After the undeniable success of last year’s inaugural Doorslammers event at Santa Pod Raceway, the question on everybody’s lips was if the 2019 event would live up to expectations? With the prize pot increased to £80,000, there was a very good reason for the racers to show up, and that they did with more entries than last year in all seven classes all looking for their cut of the cash!
The Doorslammers name hails from events held at Santa Pod back in the 1980s and ’90s which were all about heads up racing. The rules are simple, there are no rules – providing the safety equipment meets the requirements anything goes. Adding to the excitement is the way in which the qualifying and pairings are set up.
Qualifying passes can be made at any time, it doesn’t matter how many or how few, providing a time is recorded entry is secured into a draw which takes place on the stage on Saturday evening. Names are pulled out of a hat to decide the pairings for the first rounds of eliminations, depending on the size of the field qualifying could be critical and the slower cars could find themselves on the trailer and not even making the race!
The VP Racing Fuels Pro Doorslammer category attracted no less than 24 competitors with a good majority of those making the journey to the UK from Scandinavia. To see the Top Doorslammers, which would usually run to the eighth mile, rubbing shoulders with Promods on the full quarter mile was a real treat for the UK fans, there was also a Ford Pop and a diesel-powered Chevy truck thrown in for good measure. Last year’s winner, Jimmy Ålund, went out in round two with a red light against Micke Nord who himself had problems when his blower plate blew before he staged. Micke then made it through to the final where he met last year’s favorite, Mattias Wulcan. Micke again having problems and shut off on the line handing an easy victory to Wulcan.
The Turbo Technics Pro Street category runs to similar rules as the Street Eliminator class. The cars must be street legal so they will have had to pass the annual safety check (Mot) and be taxed and insured for road use. As with Street Eliminator, wheelie bars are not allowed but the one thing that is different is tire choice, they can use whatever they wish so they are not limited to a street legal tire. Mark Todd revealed his stunning new Aston Martin race car, named 6 Appeal, and was extremely happy to get it into the 7.8’s in only four passes. It would be Andy Bond with the huge Chevy meeting Joe Stevens and his tiny Sunbeam Stiletto in the final, Andy taking the win 7.66/202.57mph to Joe’s 8.04/175.75mph and also joining the 200mph club.
True Street is just that, the cars must run unmodified body and chassis, there are no tube frames or wheel tubs here. Of course, they must be road legal with valid Mot and tax and run street E marked tires. With 13 entries gunning for an eight-car field competition was fierce amongst a varied selection of cars that included some very quick Nissan GT-R’s, a few rapid VW’s and a nine-second Lamborghini. It would be Mark Biggers with the Mustang GT against Gary Carr’s Camaro in the final, Mark getting to the stripe first with a 9.09 at 157.97 mph.
The 6 Cylinder category saw mainly Japanese entries (cars, not drivers) from Mazda’s to Skylines. It also included Audis, BMWs and VW – five-cylinders and rotary engines are also permitted. Paul Dziubek stunned the crowd and had the commentators lost for words as his seven-second Nissan went every which way but straight leaving very interesting tire marks plotting his unconventional route on the track. Garry Gooding would scoop the cash, his Toyota Supra taking the win with a 7.89 at1 69.81 mph run, while opponent Mark Moseley was shut off with problems.
The Webster Race Engineering 4 Cylinder category saw a strong entry of 34 cars, many of which were air-cooled VW’s and Fords. Despite a couple of potential seven-second runners, last year’s event was won by Chris Todd in his awesome Subaru powered RWD Ford Fiesta, and this year he was back to defend his title. Richie Webb’s seven-second VW Beetle tested his skills with a huge sideways moment as he neared the top end, calm as ever, Richie got the chute out, straightened it up and even won the race. He wouldn’t make it to the final though, that was left to Kev Jenkins and his relatively new Mk1 Escort and Darren Scannell, also in an Mk1 Escort, Kev taking the win 8.76 at 150.67mph.
The biggest entry of the meeting was in the Eibach Front Wheel Drive category. These hot hatches get some serious power down on the 1320 and promised some of the closest racing of the weekend. European record holder Michael Holleman of the Netherlands set the record with an 8.36 second run at last year’s Doorslammers, this year Wendall Brand bettered that and claimed the record with a storming 8.34-second run. It wasn’t the fastest car that took the win though, that honor, and the cash, went to Frenchman Nicolas Hackiere and his Citroën AX defeating Calvin Skerritt in his Honda Civic.
As well as the six heads up classes a seventh, the OCS Group Big Bracket, is open for all bracket racers with dial in’s between 6.99 and 11.99. Here racers get the chance to do battle against opponents they wouldn’t usually go up against as there will be entries from multiple classes. The Big Bracket was scheduled to run on both Saturday and Sunday but with mother nature doing its best to spoil Saturday’s proceedings. The whole thing had to be run on Sunday only, and the £5k per day prize pot was added together resulting in the winner going home £10k richer.
Being the Doorslammers the bracket racing doesn’t follow the usual rules, there are a couple of interesting twists. For starters no qualifying is necessary, every driver gets one test run and then it’s into eliminations. Then there are the pairings – there is no draw, instead of random passers-by the lanes are stopped and asked which cars they would like to see race, they might just like the look of the red car and the green car, and that’s the race set. Then there are the buybacks, any racer knocked out in round one is given the chance to buy back in, all the buyback then race each other with the winners going back into the eliminations proper. At the end of the day it was Nic Williams defeating Lee Huxley with a 9.78 on a 9.77 dial in and reaping the £10,000 reward!
The British weather tried it’s hardest to spoil the proceedings but Santa Pods track crew are more than capable of dealing with that and made sure that the meeting drew to a conclusion. This did mean that it was a late finish, but no one cared, the event is a firm favorite and we’re already looking forward to the next one.
Many thanks to Eurodragster.com for access to race data.