour of 1970, and I have been racing Rat Trap since 1995. The California Hot Rod Reunion caps our celebration of 50 years of Rat Trap Racing.”
Hope has managed to pull together a dozen of the most famous Fuel Altereds, including the ever-popular Winged Express driven by Mike Boyd, and Rick Guasco’s Pure Hell, that will be driven by Hope’s son Brian.
The 12 cars currently scheduled to race are:
• Rat Trap – Ron Hope
• Nanook – Dave Hough
• Winged Express – Mike Boyd
• Patriot – Jason Richey
• Pure Heaven – Leon Fitzgerald
• Pure Hell – Rich Guasco
• High Heaven – Hughie Callen
• Sullivan Racing – Mike Sullivan
• The Tramp – Brian Hall
• Iron Mistress – Brent Henry
• George Doty – Rodney Flournoy
• Bad News Fiat – Kurt Cruse
“This is a Chicago-style race; the two fastest cars will go up against each other on Sunday. Rat Trap Racing and Geoff Stilwell, of Beech Underwriting, have put up a $3,500 purse: $2,000 for the winner; $1,000 for 2nd; $800 for 3rd; and $700 for 4th.” said Hope. “This is an event not to be missed by drag racing fans.”
The 25th California Hot Rod Reunion presented by Automobile Club of Southern California will be held at Auto Club Famoso Raceway, McFarland, CA. 93250. Oct. 21-23.
For tickets: nhramuseum.org
The latest issue of the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame’s on-line magazine HOFtalk is now.
Santa Pod Raceway: Dragstalgia
Fri. 15 – Sun. 17 July 2016
It was a moment to savour for throngs of fans at Dragstalgia; perhaps the most poignant moment in Santa Pod Raceway’s half-century of history.
The plan for the Dragstalgia historic drag race meeting had been to recreate the first run ever made down the Santa Pod dragstrip: early on the venue’s opening day, Easter Monday 1966, Harold Bull and his little hand-built dragster, Strip Duster, powered by an engine lifted from a Morris Minor, had traversed the length of the track, the first of countless thousands of runs to be made over the next 50 years. Recently, Harold’s son, Simon Bull, had built a perfect replica of the car under Harold’s supervision (the original Strip Duster chassis is believed still to exist somewhere in Germany) and would mark that inaugural moment in Santa Pod’s history by piloting the car up the strip during Dragstalgia.
Alongside would be another modern replica of an early racing machine. Ken ‘Flathead’ Cooper was a drag racing pioneer whose activities pre-dated Santa Pod – his nickname arises from his predilection for Ford’s workhorse flathead V8 of that era. Son Bradley Cooper had lately replicated one of Ken’s cars, again with his father’s help, and races it at historic events. Simon Bull and Bradley Cooper would drive their respective mounts side-by-side up the strip as a fitting 50th Anniversary tribute.
That, at least, was the plan.
Yet as the two dragsters swung out from the pairing lanes and approached the start line, it was not the sons discovered at the controls but the fathers themselves. At 91 years of age, Harold Bull was about to become not only the first driver ever to traverse the Santa Pod quarter-mile, but now the oldest too. Ken Cooper, a mere stripling at just 79, might well be next in line. Decades have passed since either had last piloted a competition car.
Awaiting them on the line was Santa Pod’s onetime Chief Starter, Stuart Bradbury, wielding the flags he had once used in the days before the electronic ‘Christmas tree’ starting system was installed. With a wave of the flags, the pair were under way. Age plainly does not dampen the competitive fires, and what was intended simply to be an exhibition pass turned out to be anything but a meander. Harold Bull got the jump on his younger opponent and appeared to be ahead at the finish line too. Since neither car staged in the modern manner, times and speeds were not recorded. In their heyday, both racers were accustomed to clocking 10-second passes at over 130mph. Their 2016 performances certainly looked respectable by comparison. Applauded by spectators all the way to the finish, the pair received a further ovation from the track marshals as they pulled to a halt at the end of the shutdown area half-a-mile beyond.
For those onlookers old enough to have watched Harold Bull and Ken Cooper in their prime as leading lights in the formative days of British drag racing, this extraordinary match-up was an occasion none would ever have expected to see happen. Those too young to remember found themselves privy to a unique moment of motorsporting history that they will do well to treasure for the rest of their days.
Santa Pod Raceway’s 50th Anniversary season reaches its climax with the FIA/FIM European Finals, 8-11 September 2016.
The British Drag Racing Hall Of Fame in association with US Automotive continues into its tenth successful year and is pleased to announce the 2016 intake. Nominees are eligible by dint of having raced, owned, designed, built, maintained, prepared, promoted, officiated, supported or taken part in British drag racing in any capacity, having been involved for at least twenty years, or having made a significant and recognisable contribution to the sport. The 2016 inductees, in alphabetical order, are US dragster builder, driver and overseas pioneer the late Bob Keith, engineer, crew chief and race car builder Rob Loaring, Santa Pod Racers Club Secretary the late Paula Marshall and Europe’s first permanent drag racing track Santa Pod Raceway.
Santa Pod Raceway: Dragstalgia Fri. 15 – Sun. 17 July 2016
In drag racing, the V8 is king and there is no substitute for cubic capacity. So says the received wisdom. Yet it is not strictly true, either today – when all manner of powerplants propel all manner of vehicles up the track – or in the earliest days, when eight-pot locomotion was a comparative rarity on the British scene.
Indeed, when Santa Pod Raceway opened for business 50 years ago on Easter Monday 1966, the very first car to traverse the quarter-mile packed all of 948cc into its four-cylinder engine. Harold Bull’s Strip Duster was a slingshot dragster powered by an engine lifted from a Morris Minor. It was an immaculate miniature version of the thundering V8-motored dragsters which had so impressed and inspired Harold when an all-star team from America had toured Britain two years earlier, though there was nothing miniature about the car’s performance. With constant modifications and improvements made over the next few years, Strip Duster would not only win races against opponents at Santa Pod but would set world records against the clock at the Elvington records meeting in Yorkshire which still stand today.
When Harold Bull and his fellow BMC-powered arch-rival, John Whitmore, pulled to the Santa Pod start line, fans would hurry from all parts to watch. The same response is anticipated when Strip Duster recreates its maiden Santa Pod voyage at Dragstalgia, the venue’s annual historic revival meeting taking place from 15th to 17th July.
When he made that inaugural trip up the track, Harold was already 41 years old. Half a century later and still living at Wymington within earshot of Santa Pod, the self-taught, expert engineer and tool-maker has supervised the construction of a perfect Strip Duster replica by his son, Simon, who will pilot the car on its Dragstalgia outing. The original Strip Duster, now modified beyond recognition, is believed still to exist somewhere in Germany.
Dragstalgia brings forth a veritable treasure trove of historic drag racing machinery. Some 300 cars and motorcycles of all shapes, sizes and vintages will be in attendance over the July weekend, many in action on the track and others displayed alongside. Top of the bill and visiting from America will be the spectacular Fuel Altereds, Rat Trap and the Bradfords’ Topolino, along with a bygone era’s array of Dragsters and Funny Cars, Altereds and Stockers, plus bikes of many classes and kinds. There’ll be no mistaking the moment, however, when Simon Bull guides Strip Duster on its historic passage up the fabled quarter-mile.