Who cares about the main event anyway? It’s all about that Saturday before with good friends, many tents among rows of cars and a cheeky tinnie or 9 of warm lager. Well that’s my excuse anyway, mostly because I was enjoying Retro Show to it’s full potential on the Sunday, completely forgetting to take half an hour to get some snaps in.
My Saturday morning started with learning a few new lessons.
- MX5 sump plugs aren’t stocked by any of my local motor spares shops.
- A Honda Civic sump plug fits an MX5.
- Never do an oil change right next to a drainage grid.
Once I’d well and truly learnt these lessons it was time for a gentle 150 mile jaunt down to Retro Show 2018 at Santa Pod. We rocked up around 7PM to find all of the Rust Rash Flyers set up, food cooking and drinks flowing. After a cheeky tent erection It was time for an evening mooch round the paddock.
The Flyers had lined up their frontline soldiers on the stand. Starting with Brock’s rat “Joe King” E36 Tourer. He’s an opinionated bloke and that grates on a lot of people but with his roots in early rods and the fact that this thing has gone through so many face-lifts and style changes but keeps coming back fresher than ever is proof that he knows what he’s talking about. Up the middle, a selection of Robin’s three best examples take pride of place. A fairly new addition to his collection, an OEM+ S12 Silvia shows it’s flippy lights sitting pretty on some dishy Watanabe rims, tastefully lowered to within an inch of its life.
At the back of his arsenal stands the bright yellow Datsun 180B named “BOB”. Again dropped tastefully and with a few choice mods, that subtle chin splitter bringing 90s Japan right in-front of you for your own private pleasures. What makes this ride incredible is we believe it is one of only 8 left in circulation on UK roads at the time of writing, even more incredible is that this is his weapon of choice when doing European road trips. Bob has completed multiple thousands of miles on journeys to the Nurburgring as well as Monte Carlo and back without missing a beat!
Finally the cornerstone of Robin’s line up lurks right in the middle of the other two Jap classics. The Assassin. I have personally seen this car go through “nu-rat”, “true-rat” and every other style going to reach it’s final form (for now) as the Bosozoku rebirth. I believe I’m right in saying this was his first car and unlike most yoots (myself included) this first car runaround has been loved and cared for in a strange way, but kept alive nonetheless and still serves him well. What the base car is we’ll leave you guessing, we know and all will be revealed one day when I get my lens on it for a full feature.
Finally a car once owned by a good friend and owner of the Morris Minor 1000 Grip & Slide featured earlier this year. A fairly stock, but equally cool MK1 Vauxhall Nova, owned now by another of the Flyers Ozzy Carter. The legacy lives on with a fresh ticket and some much needed love.
My first stop was this tasty lime green Mk2 ford escort. It was obvious at this point that we were going to encounter a lot of Fords, we were at a drag strip of course. With that undeniable American heritage this thing was bound for straight line power. Though hands down not being much of a Ford fanatic myself, and being schooled by Wikipedia in writing this article, the early Escorts were European market. Thus meaning this thing has probably lived most of its life being driven round rainy Rotherham but we can’t help but think it wouldn’t look out of place cruising down Route 66, nose end down passing diner after truck stop.
Another Ford classic checked off the list, this MK2 Capri RS looked like It had just rolled out of the factory. Complete with brown/grey interior and those late 70’s plastic over fenders stuck to some seriously sleek bodywork. Again another European market model but a legend non the less. C’mon, what lad growing up in the 90’s hadn’t heard tales of how fast their uncles’, friends’, dog minders’ Capri was.
Prep for Sunday was definitely on most attendees’ minds, with last minute checks and tuning taking place. It was clear everyone was here for the speed. I especially loved the front mount Moon Eyes fuel tank on this drag rod, and I would warrant that the supercharger alone on this thing was bigger than my whole MX5 engine. Some serious power was lurking here just waiting to be unleashed.
Another recurring theme across drag cars was that 99% of them were filled with gauges and dial clusters. Having seen the odd AFR or boost gauge in tuned road cars and in my admitted uneducated guesswork, I always thought drag cars were a bit “rough and ready”. “Bigger engines = faster times” and because they don’t do any corners or turns there was no real science to the whole matter. Where there’s no doubt there is no replacement for displacement, I was wrong about the science aspect. The sheer number of gauges prove that the engine is the focus, no stone is left un-turned in pushing the absolute maximum power and torque out of these machines. It’s serious business.
Nearing the end of the paddock and approaching the start line it was clear Drag racing and American culture go hand in hand. Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler were the big names of the weekend.
But finally a bit of a personal story. I used to be a VW man myself loving all German cars, especially VW. Since owning my first Mazda MX5 it’s Japanese cars that take the lime light in my mind, but something magical happened at Santa Pod. I found myself on Autotrader and Ebay looking for old fords. I’m not sure what came over me. Possibly the undeniable sound of a V8 at wide open throttle. Something stopped me in my tracks and made me want to change my ways.
I felt I may be onto my new country / car culture of choice, American / British sheer power. But then I stumbled upon this and snapped back to a warm comforting place. An immaculate Nissan Bluebird being used as the tow vehicle for the track glue / track bite trailer. It definitely didn’t look like it was going to be fast, but what it lacked in speed, it recovered by being a true workhorse. Equally as old as most of the Retro cars running down the strip, but more than likely still on its first engine (and head gasket) with very few mods or repairs. This thing brought me back around to my love of Jap.
Finally it was time to have a quick look at what beckoned tomorrow. A quarter mile of sticky, full on grip, no corners, no nonsense drag racing. I wished the best for my little Japanese roadster out in the scary world of drag racing tomorrow and headed back to the tent for an early relaxing night for the big day tomorrow…
What ensued was a solid number of pints, some overpriced cheesy chips and of course a pissed up drive of some bumper cars on the fairground. As for Sunday, well… lets leave that until another day.