Santa Pod Raceway
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The finish line at Santa Pod Raceway
|Location||Podington, Bedfordshire, England|
|Major events||FIA European Drag Racing Championship, UEM European Drag Racing Championship, British National Drag Racing Championships|
|Lap record||03.58 seconds (Sammy Miller, Vanishing Point Rocket, 1984, Funny Car)|
Santa Pod Raceway, in Bedfordshire, England, opened at Easter in 1966, is Europe's first permanent drag racing venue. It was built on a disused Second World War air base, (RAF Podington), once used by the 92nd Bomber Group. It is now the home of European drag racing and has grown substantially over its 40-year existence. It hosts both the first and last round of the FIA and FIM/UEM European Drag Racing Championship, along with the British National Drag Racing Championships.
It is leased and operated by Trakbak Racing which is based in London. Santa Pod regularly takes its promotional units to major events in motor sport.
Santa Pod is the venue in which the current world drag racing record, a time of 3.58 seconds at 386.26 mph (621.61 km/h) was set by Sammy Miller in his Vanishing Point rocket-propelled funny car in July 1984. Another record has also been set at Santa Pod, the world's fastest jet car (notably Santa Pod's "resident") Fireforce 3 piloted by Martin Hill broke the record in Easter 2005 with a terminal speed of 336.10 mph (540.88 km/h). Several other European drag racing records have been set along with records unsurpassed outside the USA. In May 2010 Top Fuel dragster driver Urs Erbacher set a class speed record with a terminal speed of 314.87 mph reached in less than 5 seconds. At the same race meeting Eric Teboul set a time of 5.23 seconds at 249 mph on his Hydrogen Peroxide Rocket Bike, which he further improved to 5.19 seconds at the European championships in September 2010.
Santa Pod remains the fastest all-asphalt dragstrip in the world since most North American tracks are partially or entirely concrete in construction.
Meanwhile the search was on for a permanent home. Podington airfield, near the villages of Hinwick and Podington, was formerly a Second World War airbase. In 1966 permission was obtained to use the airfield as a drag racing complex, the ¾ of a mile main runway being used as the drag strip. Santa Pod was named after Santa Ana Drags a drag strip in California, USA, and the local village of Podington. Since then the name Santa Pod has become synonymous with the sport of drag racing in Europe. Today the raceway hosts events throughout the year including the FIA European Drag Racing Championships and the 'Run What You Brung' (RWYB) events where anyone with a valid driving licence can have a go and put their own vehicles and skills to the test. This also serves as a "grass roots" recruitment ground, as many who start by running their road vehicle on the track for bragging rights often progress to the next level and become competitors in National Events after obtaining a licence from the official sanctioning body MSA. The sportsman classes, also very popular with fans, are enriched by this inflow of new racers who fall in love with the sport after a fun weekend in their every day vehicles.
47-year-old Briton Perry Watkins achieved some celebrity status in September, 2010 when his racing vehicle, decorated as a formal dining table complete with tablecloth, chairs, place settings, food and various vessels and dubbed "The Fast Food" performed 2 runs at Santa Pod, topping out at 130 mph and achieving an average speed of 113.8 mph. He hopes this achievement, which bested a 92-mph sofa setting the world record in 2007, is officially recognized by Guinness World Records.
- Crazy horses: the history of British drag racing by Brian Taylor, foreword by Don Garlits, Haynes Pub., 2009, ISBN 978-1-84425-425-5