In summer of 2010 RRC and others were invited to a race meeting in Hungary to promote Drag Racing there. There was a pretty active bike scene and Kunmadaras is still in the FIM schedule but very few cars. The show included two of Rune Fjeld’s fuel cars driven by Risto Poutiainen and Jari Halinen, Danny Bellio’s methanol funny car, the Wratten Brothers Topolino altered and (stars of the show) four Pro Mods with Andy, Graham Ellis, Mats Eriksson and Freddy Fagerström.
Not all of the usual crew were able to attend because this event was in addition to an already busy season, so we had two super-subs. Ricki Packham was usually the sump diver on Dave Wilson’s crew and Andrew Wright had been part of the crew on The Hot Rod 38 Ford coupe for as long as anyone could remember.
It took two full days to get to the track and because our fellow travellers were on truck driver’s tachos we had to stop regularly and park up for nine hours at night. This proved to be a problem because all the service stations were full of trucks so many in fact that it was sometimes difficult to find a way through. We ended up in a truck stop about 10 km off the autobahn. It was inconvenient but good for breakfast and a shower. Andy’s rig counted as a motor home and trailer so we paid a lot less in tolls than the Ellis truck in spite of having similar total weight. In Austria we had to buy a GO box to cover the tolls (Pic 05), this was preloaded with money and as the vehicle travelled along the autobahn a roadside display would show how much credit there still was. Fortunately my pidgin German was enough to ensure we bought enough credit for both journeys there and back. Our only other problem really was following a car sat nav which took us through the centre of Budapest, in theory not allowed for trucks over 3 tons (Pic 06). We only had to do this because the navigator (me) fell asleep and we missed a crucial turning. We finally arrived at the track in the dead of night and had to try to find the pit area in total darkness. The track itself was the runway of a Cold War bomber station which the Russians had abandoned some years before. Imagine arriving at Gatwick by a side entrance and trying to find a terminal building with no lights to guide you.
The track was all concrete and 2 metres thick! There was good news and bad news about the Russian departure which happened overnight with no warning for the locals. The good was that they had gone, the bad was they just opened all the fuel tanks on site and let the fuel spill on the ground. The bomb proof aircraft shelters were still there on the edge of the site (Pic 09).
So for us too there was good news and bad. The good was a solid stable concrete track when many considered that to be a perfect surface to race on, the bad was that in spite of the visiting Santa Pod crew’s best efforts the track was green and wouldn’t hold the power of any of the demo cars. So it came down to doing long smoky burnouts – all the drivers could indulge their inner Freddies – and trying to get to the end of the track without kissing both guard rails.
Most of the crowd had never seen Pro level drag racers and they were suitably stunned by the show. And just like fans anywhere they crowded round any pit when a car fired up (Pic 17). We had taken a big pile of mullered parts with us, the UK market for this stuff was pretty well saturated but we thought this was new territory and a new opportunity. So it proved, we sold everything we’d brought with us and as we changed pistons or rods they were sold as soon as they cooled down.
ZEON TV were much in evidence along with John Price as they recorded this inaugural event (Pics 34, 35, 37, 39). John also had commentating duties alongside the local promoter Joseph Hadnagy(Pic 40).
Altogether a tiring but enjoyable weekend – what am I saying? We were away seven and a half days for two days racing (?) It was certainly interesting, particularly when we were stopped by the police in Germany on the way back. My pidgin German was called into action once again to try to explain what who we were and what we were doing. And we were overtaken by a bunch of hooligans towing a trailer – I just managed to get a picture of it as it went past (Pic 48).
Other reports in this series:
Hockenheim NitrOlympX 2005
Gardermoen Summer Nationals 2006
Mantorp Park Veidec Festival 2007
Alastaro Nitro Nationals 2009