All of the pictures on this page were  contributed by Jeremy Cookson,
I am grateful to him for the opportunity of reproducing them here.

Click on any image to get the bigger picture




Is it really getting on for ten years since the building of the great Avon Park acoustic noise wall?  Well I can tell you it is. But just how did they build it?


Well the plan was to move all the grandstands and pits to the south side of the raceway so that a 30ft high noise barrier could be constructed adjacent to the first 200 metres of the track to prevent noise  disturbing residents in the nearby Long Marston village!
As you can see from these series of photos the building work and the erection of the metal supports began towards the tail end of the 1994 season.  With the drag strip decommissioned, the many concrete blocks used to construct the wall were manufactured in one of two specially made jigs in the old pits complex before being laid out to cure on the track.
Once all the blocks had been cast it was down to a special team of experts and a hydraulic crane to position the blocks inside the metal framework.  To see these men work in cold, wet and sometimes windy conditions was an art to say the least, but they got it done just in time before the start of the 1995 season.



The year 'Fire-Up' magazine came into it's own was in the same year that Hockenheim staged its first ever quarter mile drag race - 1989.  What an experience that was with promised hotels not booked,  sleeping in a car for three nights outside the Formula One pits, with magazine publisher John Wright, was an event in itself.  But the meeting was good.  That's me on the right pictured with Features Editor Dave Alexander (now working with the ETMRA), John and Dave's mate Steve who tagged along for the ride.



Although that first inaugural meeting in Hockenheim didn't go quite according to the organisers' (HARA) plan, the event for the 75,000 plus spectators who turned out for Germany's first international, will remember it for one reason, Germany's first ever side-by-side fives from two of Scandinavia's leading Top Fuel racers, Sweden's Monica berg and Liv Berstad from Norway.
With both nitro engines reverberating across the tribunes, the two thundered down the Hockenheim back stretch with Liv, in her Mobil 1 sponsored fueller, taking the win at 5.49/ 214.88 to Monica's 5.78/241.17.
The crowd went nuts.


This historic shot features drag racing's second major involvement with the Autosport International Show at the NEC, Birmingham in 1993.  Organised by members of the Professional Methanol Racers Association (PMRA), this well-appointed stand featured Dave Wilson's 'Krypton' dragster and the 'Over the Hill Gang' altered of Mickey Moore.  Rob Turner supplied the display engine.  As you can see from the overall presentation, visitors were treated to an excellent display outlining what this sport is all about, and it must have worked having attracted to the stand former F1 commentator Murray Walker who listened intently as both Dave and Mickey ran through the mechanicals of their race cars.





One of the most bizarre looking exhibition vehicles to come out of the Santa Pod workshops is this example.  'Roaring Thunder', a scaled down glass fibre Kenworth truck mounted on the 'Rain City Warrior' Funny Car chassis with a nitro-burning 426 ci Hemi, made its debut in May 1985 in the hands of Chris Filsell and was run much later by Geoff Bosworth who at the time was driving the SPR owned 'Mad Max' Chevy Vega Funny Car.
Soon after that, the truck made a couple of promotional appearances for Santa Pod, and from there has never been seen again.  Fortunately we can only picture it as a distant memory thanks to photographer Dick Parnham, but it certainly was a real head turner.  Even the Yanks never came out with anything as bizarre as this!



This is a rare shot of John Spuffard's first ever race car.  Yes, the very same 'Spuff the magic drag man'.  As far as I can tell, John ran his D/Modified Mustang Grandee 'Midnight Warrior' for one event at Blackbushe Airport on 30 September 1979 for the NDRC championship finals.  How do I know this? Well I still have the programme with John's name in it competing against guys like Phil Turk, Gordon Dean, Wally Cooper and Trevor Clifton in the 'Hot Tomato' C-Cab.
Later, John put the Ford up for sale, because it was too slow and bought himself his first nitro burning Funny Car 'Showdown', a Donovan powered Chevy Vega captured here by Dick Parnham racing against the Page Brothers' 'Panic' Monza at the 20th Anniversary Dragfest meeting at Blackbushe in 1984 again promoted by the NDRC, and again run on 30 September.



Not much is known of the origin of this picture other than it is motor racing legend Sir Stirling Moss trying out the cockpit of the 'Frontline Video' Top Fuel Dragster for size at a local motorsport show in the south of the country.  You can just see the front of a Formula Two March single seat racing car behind the advertising board leaning up against the rear wing struts.

The car, owned by Andy Craddock and Steve Clark, was also used for several other promotional duties on behalf of the NDRC such as greeting racers and friends as they arrived for the annual awards evening at the Luton Motel, while startling others who walked past!


This is me again pictured awarding Swiss racer Urs Erbacher with his first international trophy, the still talked about 'Pro Comp Classic' held at Avon Park Raceway in 1991.  Organised with the PMRA together with Avon Park and Custom Car magazine Urs, along with his Quaker State backed team, qualified his 'Motown Shaker' Dodge Daytona third with a 6.76, but he couldn't catch team mate Urs Vogel in the 'Big Q' dragster who out-qualified them all with a 6.52.



In the rounds, Erbacher had no respect for the British contingent as he put away Gary Page in the Kopex Beretta, Norm Wheeldon's 'Plan X' rear motored dragster, and Barry Sheavills in the final, 6.40 at 208 mph.




This is the moment every racer and start line crew dreads; an engine explosion.  This one occurred at the 1990 Easter Thunderball 'Pro Fuel Experience' when, on the initial hit of the loud pedal, Sweden's Pelle Lindel
w exploded a very expensive engine, and the car had only moved a few feet.





Captured on film by Eric Sawyer and Dick Parnham, Eric's colour picture was later released by Fire-Up magazine as a collectors' poster.  If you look closely away from the rear of the car, cast your eyes upwards to the Santa Pod sign and there you will see part of the fuel line assembly, hoses and other bits flying through the air.  Pelle was a little shocked but okay.  The film crew on the left managed to capture the moment and the footage has since ended up on several motor sport crash videos and TV shows.



These two shots taken by Dick Parnham capture Dennis Priddle's TV concept car for the BBC's Tomorrow's World programme.  Dennis, along with a team of aerodynamic experts came up with this enclosed canopy, no rear wing theory to help a racing car accelerate to incredible speeds!
Tomorrow's World presenter Maggie Philbin was nominated to drive the car at Santa Pod's Budweiser Cannonball Run in 1983, but thought better of it after witnessing Dennis' wild out-of-shape run earlier in the weekend although Maggie did undertake some trial runs for TV at Long Marston Raceway a few days before.

The concept followed the theory that you didn't need a huge rear wing because the MIRA boffins, with their computer aided designs said that you didn't need one!  All that was required was an enclosed driver's safety cell, a hideous looking engine canopy, and deflectors over the headers. Did it work well, what do you think?
The concept was scrapped after the Cannonball match race event against the 'Hemi Hunter' Pro Comp dragster of Gerry Andrews.  A hundred yards out, Dennis suffered tyre shake, shot across the track, tipping onto two wheels and narrowly missing the rear end of Hemi Hunter. A superb piece of driving kept the car away from the Armco.  Pundits declared the lack of rear wing as the cause but the team put it down to clutch settings and poorly fitting body panels.  Later, Dennis ran the car again to an 6.80 at 230 mph giving us all something to think about, but it did make for some excellent prime time television, all 30 minutes worth.


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Jeremy Cookson together with his parents
Gerry and Joan were inducted into the
British Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2018
click here to read their citation