April 15th 1945 - October 29th 2002

The beginning of a legend
1967 Sammy began his racing career in the US driving an A/Fuel dragster with an injected small block Chevy motor. He competed at tracks around New Jersey and New York running 7.80s in the Super Eliminator class.
1969 Sammy moved into the driving seat of a Top Fueler owned by the proprietor of the Van Iderstine Speed Shop.
1970 Sammy was crewing on the Corvair Funny Car of Ken Poffenberger at Gainsville when the regular driver failed to turn up. He was asked to make a short pass in the car and qualified fourth in an eight car field. He drove the car for the rest of the year. Towards the end of the year he and his father purchased Don Prudhommes 1970 Hot Wheels Barracuda.
1971 Sammy soon got fed up with the ex-Prudhomme car and had a state of the art Buttera chassis and Plymouth Duster body in his shop by spring. That car suffered a fire at the Summernationals, ran a best of 7.01/216.86 in Canada, and came to the end of its life with Sammy at the Funny Car Nationals in Epping when the blower exploded shredding the body.
Sammy continued racing Funny Cars through 1972 and '73. He had a six month stay in hospital in '72 after a fire at Indy and drove Fred Forkners Top Fuel Dragster in 1974. Racing fuel cars was costing Sammy more than he was winning and he began to look for a different direction.
1974 Sammy was at the eigth mile Charlotte track in North Carolina when Dave Anderson lost control of Tony Fox's 'Pollution Packer' rocket dragster, killing himself and two dragster drivers who were shut off at the top end. Sammy contacted Tony Fox as a witness to the accident and Tony asked him if he would like to drive the car. Sammy didn't need to be asked twice and he was promised the driving seat if Vern Anderson, who was to drive the car in 1975, should back out. During the winter Sammy dropped into Irwindale Raceway in Southern California and Tony gave him his first drive. The track officials restricted him to 280mph for his first pass, which he ran exactly. He told Tony that he didn't find the car as impressive as he had expected so Tony upped the pressure for the next run. The officials never announced the details of that run but Sammy left the venue with a timeslip that read 348mph! He continued to drive the car, and John Paxson's Armor All rocket dragster, for the first part of 1975 while preparing a car of his own.
August 1975 Sammy debuted the first rocket funny car, his 'Spirit Of 76' Mustang at the ESTA Safety Park Dragstrip in Cicero NY. He shut off before half track and still recorded a 7.00.
The NHRA were very wary of rocket vehicles after a number of serious accidents. They sent a team of inspectors and officials to check out Sammys new car at Orange County International Raceway. He put in a number of straight, quick passes, waving at the top end official as he went through at 300mph. He continued to run the car in the low fives for 15 months before selling it to a group who converted it back to a conventional motored car. Sammy had been building a new car, a Vega bodied machine which he debuted in late 1977. It was named 'Vanishing Point'.
1977 Vanishing Point made its first appearance at Raceway Park in Englishtown to the tune of a 4.32. Sanctioning bodies, including the NHRA, were getting more and more uneasy as the rockets went faster and began to introduce limits for the cars. (4.50s or slower)
1978 Raceway Park, Englishtown, New Jersey. Division One Points Meeting. Sammy was under strict instruction from the NHRA not to run a full pass and shut it off at half track. Sammy did exactly that. He still ran a 3.94! the run went unannounced. The NHRA were not happy.
Sammy had an offer to run demonstrations in Sweden and eventually a deal was put together and he packed the car off to Europe. With sanctioning bodies and insurers clamping down more and more in the States Sammy, and the other handful of rocket car pilots, were finding it increasingly difficult to get work. There were no such reservations in Europe and Bob and Roy Phelps of Santa Pod Raceway saw the potential and signed the deal to get Sammy to appear at the UK tracks premier event.

Trakbytes Archive Entries For Sammy Miller
September 16th/17th 1978 At SPRs September Internationals Sammy Miller made his UK debut with the 'Vanishing Point' rocket funny car, breaking all existing records with a quickest elapsed time of 4.41/245.6mph. His slowest run was only 4.94/225mph! Sammys best terminal speed of the weekend was 290 mph, just missing out on the £5000 prize Santa Pod had put up for Europes first 300mph run. Santa Pod gave him £2500 for coming so close. According to Sammy terminal speeds would have been higher but he was worried that there was not enough room to slow down after the finish line. One month earlier Sammy had made his European debut at Bulltofta airstrip, Malmo, Sweden before shipping the car to Santa Pod. Bulltofta is now an industrial estate.
July7th/8th 1979 SPR. Summer Internationals. The return of Sammy Miller who collected the £5000 prize for Europes first 300mph terminal speed. After a 4.68/245 shakedown run and a 4.43/265 when he inadvertently hit the chutes after a bumpy top end ride, he ran 4.20seconds with a terminal speed of 307.6mph.(Guiness Book Of Car Facts and Feats) To make sure of securing the prize Sammy continued accelerating through the speed traps and ripped the chutes to bits. His final run of the weekend was then cancelled.
July 20th-22nd 1979 Brighton Dragster & Custom Car Show. Sammy Millers Vanishing Point was among the exhibits.
September 14th-16th 1979 World Finals. SPR. Sammy Miller was back at the Pod for the seasons premier meeting. He ran a best of 4.31/317.40 which was the highest speed recorded on British soil at that time.(Guiness Book of Car Facts and Feats)
November 3rd/4th 1979 Fireworks Meet. SPR. Sammy Miller flipped the Vanishing Point rocket car at over 200mph in the dark. The car lifted off the track at the top end after recording a 234mph terminal speed. A cross wind was blamed for the accident as the car took off after passing the end of the spectator banking which, as both racers and spectators know, is a very effective wind break.The extremely light weight of the car did not help matters.
May 24th-26th 1980 Whitsun Big Go. SPR. Sammy Miller returned with a rebuilt and repainted Vanishing Point. His first run on the Sunday produced a 4.97/234, the second run was 4.64/294 and the third was a 4.60/277. His final run was the quickest at 4.53/289.
September 25th-27th 1981 Finals SPR. A world first for SPR.Sammy Miller and Al Eierdam held a series of match races in the Oxygen rocket dragster and the Vanishing Point rocket funny car respectively. Rocket cars had been banned in the States by the NHRA so the UK was the best place to do this as Sammy was by now a hero over here. Over a total of four races Sammy won 3 and Al won 1.The times for the Sunday runs were;1st race, Al Eierdam won with 4.79/228 to Sammys 4.67/269, and 2nd race Sammy won with 4.53/320 to Als 4.63/240. Al is now retired and living in Arizona. His recollections of this meeting can be found in the 'Sammy & Al Show' story on the Anecdotes page.

Oxygen photo by Dick Thompson, click for a larger view

1981 Sammy took the Oxygen dragster to Lake George,  New York, attached skis to it and ran a new world ice speed record with a 1.67 second run at 247mph over an eigth mile.
April 10th-12th 1982 SPR. Easter Internationals Meeting. Allan Herridge was offered, and accepted a drive in Sammy Millers 'Vanishing Point' rocket Funny Car. He recorded a best time of 4.84 seconds, with a terminal speed of just 233mph, to make him Europes quickest ever drag racer and the first European driver to go under five seconds.
July 3rd/4th 1982 SPRs Cannonball Funny Car shootout. Sammy Miller ran a weekend best of 3.81seconds.
July 16th/17th 1982 Zandvoort, Holland. The "Travelling Santa Pod Roadshow" hit town and compete on an 1/8th mile straight of the Zandvoort circuit which had very poor traction. Sammy Miller and Allan Herridge ran some side by side rocket car races, Sammy in Oxygen and Bootsie in Vanishing Point. Bootsie managed a best of 3.12/221while Sammy turned in a best of 2.82/226.74.

Sammy at Zandvoort. Pictures by Dick Thompson. Click for a larger view

May 1984 Santa Pod owner and promotor Roy Phelps announced through Custom Car Magazine that Sammy Miller would be debuting a brand new black Trans Am rocket funny car at the end of may, and that UK funny car driver Wild Bill Sherratt would pilot Sammys Vanishing Point car at the same meeting.
June 23rd/24th 1984 Long Marston. NDRC Transatlantic Drag Bike Challenge. Henk Vink, with the assistance of Sammy Miller, entertained the crowds with solo passes on his Rocket Bike.
July 7th/8th 1984 SPR. The Cannonball. Sammy Miller ran an amazing 3.583/386.26 in the Vanishing Point rocket funny car. This still stands today as the quickest 1/4 mile pass ever on a dragstrip anywhere in the world.
August 25th-27th 1984 SPR. Super Nationals including Flame & Thunder Jet Nationals. Sammy Miller was present with the Vanishing Point Rocket FC. He ran a weekend best of 4.80/283.
September 19th-21st 1986 SPR. World Finals. Sammy Miller was present with his Vanishing Point Trans Am Rocket Car, and put in some four second runs.
April 2nd-4th 1994 Easter Thunderball. SPR. Sammy Miller returned to the UK with his Vanishing Point Rocket Funny Car to try and better his world record 3.58 second pass, set at Santa Pod ten years earlier. Unfortunately the traditional Easter Holiday rain, snow and hail ensured that this would not happen.
July 2nd/3rd 1994 Sammy Miller was present with the latest Vanishing Point rocket Funny Car. He had problems with the fuel mix and failed to get a good run in. On two occasions he set fire to the rear of the Mustang body.
September 16th-18th 1994 SPR World Finals. Sammy Miller was on hand, debuting a new car. The new dragster featured a 5000lb J85 jet engine. He ran a best of 5.57/288 after the motor emitted a huge fireball during the warm up which sent track officials running for safety. He backed this up with a 5.71/285 to set a new track record for jets.
October 1st/2nd 1994 Elvington. Sammy Miller took his new Jet Dragster to the famous RAF airfield to make an attempt at beating Richard Nobles 248mph British land speed record. He intended to use the 5000lb jet motor in conjunction with a 3500lb rocket motor attached to the chassis under the main burner. The attempt came to an abrupt halt when RAC MSA officials refused him permission to run citing the fireball incident at Santa Pod two weeks earlier as well as claiming that there had been no official application made for the run.
June 30th-July 2nd 1995 SPR. The Cannonball. Sammy Miller was back again with the Vanishing Point rocket funny car. He recorded a best time for the weekend with a 4.28/254 pass. Sammy was having problems sourcing the fuel he needed for his runs. This was his last pass. Or so we thought.
May 11th/12th 2002 Sammy at Santa Pods Speedfreaks Ball. May 2002Santa Pod Raceway. The Speedfreaks Ball. RWYB Bike meeting with demo bikes and thrust vehicles. Sammy Miller made a return to the UK and brought the Vanishing Point Rocket Funny Car out of retirement for the event. His first pass turned out to be the quickest of the weekend, he shut off very early to record a 5.105 at only 197mph. On his second run he clocked 5.429/193.01 but had to take evasive action at the top end. The car steamed up inside and with no vision Sammy spun the car off into the field to avoid a more serious crash. The car was repaired in time for a final blast on the second day but problems led to a 6.258/182.52. For photos click here. For Eurodragster live updates click here
October 29th 2002 Sammy was tragically killed in an accident while working in the Texas oilfields for his company, Applied Force.

Sammy holds the e.t. and mph records in;

(1/4 mile)

  • CANADA (4.26/331)

  • DENMARK (4.97/267)

  • ENGLAND (3.58/386)

  • SWEDEN (4.10/328)

  • MEXICO (4.95/274)

(1/8 mile)

  • BELGIUM (3.13/211)

  • HOLLAND (1.606/307)

  • ENGLAND (2.00/312)

  • SWEDEN (2.27/297)

  • GERMANY (2.49/259)

  • CORSICA (2.56/238)

His best e.t. and speed was 3.583/386.26 at Santa Pod although he did run 396-mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah over a quarter-mile from a standing start.

He was the first man into the fives, fours and threes in the USA and Europe.

Above Right; John Ackroyd Designer/Builder of Richard Noble's LSR car Thrust 2. George Garboden on the left is the Designer/Builder of Sam's rocket engines.

Above; Sammy in the hot seat of the Vanishing Point Rocket Funny Car. Photos by Dick Thompson, click for a larger view.

Some Sammy Miller Links

Sammy Miller Tribute Page on Eurodragster.com

Sammy Miller Tribute Page on Draglist.com

Sammy Miller Article OneSammy Miller Article Two  A couple of nice articles from Drag Racing Online about the career of Slammin' Sammy. Written by Chris Martin. (I used these as reference for the first part of this page)

Brief career history & Spirit Of '76 picture on Draglist.com

Pictures by Ivan Sansom from Speedfreaks on Draglist.com

Report, pictures and video from Speedfreaks 2002 on Bikersweb

Andrew Urwins Page with a detailed description of the workings of the car.

Sammy Miller

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