Category Archives: Showtime Funny Car

Showtime Funny Car–FIA Main Event

Main Event

Pod May 24th – 27th

  Official Santa Pod Video

The Main Event was the 2nd
round of the new European Funny Car Series. The 4 cars who had contested Round
One at Easter were joined by a fully fit Leif Helander and newcomer Henrik
Christiansen from Denmark who would be doing observed licensing runs.

The newly re-laid track was getting
“rubbered-in” and was expected to provide some great racing – it didn’t
disappoint – thanks to the staff and track crew for an excellent job in
preparing the surface.


Qualifying began on Saturday, the first
run around 2pm, John running with Shockwave. A little slow on the green and a
0.92 sec 60 foot. The racing groove was still quite narrow and when the car
dropped a cylinder just before half track it got out of the groove and spun the
tyres. John idled through the top end in 7.22 seconds. Servicing was routine.
Having got some valuable data it was decided to miss the second qualifier and
look at the tune up options for Sunday when there would be more rubber on the


Qualifier 3 at 12.25 alongside Leif
Helander. Better RT this time and 0.94 secs to 60 foot. John ahead until just
after the 1/8th when again spun the tyres. Well that’s the first 1/8th
sorted out. Now all we needed to do was get the second 1/8th sorted.


Qualifier 4 just after 5 pm would decide
the 4 qualifiers for Monday’s eliminations. Going in to the session John
was  “on the bump” with a 6.39 secs.
Kevin in the West Ten car ran immediately before us, recording a 5.80secs to bump
us out. All down to this run –0.96 to 60 foot, dropped a cylinder before the
half, then flashes of orange flame which disappeared briefly then came back.
Through the top end in 5.669 secs with smoke evident, but we were through to


During the service we found we had a
damaged lifter and cam-shaft. So the spare motor was readied and installed for
eliminations on Sunday.


Round 1 against No.1 qualifier Jason
Phelps, John was away first and never headed, 5.44 secs at 277mph – that was
more like it! No problems on servicing and a date in the final with Leif


What a final, Leif cut a light but John
had the better incrementals all the way down. A holeshot win for Leif 5.496secs
at 278.1mph to John’s 5.460 at 278.9mph. Margin of defeat 0.068 secs( just
about 1 cars length)


We now go to Hockenheim in August laying
second in the championship, 1 round win behind Jason.

you read this our preparations for Hockenheim are well underway.

Showtime Funny Car–Festival of Power


Santa Pod March 30th – April 1st

The 2013 season got underway with the traditional Easter meeting. 2013 will have added interest for the Showtime FC as it marks a significant move forward for Fuel Funnycars. Trakbak Racing (parent company of Santa Pod) CEO Keith Bartlett has put together a European Funnycar Challenge Series with 3 rounds at Santa Pod and 1 at Hockenheim. Five cars were entered for the Easter meeting with more expected as the season progresses.

The action was scheduled to begin on Saturday and the Showtime crew were raring to go. Unfortunately no-one had told the weather we were going racing ! The Santa Pod crew had done a great job preparing the newly laid surface but near freezing air and track temperature did not bode well for the Fuel cars. Having spent a couple of hours warming the oil in the trailer, it was put in the car and we fired up. Everything sounded good. Off down to the start with the crew dressed like an arctic expedition, it was bl**dy cold!!!

John did a lengthy burnout to try and get as much heat into the tyres as possible, but to no avail. The tyres spun immediately on the hit, John tried pedalling, quickly lifting and idled through. No damage on servicing, maybe Sunday would be better.

During Sunday morning John was in front of the TV cameras doing 3 interviews for the upcoming TV and web broadcasts of the Funnycar Challenge Series.

On the racing side it was an identical build up with oil and warm up. Having fired up at the start, there was a slight problem and we were told to wait before re-firing. Another long burnout.

At the hit, the car disappeared in a huge cloud of tyre smoke, when it cleared there were “S shaped” tyre tracks away from the line. Being behind the car the start line crew were not aware what had happened. The car had turned very hard right at the hit and John had lifted and straightened it out.

The sequence below was taken from the spectator bank:


During servicing a potential clutch problem was identified, and it was decided to review further on Monday.

After consultation it was decided to miss eliminations on Monday, as John explained to : “The car is suffering from the cold conditions. We are chasing a problem and are not sure if it is the weather or a genuine malfunction. The clutch is not working as it should and coming in all at once. These cars are not designed to run in these temperatures.We are having to preheat the oil out of the car and put it in at the last moment as running with cold oil could cause main bearing damage. Even with this we are struggling starting the car and getting the fuel to burn”

( The above quote courtesy of )


Showtime Racing- FIA Finals

FIA Euro Finals 2012

Santa Pod September 6th
– 9th


The Euro Finals brought down the curtain on what has been a
very challenging season for the Showtime FC. In common with all drag racers the
weather has been a major factor this year, so it was with great relief we were
greeted with blue skies and sunshine at Santa Pod raceway, with more of the
same forecast for the whole weekend.


With 4 FC’s entered it was to be 2 qualifying runs on
Saturday and semi-final and final on Sunday. The first run on Saturday was
scheduled between the FIA car and UEM bike classes. Having less than 6 runs on
the car this year, none of which were in similar weather and track conditions,
this would in effect be a “set up” run.


We were called forward around 1pm and fired up. There is
definitely a different sound to the motor as a result of all the changes from
the “old” car. John had the left lane with Shockwave in the right. John first
to 60 ft then tyre shake, a brief pedal then off it by the eighth, through the
top end in 7.84sec at 102mph, leaving us in 4th place after the
first round.


With a routine service done it was back down for the second
qualifier at 4.30. Right lane this time for John, Shockwave, again in the
other. Away first again, shake around 100 feet, John drove through it and at
the eighth in 3.52 secs at 227mph before lifting, finishing in 5.73secs at 181
mph to move up to second and putting us up against Shockwave yet again but this
time in Sunday’s semi final.


During the routine service some damage to the clutch pressure
plate was revealed. Once fixed the car was put away “ready to run”.


The semi final was scheduled after the first round of all
the FIA classes. We were on the line at 1.30, John taking the right lane. Away
first and running straight, not quite as quick to the eighth as yesterday, but
slightly faster 3.59 secs at 230mph, almost 240mph at 1000 feet before lifting
to go through the line at 5.53 secs at 209mph and into the final against Leif
in the Starkotter FC. This would be a tough one as Leif had been “Mr
Consistency” so far with 3 runs around 5.50 secs.


Servicing was straight forward, other than replacing a
liner. We lined up with Leif just after 5pm, John in the left lane. Leif away
first as John blew off the tyres at the hit, John tried to pedal the car but no
joy. Leif crossed the finish line first but was adjudged to have made contact
with the track boundary (scraped the headers on the wall) and so was DQ’d
giving Showtime the event wins. Not the way you would like to win but as they
say “a win is a win which ever way “


So the 2012 season came to an end. However we are
immediately looking forward to 2013 as Trakbak Racing (owners of Santa Pod) CEO
Keith Bartlett announced in the programme and during the meeting there will be
a European Fuel Funny Car Championship in 2013, provisionally with 3 rounds at
Santa Pod and 1 at Hockenheim with a major sponsor and TV coverage. So far 6
teams have expressed interest and more are expected before the first race.


Our thanks as always go to all the track crew, officials and
staff at Santa Pod, our sponsors and the race fans, not forgetting  for all their time and effort in reporting
the on and off track action


Thank you all once again and we look forward to seeing you
all in 2013

Showtime Funny Car FIA Main Event 2012

The wait was finally over, after the disappointments at Easter we were raring to go at the Main Event.

The weather looked promising on Saturday and the car was warmed up mid morning as we were scheduled to follow the 1st round of “Pro qualifying” around 1.30.
The car certainly sounds different due mainly to the new blower and different fuel management. We got to the startline around 4.30, unfortunately after starting the car there was a problem with the reverser and John shut off and we towed back to the pits.

The problem was tracked down and fixed and we were ready to go again. After a few stoppages, it was 8.30 before we were at the start. The car launched hard and straight with the header flames clearly visible in the fading light. John hit tyre shake around 300 feet and clicked it off. Routine servicing showed no damage.

Sunday was a total rainout with not a wheel being turned by anyone. The rain continued all night and into Monday morning. The track crew as always did a fantastic job in getting the track both ready for racing and cleaning up after the frequent showers. We spent a couple of hours in the pairing lanes due to various stoppages, eventually firing the car around 5pm to run against Jason Phelps in the Shockwave car. John had an amazing reaction time of 0.013 secs but the tyres “lit up” off the line and the car veered hard right, so shut off. Once back in the pits we found the problem to be in the clutch management.

We could have done with more track time as it is a very steep learning curve with a new car, but we have learnt a lot, and we are going in the right direction.

Easter Thunderball 2012

Easter Thunderball 2012
Santa Pod April 6th – 9th
Hello everyone,
The new Showtime FC was scheduled to make it’s track debut at the opening event of the 2012 season. Unfortunately a combination of “new car niggles” and wet weather scuppered our plans.
All the team assembled at the workshop on Friday, which was not a scheduled race day for Pro classes. We set about completing all the little things which are so important when preparing a race car – 99% OK is not good enough!
Cable, line and hose routings checked for potential chaff points, cockpit controls checked for accessibility and smooth operation, access to inboard chassis components, levelling the body, mounting and checking the parachutes, plus a myriad of other things as they cropped up and finally checking every nut and bolt on the car for tightness. A few jobs were left that would be best completed trackside on Saturday.
Rain greeted us on Saturday morning, the car was taken trackside and our pit area and awning set up. The car was ready to fire early afternoon and preparations were underway when…..Bang! One of the hydraulic lines to the jacks ruptured leaving the back of the car on the ground and the front in the air with it’s jack locked in the extended position. A fellow competitor repaired the line for us and then the complete system had to be bled, by which time it was the end of the day.
Sunday and we were going to fire the car. Before that a last check that everyone knew who was doing what as this car has a few differences to the old one. All OK and the engine was fired on Methanol only. No apparent problems.
Check and re-check all systems etc and prepare to fire on race fuel. The engine burst into life but was running lean, shut off to investigate. The motor was stripped as we would for a routine service and there was a problem with the blower and possibly the fuel management system. That was it for the day.
A spare blower was fitted Monday morning and all systems “dry run” to check operation. The motor was fired again on race fuel and everything was A OK, downloaded data confirmed all systems working. The only thing that wasn’t working was the weather as the meeting was called off at lunchtime due to rain.
A frustrating weekend at times but we were left in the knowledge that the car is fully prepared, tested and race ready. We now look forward to seeing it on the track at the FIA Main Event at the beginning of June.
Thank you to everyone for supporting us in 2012, ARP, Arrow Precision, Earls Performance, Ferrea Valves, Nimbus Motorsport, Panelcraft Graphics, Torco Oil, Webster Race Engineering, Whiteley Brooks, Willans Harness

Showtime Funny Car Has Rough Start

I am sorry to have to report the Showtime FC will not be racing at the FIA Main Event this coming weekend. Unfortunately we had some further issues with shipping the new car over and it will not now arrive in the UK until after the event.
Our revised plans are now to run the new car at Santa Pod on at least one of the Test Days in June or July before we go to the Nitrolympics at Hockenheim in August ( The current car features heavily on the website and on publicity material for this years event)

Changes for the Showtime FunnyCar

Hello everyone,

Usually at this time of year I would be giving you a preview of the traditional season opening Easter Thunderball meeting at Santa Pod, however for the first time in many years the Showtime FC will not be appearing at the event.

Over the winter, in discussions with John Force Racing, it was decided to purchase a 2011 spec chassis and body from JFR. This combination will be identical to the cars campaigned by the 15 time NHRA Funny Car champion and his team in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Championship.

The decision having been made, the chassis then had to be assembled in the JFR shop in Indianapolis before shipping to the main facility in California for completion and meeting up with the body. In addition a large proportion of our drive train would not be suitable for the new car and therefore need updating. Sourcing the necessary parts would take time as the major US suppliers were flat out ahead of the start of the NHRA schedule.

The car and parts are now in a container en route to the UK, due to arrive mid May. The car will have to be “plumbed” and all the cables and ancillaries fitted, motor and clutch installed etc. In effect we will have to build the car from the chassis up. The time scale at the moment is to have the carry ready for the Main Event when we will introduce the new car to the media and fans. Until then we would like to keep our plans under wraps ahead of the official launch

As well as a new car we will have a new sponsor joining us. After many years Allegheny Technologies will no longer be sponsoring the Showtime FC, and it’s all my fault!

I left Allegheny last month to take up a new position; however my new company has kindly agreed to replace Allegheny as a sponsor. My new job is with Dynamic Metals  I will still be involved with supplying Titanium to motorsport but now with the addition of lots more metals, details of which can be found on the website.

Showtime Racing FIA European Finals

After the excellent performances at Hockenheim we were all looking forward to the Eurofinals. Friday was scheduled for the usual pre race checks and warm up ready for running over the weekend.

Bob had made a few changes to the fuel management system and clutch after Hockenheim and everything was working OK.

Jumping forward to Sunday evening, to come away from a meeting having made 3 runs in the low to mid fives we would have been reasonably happy. However the times and speeds don’t always tell the whole story!

The first run on Saturday was going pretty well until just before half track when a chute popped out, John still going through the 1/8th at over 200mph and a 5.58 secs at 240mph at the stripe. While Gordon in the other lane took out the top end timing reflectors.

First sign that all was not well was when the pan was dropped to reveal aluminium shavings in the oil. The Brad V8 had only got pistons in 7 of its cylinders. Miraculously there was no damage to the crank but slight damage to the head around the affected cylinder.

Second run had John through the 1/8th in 3.5secs at 230mph then a fire erupted as he went through the lights. Fire crew were quickly on the scene (thank you and well done guys) but John had got off the track and was out of the car A-OK – a different story with the car.

The fire was due to throwing 2 rods. The block was in a sorry state with 2 holes in 1 side and 1 rod sticking out of the other. The fire had also virtually destroyed all the wiring and air lines on the car, even starting to melt the inside wall of the left front tyre. There was also charring around the wheel arch.

Putting in the spare motor is a fairly routine operation, the rest not so. The car had to be virtually rebuilt. The crew deserve immense credit and thanks for their efforts in this respect; it was almost 2 a.m. before they called it a night. There were still a few small jobs to finish off when they came back a few hours later.

Sundays run again started well, going through the 1/8th in 3.48 secs at 234mph, then flames from the car again through the top end. John and fire crews into action.

The head gaskets had blown on the 2 rear cylinders. Looking at the computer data from that run the blower stopped working after approx 3.2 seconds, the blower drive had sheared.

The decision made itself really; we didn’t have the time or spares to get the car ready for another run, so that was the end of our 2010 racing season

Thank you to all our sponsors for their support this year, the crew for their continued dedication, the fans for cheering us on and last but not least all the track crews and officials for making the racing possible.

The Showtime FC will be making 1 more appearance this year, courtesy of David Lloyd-Jones and Santa Pod Raceway, it will be on their stand at the Classic Car Show at the NEC November 12th –14th

Thank you again for all your support – see you in 2011

Showtime Funny Car at Hockenheim

The 2010 Nitrolympics were celebrating 25 years of the event on the now re-named Rico Anthes Quartermile at the Hockenheimring Germany, one of the 2 venues that hosts the Formula 1 German Grand Prix.

Racing at Hockenheim involves a lot more planning and organisation than when we are “at home” at Santa Pod. To begin with virtually the whole contents of the workshop have to be loaded into the trailer to ensure we have every eventuality covered. Then it’s a 600Km each way trip to the track for the truck and trailer. The journey started at 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning for John and Lee, who were sharing the driving, with Jo accompanying them. They arrived at the track at Wednesday evening then spent Thursday setting up the pit. We had pit box 4, which at the F1 race had been home to Mercedes F1 with Michael Schumacher.

The rest of the team, with the exception of Crew Chief Bob, flew in to Frankfurt on Thursday afternoon and headed for the track. Bob was due in Friday morning.

As we were not scheduled to run on Friday, there was a planned schedule to cover prior to warming the car up as for a final check. You can see the checklist on the “ Live Report” we did at the time. Our plan to post frequent updates on the website actually worked out quite well thanks to our good friend and webmaster, Nigel Holland.

Saturday is the focus of the event because of the legendary “ Niteshow”. We would be “match racing” against the Shockwave FC. It is a very long day for everyone involved. The running order had us down to run at 10.45 a.m, and in a change to previous years, 8.00pm to open the “Niteshow”, rather than close it. We may get a relatively early night this year!

The car was warmed up around 9 a.m, then tow down to the pairing lanes around 10.15 . Unfortunately the running order was re-scheduled so we did not get to run until just after 1pm

Tog on described the runs as follows:

“ That was the best Fuel FC race I’ve seen in a long while, nice one guys! 0.963 to sixty for Gordon,0.970 for Spuff. Gordon had the better eighth 3.547 to 3.540,some smoke from the Showtime FC at about 1100ft and Spuff was off the throttle,but got there first”

(The above reproduced by kind permission of

5.194 secs at 445.57kph for John to Gordon’s 5.273 secs at 406.47kph

John’s run was the quickest ever by a Nitro FC at Hockenheim

Servicing was routine, although there was damage to an exhaust seat. We replaced both heads during re-build.

As we were due to open the Niteshow, being late was not an option, so everything was ready to go well ahead of time and we took our place behind the start. Janet Linke the Niteshow organiser briefed us on the timings. We should be ready to fire up before the National Anthem, whilst it was playing skydivers would descend, when the anthem finished and the skydivers landed we were to fire up the car. It all went to plan, as did the run! Even quicker than the first – 5.127 secs at 473.02kph, like an arrow, straight down the groove.

Servicing was a repeat of earlier, and the hoped for early night came our way. The crew enjoying a late evening meal at the track before heading back to the hotel.

Sunday schedule was to run at 11 am and 3 pm. We had the car warmed up and ready to go but unfortunately periods of light drizzle and oil downs meant the schedule was running approx 90 mins behind. We eventually towed down around 2pm, the FIA classes were running in between the drizzle.

The wet stuff did eventually stop by which time the shutdown area was too wet to dry before the mandatory 5pm curfew. The organisers asked John and Gordon to round off the weekend with a paired burnout.

That was Hockenheim 2010, not as much racing as we would have hoped for, but a very enjoyable weekend. Thanks to Jerry Lackey and his team at the Rico Anthes Quartermile, the German fans who turn out in their tens of thousands, for their excellent coverage and Nigel Holland for the website updates.Sunday schedule was to run at 11 am and 3 pm. We had the car warmed up and ready to go but unfortunately periods of light drizzle and oil downs meant the schedule was running approx 90 mins behind. We eventually towed down around 2pm, the FIA classes were running in between the drizzle.

Showtime Funny Car at Nitrolympics

The Showtime Funny Car will be off on what is becoming a regular outing to the Nitrolympics at Hockenheim next week . For the fifth year running the organisers have invited us to take part in the legendary ” Saturday Nite Show” as well as running during Saturday and Sunday.
After Hockenheim, the next appearance of the Showtime FC will be at the FIA European Finals at Santa Pod September 9th – 12th.