The History of UK Pro Modified - Part 3: 1990 - 91
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Tim Cook 1990
Betapix photo

Part 3 – 1990-91 – Two for Cook

1990: new club, new rounds, new cars

After a four way battle for the 1989 championship between Geof Hauser, Dave Warne, Tim Cook and Dave Mingay, the winter saw plenty of 'motor massaging' and a new car for Tim Cook whose 5/8ths scale self-built '55 Chevy was lower and lighter as well as smaller.

Amongst the other runners in the class, Trevor Hirst was refining his Rover 800 Fastback, the car having a white and yellow repaint in the style of Reher & Morrison. Graham Barrs was still getting accustomed to the demands that his powerful Shotgun Hemi Ford was making on the car's chassis. Tim Hines had an all-new Cosworth Sierra with Ford wedge power and Lenco, Bert Englefield had built a Toyota Supra with Chrysler B1 and Lenco and Andy Robinson brought out his Ford Sierra Sapphire with Big Block Chevy and Liberty gearbox for the first time.

The National championship covering both tracks was under the auspices of the British Drag Racing Association. There was also the Pro Modified Challenge which was based on qualifying points; at the end of the nine championship rounds the top eight points scorers would be invited to the 13th-14th October Avon Park meeting to race for a cash purse, qualifying positions being established on the qualifying points totals.


Tim Cook 1990
Chris Plunkett photo

Trevor Hirst
Nick Pettitt photo


13th-16th April, Santa Pod Raceway - Easter Thunderball

This was the first round of the 1990 Pro Modified Championship. The number of cars was reduced, as three new cars were still being prepared. A further car would be sidelined by the end of the event.


Geof Hauser
Chris Plunkett photo

Qualifying

  1. Geof Hauser 7.94
  2. Dave Mingay 8.13
  3. Tim Cook 8.60
  4. Trevor Hirst 8.83/167
  5. Graham Barrs NT

Tim Cook had to withdraw after a broken gear drive in qualifying. Graham Barrs' Mustang suffered a number of sideways launches, however on the fifth attempt the errant car clouted the barrier big time at mid track destroying the car's front end. After the race the team discovered that the fibreglass bodywork from the US was custom made and they were forced to make their own moulds to fabricate a front end, as well as checking the chassis.

Semi Finals

Geof Hauser 7.94/178 def. Dave Mingay 8.13/170
Trevor Hirst def. Tim Cook, broke

Final

Geof Hauser 7.94/194 def. Trevor Hirst shut down on line

Geof Hauser's 194mph terminal speed appeared out of line with the speeds he'd previously run and was discounted as a record.

The event became infamous for the Top Fuel accident that resulted in serious and career-ending injuries to NHRA Top Fuel star Darrell Gwynn.


21st-22nd April, Avon Park Raceway - BDRA Inaugural Drag Race


Geof Hauser's Sierra after top end incident
Unknown photographer

During the winter, Avon Park had an extensive makeover with new trackside stands, banking where there had been previously flat surfaces, with a relaid strip that was smooth and wide with concrete launch pads, the whole facility looking most professional and giving excellent viewing. TV advertising resulted in a large crowd as well.

However, traction, despite application of VHT traction compound, was described as marginal to say the least. On an early full throttle pass alongside Mick Cheley, Geof Hauser's car got airborne, hit the Armco barrier and penetrated it. Although as a result of sturdy roll cage construction Geof emerged only shaken and with a minor bump, the car was a write-off. At the time Geof said 'I have no immediate explanation as to what had caused the crash, the car felt fine and was running straight when it began to move over. I feathered the throttle and it was then the car made a sudden move back again and seemed to lift up on one side, from then on it was airborne. I was reduced to passenger status and just had to ride it out as the car flew into the Armco landed on its side, rolled and slid to a halt.

Further, the safety of the track with the damaged armco was brought into question. So after discussion with RAC officials, Blacktop Promotions agreed to continue racing on an eighth mile, which with the clocks installed meant no speeds, although reaction times were available for the first time. It was agreed by all to award rain-off points to the attending competitors.

Semi Finals (all times to the eighth mile)

Dave Warne 5.76 def. Trevor Hirst
Mick Cheley 6.12 def. Tim Cook 6.98

Final

Dave Warne 5.57 def. Mick Cheley 6.18


5th-7th May, Santa Pod Raceway - Spring Nationals

This was in effect the first round of the championship after the problems of the APR Inaugural Event. This BDRA-organised event had good weather, excellent traction and tight racing. Graham Barrs was absent, repairing damage from Easter. Tim Cook tested before the event, something that had paid dividends with his previous car.


Dave Warne at Avon Park 1990
Betapix photo

Qualifying

  1. Tim Cook 7.90/186
  2. Dave Warne 8.33/166
  3. Trevor Hirst 8.46/170
  4. Dave Mingay 8.52/161
  5. Mick Cheley 8.54/156

The speed given to Tim Cook was considered doubtful at the time. Mick Cheley qualified with a new Chrysler B1 engine but was chasing an electrical problem. Dave Warne had a new Powerglide gearbox which settled the car down but the engine was only pulling 7500 through the traps giving rise to thoughts that a change in gear ratios could improve the performance. Trevor Hirst had dropped fuel injection in favour of carburettors.

Preliminary

Dave Mingay 8.47/162 def. Mick Cheley

Semi Finals

Tim Cook 8.06/164 def Dave Mingay 8.50
Dave Warne 8.41/165 def. Trevor Hirst 8.52/165

Final

Dave Warne 8.46/164 def Tim Cook 8.53/156

Tim Cook suffered wheelies on every run which made the car veer to the right, however he was able to control the car resulting in exciting races.


26th-28th May, Avon Park Raceway - BDRA Whitsun Nationals


Tim Cook at Avon Park 1990
Doug McDiramid photo

After the problems with the first meeting, the Avon Park track crew had spent hours sledding the track and ensuring the traction was much improved.

Tim Cook ended up with top qualifier, the lead in the Pro Modified Challenge, the ET and speed record and the overall championship lead, even winning a VW Polo in a Lonsdale prize draw to cap his event. But his start at this event was inauspicious. As the '55 Chevy left the line, Tim found himself without steering, the car crossing from right to left after leaving the line and hitting the barrier side on. It was discovered that the steering column's universal joint had come adrift. Fortunately damage was restricted to bodywork and Tim later qualified no.1.

Qualifying

  1. Tim Cook 7.78/197
  2. Dave Warne 8.343/166
  3. Dave Mingay 8.344/169
  4. Trevor Hirst 8.69/157
  5. Mick Cheley 9.08/139


Dave Mingay at Avon Park 1990
Betapix photo

Trevor Hirst suffered piston ring damage which he spent most of Sunday repairing. Graham Barrs was present, but being forced to run without bodywork was unable to compete. Mick Cheley's team had attributed the poor handling of his '27T to a lack of downforce on the rear end.

Preliminary

Trevor Hirst 8.27/166 def. Mick Cheley 9.17/148

Semi Finals

Tim Cook 7.760/178.02 def. Trevor Hirst 13.341/113.58
Dave Mingay 8.12/171.42 def. Dave Warne 8.270/166.58

Final

Tim Cook 7.690/177.35 def. Dave Mingay 8.094/172.75


23rd-24th June, Avon Park Raceway - BDRA European Records Weekend


Dave Mingay at Avon Park 1990
Doug McDiramid photo

Six cars were entered with the times reflecting the damp track, only one shot qualifying possible. Dave Warne took number one spot with a 8.70/170, benefitting from a new automatic gearbox, and other runners were mired in the 9-10s area or overpowered the track.

Qualifying

  1. Dave Warne 8.70/170
  2. Dave Mingay 9.08/149
  3. Trevor Hirst 10.09/107
  4. Mick Cheley 10.64/107
  5. Graham Barrs
  6. Tim Cook

Round one

Bye runs for Dave Warne (who passed up the opportunity) and Dave Mingay 8.54/135
Graham Barrs 8.73/162 def. Mick Cheley 9.54/154
Trevor Hirst 8.55/165 def Tim Cook 8.72/157


Dave Warne 1990
Graham Beckwith photo

Semi Finals

Dave Warne 8.43/163 def. Graham Barrs 8.18/166 red
Dave Mingay 8.18/174 def. Trevor Hirst 8.41/163

Final

Dave Mingay 8.08/176 def Dave Warne 8.41/163

Dave Warne had suffered carburettor fires on his elimination runs with huge belches of flame erupting from the hood scoop each time. His car had difficulty in starting as well and in the final suffered a huge wheelstand which denied him victory against a hard-charging Dave Mingay.

Tim Cook suffered a broken transmission which resulted in a first round exit for him.



7th-8th July, Santa Pod Raceway - Cannonball

Tim Cook arrived with a freshly rebuilt Lenco gearbox and hopes for a good event. Unfortunately the nitrous system failed to operate and the team ended qualifying as bottom of the pack with a 8.30. This put Tim in a preliminary race against Graham Barrs on the Sunday to find who would secure the no.4 place on the ladder.

On the Saturday night Tim had a match race against Trevor Hirst but it was so dark at the top end that Tim hit the finish line mirrors which damaged the front bumper. With repairs effected and an electrical problem solved, Tim beat Graham Barrs with a 7.75 to make the semis.


Tim Cook launches at SPR
Dick Parnham photo

Qualifying

  1. Dave Mingay 8.08/171
  2. Trevor Hirst 8.11/171
  3. Dave Warne 8.37/172
  4. Tim Cook
  5. Graham Barrs

Preliminary

Tim Cook def Graham Barrs

Semi Finals

Tim Cook 7.75/192 def Dave Mingay 7.91/174
Trevor Hirst 8.03/NS def. Dave Warne 9.30/105

Final

Tim Cook 7.76/169 (new track record) def. Trevor Hirst 8.13/173



Graham Barrs at Avon Park 1990
Doug McDiramid

28th-29th July, Avon Park Raceway - BDRA Summer Nationals

Tim Cook once again had difficulties in qualifying with clutch failure and a huge manifold explosion caused by a faulty ignition. Dave Warne achieved his first seven second time slip in qualifying no.1. Graham Barrs had clutch and gearbox issues in qualifying which slowed him, whilst Alan Collins in the ex-Graham Barrs Pinto was experiencing new car blues.

Qualifying

  1. Dave Warne 7.89/176
  2. Dave Mingay 7.97/179
  3. Trevor Hirst 8.08/175
  4. Graham Barrs 8.59/164
  5. Mick Cheley 8.80/134
  6. Tim Cook 14.11/95
  7. Alan Collins

Alan Collins in the ex Graham Barrs Pinto
Nick Pettitt photo

Round one

Dave Warne 7.97/176 bye
Mick Cheley 12 def. Graham Barrs red
Tim Cook 7.62/182 def. Trevor Hirst ref (stage foul)
Dave Mingay 8.08/174 def. Alan Collins 12.8/114

Semi finals

Dave Warne 7.91/177 def. Mick Cheley 8.34/163
Tim Cook def. Dave Mingay 8.07/153

Final

Dave Warne 8.02/175 def. Tim Cook 8.27/134

Mick Cheley drove through a half track wheelie to record his personal best time and speed in the semi final, but to no avail against Dave Warne. In the other semi, Dave Mingay's chute came out at 60ft and pulled it to a losing but creditable 8.0s time. In the final, Tim Cook had a great start but suffered gearbox failure giving Dave Warne the win.


4th-5th August, Santa Pod Raceway Drag Racing News meeting

This was the hottest weekend of the year, however the numbers of spectators and competitors were down, however there was a good Pro Modified turnout. The SPR track had not been prepared, with lane choice becoming an important factor. Dave Warne was suffering engine issues and his performance could not match the previous weekend, losing in the first round. Trevor Hirst ran his PB in qualifying third, Graham Barrs was battling a misfire, whilst Bert Englefield's Toyota Supra with Chrysler B1 engine and Lenco made its debut.

Qualifying

  1. Tim Cook 7.65/177
  2. Dave Mingay 8.02/NS
  3. Trevor Hirst 8.06/174
  4. Dave Warne 8.34/169
  5. Graham Barrs 8.47/166
  6. Bert Englefield 10.47/148


Trevor Hirst, Avon Park 1990
Doug McDiramid photo

Bert Englefield, Avon Park 1990
Nick Pettitt photo

Round one

Byes for Tim Cook 7.79/NS and Dave Mingay 15.78/66
Graham Barrs 8.47/166 def. Dave Warne 8.91/148 Trevor Hirst 8.25/161 def. Bert Englefield NT

Semi Finals

Tim Cook 7.75/171 def. Graham Barrs 8.25/170
Dave Mingay 7.89/177 bye (PB) def. Trevor Hirst 8.15/171

Final

Tim Cook 7.77/176 def. Dave Mingay 7.91/177

The final was the quickest side by side Pro Modified race in British drag racing history at the time. In the Championship Tim Cook extended his lead, whilst Dave Mingay overtook Dave Warne for second position.


25th-27th August, Santa Pod Raceway Summer Nationals


Tim Cook 1990
Dick Parnham photo

There was a mail shot from Santa Pod Raceway that advertised a Pro Stock vs Pro Modified event on the Sunday involving the visiting Scandinavian Pro Stock teams. However the promoter wanted to run the £1,000 event on Saturday, and the PMRA were reluctant in view of the poor lighting and Tim's mishap at the Cannonball. Sadly, the event never took place, particularly as the classes at the time had some degree of performance parity.

The track had been well prepared and teams were looking to run their maximum power. Tim Cook said "We made a conscious decision to tune the engine for some serious horsepower and not back it down whatever happened. If we could not get it down the track we would look to the chassis not the engine. This meant that Jon Webster was in the hot seat for this meeting as he was responsible for all the chassis tuning". This approach bore fruit in Tim's no.1 qualifying performance.

Qualifying (excerpts)

  1. Tim Cook 7.46/182
  2. Dave Warne 7.77


Dave Warne 1990
Jerry Cookson photo

Round one

Tim Cook 7.53/176 def. Alan Collins DNS

Semi Finals

Tim Cook 7.46 def Graham Barrs 8.75/167
Dave Warne 7.86/171 def. Dave Mingay 8.29/157

Final

Tim Cook 7.46/182 def. Dave Warne 7.87/171

To run 15 hundredths better than the record on three consecutive occasions was a remarkable performance by Tim Cook and his team. He was however incensed by organisers bringing forward round one by in an hour, as he was deprived of the opportunity for Alan Collins to race him, Alan's ex-Graham Barrs Pinto suffering gearbox problems. The 'Cook Report' in Custom Car was starting to become an opinion piece, or 'shoot interview' as known in the world of professional wrestling.

After a new quickest side-by-side Pro Mod race, Tim and Dave drove back down the track to accept their trophies, a tradition at Santa Pod Raceway that marked exceptional performance or climactic wins in an event but has waned over time. On this occasion though Tim forgot to secure his chute and drove back along the track with it open.

The win was sufficient to give Tim and his super team of Rob Loaring and Jon Webster the 1990 Pro Modified Championship.


15th-16th September, Avon Park Raceway - BDRA European Finals

The race claimed some mechanical victims among the heavy hitters. Early on, Dave Mingay's Monza suffered an engine explosion that saw the hood scoop acting like a flamethrower, putting Dave on the trailer.

Semi Finals

Graham Barrs 8.4/153 def Tim Hines 10.90/75
Dave Warne 7.92/176 def. Bert Englefield 8.97/117

Graham Barrs's engine blew near the finish line, the car subsequently crossing the centre line, oiling the lanes with opponent Tim Hines getting into some of the oil and spinning out, scary but with no damage.

The race between Dave Warne and Bert Englefield was declared the final, as Graham Barrs was unable to return to race and Englefield was also unable to make another round.


20th-23rd September, Santa Pod Raceway - World Finals

Mechanical carnage from the previous weekend's race at Avon Park took out both Graham Barrs and Dave Mingay, reducing the field to four cars. Tim Cook brought out a larger 588ci engine based on his existing Donovan block and new Pontiac cylinder heads with 16:1 compression and split carburettors for better fuel distribution. Running without nitrous on his third attempt lifting at 1000ft he went 8.11/145 to go to number one. Tim commented his intention was to take a performance advantage over the rest of the field and increase it by running in the new engine after Tim had already taken the championship. However in the first elimination race Tim Cook's chute came out after the burnout and he backed over it, ignominiously twisting it round the rear wheels and axle.

The issue of weight breaks was under discussion by this stage and Tim was expecting to carry more weight into 1991.


Andy Robinson 1990
Colin Donisthorpe photo

Tim Cook World Finals 1990
Dick Parnham photo

The event was filmed by Anglia TV and the broadcast can be seen online at uk.motorsport.tv (from 32'42" - subscription required)

Semi Finals

Tim Hines 9.13/155 def Tim Cook, broke (chute)
Andy Robinson 9.78/148 def. Bert Englefield broke (oil leak)

Final

Andy Robinson 9.46/149 def. Tim Hines DQ crossed outer line

This was Andy Robinson's first Pro Modified win.


13th-14th October, Avon Park Raceway - BDRA Winternationals

Although it had originally been envisaged that the Pro Mod Challenge would be run at this event, only two cars were able to attend with Dave Warne winning the most qualifying points unable to compete.


Bert Englefield 1990
Doug McDiramid photo

Tim Hines 1990
Doug McDiramid photo

The competition was in the end a best two of three match race between the Toyota Supra of Bert Englefield and the Sierra of Tim Hines. Andy Robinson was also in attendance however bowed out after a 9.36/153 in his Sierra Sapphire.

Race 1: Bert Englefield 8.50/162 def. Tim Hines 8.59/NS

Race 2: Bert Englefield 8.56/161 def. Tim Hines 8.98/137


Champion


1990 PMRA points table
Jerry Cookson collection

Champion Tim Cook debuted a new '55 Chevy and scored four wins, two runner up positions and four top qualifier positions.. He had his fair share of problems, grazing the barrier, Lenco failure and nitrous explosions but the setting of several ET and speed records got him the extra points he needed, ending the season with the ET record at 7.46.

Dave Warne was runner up for the third year in a row, winning three meetings and runner up in another two. He also won the Pro Modified Challenge based on qualifying points. He started using nitrous half way through the season which culminated in a PB of 7.77 at the SPR August Bank Holiday event.

Third went to Dave Mingay who had run his Monza since 1984 was still able to set records however experienced engine problems towards the end of the year. Fourth was Trevor Hirst who had one runner up, at the Cannonball however could not get into the sevens, his best a 8.03.

Graham Barrs started the year with a crash in his Mustang, subsequently missing a few meetings. He recorded his first seven in August, running without Nitrous. He recorded his first seven at the August Bank Holiday meeting but the Shotgun Hemi engine blew at the final Avon Park Raceway meeting.

Mick Cheley had a new Chrysler B1 engine for 1990 however there was too much power for the ageing chassis and a new PB of 8.34 was the highlight with a large percentage of aborted runs.

The biggest disappointment was the loss to the class of Geof Hauser, who self financed his record breaking and championship winning 1989 effort. His crash at the second meeting of the 1990 season saw his Pro Modified career come to an end, however he has of course gone on to be a highly respected builder of drag racing vehicles.

Also leaving the class after 1990 were Graham Barrs and Pro Modified Racers Association founder Mick Harle. Mick said "Graham ran his first seven in 1990 after borrowing Geof Hauser’s Lenco, with different ratios from our previous transmission, from his crashed Sierra. However, after rodding the motor at the September Avon Park meeting, Graham and I decided to call it a day. The Mustang was sold to Dave Pollen and my involvement with the PMRA ended. Pro Mod was up and running.


1991: title defence

If 1990 was the year of the 'new' Avon Park Raceway, 1991 was the year of a new club and new promoters. Blacktop Promotions gone into liquidation in August and consequently Avon Park Raceway had to finance race promotion. This proved too much for the Avon Park Raceway finances and APR Limited in turn went into liquidation in Winter 1991. Parallel to this, the organising clubs BDRA and NDRA merged to form the BNDRA, shortly to be supplanted by Santa Pod Racers Club and Avon Park International Racers Association.

The car news was centred on Alan Packman, who would come to dominate the class in the next few years. 1991 was Alan's rookie year and he started with a tube chassised late model Mustang, later buying Viveca Averstedt's Ford Scorpio which was built by her husband Håkan installing a Mike Kase-built Ford 600ci engine. Dave Mingay had commissioned John Webster to build a Vauxhall Calibra, the slick body of which would appeal over the years to several other teams. Meanwhile up north, B&H Autokraft had sold their Rover 800 Fastback to Bernie Hepworth (who installed Dave Warne's 540ci engine) and John Betts and Trevor Hirst joined forces with Dave Warne and imported a 3rd generation Pontiac Trans Am previously raced by Nick Nikolis in IHRA Pro Stock competition for John and Trevor's engine to reside in.


29th March - 1st April, Santa Pod Raceway - Easter Thunderball

With a number of new cars and teams, it was little surprise that only four cars were ready for this early race. Tim Cook was number 1 qualifier at 7.99 however the run of the event went to Dave Warne from no.2 position.

Dave's practice run resulted in the car taking a sharp left towards the centre line, taking out the eighth mile mirrors when an errant oil line broke loose, dumping the entire contents of the sump under the rear slicks. Dave was said to be shocked and Trevor and John relieved that Dave was alright and the car and engine would live to fight again.


Dave Warne 1991
Colin Donisthorpe photo

Tim Cook 1991 - note larger rear wing
Dick Parnham photo

Semi Finals

Tim Cook 8.10/159 def. def. Andy Robinson 10.95/113
Dave Warne 8.08/175 def. Mick Cheley 8.67/155

Final

Dave Warne 8.91/159 def. Tim Cook DQ crossed outside line


4th-6th May, Santa Pod Raceway - Spring Nationals

Only three cars were able to attend this race, promoted as a 'Best of British' 25th Anniversary of Santa Pod Raceway. The plan was to have a Chicago style race with each car putting in two runs and the fastest two going into the final.

Round one:

Dave Warne 8.87/169, Andy Robinson broke (engine problems), Mick Cheley 8.43/162 (new PB)

Round two:

Dave Warne 8.13/169, Andy Robinson 10.31/134, Mick Cheley 9.20/112

Final

Dave Warne 8.11/170 def. Mick Cheley N/T

Mick Cheley started well but struggled to control his car as the day progressed.



Dave Mingay's new car, unlettered at his first event with it
Colin Donisthorpe photo

25th-27th May, Santa Pod Raceway - Main Event

The first Main Event, this was the first round of the PMRA Championship and a full eight car field attended. By this event Alan Packman had replaced his Mustang with a Ford Scorpio previously owned by Swedish racer Viveca Averstedt and raced in Pro Stock. Alan had also recruited Geof Hauser as his crew chief. This meeting was also the debut for Dave Mingay's Jon Webster-built Vauxhall Calibra.

Number one qualifier went to Dave Warne in 7.88/175

Qualifying

  1. Dave Warne 7.88/175
  2. Tim Cook 8.20/166
  3. Dave Mingay 8.25/167
  4. Bernie Hepworth 8.65/162
  5. Mick Cheley
  6. Dave Pollen
  7. Andy Robinson
  8. Alan Packman


Alan Packman 1991
Colin Donisthorpe photo

Eliminations

Round one

Bernie Hepworth 8.262/175.79 def. Mick Cheley, broke (rear end)

Tim Cook 8.157/166.21 def. Andy Robinson 9.242/162.01 red
Dave Mingay NT def. Dave Pollen red
Dave Warne 7.92/179 def. Alan Packman 179.54 DQ crossed centre line

Semi Finals

Tim Cook 8.214/16097 def. Dave Mingay 8.644/166.41 red
Bernie Hepworth 8.535/162.36 def. Dave Warne 10.679/133.63

Final

Tim Cook 7.574/172.59 def. Bernie Hepworth 10.054/90.16


Tim Cook 1991
Dick Parnham photo

Bernie Hepworth 1991
Colin Donisthorpe photo

8th-9th June, Santa Pod Raceway - Rod & Custom Summer Picnic


Colin Taylor in the unlettered Thunderbird
Colin Donisthorpe photo

Nine cars were present going for an eight car field. Bernie Hepworth was missing but Graham Ellis (in the ex-Dave Warne Sierra, with Chrysler B1 engine) and Colin Taylor entered. Colin's Thunderbird was the chassis from his 'Starlight' Camaro rebodied with a glass fibre Thunderbird body and a new I.C.E. engine with EPD heads.

Qualifying

  1. Dave Warne 7.62/181.25
  2. Tim Cook 7.62/176.40
  3. Andy Robinson 8.05/171.93
  4. Dave Pollen 8.47/158.10
  5. Mick Cheley 8.80
  6. Dave Mingay 9.0
  7. Alan Packman 9.97
  8. Graham Ellis 21s

Eliminations

Round one

Tim Cook 7.79/160.18 def. Alan Packman 10.61/85.63
Dave Warne NT/183.87 def. Graham Ellis, broke (gearbox)
Andy Robinson 8.37/170.69 def. Dave Mingay, broke (electrics)
Dave Pollen 8.73/156.64 def. Mick Cheley, broke (rear axles)

Rain then fell, preventing Sunday's running of the semi finals and finals which were postponed two weeks to Bug Jam.


22nd-23rd June, Santa Pod Raceway - Bug Jam


Graham Ellis in 1991
Colin Donisthorpe photo

The postponed rounds from Summer Picnic were also qualifying runs for Bug Jam, which was the next round in the championship.

Summer Picnic Eliminations

Semi Finals

Tim Cook 7.86/175.01 def. Andy Robinson
Dave Warne 7.62/179.66 def. Dave Pollen 8.73/156.64

Final

Tim Cook 7.76/167.03 def. Dave Warne 9.16/116.66

The track was unprepared and in the final, Dave Warne, with lane choice, elected to swap lanes after a crew member spotted oil from a previous VW run. Despite this, he got out of shape in the good lane, allowing Tim Cook to stay ahead.

In other qualifying, Graham Ellis also suffered with the surface and lost control, his Sierra going into the barrier. Despite a considerable amount of front end damage, Graham and his team worked through the night and repaired the car in time for the first qualifying session on Sunday, being awarded the Spirit of Bug Jam trophy for doing so.

Ultimately, Sunday was rained off with Dave Warne awarded points for top speed (186.03) and Tim Cook low ET of the meet (7.56).


5th-7th July, Santa Pod Raceway - The Cannonball.


Dave Warne 1991
Colin Donisthorpe photo

In round 4 of the championship there were 12 cars going for eight places available.

Qualifying

  1. Dave Warne 7.57/184.58
  2. Tim Cook 7.85/173
  3. Alan Packman 7.98/175.71
  4. Bernie Hepworth 8.09/163.43
  5. Andy Robinson 8.16/170.47
  6. Mick Cheley 8.32/160.45
  7. Dave Mingay 8.38/162.80
  8. Dave Pollen 8.40/161.30

Tim Hines was a DNQ; Bernie Hepworth suffered Powerglide issues removing him from contention. As well as Bernie, the two teams of Andy Robinson and Alan Packman were hopeful to get a seven second timeslip, and were delighted with their performance improvements, but they had to wait until later in the season.


Tim Cook 1991
Jon Spoard photo

Round one

Dave Warne 7.502/183.33 def. Dave Pollen 8.319/163.16
Andy Robinson 8.009/172.67 def. Bernie Hepworth, broke (gearbox)
Alan Packman 8.018/171.84 def. Mick Cheley 8.329/160.82
Tim Cook 8.136/165.91 def. Dave Mingay 16.896/77.46

Semi Finals

Tim Cook 8.089/169.48 def. Alan Packman 14.830/56.09
Dave Warne 7.653/181.73 def. Andy Robinson no-show (clutch)

Final

Dave Warne 7.56/180 def. Tim Cook 7.54/182

In round one Andy Robinson suffered flames coming out from under his Sierrra Sapphire which fortunately subsided to allow him to run, but signalled a destroyed clutch which the team were unable to replace in time.

In the final Tim Cook waited for Dave Warne to start. Dave lost traction a little at half track, got dangerously close to the centre line but held on to win. Tim's times improved, but Warne had left on him and won on a holeshot, taking over the lead of the championship in the process.


20th-21st July, Avon Park Raceway - Pro Comp Classic

This was the landmark event when Tim Cook became the first UK Pro Modified racer to go over 200mph, the record breaking run taking place in the semi final. Tim commented in Custom Car that the track had been superbly prepared and was the best surface the cars had raced on that year.

Dave Warne, Tim's rival in the race to the double ton, suffered a split oil pan in round one, resulting in a huge plume of smoke at the finish line. Dave Warne's reactions again got him the win as Alan Packman ran a PB despite a nitrous hose and cowling coming off at 200ft in a holeshot loss.


Alan Packman 1991
Colin Donisthorpe photo

Qualifying

  1. Dave Warne 7.55/189
  2. Tim Cook 7.81/185
  3. Andy Robinson 8.29/172
  4. Dave Mingay 8.30/172
  5. Dave Pollen 8.45/162
  6. Mick Cheley 8.49/163
  7. Tim Hines 8.62/160
  8. Alan Packman 14.73/53

Round one

Tim Cook 7.71/193 def. Tim Hines 8.66/180
Andy Robinson 8.38/174 def. Mick Cheley 8.49/163
Dave Warne 7.65/187 def Alan Packman 7.60/187
Dave Mingay 8.23/168 def. Dave Pollen, 12.00/60

Semi Finals

Tim Cook 7.68/202 def. Andy Robinson 7.88/176
Dave Mingay 8.17/171 def. Dave Warne, no-show (engine damage)

Final

Tim Cook 7.68/185 def. Dave Mingay 7.99/173

Alan Packman and Andy Robinson broke into the sevens for the first time at this event, both in losing efforts. Alan had used the nitrous for the first time, whereas Andy had a broken Lenco which he replaced with another borrowed from Tim Hines. There was as much action in the pits as there was on track with Dave Mingay, Tim and Andy all suffering gearbox issues.

Winner Tim Cook, with a misfire in the final round, failed to back up the 200mph time. Indeed he wrote in Custom Car 'As the excitement died down it seemed less likely that we had gone anything that fast. While we have to accept the clock's version officially for the points it's impossible to believe'.


24th-26th August, Santa Pod Raceway - Summer Nationals

This marked the first UK Pro Mod event with an overseas and a female competitor, Viveca Averstedt taking part against her old car now owned by Alan Packman. Colin Taylor returned with a Thunderbird powered by a Pontiac 530ci engine after taking 1990 out. Ray Simpson was driving his Hauser Race Cars-built Calibra which would be sold to Mick Cheley after the end of the season.


Viveca Averstedt raced her Pro Stock Firebird in UK Pro Mod in '91
Colin Donisthorpe photo

Qualifying

  1. Alan Packman 7.378/185.97
  2. Dave Warne 7.447/186.31
  3. Tim Cook 7.498/187.47
  4. Dave Mingay 7.715/176.76
  5. Viveca Averstedt 7.768/179.26
  6. Andy Robinson 8.088/168.24
  7. Colin Taylor 8.305/169.32
  8. Dave Pollen 8.386/159.39
  9. Tim Hines 8.434/162.76
  10. Ray Simpson 8.644/153.07
  11. Mick Cheley 8.768/137.27
  12. Graham Ellis 9.874/144.78

With a field of 12 qualifiers, the decision was made to have a 16 car ladder.

Eliminations

Round one

Byes for Tim Cook 7.405/191.90, Alan Packman 7.586/179.83, Dave Warne 7.643/185.40 and Dave Mingay 7.707/178.76.
Viveca Averstedt 7.704/175.32 def. Graham Ellis 9.040/146.06
Dave Pollen 8.407/158.36 def. Mick Cheley 9.933/110.02
Andy Robinson 8.153/169.07 def. Colin Taylor 18.537/49.61
Ray Simpson 8.777/155.46 def. Tim Hines 8.846/152.28

Dave Warne's 0.452 RT (on 0.4s clocks) gave him the holeshot win against #1 qualifier Alan Packman whose RT was 0.769. However Alan was able to return under the break rule.


Ray Simpson vs Dave Mingay
Colin Donisthorpe photo

Round two

Tim Cook 7.436/192.97 def. Dave Pollen 8.444/160.13
Dave Mingay 7.706/174.28 def. Ray Simpson 8.597/153.48
Alan Packman 7.982/172.88 def. Viveca Averstedt. Broke
Andy Robinson 7.933/160.87 red def Dave Warne 9.601/106.54 DQ crossed centre line.

Semi Finals

Tim Cook 7.317/192.98 def. Alan Packman 7.888/173.29
Dave Mingay 7.608/180.77 def. Andy Robinson 8.245/163.50

Final

Tim Cook 7.415/192.01 def. Dave Mingay 7.583/179.71

After a staging duel in the semi final, anxious to reset the record with a backup of 7.40, Tim Cook ran too quick and Alan Packman went away with the record at 7.37, Tim taking the speed record at 192.98.


14th September, Santa Pod Raceway - VW meeting

This was round seven of the 1991 championship. Although the track was quite marginal, Alan Packman and Dave Warne were able to dial into the conditions to produce great performance.

Qualifying

  1. Alan Packman 7.37/185.50
  2. Dave Warne 7.52/182
  3. Tim Cook 7.92
  4. Dave Mingay 8.03
  5. Colin Taylor 8.21
  6. Andy Robinson
  7. Bernie Hepworth
  8. Dave Pollen

Eliminations

Round one

Andy Robinson 8.96/149 def. Tim Cook, red
Colin Taylor 8.13 def. Dave Mingay 10 DQ, crossed outside line
Dave Warne 8.05/172 def. Bernie Hepworth 8.25/163
Alan Packman 7.27 def. Dave Pollen

Semi finals

Alan Packman 7.23/192.99 def. Colin Taylor 13.52/63.55
Dave Warne 7.42/188.96 def. Andy Robinson 8.59/159.95

Final

Dave Warne 7.51 def. Alan Packman 7.28

In this race Alan Packman with the help of crew chief Geof Hauser showed he had class-leading performance. He ran consistent 7.2s and although he fell victim to a three tenths holeshot by Dave Warne who won the final by a mere 0.06s, Packman came away from the event with the top speed of the meeting at 192.99 and new ET record of 7.230.


21st-22nd September, Santa Pod Raceway - International Doorslammers

This was the seventh round of the championship.


Alan Packman
Colin Donisthorpe photo

Qualifying

  1. Alan Packman 7.37/185.50
  2. Dave Warne 7.52/182
  3. Tim Cook 7.92
  4. Dave Mingay 8.03
  5. Colin Taylor 8.21
  6. Andy Robinson
  7. Bernie Hepworth
  8. Dave Pollen

Round one

Andy Robinson 8.96/149 def Tim Cook red
Colin Taylor 8.13 def Dave Mingay, DQ crossed outer line
Dave Warne 8.05/172 def. Bernie Hepworth 8.25/163
Alan Packman 7.27 def. Dave Pollen

Semi Finals

Alan Packman 7.23/192.99 def. Colin Taylor 13.52/63.55
Dave Warne 7.42/188.96 def. Andy Robinson 8.59/159.95

Final

Dave Warne 7.51 def. Alan Packman 7.28

Alan Packman's record setting ETs were the highlight of the event, however in the final Dave Warne strapped a three tenths holeshot on him and the margin at the finish line was six hundreths. Packman did go home with the ET record of 7.230 and speed record of 192.99.



Bjorn Cronqvist's Corvette
Jerry Cookson collection

27th-29th September - Santa Pod Raceway World Finals

This event, held relatively late in the calendar, saw severe weather not seen for the previous six months. Saturday was reduced to one shot qualifying and most of Sunday's race day was lost to the wind and rain.

If there was an undercurrent of rules controversy with some racers opposing the weight breaks suggested by the PMRA for 1992, this was ignited by the presence of Bjorn Cronqvist from Sweden with a ex IHRA Pro Mod spec '63 split window Corvette, which ran a 7.20/193 (the Corvette would reappear again at Santa Pod in the late nineties in the hands of Rob Guerain). This was followed by Dave Warne's 7.71/189 and Alan Packman's 7.88/182.



1991 Champion

Tim Cook was repeat champion, with a new car in 1991. Dave Warne with his imported Firebird housing his previous drivetrain, was runner up. Third position went to class rookie Alan Packman in an all-new car for him, albeit one that had been well sorted by its previous owner Viveca Averstedt. Fourth position went to Andy Robinson, whose racing, tuning and building credentials were beginning to make an impact on the class. Dave Mingay in fifth had new car troubles but by July had recorded a seven second time slip, and by the end of August was able to run 7.5. Twelve entrants during the year was also a welcome improvement.

See points table to right (click for large version).


Race car focus: Tim Cook's '55 Chevy


Tim Cook 1990
Graham Beckwith photo

Tim's car was covered in the September 1990 Custom Car. Tim, a lover of shoebox Chevys, ran his '56 in 1988, making a fibreglass mould out of a rust-box car and putting the resultant body over a tube chassis. When Tim came to make a replacement for 1990 he eschewed the more modern body styles to remain with the Shoebox style, but reducing the frontal area. Deciding to form the body himself, Tim took 6in out of the width of the car, 14in out of the length and 4in out of the roofline. The result was a car that retained the factory look but was 7/8 of the size. The fibreglass was handled by Tim's firm Covin performance mouldings made the final shell and grapics designed by Mark Gredzinski with paint applied by Gary Barnard.


Tim Cook 1990
Chris Plunkett photo

Tim Cook 1990
Chris Plunkett photo

As before, the chassis was fabricated by Jon Webster, then operating in Southend under the title JMW Performance Construction. The engine at the start was a 540ci iron block Chevy with modified Dart heads and Venolia pistons giving a 12.75:1 compression, all built by Rob Loaring. Carburetion was a pair of 1050 Holleys on a I.C.E. aluminium plenum and inlet manifold. Nitrous was supplied via a NOS Pro-Shot fogger system with port nozzles. Tranmission was a four speed Lenco with a McCleod clutch.


Tim Cook 1990
Chris Plunkett photo

Tim Cook 1990
Chris Plunkett photo

During 1990 the engine was upgraded to 588ci using a Donovan aluminium block. This brought times down from mid sevens to 7.3s Tim would run the car through to the end of 1992 and then the car was sold to Henri Joosten.


Next time...

In part 4 we look at the race to the first six second pass only five years after the first seven, and Alan Packman's rise to dominance.


We thank drag racing historian and British Drag Racing Hall of Fame director Jerry Cookson who has kindly provided copies of the material used in this feature.

Click here for Part 1 (1985-1987).

Click here for Part 2 (1988-1989).

Click here to return to the Features Index.

Click on any thumbnail for a large image.