When daffodils begin to peer, Springspeed Nationals at Shakespeare County Raceway ‘Tis near

event: 2013 Springspeed Nationals, Round 2 of the ACU Championships
Shakespeare County Raceway, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK

story and photos by Steven Moxley

Bud Yoder and Rizzo? No, it’s Chris Reed

Located in the Bard’s United Kingdom hometown, Shakespeare County Raceway celebrates its 40th year of drag racing. First known as Long Marston, later Avon Park and then to its present day—the home of Round 2 of the ACU Championships, the Springspeed Nationals.

Rain delayed the start of qualifying on Saturday but some classes managed two sessions. On Sunday there was a tech issue with the christmas tree and only one lane was used briefly, and four of the six sessions were completed over two days of qualifying, which saw riders running personal bests.


Reigning Funnybike champ Maarten Zijlstra

Stuart Crane, winner of the season opener, led Funnybike qualifying and ran a best to date 7.639 at 176.73 mph with his new bike. He did have a problem with fifth gear in one of the sessions.

Reigning champion Maarten Zijlstra started his title defense with back-to-back personal bests of 8.29 and 8.100 at 162.23 mph. Over the winter he has fitted his spare 1570cc motor using the cylinder head from last year’s damaged motor.

Mike Olie damaged two crankshafts last year and has made his own crankshaft for this season, also fitting a new fuel system. During qualifying he suffered handling problems and a clutch cable broke. He ran a best of 8.312 at 176.37.

Dale Leeks was running nitrous for the first time on his bike. He had clutch issues and damaged it in qualifying, but got it sorted in the last session and ran a best to date with the bike of 8.374 at 171.29.

Dave Peters was another rider having clutch problem and took a wild bucking bronco ride, and qualifying with 8.514 at 173.96. Dutchman Viep Bloemen was trying to find a clutch set-up and ran a best of 10.619 at 127.78.

Leeks was a no-show for round 1 of eliminations due to the crew finding play in a spindle, so Olie had a bye and ran 8.453 with a top speed of the meet 178.65.

Zijlstra got out the gate first against Peters who charged after him and was fighting to keep the bike from crossing the centreline. So Zijlstra took the win 8.179 to Peters’ losing 8.801.

Bloemen broke just off the start line, while Crane ran another p/b of 7.627 (low ET) at 174.53.

It was an all Dutch affair in the first semifinal with Olie putting a slight holeshot on Zijlstra and was ahead at mid-track, only to drift to the centreline and crossed it with Zijlstra close by. Zijlstra ran another p/b of 8.027 at 160.42. Crane had a bye in the other semi and broke the beam.

#1 qualifier Stuart Crane

In the final, Crane had gear shift problem in fifth at ¾ track and could only watch as Zijlstra powered to the finishline with his first seven pass of 7.967 and p/b speed of 163.83.

Pro Stock Bike

Len Paget

Mark Smith bent two gear shift shafts in qualifying, but the Festival of Power winner got back on track and topped the table with a 7.999 at 162.15. Len Paget dialled-in his new clutch and was just behind with an 8.066 at 165.17. Debben fitted his original gearbox and was looking for a set-up for his new combination and ran a best of 9.287 at 126.30.

Mark Smith

Debben was a no show so Paget soloed into the final with a 7.741 at 165.90. Smith broke the beam, then took a shot at the tree in the final and pulled a redlight, giving Paget his first win of the season with a 7.647 at 171.75.

Comp Bike

Lizz McCarthy

Lizz McCarthy made contact with the Armco at mid-track during Saturday’s opening qualifying session. McCarthy was OK and there was only minor damage to the bike. She did an 8.51 on a check pass with no nitrous. Then in the last session, with ten degrees of timing taken out ran a superb 7.771 with a personal best speed of 173.03.

Phil Crossley sorted out his handling issues from the season opener and ran a personal best of 7.856 at 163.74. Champion Phil Leamon suffered traction problems and ran a best of 8.359 at 160.64. Harold Wolfenden also suffered traction problem and fitted a new rear tyre for Sunday’s sessions and ran a best of 8.475 at 167.55.

Alan Davies had a problem from the start line to the 60ft mark over the weekend, which kept him from running in the sevens. He ran a best of 8.217 at 167.34 to qualify in fourth spot.

Tony Clark has fitted a new rear suspension and had handling problems (going to the left) during the opening day of qualifying. He finished with figures of 8.271 at 175.78, top speed of the meet.

Wolfenden redlit against McCarthy in the opening round of eliminations. Best race of the day saw Davies put a holeshot (.086 to .261) on Clark, but Davies lost a little bit of the advantage by the 60ft mark. Clark chased Davies down to the finishline, taking a close win and recording his first seven-second pass of 7.969 at 167.06 to Davies’ 8.195 at 167.92. Crossley came from behind the quick-leaving Leamon and recorded another personal best 7.835 to Leamon’s losing 8.420.

Clark got out the blocks first in the first semi but drifted to the centre line against Crossley and held on to win 8.080 at 171.15 to 8.201 at 152.33. McCarthy broke the beam to face Clark in the final.

The Outlaw Wins! Tony Clark boiling the hide

The final was decided on the start line. Clark put a huge .093 to .366 holeshot on McCarthy, who chased after him. But Clark took the win with another p/b of 7.939 at 169.19—the quickest Outlaw bike outside the USA. McCarthy ran a quicker but losing 7.823 at 159.70. This was Clark’s first win in Comp Bike and his first event win since 2004 when he competed on the Pro Stock Bike of Paul Rose.

Super Street Bike

Graham Balchin

It was a close Super Street Bike field, with last year’s top three riders slugging it out as qualifying finished.

Chris Reed made his first appearance of the year since his injury over the winter break. Reed topped the table with a 7.673 at 188.98, his first ever Super Street Bike #1 qualifier.

Graham Balchin had led the field at one point and he finished a fraction behind Reed with a 7.680 at 192.55. Reigning champion Steve Venables was next with a 7.692 at 185.39, but bent a valve and had to do an engine change for eliminations.

Newcomer Martin Wilson has moved up from 8.50 bike. He fitted a Gen 2 clutch and ran a personal best of 8.030 at 173.02 in qualifying.

Poor Nigel Barker never got down the track, and on Sunday a chain adjuster (stud bar) broke just off the start line. Back in the pits the crew found the rebuilt engine partly seized and Barker was out of the competition.

Balchin worked on his rear suspension before the eliminations and on his bye run was rewarded with a superb 7.585 at 190.50. Reed, also on a bye, responded with a 7.551 at 189.77.

Then the shock of the day. Venables had two big wheelies due to a wastegate problem and did a great riding job keeping the bike in the centre of the track. But Wilson just beat Venables to the finishline with an 8.134 at 173.68 to a losing 8.170 at 165.99 to win his first Super Street round.

It was all Reed in the first semi, putting Wilson back in the trailer with a 7.671 at 192.62 to Wilson’s 8.205 at 179.50, his best speed of the weekend. Balchin had a bye, turned the wick up and ran low ET and top speed of the meet—7.456 at 194.37.

Balchin led from wire to wire in the final with a 7.478 at 190. Reed’s rear tyre lost a valve at mid-track but still ran 7.652 at 184.

NAST Round 1

SuperTwin Comp

Reigning Gas champion Smokin’ Joe Elliott

2013 sees the Gas class dropped the NAST Series. For this year, NAST has brought together fuel bikes, gas bikes and comp bikes all under one class and named it Comp. They will experiment for this year to see how it goes and a decision will be made at the end of the season.

Reigning Gas champion Joe Elliott led the small field with a 9.136 at 147.91. Nigel Batsford finished building his red Buell on Friday, the day before the event, and qualified with a 9.767 at 135.63. Chris Mott was riding an orange Buell from Batsford and suffered launch problem over the weekend, running a best of 10.441 at 134.44. Robbie Dobbie bought David Shorthose’s ET bike and did some pre-season testing, running a best of 10.49. He altered the seat position but struggled in qualifying with a 10.913 at 136.79.

Mott put a huge .040 to .317 holeshot on Batsford, only to lose that advantage due to the issue with the launch. Batsford still took the win 9.820 to 12.740. In the other semi, Elliott came from behind to beat Dobbie with figures of 9.311 at 148.61 (top speed of the meet) to Dobbie’s best run of the weekend, 10.586 at 138.13.

Nigel Batsford

Elliott got away first in the final and never looked back to win the first Comp class race 9.364 at 145.53 to Batsford’s best of the weekend, 9.495 at 140.13.

ET Bracket

Peter Harrison

Reigning champion Peter Harrison started his defence of the ET Bracket title with a personal best of 11.092 (dial in 11.00) at 121.18. Over the winter break Harrison has fitted a quick shift and lowered the front end.

Carey Wadey debuted a new bike for 2013 and at the end of Q1 was number one qualifier, only to drop to number two at the end of qualifying with a 11.500 (11.40) at 121.97.

Simon Clamp was on his Harley and ran 10.928 (10.80) at 123.00. Giselle Moor was next 15.332 (15.20) at 83.07. Last years number two plate Tim Boutle was the number five qualifier with 13.122 (12.90) at 110.48.

Brett Cordelle has moved over to NAST after three and a half years in Junior Bike, where he was runner up twice in 2010 and 2012. The bike he is competing on was built by Jerry Collier and Cordelle did some pre season testing. Cordelle suffered gear problems and qualified 11.723 (11.40) at 105.48.

Last competitor was Mike Nelthorpe who had his transmission out and stripped twice during qualifying and ran a best of 13.593 (13.20) at 106.19.

Wadey beat Nelthorpe in the opening round of eliminations and Boutle won a close race against Moor. Clamp redlit against newcomer Cordelle.

After a first round bye, Harrison faced Boutle in the best race of the day. Harrison just edged it by 0.0036. Cordelle put a huge holeshot .038 to .246 over Wadey, who still powered around to reach the final.

Carey Wadey

The final was decided on the start line, when Harrison pulled a redlight, giving Wadey his first ever win in NAST ET Bracket.