The worldwide pandemic has taken a huge toll on drag racing for Europe and the UK too – but 2021 has finished with an up-note!….

England’s legendary Santa Pod Raceway hosts the Euro Finals Shootout event.

The racetrack excelled within their organization efforts for getting both racers on track and spectators back in the grandstands this just past Sep 10-12th.  The last two years have been very difficult years — as this event weekend which is usually packed with international racers and fans from everywhere for what is normally the FIA & FIM European Finals.  2021’s event version was a little different. 

The usual British racers attended in their droves and were finally joined by a handful of brave European competitors who made the trip, filling in all the safety and travel documents and hoping for a virus-free event. The Europeans dominated the meeting in the top two categories of Top Fuel and Pro Modified.

There were just three Top Fuel machines in attendance, Antti Horto from Finland who qualified third with a 6.706/92, Susanne Callin from Sweden and wife of Keith Bartlett the CEO of Santa Pod Raceway on a 4.111/224 in the Slick Tricks Racing machine and the surprise pole position was held by Ida Zetterström a Swede now resident in Åland Islands, Finland who on her final licensing pass ran a stunning early shut-off 3.862/265.

Both Callin and Horto had traction problems in their pairing, both off the throttle at around 300 feet. A 6.327/97 from Callin bettering Horto’s 8.311/77. Zetterström had the round one bye, running a close to the wall 4.100/214. The final was all female with Ida Zetterström catching and passing Susanne Callin’s holeshot, both slowing at the top end. A 4.020/222 got Zetterström her first Top Fuel trophy with Callin the runner-up at 4.161/216.

Ida Zetterström – based from Finland – was the Top Fuel winner.

The four all British Funny Car competitors suffered a lot of traction problems over the weekend. Top Qualifier went to Steve Ashdown with a 5.311/142 in his Undertaker Dodge Stratus whilst Kevin Kent pushed the Santa Pod Raceway lettered Stratus to a 6.342/107. Kevin Chapman’s Thermoreg backed Mustang managed a 10.269/51 followed by Jason Phelps in the Hawk Racing Gladiator with a 13.872/67.

Eliminations still saw the floppers struggle, Kent ran an early lift 5.311/156 seeing off by 300 foot the 8.738/76 from Chapman whilst Phelps unfortunately jumped the staging lights allowing Ashdown a crossed-up and in smoke 10.412/88.

The final was a slow; traction plagued pairing with Steve Ashdown taking the win with a lowly 10.654/66 beating the 10.873/57 from Kevin Kent.

Steve Ashdown – racing “The Undertaker” was the fuel FC winner.

Pro Modified saw a full 8-car elimination field with 11 entries fighting for a position.  

David Vegter from the Netherlands paced the field with a 5.876/243 with Britain’s Nick Davies just behind with a 5.944/246 and the third in the fives was Switzerland’s Bruno Bader, a 5.957/233 fresh from winning £3500 at the Santa Pod Doorslammers event the weekend before.

Bader took his Gotham City ’63 Vette to wins over Frenchman Jean Dulamon in round one, Nick Davies in round two to reach the final. Meeting Bruno Bader for the money run was top qualifier, David Vegter who dispatched England’s Jon Webster in round one then another Brit, Kevin Slyfield in two. The final was Switzerland versus Netherlands and in near identical reactions it was Bader who clicked on the win light with a 5.914/237 to Vegter’s 5.951/226.

The Pro Mod class winner was Switzerland’s Bruno Bader

Top Fuel Bike had four Englishmen pitted against each other and led by Steve Woollatt with a 6.280/214 followed by Neil Midgley on a 6.471/187, then Al Smith with a 7.446/137 and Allan Davies with an 8.120/137.

Woollatt was on-song and took out a red lighting Davies in round one as Smith managed to defeat Midgley in a close encounter, 6.331/201 beating the 6.417/186.

Steve Woollatt ran a solo 6.182/223 for the win as Al Smith failed to appear.

Steve Woollatt roared to a very quick 6.182 secs while winning the Euro Finals Shootout Top Fuel motorcycle title.

Steve Venables ran a 6.905/217 in Super Street Bike to head the field; Jake Mechaell followed with a 6.954/209 and Alan Morrison Jr. a 6.980/210, the remainder of the nearly all England ten bike field ran in the low sevens and an eight. 

In a surprise win it was the number one and two that faced off. Money would have been on Venables as he saw off Alex Hope in round one, Gary Bowe in two coming to face Mechaell who in turn had seen off Mark Hope then Morrison Jr. Jake Mechaell managed to catch and pass Steve Venables in the final, a 7.009/208 beat the 7.069/206. Venables during eliminations managed to clock up a speed record of 218.97mph.

Jake Mechaell handled the event’s very competitive Super Street Bike field.

Euro Finals Shootout – Final Round Summary

Nostalgia Funny Car – Tim Garlick 6.118/229 beat Tony Betts 6.224/236.

Comp Eliminator – Dan Williams 11.038/88 beat Nic Williams red light 8.963/118.

Super Comp – Martin Curbishley 9.136/122 beat Leah Kellett 8.895/154 breakout.

Super Gas – Andy Harrison 9.873/138 (less breakout) beat Andy Dibley 9.871/146.

Super Pro ET – Daniel Giles 7.490/164 beat Andrew Norman 7.737/176.

Pro ET – Ronnie Mercer 8.927/142 beat Lee Huxley 9.306/139.

Street Eliminator – Andy Bond 6.826/212 (ET record) beat Mark Todd 15.357/53.

Junior Dragster – Purdie Hadfield 7.977/80 beat Harry Redshaw red light 8.468/76.

Funny Bike – Mark Smith 6.971/191 beat Frenchman Bertrand Maurice’s abort. 

Comp Bike – Louis Davies 7.001/186 beat Jordan Kenway 8.094/163.

8.59 Bike – Joe Elliott 8.582/153 beat Alan Morrison breakout 8.493/146.

9.50 Bike – Phil Harrison 9.614/146 beat Martin Hallett 10.875/85.

ET Bike – Phil Pratt 9.083/143 beat Michae Gooding 9.277/147.

Junior Drag Bike – Hollie King 11.537/48 beat Meg Talbot 9.781/66.

Post and photos by Roger Gorringe 

Editors Note:  DragRaceCanada would like to acknowledge a rather amazing milestone for our valued European Drag Racing correspondent Roger Gorringe.  The year 2021 in fact marks the 50th year Roger has stood along the guard-rail shooting photos and reporting for the European Drag Racing scene.   Roger, who was deservingly recognized by the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame (in 2018 – Lucas Oil Lifetime Achievement Award) – has also been a dedicated contributor for DragRaceCanada’s “International Dateline” subsection (co-presented by Lucas Oil & Liqui Moly).

A tip of the hat — Roger!

Roger Gorringe (Photo courtesy Andy Willlsheer)