Thursday, April 15, 2010

GTI Spring Festival, Santa Pod

A busy event featuring some exceptional cars, both in the show’n’shine and out on track!

The GTI Spring Festival at Santa Pod over the weekend was a cracking way to start the outdoor VW show season. The rain stayed away (unlike at the Easter Thunderball a few weeks previously) although a cold wind meant that many show-goers went home with the characteristic red and sore weatherbeaten “pod face” that marks out many a Santa Pod visitor.

The event was very busy right from the start - we spent a good 20 minutes or so queuing to get in at 9am - the show’n’shine area filled out very quickly and the club areas were packed with interesting motors.

The track saw plenty of action, notable retro-cars included Andy Waite’s 4x4 Mk1 Golf which ran a series of 9-second quarter mile times, James Hodson’s Mk2 Golf with new slicks managed a 10.5 and Paul Jordan’s stunning Mk1 Scirocco Storm looked fantastic in the new colour and Berg-Cup style aero bodywork.

Although most of the cars there were non-retro there was still plenty of interest for the lover of the older watercooled VW. Some very nice Mk1 Golfs, a Santana (unusual sight these days) and some very straight Mk1 Sciroccos stood out amongst the more modern machinery. Favourites of the day for me were:

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Paul Jordan’s Mk1 Scirocco Storm looking sensational on the track.

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Inspired choice of wheels on this Mk3 Polo – from a Renault Espace!

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The driver of this Oak Green Mk2 Golf certainly got value for money out of his RWYB fee, getting plenty of 12 second runs in throughout the day and entertaining the crowd with some huge burnouts.

Of all the different one-marque “scenes” the VW one is definitely the most fashion conscious and style-led and it’s always interesting to compare the trends here in the UK to what’s happening over in Europe. The flourescent wheel paint is still a strong theme this year, as is the fashion for stickering up wings and/or windows with various clothing and style logos. Rusty bonnets are still strong but there didn’t seem to be many stretched tyres about. Lots of stuffed toys or other random items tied to towing eyes but noticeably fewer roof racks for 2010. With the huge Woerthersee event now less than a month away I’ll be there with a keen eye to spot what has transferred across to the continent and what is likely to be brought over here!

The full gallery of my pictures is now online here!

The next main watercooled VW/Audi/Seat/Skoda event at Santa Pod is VAGFest in the summer.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Electric Shock

Sam Young and team set a new World Record for Electric Vehicles in their 1963 VW Beetle “Black Current”

11.95 second quarter mile black VW Beetle with electric power - no engine! (by retromotoring)

The 2010 Easter Thunderball at Santa Pod Raceway held host to the first round of the VWDRC championships for the year. Amongst several rookie racers competing for the first time was Sam Young in his black electric-powered VW Beetle. Competing in the VW Sportsman category the team started with a dial-in time of 13.49 seconds and ran a 14, going on to run a 12.37 second pass which made them eligible for the VW Pro category. After beating the current VW Pro champion James Hodson they set their record-breaking 11.95 second time in their bye-run through the semis, narrowly missing out on an overall victory in their first outing by losing to Dave Bridge in the final.

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Record Breaker
“Black Current” has set a new UK and European record for electric vehicles with the 11.95 run. Sam Young, "We've been speaking to NEDRA (National Electric Drag Racing Associstion) in the US and apparently a tube chassis car with a shell over the top is classed as XS (Extreme Street) and in that class we are now the world record holders! "

Hinting at the potential yet unrealised in the car, Sam says "I believe there are two other quicker cars in the US, an 11.4 and an 11.08, but these are in a different class. I think if we can get hold of some Lithium Ion batteries things could get really interesting. "

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11.95 second quarter mile black VW Beetle with electric power - no engine! (by retromotoring)

The car and the team behind it
The car is the work of masses of development and research by the team. Starting at an early age the two brothers Sam and Olly began by experimenting with an abandoned Milk Float and their work has paid dividends. Sam drives the car, Olly is the Crew Chief, whilst a friend Paul is their data analyst/consultant.

The record breaking car is powered by twin forklift truck motors with 60 12 volt batteries and a Gearvendor over/under drive unit. This set-up produces around 1200lb/ft of torque and a 0-60 time of around 3 seconds.

The 1963 VW Beetle that is the basis for the car has undergone a massive amount of work to ensure that it is able to deal with the loads and stresses placed on it by such a huge amount of power. The original bodyshell remains but the chassis is a custom Chromolly tube item built by Jim Smith.

11.95 second quarter mile black VW Beetle with electric power - no engine! (by retromotoring)

The Volkswagen Drag Racing Club
The VWDRC is the biggest one-make drag racing club in the world and is currently in its 22nd year. The classes are open to all vehicles built by the Volkswagen-Audi Group (including Seat and Skoda), and any vehicles powered by VAG engines. For more information visit their website at http://www.vwdrc.com/ .

The next round of the VWDRC championship is Big Bang at Santa Pod on the 23rd-25th April.

The Black Current team can next be seen competing in the alternative-energy championships on 23rd April and then in the VWDRC at the Big Bang event.