By Keith Harman
There are currently only two permanent dragstrip facilities in the UK, and it’s been that way for years. Both are located on old WWII airfields and have been clinging to financial viability for years, since we just don’t have the sponsors for drag racing over here. Santa Pod Raceway is the most famous and the oldest, having hosted many international race events and also having entertained many visiting professional racers from the USA over the years. The other, Shakespeare County Raceway, near Stratford on Avon, is the more “grassroots” track, but the one that has hosted more nostalgia events over the years. As such, it has also featured the kind of cars readers of OSR and CKD dig the most. Both the Nostalgia Nationals and the Hot Rod Drags events have been regularly reported in these pages by both myself and fellow Brit contributor, Odgie.
Sadly, as in our title, both of these events are now running on borrowed time. The site that the Shakespeare County Raceway stands on has been approved by the UK government for housing redevelopment, meaning that 2017 will be the last full season for racing, a great loss for racers and spectators alike, especially those from the south and west of the country.
So 2016’s Hot Rod Drags held in September wasn’t quite the last one, but with the writing on the wall already, participants were determined to enjoy the event to the max. Many specialty groups of racers have come together over the years to form their own classes and associations. Our “Gasser Circus” class for period straight axle cars was started at “Shakey,” as it’s known, as well as the VHRA’s Hot Rod Meltdown for flathead cars, as well as the Wild Bunch nostalgia class for Altereds and front-engined dragsters, and not to forget the Outlaw Anglia guys, who always put on a great show with their diminutive British Fords. All were well represented on the strip and the pits were rammed to capacity as they usually are at the HRDs.
In recent years, the organisers have added a cacklefest feature at dusk on the Saturday evening, and what it might lack in nitro, it is more than made up with enthusiasm from those present. A glance at our pictures will hopefully give you another insight into the variety of cool machinery that regularly shows up, and while its already sad to think that this year’s event will be the last, we will do our damndest to get there and bring you another report on what will be the last Hot Rod Drags at Shakespeare County Raceway.