Pod Crew Memories

By Ron "Too Small" McNeil

What a shame I didn't have access to the internet 2 years ago when I threw away over 5 years worth of Drag Racing News away, I'm sure the info would have proved useful. I worked at SPR when Sid McDonald was in charge and my first job was in the "play pen" operating the starter, an old diesel engine driving a pair of rollers. John Ledster was next in line when Sid retired and everyone will remember Liz Ledster charging up and down the strip in her Jensen Interceptor, now I believe its a Roller, how times have changed. Stu Bradbury was Start Marshall and Timing, and comms and fuel was taken care of by Peter Billington. During that time I met Ray Beadle, Gene Snow, Don Prudhomme, Don Garlits (Still got a signed autobiography), Marion Owens (Harley Twin) as well as Brits in the shape of Allan Herridge, Owen Hayward, Dennis Priddle, the hilarious Ronnie Picardo & Family, Sylvia Hauser, Sue & Dave Coles, Liz Ledster, amongst a whole pile of very entertaining racers all of whom had time for the fans. After the play pen I progressed to the fire up road before finally getting the cream (so to speak) when my brother (Geoff) and I ended up, literally, at the end of the strip in the timing hut writing and handing out timing tickets (Blue and Yellow, for each lane). I remember the Owen Hayward crash very well because just before that run (FC's and TF together) Ronnie Picardo had dropped oil all over the left lane (Pits side) forcing Owen to stage with one wheel on the dirt at the side of the track and it was that which cause the car to swerve off the start line. In fact Brian (Brain) Taylor announced that Stu Bradbury was using his old shirt to try and mop up the oil. I also remember Micky Naylor pulling the mightiest wheelie in his dragster when the weights fell out after it started climbing which made a brill photo sequence for the "Clockwork Orange" Roger Gorringe, editor and photo man of DRN monthly. By the way as an addition to the Houndog 9 debut at SPR, it was a cold, foggy weekend and DLT had bought the Radio One roadshow to the Pod and during the broadcast "Nobby" Hills decided to have a bit of fun and fired it up for the very first time and blew the record decks to bits causing Radio1 to broadcast the sound of a fuel flopper to the nation. He got his own back later when he raced the "Needle" at the pod and, despite his and the cars massive weight, managed a 7 sec run at 200 MPH plus winning a bet that he would never do it. Tons more stuff, if your interested, let me know.

Ron "TooSMall" McNeil, Milton Keynes