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Carter Motorsports Workshop Visit
UK Top Fuel Dragster racer Andy Carter purchased Pelle Lindelöw and Gunnar Elmqvist's entire Top Fuel Dragster operation in early 2003. Andy very kindly invited us to visit his workshop on 22nd March to see how the Carter Motorsports team were getting on in their preparations for the season.
Very welcome visitors at Andy's workshop during our time there were Pelle and Gunnar themselves. "I've come to pick up a Cadillac which was part of the deal", said Pelle. "And of course to make sure that they're taking good care of the dragster!".
"I'm a little bit sad", said Gunnar, "but the car takes up too much time and there is so much else to do. It will be interesting to follow what Andy and the team do with the dragster". Pelle revealed that the entire P & G Racing team will attend the FIA Main Event at Santa Pod in May. "We are having one last holiday together", he said.
The team collected the P & G Racing operation about seven weeks ago, and have been hard at work ever since. "The 2003 chassis mods have been done", said Crew Chief Eddie Corr. "Two bars had to be put in front of the footwell (left) and there is an extra bar in the roll cage. Pelle had already had everything else done, so the car has now been inspected and stickered for this season."
We asked Eddie what the difference was in Andy having his own car, rather than hiring one which he has done in the last few seasons. "The biggest thing is the car prep", he said. "We have more scope for doing things our way, and getting it all ready before you go to the track. I hate that feeling of pushing round to the start line and you're out of breath because you've been rushed and your mind is full of the things which you might have forgotten."
Eddie said that the car was now seventy per cent complete, and that the team hoped to fire up the engine for the first time the day after our visit. "Firing up the engine will then leave us with just a small list of jobs to do before Easter", he said. "That's better than doing everything at the track. We have one complete engine to go in the car, one in the trailer, and more spares than we ever had before!".
Another novelty for the Carter Motorsports team is the datalogger which came with the dragster. "In six years of running Fuel cars I had a logger for one year and it was faulty!", said Eddie. "This model has come with a database of Pelle's runs. We are teaching ourselves to use it but to be honest I got so used to not having one that it's a luxury. The only time I would really have liked to have had a logger was at last year's European Finals when the car just wasn't performing and we couldn't see what was wrong."
Eddie is not going to be able to attend every race this season because of work commitments, but the Carter Motorsport team have his absence covered. "When I am not there then John Ogden, our assistant Crew Chief, will make the calls. I will leave him basic, medium and kill set-ups in writing and John will set the car up in consultation with Andy. And I expect my mobile phone will ring occasionally!".
Eddie has a very clear vision of the team's objectives in 2003. "In 2001 we did enough to stay ahead", he said. "Last year we knew that we could not do the full Tour so we were after the three hundred. This year we want it all - the Championship, the ET record, and five hundred kilometres per hour (310.69 mph - Ed). At each race we will go straight out for a quick run, then a quicker one, and on the third run who knows!"
Carter Motorsports PR Dan Welberry brought us up-to-date with the promotional side of things although he firstly raved about the dragster's new front wheels which had just arrived from the USA. "We saw them on Brandon Bernstein's car and we thought they were beautiful", he said. "Andy saw them and said we just had to get a set. Pelle says they'll look even better with shoe white on!".
Dan said that the trailer which came as part of the deal will allow the team to expand their hospitality. "The trailer has a very nice lounge", he said. "Sarah has done a lot of work on it already. It will allow us to take care of our sponsors. For example First National Telecom will be coming to races throughout the year and we expect to have our other sponsors at at least one race each - we really appreciate all of the companies who back us". Things are picking up on the merchandise front too. "We have some great new T-shirts which are being done by Colin at Hot Rod T's", he said. "There's a new mouse mat, new caps, and you will also be able to buy a replica crew shirt."
The next step is to finish the car and trailer. "We have had the panels back from Specialists In Design (and very nice they looked, too - Ed), and the car, the truck and trailer are going to Sigma Signs within the next week to be signwritten."
Finally we spoke to driver Andy Carter in the trailer's VIP lounge. We started off by asking him if he had a game plan for 2003. "To be consistent and to win is the game plan", he said, "although I don't go much for game plans because I prefer to take one race at a time. The first thing we will be doing is to test at the Webster Race Engineering Test Day on 16th April. I need to get familiar with the car, and the team can work in semi-race conditions. I've got good guys on my crew, unless you have a degree in mechanical engineering then you are not going to get on the team! I want to get up to at least a half pass on the test day, and then we can go to the Easter Thunderball,go down the track immediately, and defend my Pro Fuel Shootout title."
We asked Andy if he was wary of any of his FIA Top Fuel rivals in particular. "We're not scared of anyone, but if we were then it would be Kim Reymond", he said. "But all of them are strong. We're going to have to go out there and get serious in qualifying, get a high placing because that means more chance of a weaker opponent - although that's only relative."
Andy thinks that 2003 is going to be the best year yet for the FIA Top Fuel Championship. "It's going to be a great year with six rounds and more cars", he said. "If we get eight or nine cars at the Main Event, and someone goes on the trailer at the end of qualifying, then that's what we've always dreamed of."
Andy asked us to thank his Super Crew: Eddie Corr, John Ogden, Sarah Carter, Roger Neill, Chris Barnes, Dan Leggett, Paul Wright, Dan Welberry, Alec Barker, Andy Backos and Paul Williams. He would also like to thank First National Telecom, Lucas Oils, NGK Spark Plugs, Wynns, Binamic, Specialists in Design, Global Commercial , Yuasa Automotive Batteries (Europe) Ltd, Earls Performance Products, Obsession Motorsports, Gibbs Heating and Plumbing, Sigma Signs, Rainbow Conference Sets, IPA Print Associates Ltd, and Juice.
We took a number of other photographs during our visit, which you can view by clicking here.
We are very grateful to Andy Carter for inviting us to visit his workshop, to Eddie Corr, Dan Welberry and the entire crew for their time, to Sarah Carter for the unexpected pleasure of lunch, and to Pelle Lindelöw for the photograph.
Visit the Carter Motorsports web site
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